Friendly Season: More Thoughts

Thanks to all who voted yesterday in our poll about the upcoming “Summer of Soccer.”  The run away answer was “Great for MLS because it draws attention to the league and gives the players to compete against the best.”   I tend to agree, but my opinion has started to shift over the years.  Humiliating losses by the MLS All-Stars (like the last two years against Manchester United), only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes of the league.  The All-Star Game is one of the most watched soccer events of the MLS calendar, and despite the league’s repeated success in those matches, the last two did significant harm to the league’s image.

Last year, I asked Commissioner Garber a question during an impromptu Q&A at the All-Star Game.  I asked if the league ran a risk of over-saturation with the seemingly endless display of foreign soccer on American shores.   He believes that these teams will come anyway, so MLS should partner with them.  “Rising tide lifts all boats and we have more boats on the water than they do.”  I’m not sure I agree, but the Commissioner is correct that the money is too great for these teams to stay away, so they will come anyway.  It makes sense for the league to make money off of the experience.

This year’s version of the Herbalife World Football Challenge is part of the summer tour and it runs for four weeks with matches throughout the United States. “All 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge matches will be broadcast in the U.S. on ESPN, FOX Soccer, Univision Deportes Network and Univision Radio, while TSN, Sportsnet and RDS will be the event’s broadcast partners in Canada, it was announced today by Major League Soccer (MLS) and CAA Sports.”