David Beckham, originally touted as the star who would elevate soccer in America by his transfer to Los Angeles, has announced that he wants his temporary loan to AC Milan to become permanent.
His main goal was to maintain fitness and a quality of play, so that he can be picked for the England team at the 2010 World Cup, and apparently American footy sucks way too much right now.
“It’s nothing against the MLS and the football over there, because it’s a game that will grow but it will take quite a few years.”
Bringing world stars like Beckham into MLS was supposed to be part of the process of that growth, but unfortunately nobody of any real quality wants to play in a supposed top-flight league that’s only on par with a second or third-tier league in Europe. Hell, even the best *American* players choose Europe over MLS, or at the very least go out on loan after MLS’ laughably-short season.
…which brings me to a related point. In an effort to appeal to American sports franchise owners, FIFA allowed the MLS to remove any system of relegation or promotion, which is one of the main points of drama in the game. FIFA also allowed MLS to have the shortest professional season of any league in the world.
With a brief season and no threat of dropping, is it any wonder that the league is stagnant?
It’s changes like this which are the reason that fans like me get up early to watch live matches from England, instead of spending that energy in supporting our local clubs. The very changes that FIFA made in the hopes of making the game more successful in America, are precisely the sort of thing which alienates the very die-hards that they need for the game to catch on.
Or in other words: if your league doesn’t attract soccer FANS, how is it going to attract the general audience?