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Beckham Debacle Aside, MLS Strong Entering 14th Season
When Saturday Comes, March 19th, 2009 4:15PM

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Ian Plenderleith points out that unlike most of the top Euro leagues where the title seems to always go to one of the three or four biggest clubs, at the start of the MLS season, all teams can believe in a championship. "No manager mutters the equivalent of: 'A UEFA Cup place would be nice, but we'd settle for avoiding relegation.'"

That MLS is entering its 14th season "denotes not just the league's comparative youth, but is also a testament to its staying power in the staggeringly crowded U.S. sports market," and adding that "despite the odds, MLS is the most stable, viable professional soccer league the country has ever spawned, and looks well set for the next decade or two."

As for the league's offseason Beckham debacle, he admits "those of us covering the U.S. game wanted it to work as much as the league's fans and officials. But we were all duped by the polite and charming east Londoner who is good on crosses and the occasional free-kick, but who turned out to care much more about himself than his professed goal of growing the U.S. game."

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