Could MLS find success by following the NFL in sending teams to Wembley?

It’s no secret that Major League Soccer’s growth is continuing to turn heads. Not only is the league attracting some of Europe’s best footballing talent, but its expansion is showing no signs of slowing down, with new franchises bursting onto the scene at an alarming rate.

But what if Major League Soccer followed in the footsteps of the NFL and brought competitive fixtures to the UK, at Wembley?

The NFL’s success in England has been staggering since the International Series’ inception saw competitive fixtures start being played across the pond a decade ago. The fact it’s a different sport helps massively with the attraction, but there is an ever-growing support base of UK-based MLS fans, so there is certainly an opportunity for MLS to do something similar in the coming years.

Embed from Getty Images

Driving up interest for a fixture would arguably be easier for MLS. Instead of bringing over a regular season game, a fixture similar to those played in the International Champions Cup format each summer could work well in Britain. A side from MLS playing a top Premier League club at Wembley in front of 90,000 soccer-crazed fans would make for some spectacle.

You only have to look at the interest that the MLS All-Stars fixture garners each year – with this season’s instalment seeing Real Madrid take on the best of MLS in Chicago on August 2. Allowing English fans to watch their favourite club face off against an MLS outfit firsthand here in the UK would surely heighten the league’s growth.

A mini-league could even be an option. Let’s say, for example, the top side from both the Eastern and Western Conference come to Wembley and play against the Premier League’s first and second place teams each year. The Premier League clubs could each face the two MLS sides, with the showcase finale allowing the two MLS sides to battle it out on the same field at the end of the tournament.

There are plenty of options to be explored if the league’s expansion overseas steps up over the coming seasons and MLS would undoubtedly put on a great show. The ideas above are simply just suggestions in their rawest form. But we would love to see MLS teams showcased on UK soil in the near future.

Have your say below – Would you like to see MLS teams play in the UK? And which MLS clubs would you most like to see play at a stadium like Wembley?

Advertisements

First official MLS Viewing Party in London a major success for growing UK support base

The first official MLS Viewing Party in the UK took place on Saturday evening as fans flocked to The Pilgrim Pub in Kennington, London to watch New York City FC take on New York Red Bulls in the first NY Derby of the 2017 regular season.

The landmark event was a roaring success, with special guest Frank Lampard on hand to ensure all those in attendance were left to enjoy an unforgettable evening.


RELATED: Meet the fans who packed the New York Derby watch party in London


There were around 150 fans at Saturday’s Viewing Party, with the majority of supporters in attendance there to cheer Lampard’s former club, New York City FC on as they sealed a first ever win at Red Bull Arena with an impressive 2-0 win.

Although Frank Lampard was the centre of attention for most of the evening, former referees Howard Webb and Peter Walton also arrived to enjoy the evening surrounded by excited supporters.

Webb has recently taken up a position as MLS Manager of VAR operations, and will be spearheading the introduction of the new technology into Major League Soccer, starting with a test run in the 2017 MLS All-Star game on August 2. While Walton is in his fifth year as General Manager of the Professional Referees Association in North America.

The match was shown live on Sky Sports 5, with reporter Gary Cotterill on hand with a Sky camera crew to cover the event, with live shots from inside the pub broadcast live on air during Saturday’s game.

It was brilliant to see so many UK fans enjoying a live game under the same roof and was testament to the impressive and ever-growing development of Major League Soccer here in Great Britain and beyond.

MLSGB would like to thank Major League Soccer and Macesport for organising Saturday’s event and can’t wait to see all of our fellow MLS fans at another UK Viewing Party in the future.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcome to our new-look website!

Hello and welcome to our new and updated website! It’s amazing to think that MLSGB is already more than two years old. We’ve grown an incredible amount in that short time and have seen MLS grow even more as two new franchises have joined the league and a whole host of international stars have moved stateside to help the league develop further.

MLSGB wouldn’t be where it is today without your continuous support. We’ve had over 1 million website visitors since forming in 2014 and want to thank each and every one of you who has been a part of our journey thus far. We want to see Major League Soccer reach its enormous potential, both here in the UK and in the US, and we have noticed that development take huge strides over the past couple of seasons. The future is certainly bright.

