Michael Bradley after his return to MLS.

Major League Soccer must change if progress is to be made

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MLS has always been a weak attraction to the rest of the world.

Even in the United States the Premier League has more viewers annually with the majority of games being played before the average American wakes up on a weekend.

With NBC buying the TV rights, more English games are being shown nationally and MLS coverage on ESPN and highlights have severely dropped off.


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The problem is rooted entirely in the way MLS is structured and over control from the front office. The league itself has their hands in every deal and transfer along with partial ownership of the players. This was evident with MLS' original blockage of the Brek Shea transfer in 2012.

With the designated player rule in effect, there is no free market when it comes to big name transfers, and it seems that most of the talent (who are older and past their prime) end up on the LA Galaxy who seem to be their golden child project.

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Meanwhile, the Chinese Super League is landing top young talent in their prime with ease with the likes of Alex Teixeira, Jackson Martinez, and Ramirez all joining this year and under the age of 30.

The salary caps are so low compared to other leagues it is no wonder they aren't landing players or fielding quality squads.

The league's minimum salary ($36,500) is 11 times lower than the next highest major domestic sport the NFL ($420,000).

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Denver Broncos

MLS is mirroring the current state of the US economy by falling behind to China and importing more goods than they're exporting.

That being said, the league isn't even considered a feeder league for major clubs. It is staggering how few players from MLS move to higher caliber leagues and even more staggering how few produce overseas.


How do they combat this? They have to release their financial hold on franchises and players, and stop lining their pockets and let the league grow. They must bring in top talent to every team, and splash the cash to do so.

There is a genuine interest in soccer in America, teams like the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders have packed houses and an incredible amount of season ticket holders, so the money and fans are there.

Columbus Crew SC v Portland Timbers

Also not forgetting that the record was broken in 2014 for soccer spectators in America when Manchester United had 109,000 spectators for a pre-season matchup against Real Madrid.

Many critics of the league in the past have complained about the style of play, where it appeared to be a professional version of "pack ball" where it seemed as though they preferred playing with the ball in the air instead of settling and passing. 

However, recently, anybody watching can see they are working to play more concise and attractive football instead of ugly American soccer.

There has even been an overseas interest in developing US youth soccer from some English clubs which is not surprising because that part of the world has produced some of the best athletes in history. 

Currently, the youth system is comprised of recreational youth soccer leagues which are dying out and select teams where the families must pay $1,000-$6,000 a season to see their child play competitive ball.

The MLS has to spend the money, get the players, and follow behind Europe's example if they want to be taken seriously and stay relevant in the footballing world.

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Portland Timbers
Seattle Sounders FC

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