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Where exactly is MLS heading? [TWEET]
Where exactly is MLS heading? [TWEET]
Federico Farcomeni | 12/07/13 | 5:49 PM EST 0 Comments
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Real Salt Lake vs Sporting Kansas City is the MLS unprecedented final this weekend. We take a glimpse to the future of soccer in America (and it doesn’t look bleak at all).

MLS commissioner Don Garber is proud of this final and why he shouldn’t be after all. The playoff system, the salary cap et all show that the MLS is capable of providing an entertaining and unpredictable show where, unlike in Europe, not the same teams are the winners year after year. Bruce Arena once said that you are missing a legacy to beat in American soccer, but it still makes the league more entertaining to follow and watch. Just like in Devious Maids, you never know who the next naughty character is going to be.

The 31st and 33rd largest cities in the US come face to face and, if we put it like this, it doesn’t sound like a big deal. To Europeans it would feel like a Europa/Champions League final between Real Zaragoza and AEK Athens (or Olympiacos or Panathinaikos, you name them), although Salt Lake City clearly hasn’t the same huge amount of history of the Greek Capital.

Still, Real and Sporting (after all, two European teams’ namesakes) show that in order to succeed in the MLS you need skills, abilities and shrewd acquisitions on the transfer market – all this being in line with the principle of any other American major league. Nurturing these qualities can only help develop a better league. Not by any chance, despite being the first ever small media market cup final, this year's final will also sell the highest priced tickets for the MLS Cup final of the last five years.

On the pitch, it feels like is going to be a heated battle if we consider a couple of the stats below. Sporting and Real lead the numbers in headed shots. Sporting’s center-backs Collin and Besler lead the MLS playoff in interceptions. This could well be enough to prevent Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales to create enough chances. But a playoff final should never be easy to predict, so we hope the stats don’t actually tell the whole story.


The final act of the season will lead US soccer into a bright future. The MLS will expand to 24 teams by 2020. And the relationships with those across the pond continue. Manchester City have stricken a deal with the Ney York Yankees last summer (forming New York FC), while David Beckham is about to open his new franchise (with LeBron?) in Miami soon. Throw into the mix other multiple ownerships like Shahid Khan being at home both in London and Jacksonville, or Erick Thohir having shares at Internazionale and DC United, and you suddenly get a woven yet very interesting multi-sport picture.

The Orlando City Lions will kick their first round ball in 2015 and are already chasing Milan’s Kakà. Talking of which, the Galaxy might soon be announcing Miroslav Klose’s acquisition from Lazio. All these guys might be apparently past their best, but helping MLS to play catch up with the best in the world, is what in fact they are doing.  

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