Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Signings Show Growth for Major League Soccer

A nice piece of breaking news came last Friday whenever I looked at the headlines of U.S. Mens National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber agreeing to come to Major League Soccer.  Feilhaber has been playing in Europe since 2005 and has played for such teams as Hamburg (Bundesliga), Derby County (EPL), and Aarhus (Danish Superliga).  Chivas USA and Philadelphia passed on the option to take him, and as of right now it seems that he has landed in the lap of the New England Revolution. 

In the past year there have been several quality players coming from around the globe to play in MLS.  Now, what does this have to do with growth in MLS?  To highlight only some of these players like Thierry Henry (Arsenal, Barcelona), Rafa Marquez (Barcelona), Faryd Mondragon (FC Koln), Charlie Davies (FC Sochaux), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Omar Bravo (CD Guadalajara), and now Feilhaber coming to the league, it is giving MLS some much neede international exposure.  How are they giving the league exposure?  MLS is gaining positive exposure from signings like these because these players have made impacts (some more than others) in the soccer communities of other leagues they've played in previously.  Other fans in these leagues follow these moves, and so do headlines in other countries.  One recent news story by Sky Sports in England was a five segment special on Thierry Henry and his new life in New York.  The story shed light on the MLS to millions of people around the world.  Even Arsenal Captain Cesc Fabregas commented on twitter about how great of a story it was.  With the likes of Thierry Henry coming to the league it is paving the way for more world renowned players to consider MLS in their future career.

Who would've thought this time last year that we would be seeing Charlie Davies, Jay DeMerit, and Benny Feilhaber playing in MLS in 2011?  Both DeMerit and Feilhaber made collective positive impacts on the U.S. National Team during the past World Cup in South Africa.  Davies has been a proven goal scorer for the National Team, and is more than likely on his way back to a spot on the team. With more USMNT players coming to MLS it will only grab more American soccer fans attention.  Also with talented national team players like Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City) and Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls) making their debut's this past year for Coach Bob Bradley, it is now shedding more light on MLS with American soccer fans.  With that being said, not all American soccer fans follow MLS, but goal scorers like these could change that.  It is also a known fact that Mens National Team games have higher TV ratings than most MLS televised matches, and this helps to present this exposure.

Every Sunday morning I watch Republica Deportiva, a Spanish language U.S. Sports show on Univision, and the main features of the show are of soccer.  It mainly highlights the Mexican Primera Division and MLS, but also shows NBA, American Football, and boxing.  Although I do not speak Spanish, I watch it because of the highlights, and their focus on American soccer.  When Sporting Kansas City signed Omar Bravo, they covered it.  The same was true of Rafa Marquez and Faryd Mondragon, both of whom made appearances on the show to talk about their moves to MLS.  This show has a hugh Latino following.  Popular shows like this are helping the league gain more credit for such high profile signings.

Now, how are these signings translating on the field?  The 2011 MLS season is still in its infancy, but there have already been a lot of goals.  Each of these players mentioned here have made positive impacts for their respective clubs already.  There is a lot to be excited about if you are a MLS fan.  Excitement is contagious.