LA Galaxy have welcomed the expansion of the MLS after it was confirmed yesterday that Atlanta would have a team playing in the league by 2017.
Speaking on the club’s website, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said:
“Any time our league expands it’s a great thing.
"The Atlanta market is important for our demographics. We’re not in the south east and Atlanta is one of the major markets in the country, it should be great.”
Indeed, with a population of nearly 5.5 million within the City and the surrounding metropolitan area, Atlanta is certainly an attractive market.
The Southeast of the US is one of the areas that the MLS had so far failed to tap into.
But, with new teams expected in both Orlando and Miami, the further addition of Atlanta will be welcome news to soccer fans across the US.
Arena also highlighted the fact that it was important for the league to reach out to the entire country in order to impact the national consciousness.
“To have a national presence, you need to be in all the big markets in the country,” he said.
“The Southeast [United States] is an area that we’re not in. With Orlando coming in and Atlanta, and hopefully Miami, we’re going to develop a presence there.”
Certainly, the Atlanta announcement only goes further to confirm the amazing success of Major League Soccer.
After being launched in 1996, popularity was limited until US national team reached the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup.
This success triggered a massive increase in the popularity of the game, and the MLS, in the US. Since then, the league has only continued to expand with the help of new team's and expensive imports as well as a steady stream of domestic talent.
Arena was probably right when he went on to say predict a great future for the league:
“The league has said that over the next 10 years, we want to be a league of choice for quality players around the world and hopefully we’re getting there,” the coach explained.
“The league isn’t going anywhere now. It’s here for good.”
Although the 22nd franchise in the MLS will not take to the field until 2017 it is certainly a positive sign that the league's top figures are backing it to succeed.
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