As someone who has watched MLS since before his arrival, I have to say Beckham coming to the U.S. had a real and important impact on soccer here. It's not just that it brought out the star-watchers and Euro-posers to MLS for the first time, it's also that the notice he brought the league led to more players willing to come play here and more owners willing to spend money to bring those players here. Without Beckham's success, the DP experiment may have never gone forward and we wouldn't be talking about players like Obafemi Martins in MLS. Here's an Associated Press piece about what Beckham did for MLS.
In the end I think the inclusion of the Cascadia teams in MLS has had a bigger long-term impact than Beckham, but given the fact Beckham came just a couple years before MLS came to the Pacific Northwest I think history will have a hard time separating the two.
Yesterday's announcement of U.S. Men's National Team callups included Eddie Johnson, but not Landon Donovan. In an interview Donovan admitted he wasn't happy about not being chosen, but said he planned to prove he deserved to be part of the squad in the future (Yahoo Sports).
In player news Thursday, New England Revolution waived Sainey Nyassi, to the surprise of some fans who had started an online campaign to demand he play more (The Bent Musket). Toronto FC continued trying to make over its roster by trading for former national-team player Bobby Convey. They gave Sporting Kansas City a third-round SuperDraft pick in exchange (torontofc.ca).
Toronto's coach also got some support Thursday for his criticism of the choice of referees calling TFC games, and it came from an unlikely source - the head of the refereeing organization (mlssoccer.com).
Talking about MLS while pushing to build NFL stadiums is nothing new. It certainly was part of the discussion when what is now Century Link Field was a political debate. Last week we showed you Atlanta's plans for a new stadium, which came with a "maybe MLS too" tag and now the same is being said in Minnesota, where plans for a new football stadium have been released. Like in Atlanta, MLS officials have come out in support of the project without actually promising a team (Star Tribune).
Finally, ESPN is not giving in on soccer, despite losing the rights to EPL games to NBC and La Liga games to Al-Jazeera's BeIn Sport. The "worldwide leader" announced Thursday a 30-minute soccer highlights show called 'ESPN FC," which will air "primarily" on ESPN2 Sunday through Friday. Perhaps the network will be more aggressive about landing MLS TV rights when the next national contract is up after the 2014 season (MLSsoccer.com).
- Scott Ayers
agtk here. Just wanted to pop in and note that MLS is adding some neat additions for their "digital math experience" in the future, called ¡Golazo!, featuring cool stuff like live stats updates and a "social feed" that seems basically like a Twitter feed (
actually that stuff isn't cool at all and you should totally keep coming here for gamethreads). You'll need to sign up to participate in the beta. MLS is also testing referee cameras, which could add a very interesting perspective to future game coverage. Neat stuff coming from our league. Carry on.