The MLS has made leaps and bounds since its inception in 1996, but there is still much more work to be done before it can become as popular as the other main sports leagues in the United States. Here are five things that should be done to make Major League Soccer a powerhouse league (In my humble opinion).
1. Emphasize College Soccer More
The MLS tries to do the same system as the other international football leagues for bringing in new players with the team academies, and while this is great for developing talent it doesn't allow the fans to really get to know the players until they're already in the league. The reason it works overseas is because these academies are built around the towns, everyone follows these players from birth. That and soccer is the main sport in other countries, whereas here we have elite players across all sports. Give the people a reason to tune in, they may not be soccer fans but if a player that went to their college and recently got drafted to an MLS team, then people will want to check them out.
2. Get The Fans Involved
LAFC and Atlanta United have had the perfect model for getting the fans into the game and into the team. I'm not sure exactly what that model is, that is more of a question for the front office of these clubs, but it works. Attendance records are being broken and every game is a spectacle. The fans are chanting, singing songs, and going absolutely apesh*t for the teams. Let's get every club like this. Granted, the other teams aren't as successful on the field but that's no reason why you can't make it fun.
3. Keep the MLS All-Star Game in-league
Every year the MLS All-Star game consists of the best MLS players forming a team and competing against a large international club, which usually doesn't have its best players. This is not doing the MLS any good. They shouldn't be trying to show that we can compete with other leagues in the world, we should be showcasing our talent to the U.S. The English Premier league will always be the best in the world, but this is our league and we should support it. Players are also getting snubbed from the All-Star team and this will give players more opportunity to be apart of it. Some sort of incentive for winning the game should be given as well so the players will try to win.
4. Merge with Liga MX
There have been rumors swirling around of a possible merger between MLS and Liga MX (Mexico's premier football league). This would be awesome for the sport and for both leagues to showcase their talent. The Mexican fans are also super passionate about soccer as well so that will bring some great energy to the stadiums like I said in number 2. Another possibility since there will be many added teams is to do a relegation system so that teams will have incentive to try towards the end and still give fans a reason to pay close attention to stay in the top league. Any chance we can to spread the game and make the best matchups we can should take advantage of.
5. Keep Getting Stars From Overseas, Just A Little Earlier
We've done a great job of getting big names to play in our league, the problem is they're a little bit past their prime. This is perfectly okay, except we can get them a little earlier with more of that star power still in them. I don't care what anyone says, playing anywhere but the EPL is a huge cop out. They want to join these teams that play against sh*t competition and pull in the dough. Guys will realize they are slowing down a bit and go to somewhere like the Italian League (aka Ronaldo) and then make their way to the MLS. Lets cut out that middle-man and bring them directly over here.
I think the main point I'm trying to make here is that we should be promoting the league to the United States, not trying to compete with other leagues. Make it a marketable U.S sports league by promoting soccer instead of trying to make it a marketable soccer league to the rest of the world. This is our league and as fans it is up to us to support it. Tune into games, follow a team closely, buy some merch etc. The season is different than Football, Hockey and Basketball as well so why not tune in.