While we could sit here and look back over so many highlights, it seems more fitting to look forward. MLS will welcome its 21st franchise next season, with Atlanta United joining the league. Plans are also in place to see Los Angeles FC, Minnesota United FC and Miami take the total number of teams up to 24 so the league’s growth is showing no signs of slowing down, and nor are we.

Our new website is largely the same, in that we’ll be bringing you quality MLS and Premier League content on a regular basis as we help the British and American soccer communities continue to engage with one and other. You’ll notice a new logo design, which we would like to thank Graphic Designer Liam Foster for. He has done an incredible job in injecting a new lease of life into the MLSGB website and you’ll see plenty of his visuals across the site from this moment on. You can see more of his work here.

We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in without a whole host of contributors, who have helped to grow the league on both sides of the Atlantic. From MLSGB photographers, Denise McCooey and Ashley Marshall, to writers such as Ben Ashton, Zack Walford, Dave Lewis, Jamie Dawe and Keave Tollington, all of whom have helped our mission to grow MLS.

But we need to also say a special thanks to you, the fans. Football would be nothing without fans, and we can safely say that Major League Soccer has one of the most passionate and devoted fan bases in world football. So keep supporting, keep cheering and keep getting in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_!

Thanks,

Louis East – MLSGB Editor.

2016 MLS Season: MLSGB predicts final standings

With the 2016 MLS Season just a few days away, the excitement is really starting to build. Preseason preparations are all but over and so it’s time for all 20 clubs to get serious as they look to start the new campaign on the right foot.

We’ve been publishing out 2016 MLS Season Previews over the past couple of weeks and below you can find our predicted league standings.

This predictions are based on how good we think each side currently looks heading into 2016. It’s almost impossible to guess how MLS sides will perform over the 34 regular season games but we’ve had a good go at it anyway.

Click on any team name below to read their 2016 season preview and let us know what you think of these predictions in the comments section below, or on Twitter.

Eastern Conference

1

Columbus Crew Logo

Columbus Crew

2

New York Red Bulls Logo

New York Red Bulls

3

Toronto FC Logo

Toronto FC

4

DC United Logo

DC United

5

Montreal Impact Logo

Montreal Impact

6

New York City Logo

New York City FC

7

Orlando City Logo

Orlando City SC

8

New England Revolution Logo

New England Revolution

9

Philadelphia Union Logo

Philadelphia Union

10

Chicago Fire Logo

Chicago Fire

Western Conference

1

LA Galaxy Logo

LA Galaxy

2

FC Dallas Logo

FC Dallas

3

Portland Timbers Logo

Portland Timbers

4

Seattle Sounders Logo

Seattle Sounders

5

Vancouver Whitecaps Logo

Vancouver Whitecaps

6

San Jose Earthquakes Logo

San Jose Earthquakes

7

Sporting Kansas City Logo

Sporting Kansas City

8

Houston Dynamo Logo

Houston Dynamo

9

Real Salt Lake Logo

Real Salt Lake

10

Colorado Rapids Logo

Colorado Rapids

Join the MLSGB Fantasy League now!

The 2016 MLS season is closing in and that means it’s time to start getting your MLS Fantasy Teams in before the first whistle on Sunday, March 6.

This year, we are hosting our own MLS Fantasy league so you can try and put your MLS knowlegde to the test against the MLSGB team, as well as each other!

To join the MLSGB Fantasy League, head to the MLS Fantasy homepage and head to the ‘Leagues’ tab at the top of the page. From there, you need to click on ‘Create and join new leagues’ before hitting the ‘Join a league’ tab on the next page.

Then click ‘Join Private League’ and when prompted enter the code: 4670-1287

For all the latest MLS Fantasy rule changes and new point-scoring updates, head the official MLS Fantasy page.

MLSGB reaction to New York Times publication

As many of our readers will be aware, MLSGB was featured in a New York Times article today regarding the English outlook on the ever-growing MLS.

