A Look at the MLS Preseason

The Major League Soccer preseason is in full swing as teams gear up for the lat month before the real games begin.  In less than a week, teams will gather in Orlando for the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.  The 2013 version of the annual event will include Montreal, Philly, DC, Sporting, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Orlando & Toronto.  At the same time, the Desert Diamond Cup will kick off in the league’s growing Winter home of Tucson.  RSL, New England, Seattle and New York will gather for the event.  Hotel packages can be purchased through the FC Tucson website.

tfcOver the last couple of years, the MLS preseason has become an increasing attraction for fans and communities.  While Disney is a hub regardless of the soccer happenings, the league has seemingly found a long term partner in Tucson.  Last year, the New York Times took a look at the league’s relationship with the City of Tucson, where a number of MLS franchises are spending a portion of the preseason.  Tucson used to be a destination for Spring baseball, but those days have ended.  According to the piece in the Times, the City is looking to MLS to fill the void.  ” the city is bracing for an economic lift — and a small measure of revenge — when six Major League Soccer teams arrive in the coming weeks to train here for the first time.”

Last year in Arizona, crowds in excess of 10k sat through the final and third place game, while crowds averaged around 6k for the rest of the tournament.   We have long written about the importance of the MLS preseason.  In an era when NFL training camps sell out practices and spring training tickets to some MLB teams are coveted for months, the preseason provides an opportunity for the league to connect with the fans.  MLS players are notoriously approachable and the preseason provides more opportunity for fan/player interaction.  By creating annual destinations, the league also provides fans with an opportunity for fans to make vacation plans around the training of their favorite teams.