Summer of Soccer Starts

The World Football Challenge kicked off on Wednesday with Manchester United visiting Foxboro to take on the Revolution. The latest iteration of the Summer of Soccer features one of the strongest collection of teams we have seen touring the United States.  These matches are part of the summer ritual in MLS.  These teams criss-cross the United States preparing for their season by playing MLS sides and each other. Last year, ManU, Celtic and Everton were among the European powers crossing the pond to participate in an American Summer.  Not surprisingly, these games are not all about soccer.  The European teams are desperate to spread their brand to an American audience in an effort to collect fans and sell jerseys on these fertile shores.

At the same time, MLS teams can generate a large pay day by selling seats to see the foreign teams play (and these European teams don’t come for free).  MLS squads view these games as an invaluable opportunity to showcase their talents (and very existence) to soccer fans in the States who typically ignore MLS.  Some teams believe so strongly in these opportunities, that they readily shift MLS regular season matches to accommodate the games.

Overall, we think that these games are great for MLS. Every time that a fan of a team like Manchester United, Barcelona or Real Madrid enjoys their experience at an MLS game, is an opportunity to create a fan who comes back to see the players for their local side.  Moreover, these events typically generate substantial revenue for the MLS Sides.

ESPN2 had the broadcast and provided a solid all around telecast.  Pre-game ads included Hot Pockets, Modelo Especial (featuring Clint Dempsey), Dunkin Donuts, Allstate, VW, NAPA and more.  VW and Allstate were specifically referenced as sponsoring the match.  It will be interesting to see if these sponsors  John Harkes (who seems to appear in every broadcast booth) was paired with Rob Stone.   Stone and the pair was remarkably candid about some of the issues facing the Revolution like the lack of stadium, poor personnel decisions and more.

4 Responses

  1. some very critical comments about the Revs. Nice to see actually. Very entertaining game. Even the “subs” for ManU are quality players. That’s if you can call Park, Obertan, Macheda and Giggs subs. Also nice to see such a big crowd at Foxboro. Haven’t seen that in awhile.

  2. off topic but any info on overall mls tv ratings this year vs last year (fsc, espn/espn2)?

  3. Good for the league, perhaps, but not sure I agree with “great”. People that will shell out the ducs to come see Madrid, United, etc. play on our shores are already aware of the existence of MLS, they just don’t view it positively enough to consider themselves fans. Watching them get outplayed by a not-yet-in-form European side doesn’t help this impression, no matter how far the MLS on-field product has improved in the last 5-10 years. Furthermore, even if they are convinced to come back, it’s hard to imagine they’ll come back for thirds the first time they return to Foxboro as part of an 8,000 person crowd.

    The league is in a great place, and while pay days and exposure (surely Sportscenter will play highlights of the games pitting MLS sides against the Euros) are great, it’s my view that intentionally putting your teams in situations to have their quality questioned by the already skeptical greatly suppresses those positives.

  4. Slightly off topic, but watching Red Bull / Chivas USA (nice job scheduling opposite the Galaxy / Madrid match cross town, MLS) and have been made painfully aware of the MSG / Verizon rift. Had DirectTV last 3 years and enjoyed MSG in HD on plenty of occasions, and finally committed myself to catching every Red Bull match this year. When I moved a few weeks ago I ended up going with Fios since DirectTV was not an option, and lo and behold Cablevision refuses to show MSG in HD on competing cable networks. Annoyed as I am, I can appreciate the business rationale on the part of the suits at Cablevision, but was curious if this is a situation you’re aware of, have addressed or have any information on in terms of a resolution on the horizon. Extra-lame since even the Galavision broadcast of the match has also been downgraded to non-HD, at least here in Brooklyn.

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