I frequent many soccer related websites and I have encountered quite a few comments about how Major League Soccer is a terrible no good bad soccer league and nowhere near the epic hotness of whatever fill-in-the-blank league one can imagine.
A small sample:
“MLS IS GARBAGE” – Comment on an article about MLS trying to sign Chicharito
“If these old foreign guys love MLS so much, then come here in your prime, not when you’re ready for a big paycheck in a slower league” – Comment on another over 30 DP playing in MLS
Get a grip. Not only is MLS a great league, it’s the best soccer league in the world. Here are 5 reasons why:
Pop Quiz After Every Premier League season: Who won the Premier League last year? 59% of the time, if you say Manchester United, you win the prize. What is the point of having a league if the vast majority of the time, some billionaire is going to set fire to a couple hundred million dollars to buy the best team? It’s like racing an Aston Martin against an Aardvark. Yeah, they both move, but what’s the point? Yet this is the standard with just about every top flight soccer league in the world. Don’t believe me? Let’s get mathy with it:
52% of all the teams that have historically played in Major League Soccer have won the MLS Cup. The next closest league? Serie A with 25%. The Premier League? 11%. Can you imagine MLS if only one team accounted for 18 of the 19 MLS Cups? The league would no longer exist. When it comes to suspense on Day 1 of a season about who is going to win the championship, no league comes close to Major League Soccer.
2. Competes effectively for attention among powerful domestic sports leagues
While most national soccer leagues operate in a near vacuum of competition from other sporting entertainment options, Major League Soccer has to earn its followers. MLS achieves its attendance figures while domestically competing for the 3 second American attention span with the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, NCAA football and basketball. Who do these other leagues compete with domestically? Exactly.
3. Bonus Champions
Unlike just about every other soccer league in the world, MLS recognizes a regular season champion plus has a playoff to determine the best team under pressure. Every other league? Schedule is finished? Okay time to do something else. In Major League Soccer, you don’t hammer on garbage all year long and collect the hardware. You have to prove you’re the best in a tournament with the toughest competition the league has to offer.
4. Unique Schedule
When most other leagues are having nap time, Major League Soccer plays an opposite schedule which allows non soccer snobs to enjoy the sport year round. Who wants to watch baseball in June when you could be watching top flight soccer in the United States? Not very many people.
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5. Media Market supremacy
If I posted pictures of Manchester, Milan, Barcelona, Munich and New York City, which one do you think would be the most recognizable?
Major League Soccer happens to be the top level of the sport in the largest media market on Earth. As the sport takes off, more people will be watching which means more advertising, which means more revenue and with time, world class players will be falling all over themselves to play in America with lunatic salaries that typical American sports stars regularly command. With the sport on the upswing in the United States, it’s only a matter of time before the MLS Cup becomes one of the most watched sporting events in the world. Go ahead and laugh, MLS investors will be laughing all the way to the bank before you know it.
Parity, resiliency, playoffs, sheduling, and good old fashioned mass media exposure. No league comes close to matching Major League Soccer and before too long, there’s not even going to be a debate.