According to Sports Media Watch the Major League Soccer championship game on Sunday between the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas drew a 0.5 rating on ESPN, a 44% decline from 2009. The ’09 game featured Landon Donovan and David Beckham leading the LA Galaxy against Real Salt Like so some decline was expected but the final numbers are a blow to the developing league given how much interest soccer drew in the US during the 2010 World Cup. Since the odds are you didn’t see the MLS Cup you can see how it ended here.
Also today at the Supporters Summit in Toronto MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced today that the playoffs will expand to 10 teams with an as-yet-to-be-determined selection process for four teams playing to earn the 9th & 10th spots. Garber also wouldn’t confirm if a change will be made to prevent teams from being moved across conference the way they are currently which led to Colorado and the San Jose Earthquakes meeting in the Eastern Conference finals:
Clearly this concept of having two Western teams in your Eastern Conference final, we’re not dummies, we know that’s probably not something you want to replicate.
Whether it’s the playoff format, the marketing of the playoffs, or the ongoing need to attract top-level global talent the MLS clearly has a lot of work to do before it is considered a top-tier league.