I got to work on back-to-back weekends recently, as I was fortunate enough to fill in for Eddie Robinson as the color analyst on the CSN Houston broadcast of the Houston Dynamo's game against the Columbus Crew last Saturday. Having covered Major League Soccer regularly since and followed it closely sinceI had no trouble getting familiar with both teams. But my role - that of color analyst - is one I have rarely filled in the past. My only other outing as an analyst came with a play-by-play man who did not know soccer, so my role was mostly to fill in the details.
I got somewhat of mixed feedback. A few said that I was right and a few said I was clueless as to what I was talking about. If you haven't read the article here it is. Here's the debate in unedited form.
This is a great opportunity to discuss the league and the beautiful game. Before I respond further to your article, I would appreciate if you would answer the following questions. What MLS team do you support? How many MLS games have you attended? How long have your been following MLS?
Any questions? I do know that in Houston - almost all Houston Dynamo games are broadcast free on local television stations in both English and Spanish with the exception of Superliga games which are broadcast only in Spanish.
All games are also broadcast on local radio in English and Spanish. This show is also available over the internet. He also broadcasts a half hour "Dynamo Soccer Report" every Friday evening.
I have seen evidence of similar broadcasts. Games are also available on the Direct Kicks package and on the internet. The problem is though, that not enough fans stay at home to watch it on TV!
Not everyone is willing to pay for soccer packages by the way. While it's true at when the league was formed there were only a few owners mostly Hunt Sports Group and Anschutz Entertainment Group.
MLS owes a lot to these groups as they are they one's who kept the league afloat in the early years. The league is now mostly diversified. There are a number of international owners. Here are the current MLS owners: I'm too lazy to include that list. Just go look at it later.
What I'm talking about is getting owners who are fully interested in the MLS and don't have interest in other sports. I also have to agree with Eric that at this point in time it wouldn't be tenable for the reasons he sited.
I think that this happen down the road as both leagues expand and continue to build their fan bases.
I didn't want all these suggestions to happen right away. I realize it takes time. I agree that competion by sponsors helps the league. I have seen evidence that MLS does allow competition. As the leagues fan base continues to grow - so will it's power negotiate these deals for the better of the league.
As the league grows and with the arrival of international stars such as Beckhama and Blanco, sponsors are coming more to MLS rather than MLS is having to go to the sponsors. You are correct to say that sponsors will come to the MLS once it establishes itself more I see plenty of young players in MLS.
An example would be Stewart Holden who just shot the winning goal in first round of the Olympics. You need a blend of experienced and younger players. MLS developed one of the best youth development programs in the World a few years ago.
It's not long until you are going to start seeing these players.
The international stars are on the older side. I don't forsee MLS bring in the very top of young players such as Cristiano Ronaldo or Kaka until it has more economic might but this is coming.
I did give the MLS props in creating a youth program. Now we just need to start seeing those players actually play.
I moved to the Houston Texas area in Sports Business Daily reports MLS average attendance is 16, so far in and that attendance is up The attendance is skewed to the bad by two MLS teams are temporarily having to play in stadiums with limited attendance until their stadiums are completed.
If weren't for these teams, MLS attendance would be significantly higher. Dynamo attendance for regular MLS home games this season is 16, This excludes Superliga. Superliga average home attendance was The biggest MLS games are yet to come.
Attendance for each of the last 3 home games of was over 30, I believe the season will end with an average attendance of around 17, possibly higher.
Based on a previous MSL growth of 5. I personally believe that the growth will it will be much faster and will only be limited by the size of their playing facility.
I believe this trend will hold across MLS. As the MLS grows and does well, its fan base will also grow. Right now, most fans of the MLS are younger people who have seen soccer elsewhere and now here in America.
Youth players are mostly going to also turn into adult fans. There are still many American's who didn't grow up with soccer such as myself are discovering the beautiful game and are finding out what they've been missing.
I've seen many sports fans both younger and older who have come to Dynamo games and became fans. I'm still a European soccer fan but have become a strong MLS fan. It's an exciting league which has been underrated.