It is clear from some of the news stories coming out in the last few days that the MLS is growing at a staggering rate. New York technically already has representation in American soccer with the New York Red Bulls. But the fact that they actually play their home games in New Jersey has, perhaps, opened up the opportunity to form a second New York team.
The plans are certainly ambitious and include the building of a new 25,000-capacity stadium to be based in Queens, New York. The idea of housing a new franchise in this location is understandable. After all, this is the place that thousands of fans flock to every year to see elite tennis at the U.S. Open.
The potential of David Beckham to be an owner has been discussed, and the MLS in general plans to become one of the major soccer leagues in the world by 2022. While it’s always nice to have inspirations and targets. That is one goal that they are going to find very hard to achieve, soccer may be one of those things that the Americans won’t be able to dominate.
However, it is not hard to see why New York City is seen as crucial in any strategy in future growth. The fact of the matter is it is a very desirable place to live, and there would be enough players that the lifestyle would appeal to. It is clear that LA Galaxy have benefited from the lifestyle that they can offer in order to attract some of the biggest names, and New York would hope to do something similar.
The potential rivalry between the New York Red Bulls and this new proposed franchise also offers an interesting element to all of this. But if the United States wants to be taken seriously as a soccer destination than they have a number of challenges to overcome.
The biggest one will be to convince Americans that soccer is a major sport that should be followed in the way football, basketball, baseball and hockey is. The majority of soccer stadiums in the USA don’t house more than 25,000 people. It is worth remembering that this is very small for a major team in Europe.
There has been significant progress in attracting the top players to the league, but they still have yet to do so in terms of bringing in a major player in the prime of their career. At the moment, America is seen as a place to finish a playing career. This may be a perception that needs to be changed in terms of being taking seriously. But a team based in Queens, New York would do an awful lot for progress.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons/AngMoKio