Soccer, also known as football for everyone outside of the US and Canada, is the most popular sport in the world. With a global fan base of around four billion fans, there is no doubt as to why this sport is called the “king of sports”. While soccer reigns supreme across all corners of the world, in the United States, a country that is used to having the best of everything, this sport has taken unusually longer than expected to find a niche to thrive in and prosper. As online betting fans are gaining more and more interest on soccer bets, what should the MLS do to finally step up as one of the best sporting leagues in the US?
Prior Efforts Have Paid Off But Now More Is Needed
Major League Soccer, the MLS, was originally founded in 1993 as part of the US bid to host the 1994 World Cup. The first official game of the league happened in 1996 though with the league starting off with ten professional teams. While soccer was never really considered a top tier sport in the United States, the effort made to found a professional league based around that sport was a first big step towards bringing in the most popular team sport into the US. The MLS has grown exponentially since its debut. Despite it’s young age as a league, the MLS has managed to be compared to the quality of some of the top leagues in the world like the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga and Italy’s Serie A.
General criticism of the league has been a constant bump in the road towards improvement with comments about the low quality of playing level, also about how the league is seen by top tier world players as a retirement league making the rounds. The MLS has attempted to bring up the level of the league by importing some of the best players in the world of soccer to boost up the level of playing. Guys like David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all put in their part and talent towards making the MLS a top tier league as well as proving that the MLS is not a retirement league.
Investing In Young Talent
While having big name athletes became the best way to lure in more interest from fans into the game, understanding that these stars will all eventually move on has made the MLS step up in their efforts to fill up the league with young and up and coming talents both domestic and international. Young players from South and Central America have become the main target of MLS franchises looking to build a team image to last. Players from places like México, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica have become domestic stars for their teams and growing fan bases.
The investment in young talent has helped the league both economically as well as being able to branch out to broader audiences. With teams more and more compromised with the proper development of players from a young age in the most professional way, young fans of the sport all around the US have seen a new beacon of hope regarding the always present dream of being a pro athlete at one point of their lives. A player like Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, who originally comes from the Montreal Impact franchise is probably the biggest success story to come out of the MLS, proving that if properly done, this league can become a top 10 contender in the best leagues of the world lists.
Expanding The League To Reach More Fans
For any sports league the idea of expanding to new cities is a big investment but can also pay off big dividends. With the MLS trying to become a better placed sports league both in the domestic as well as international scene, having new cities host teams is the best way to go. With soccer being such a popular sport, bringing it to new cities will only help it grow evermore.
Cities like Austin Texas with their own team debuting in the upcoming 2021 season, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina, debuting in 2022 and St. Louis, Missouri, debuting in 2023 will help the league reach out more and more places in the US where if everything goes right, reports predict that in a span of 10 years the MLS will overpass MLB and NHL and get close to or even tie the NBA in levels of mass popularity.