We would like to just issue a few acknowledgements as the support we’ve received on social media highlight everything we stand for.

We recognise the growth of MLS and are doing all we can to help the league on either side of the Atlantic. The kind words we’ve received from so many fans prove that Major League Soccer has incredible supporters across the globe, all united in helping soccer to grow in the U.S. and Canada.

We’d like to thank the New York Times for all their work in producing this piece. Ken Belson, who wrote the article, was excellent company along with photographer Andrew. They deserve great credit for travelling to Canterbury on a cold Sunday night to enjoy MLS Decision Day with us!

But once again, it’s the fans who make the league so special. As Brits, we have an abundance of football/soccer to watch on a daily basis from across Europe. But MLS is special as far as we’re concerned. The league is taking huge strides year-by-year and is on its way to greatness.

Keep up your excellent support and MLS will continue to claim more admirers, hopefully on both sides of the pond!

Thanks,

Louis East – MLSGB Editor.

MLS Power Rankings: Week 26 – Red Bulls on top as Sporting KC slide

The 2015 regular season doesn’t have long to run in MLS and there is still so much at stake for teams across the league. Week 26 saw the drama continue as there were 31 goals scored in the 12 games for an average of 2.58 per game.

The league is averaging 2.7 goals per game, which points to great entertainment once again, despite the slow start to the season in terms of goal action.

There are just eight weeks left to go in the regular season as the playoffs draw ever closer and the MLSGB Power Rankings return this week after an unplanned break.

With four weeks having passed since our last rankings, there are no change indicators included below, but positions are what matter most, especially with the postseason approaching.

The Red Bulls have moved into top spot following their 3-0 home win over DC United, while the Philadelphia Union sit bottom after a 1-0 home loss to New England.

Sporting Kansas City continued their poor form with a 2-1 loss at Colorado and they find themselves in 12th place now, despite looking in great shape a month ago.

Here’s how the MLSGB Power Rankings look after Week 26’s action:

MLS Power Rankings: Week 26

What do you make of our latest Power Rankings? Should the Red Bulls be top?

PHOTOS: Exclusive images of new Sounders signing Roman Torres in training

The Seattle Sounders have not been anywhere near good enough in recent times, but they are actively trying to change that by shaking up their roster as we approach the final stretch of the regular season.

A new Designated Player has arrive in the form of Nelson Valdez, while Andreas Ivanschitz has further bolstered the attack. Then, today Panamanian centre-back Roman Torres was acquired using Targeted Allocation Money as Seattle look to start climbing back up the Western Conference.

Torres should bolster the Sounders’ backline and his threat from set-pieces will also prove to be valuable. He helped Panama to a third-place finish at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup and looks a promising signing.

See him in action in Sounders training below, along with some other shots taken by our North American photographer, Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders Signing Roman Torres Seattle Sounders Signing Andreas Ivanschitz Seattle Sounders Training Roman Torres Seattle Sounders Training Seattle Sounders Training Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders Training Roman Torres Lamar Neagle Seattle Sounders Training Clint Dempsey

MLS Musings: August 2015 – Big name arrivals and is the MVP race over?

By Drew Farmer – Twitter: @CalcioFarmer

Major League Soccer MVP race over already?

Sebastian Giovinco, Benny Feilhaber and Kei Kamara are currently the numbers one through three in the MLS MVP race. Right now, Giovinco is hands down the player most valuable to his team. 16 goals and nine assists in 21 games shows that signing the attacking Italian was a brilliant investment for the club. Giovinco has scored 44% of Toronto FC’s goals in 2015.

Though Feilhaber and Kamara are also having career seasons, Toronto have never qualified for the MLS playoffs. If Giovinco can drag them over the line, currently third in the Eastern Conference, he is most deserving of the MVP trophy.

Embed from Getty Images

Seattle shouldn’t be this bad

Seattle Sounders are currently the worst team, in terms of form, in MLS. The Sounders have lost seven of their last eight matches and were destroyed by Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0 last weekend at home. A lot of their problems have coincided with Obafemi Martins’ injury and Clint Dempsey being away on international duty. However, Dempsey’s return didn’t help in that loss to the Whitecaps on Saturday.

