|Vancouver Whitecaps part owner & former 2-time NBA MVP/8-time All-Star.|
The calendar will now have an emptiness to it with mainly college basketball and the NHL being the featured players. Can anything be made out of this lull in the sports calendar to attract more sports fans to soccer?
Let's see, what are the options to see MLS?
I see three: CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, MLS.
CONCACAF Champions League is a close fit. This year the schedule is a week too late. The Montreal Impact and D.C. United are this year's contenders as quarterfinalists-starting play Tuesday February 24th. It is very difficult for MLS to have any control of the FIFA/CONCACAF calendar, so the Champions League would always be a timing issue.
U.S. Soccer has made changes to the U.S. Open Cup this year with early rounds not getting started until late April. MLS can't do much about these circumstances.
However, MLS can influence its own start to its season. For example, how about a couple of early games for Wednesday, February 18th to kick off the season-a doubleheader on national Tv. This would only be sixteen days before the scheduled season opener for Friday, March 6th, anyways.
Don't expect any planning for next season from MLS to be any different, though.
MLS has really made a mockery of trying to place itself in the sports calendar to win over more sports fans. Whether it has been on holidays or during MLB All-Star break, MLS has laid low and not gone for any imprint whatsoever.
If MLS does nothing as their MO has typically been when it comes to creativity in the sports calendar, then leave it to EPL to try something starting next year. The EPL knows it has got something brewing big in the U.S. and they want/need more of the action.
It's all about marketing and making your mark on the American sports fans.
EPL hit a homerun recently with its New Year's Day's coverage.
To answer the question, my analysis is that depending on how the calendar fluctuates from year to year, eventually EPL or the European Champions League will be the soccer winners of replacing the NBA in the sports calendar for this All-Star week break. It won't be MLS.
Also read: MLS Schedule Abandons Memorial Day