What We're Reading

Business Takes Back Seat as MLS Focuses on Soccer

New York Red Bulls notwithstanding, MLS the business is humming along (compared to previous years, at least). David Beckham, more press, TV deals, jersey sponsorships, and partnerships with major European clubs and leagues are all good things, but now, Ian Plenderleith of U.S. Soccer Players says, MLS has to shift its focus to " the generally moribund standard of soccer on the actual playing field."

Results-oriented defensive tactics is the order of the day, which means fewer goals, less excitement and a less impassioned audience. That needs to change, Plenderleith says in order for MLS to seriously hope to compete with the big boys of American sport. The league needs more character and more high-quality creative players a la the Marco Etcheverrys of the league´s early years.

This is not just a problem the American soccer press worries about: diehard fans and MLS executives, even, understand the need to deliver a product that catches the imagination of American audiences. "Ultimately we will not achieve our full potential unless we are able to deliver the game on the field that people want to watch," MLS spokesperson Ivan Gazidis says. "We're very conscious of that, and it's probably the most important issue for us over the next four or five years to improve the on-field game." How can MLS achieve this? Youth development is key, but the rest is down to players, coaches, owners, referees and the extent to which the league is able maximize each in creating as compelling a product as it can.

Read the whole story at U.S. Soccer Players »

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