MLS is a growing entity right now and it will expand to 18 teams by 2011. Philadelphia is already set to join in 2010, and two other teams (which have yet to be named) are scheduled to join the year after. But the league still isn’t technically in the black as overall the league is generating more losses than profits. We are still in dangerous waters.
Too many people have too much invested in this league for it to fail though. I am critical of Commissioner Don Garber on an almost daily basis, but he has brought a relatively cautious approach to league expansion. Of course, MLS didn’t always employ such a careful approach. In fact, the league was in such poor shape in 2001, two teams were cut.
Unfortunately for me (a Florida native), both teams were from the Sunshine State. The Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Miami Fusion ceased operations in September, 2001. No one really noticed. After all, we were all mourning the horrific losses of 9/11 at the time. But many of us lost our squads in 2001 (mine was the Mutiny), and some of us have never gotten over it.
I hope the league continues to pursue growth, but I also hope they keep a keen eye on the recent economic turmoil and protect the league against future contraction. If you are a fan, imagine watching your team disbanded and your favorite players peppered amongst the other teams. It would suck. It did suck. Let’s hope it never happens again.
I think the league will survive this economic crisis though and I think it will continue to become more profitable as this century continues. Soccer is the most beautiful game in the world and I think pro soccer in America will eventually take its rightful place in the pantheon of relevant US sports. It’s bound to happen. Right?
I hope so. I love this league, and I hope this series on MLS has informed you about the teams and spurred your interest in MLS. The season kicks off in roughly a month, and I hope you will continue to follow it. Come back tomorrow for my MLS 101 Final Exam. Oh, and don’t forget your #2 pencils!