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Soccer’s Rising Tide

August 5, 2009

I have been impressed by “Summer of Soccer”. With MLS games, Gold Cup, and European friendlies, I have had plenty of soccer to watch and I am not alone. Hundreds of thousands filled the stands including over 90,000 to watch the Galaxy and Barcelona last Saturday. It’s obvious there are soccer fans in America, many would rather watch European teams rather than a depleted MLS league game.

USA Today’s Beau Dure thinks it is time to revisit the  idea of  a summer break for the Gold Cup, Confederations Cup, and next year, the World Cup. Ryan at Crewture disagrees. The schedule runs from March to October already, there is very little room to extend the calendar. It also makes fans uncomfortable because some years, it would be giving priority to friendlies with foreign teams rather than league games.

Giving friendlies a priority over the league enters uncomfortable territory. MLS teams have been playing high profile, very lucrative matches with teams like Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Barcelona right in the middle of the season. This is an uncomfortable balance, but a workable one because it it doesn’t (usually) interfere directly with league play. With a break, this would only serve to deemphasize the regular season and prioritize these money making games.

Diehard MLS fans are already uneasy with this balance, the league risks alienating their hardcore supporters in an effort to attract the European soccer fan and make some money in the process. While I could accept a break for the World Cup, I have to disagree with the idea of a break every summer to clear the way for the cash cow European friendlies.

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