The Major League Soccer preseason is underway, with training camps opening around the country and teams reuniting after a very brief off season. For some teams, there has been less than a two month break (the shortest in American sports), while many have enjoyed 3 plus months off since their last competitive match. It is a World Cup year, so for a select group of players, this training has extra significance as they gear up for a Summer in Brazil. We will have our usual coverage of the preseason, reporting on events from Florida, Arizona and elsewhere. Regardless, the MLS season is now about six away, with March 8 slated as opening day 2014.
Keeping with the Spring Training theme, Bradenton is trying to position itself as the Tuscon of the East, with an attempt to capitalize on the annual preseason pilgrimage to the Sunshine State. Six MLS teams will train at the Bradenton IMG facility this year. Per the Bradenton Herald, “IMG offers a 12-field professional soccer complex, a 5,000-seat stadium equipped to broadcast games internationally plus dozens of other amenities professional athletes seek out for training on the 450-acre campus.The growing league is figuring out what to do about spring training. It has set up an eastern hub in Bradenton after having a West Coast hub in Tucson, Ariz., where clubs have participated in a pre-season tournament, the Desert Diamond Cup, for the past three years. Tucson’s spring training, which signed its own multi-year agreement, has also expanded in games and teams for both the training camp friendlies and tournament segments. The Kino Sports Complex also has a 2,300-seat shaded soccer stadium to showcase the sport.The preseason games last year brought in more than $75,000 to the publicly financed complex there, which includes an 11,000-seat baseball stadium and auxiliary fields.The Arizona event drew more than 30,000 fans in 2012, but it didn’t hurt that David Beckham was among the players on site. In Bradenton, the hot names this year will be on Toronto FC — English striker Jermain Defoe and one of the top American players in the world, midfielder Michael Bradley.”
Major League Soccer is hawking its excellent MLS Live software through e-mails, its website and elsewhere. The price has increased for 2014, but the league is offering a 20% discount for those renewing now. Typically, there is a free preview early in the season. The software is compatible with Roku, Apple TV, Android and other devices. Recall what Chris Schlosser told us about MLS Live in November. MLS Live is a great value for fans, for $60 per season fans get access to over 230 live games, plus access to every game from the last four years in our archive. We are also working with our streaming partners to constantly improve and optimize our streaming experiences. Mark McClure who joined my team earlier this year after several years at DC United is leading this charge for us. You can already see the fruits of his efforts with the release of the new Apple TV application earlier this fall.
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