The U.S. domestic league kicked off its second decade yesterday with survival still the key and a sense of established security still elusive.
Everyone is Europe asks if and when football is going to grow in America and the answer is still the same: Give it time.
If crowds are the measure of success then MLS is either stagnant or stable, depending on how you look at it. Attendances have stayed at around 15,000 over the past decade although some clubs do better than others. The LA Galaxy drew a respectable 21,677 average last season and new arrivals Real Salt Lake were second on 18,037 and Chivas USA fourth with 17,080.
The league is certainly in better financial health than before having jettisoned its lowly-supported teams, moved into new stadia and signed a recent $150 million sponsorship deal with Adidas, and will still leap at any opportunity to cash in if European clubs want to sign its players.
Last year the league took the unprecedented step of Pkv revealing some salary figures, which made interesting reading. Top of the pile was LA’s Landon Donovan on $900,000 but at the other end Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares took home a measly $11,700.
Teammate Chris Rolfe, who recently played striker for the US National Team, collected a paltry $16,500 while fellow US international Clint Dempsey, who scored against England last summer and got the winner in the US’ recent win over Poland, earned a modest $57,875, some way behind their European colleagues and light years behind the stars of America’s major sports leagues.
The new season sees the first franchise move in the league’s history with the San Jose Earthquakes, one of the league’s top teams, moving from Northern California to Texas to become the Houston …