Seattle always seems to have potential, but whether it’s needing another midfielder or defender, the side never looks complete. This week, the Sounders announced the signing of 31-year-old Andreas Ivanschitz on a free transfer. Ivanschitz last played for Spanish side Levante, scoring four times in 49 matches and will look to improve the Sounders’ fortunes.

Trades and Transfers 

Speaking at the MLS All-Star Game, commissioner Don Garber stated that the league is losing money. Of course, there have been big names joining MLS this year. This summer alone, Didier Drogba, Giovani Dos Santos and Gonzalo Veron were added to the league on DP deals. In the case of Dos Santos and Veron, transfer fees were also paid.

With the transfer window about to end (August 6th), depending on when you’re reading this, several teams have made one or two signings to improve and others have stood still. Looking at the moves made already, New York Red Bulls may have done the best business. The MLS’s most in-form team added to the great chemistry already at coach Jesse Marsch’s disposal. Shaun Wright-Phillips joined his brother, Bradley at Red Bull Arena and days later the club unveiled Gonzalo Veron as their newest DP.

Embed from Getty Images

DC United holding on to squad for stretch run

While their I-95 rivals, the Red Bulls, added two attacking players, DC United have kept their roster mostly unchanged. The Black and Red did trade for Alvaro Saborio in the middle of July, however.

DC are currently relying on 32-year-old Chris Rolfe and 31-year-old Jairo Arrieta to lead the way in scoring, with Fabian Espindola battling ongoing injuries. So far it is a recipe that has worked at RFK Stadium. However, away from the nation’s capital, DC have suffered four of their five losses. DC goes to Red Bull Arena at the end of August so be ready for a close run-in at the end of the season in the East.

Expansion, Expansion, Expansion!!!

During the All-Star Game festivities, Garber spoke about the expansion plans for MLS in the coming years. Atlanta and Minnesota have already received expansion teams and the league is adamant a new, second Los Angeles team would be unveiled. Garber also stressed that Miami is still an option and a city the league wants to play in.

MLS is already at its strongest with 20 teams and has fans that are hungry to see North American soccer on a regular basis. But does MLS need 24 teams, or any more than that?

Some have speculated that MLS could have 28 to 30 clubs in another 10 to 15 years, more similar to other American sports leagues. The North American Soccer League died due to over expansion and found the appeal of soccer wore off after a hot start. Although MLS has been building for 20 seasons now and soccer is very strong in the US, it’s still no more than the fourth most popular sport in the country.

Embed from Getty Images

Rather than see more expansion after Minnesota and Atlanta – does LA need another try at a second team and does Miami really need to be in MLS? – the league should improve the product even more. Increasing the salary cap, to say $10 million and eliminate most of the financial mechanisms that allow teams to gain more salary space would be massively beneficial. Basically be more European. If MLS wants to grow outside of North America, being more European would help. From my experience, MLS turns off too many fans with its various financial methods and spending.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that writes for World Soccer Talk. Drew has contributed to Radio Yorkshire MLS Monday, Forza Italian Football, Bleacher Report, MLSGB and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, British football and the USA’s Major League Soccer.

MLS Power Rankings: Week 21 – FC Dallas go top as San Jose fall again

Week 21 is behind us as there were a whopping 39 goals in the nine MLS matches played over the weekend – an average of 4.3 per game.

That means the MLSGB Power Rankings have changed up once again as we have a new team topping the pile. FC Dallas move into top spot after their 4-1 win over Portland made it five on the bounce for the MLS Supporters’ Shield leaders.

Sporting Kansas City fall to third after their 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake with the Vancouver Whitecaps up into second place.

Further down the rankings are the San Jose Earthquakes as they fall once again after the 3-1 loss to Vancouver on Sunday night made it four defeats on the bounce.

Here’s how our MLS Power Rankings look after Week 21’s action:

MLS Power Rankings: Week 21