5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching the MLS
With their captain having coincidentally coined the word 'soccer', Corinthian FC ventured across the Atlantic Ocean in 1906, travelling to Canada and the United States by invitation of the Canadian and Philadelphian football authorities.
The touring team held an impeccable record while there: 14 wins, 3 draws and only a single loss during their entire tour. The authorities were incredibly excited by the visit of the famous Corinthians, “hoping that a visit from such a renowned team would give a tremendous filip to the game”.
Indeed, as a direct result of the tour, curiosity in the game grew, creating the building blocks that would eventually become the MLS as we know and love today.
And so, in celebration of North America's 'Indigenous People Day' (previously known as Columbus Day), here are 5 reasons why the MLS is now one of our favourite leagues in the game.
1) It's Impossible to Predict.
Football fans usually associate the ‘best league in the world’ title with the English Premier League, due to its extremely competitive nature. On some match days, England’s elite will fall victim to a huge upset by a lower league side, making the FA Cup an especially exciting cup to watch.
But, due to the ever-increasing sums of money available to England’s elite, the gulf in predictable performance has widened with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and United usually turning over their lower league opposition with ease.
Meanwhile, while the MLS also has a hierarchy of power, the league is incredibly unpredictable! The Conference playoff layout promotes attacking play, creating a very interesting league where any team can beat any other, home or away. Although some teams are stronger than others, predicting the top 4 in the Premier League is a much easier feat than predicting the top 4 MLS Conference finalists. It keeps us guessing until the very end!
2) The Supporting Fans
English football fans cumulatively travel thousands of miles across the country every week, to watch their beloved team play football. The furthest match day experience currently is held between Plymouth Argyle and Carlisle United, where fans and players alike will have to make the 760 mile round trip, occasionally on a Tuesday evening. However, the United States is a huge country, branching horizontally 2,700 miles wide. Fans must even fly to their next fixture and so, given their commitment, the Away crowds are always filled with passionate, die-hard supporters.
3) High Calibre Players
Most debates of the MLS tend to involve the calibre of players on show today, and fans are quick to forget the high calibre of players that once graced the United States Football Association. Over their careers, legends such as Johan Cruyff, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer and Pele have all spent time in America’s Division 1, helping to build the growing frenzy of soccer in the US.
Although these players have all retired from the Beautiful Game, their star power has been replaced by future legends, in the form of Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, David Beckham and David Villa. The game is constantly growing and, with rumours of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic wanting to join the movement at the end of their careers, the quality of football will only improve.
4) The Attendance in the Stadiums.
The MLS is one with a rich heritage, with new owners and clubs being established on a seasonal basis. The newest recruit to the MLS franchise is Atlanta United FC, based in the football-crazed region of South Western Atlanta. The rich history of the clubs has created a huge collection of mesmerizing stadiums across the country and, across the 22 teams, the league arguably owns the most unique and beautiful stadiums, full of millions of fans on a weekly basis.
According to Soccer Stadium Digest, the current average attendance for the MLS for the 2017 season sits at 21,801, and that figure is constantly growing. To put this into perspective, that places the MLS as the 5th highest attend soccer league in the world, ahead of France’s Ligue Un, Australia’s A-League and the Chinese Super League.
5) Family Orientated Clubs
The fans are always what make the game special. Even with a star-studded collection of legacies and prospects, the fan's energy is the driving force behind every game. An ambition of the MLB Association was to encourage a family-friendly atmosphere and, while football has traditionally been a male-dominated sport, the MLS has been quick to embrace the ever growing women's game. But in no way does all this hinder the atmosphere - in fact, it creates a more energetic fixture, with younger fans joining the sport and inheriting a lifetime of passion!