It has been 13 years since former Real Madrid and Manchester United star David Beckham made the move to Major League Soccer (MLS) with LA Galaxy. During these 13 years, the MLS has progressed by leaps and bounds not only in attracting big names like Steven Gerrard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kaka, Wayne Rooney, Nani and more recently, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez but also in the volume of viewership. Owners in the MLS have now claimed that in the 25th season of the MLS, the league could soon overtake popular leagues like MLB, Premier League and LaLiga.
Los Angeles FC (LAFC) lead owner Larry Berg indulged in a tinge of unbridled optimism this week. The 25th season of the MLS kicks off this weekend and spirits are seemingly high across the United States and the MLS, especially with the arrival of the two new teams, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC. Speaking on the eve of the 25th season of the MLS, LAFC lead owner Larry Berg said that there is a large possibility of the MLS passing MLB and NHL as the top-ranked sport in the United States. "I think we'll pass baseball (MLB) and hockey (NHL) and be the No. 3 sport in the U.S. behind football (NFL) and basketball (NBA).
Berg continued by saying that the MLS holds a demographic edge over MLB. He continued by saying that the fact that people want to live in the United States, courtesy of the lifestyle and the infrastructure, will likely mean that MLS will be one of the top sports leagues in the United States. Jorge Mas, co-owner of MLS' new entrants Inter Miami, said, "I think MLS will be one of the top sports leagues in the United States. I think it will be on par or exceed the best leagues in the world, the Premier League or Serie A or La Liga worldwide. I think that the MLS 25 years from now will be Premier League-ish if we want to so-call it that on the metrics that leagues are measured by."
Interestingly, with a view to rivalling the Premier League and LaLiga, MLS has welcomed what could likely be the last entrant in the league. Franchises based in Austin, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina will be the new entrants in the MLS next season. David Tepper, who currently owners the Carolina Panthers in the NFL, purchased the Charlotte franchise for an MLS-record $325 million, according to ESPN reports. In a separate interview, MLS commissioner Don Garber said that the Charlotte franchise will likely be the last expansion team in the league.