C Cultura

MLS Next: 2022 plan

In 2011, MLS released a plan to become a leading American sport, and one of the best, leagues in the world by 2022.

The plan was simple.  They wanted to become the league of choice.  "We want to be a league of choice for fans. we want to be a league of choice for players, for coaches, administrators, for broadcasters, for groundskeepers, for stadium developers.  We want to be a league of choice.  We want to be a place where people want to be part of," MLS executive vice president Nelson Rodriguez said on that Thursday morning.

 

They're very well on their way with regards to facilities... the soccer specific stadium, training facilities, personnel and team staff size have nothing to envy from top class European teams.  There's no reason why the MLS can't achieve be a top league in regard to the infrastructure they have in place - with the knowledge that they have in place.  With regards to actual players in the field, they're still a bit back with the top leagues in terms of expenditures.

 

Getting the best players in the world has always been a priority, but developing home grown talent not only has to be a higher priority, but it is vital.  Here I am not only talking player development, but developing and training coaches as well.  Because that as well affects the end product presented in stadiums and TV.

 

Todd Durbin, executive vice president of competition and player relations, back in 2011 said that putting competitive teams into the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League was a priority.  Since its creation, the CONCACAF Champions League has been won only by Mexican teams:

- Atlante (2009),

- Pachuca (2010),

- Monterrey (2011, 2012 and 2013),

- Cruz Azul (2014).

 

The MLS has 4 berths plus 1 from Canada (usually an MLS team) making it, with 5, the most of any league.  Mexico has 4.  Only one MLS team managed to reach the final, Real Salt Lake in 2011, falling to Monterrey.  Galaxy and Sounders both reached the semis in 2013 but lost to Mexican teams.  No MLS team made it out of Quarter Finals in 2014, all of them falling versus Mexican team.  In the current edition only DC United and Montreal Impact came out of the group stage.

 

If the MLS is to become a top league, their clubs have to start lifting international silverware.  The pressure should be rised.  It is no longer OK just to participate.  Winning should be the goal.  An MLS club should win the CONCA-Champions.  That qualifies them for the FIFA Club World Cup to face the world's top clubs, giving the team and league global exposure.

 

I feel the MLS piggybacks from the international exposure of the National Team, giving that it is having decent participations at the World Cups.  Still, participating.  They have won nothing, except a handful of Gold Cups.  MLS should start looking at themselves separately from the National Team.  In order for Klinsmann not to state American players should emigrate in order to participate in more competitive leagues, the league should become more competitive.  Compete internationally.  Win the CONCA-Champions.  Compete in Club World Cup.  Play against the best.

 

On a second step, I thought participating in the Copa Sudamericana was a great way of measuring themselves against South American teams.  If CONCACAF does not let them, they should focus on the youth sides... go and play in the U20 Copa Libertadores, that should allow players, at least development ones, to face players in the brink of jumping to first team.

 

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