From a national perspective, only so many MLS teams are rocking their stadiums and showing off fun talent with highlight style goals.
It’s hard to replicate the aura involved with rivalry matches. But, there needs to be a sufficient amount of marquee matches to rally around from week to week. This is part of what it’s going to take in order for MLS to keep converting U.S. sports fans mired deep in the traditional spectator sports of the NFL, NBA and MLB.
Not every match can be like LA-Portland, Portland-Seattle, LA-Seattle, San Jose-LA or D.C-N.Y.
To see a listing of all the MLS rivalry Cups, click here.
Part of the argument for attracting more of a national audience involves bringing on more teams. It’s hard for sports fans without any connection to MLS to buy-in to watching the league.
Beckham, Donovan and the rivalry matches are the main attractions for MLS, nationally.
MLS is far behind the other sports in national television ratings. Catching up to them could require more expansion than they have, 32 in the NFL, 30 in the NBA and in MLB.
There may be room for up to 36 teams (click here to see article that speculates on the additional cities to get to 36) in MLS. This could be the magic number of maximum teams to attract national audiences.
Galvanizing the public’s attention is harder now in the 21st century. The other ‘Major’ spectator sports established themselves in the 20th century when there were less entertainment options.
These are the projected signature games with outstanding ambiance and possible thrills to see for the month of August:
August 8th-Seattle at Sporting KC for the US Open Cup championship.
August 10th-Houston at New York is a battle for #1 in the Eastern Conference.
August 11th-D.C. United at Sporting KC for Eastern Conference playoff positioning.
August 11th-Salt Lake at Vancouver for Western Conference playoff positioning.
August 11th-Seattle at San Jose for Western Conference playoff positioning.
August 15th-LA at Columbus in cross-conference match-up in which a win is huge for either team as they are pushing for the playoffs.
August 18th-Vancouver at Seattle for Cascadia Cup/West. Conference playoff positioning (day game).
August 22nd-Chicago at D.C. United for Eastern Conference playoff positioning.
August 26th-New York at Sporting KC for Eastern Conference playoff positioning.
August 29th-New York at D.C. United for Eastern Conference playoff positioning and the Atlantic Cup.
Check MLSSoccer.com for best options of TV viewing.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com