Monday, January 4, 2010

On the threshold of a big year for US soccer

In the dead of frozen winter, only hours before the close of the decade and turn of the year, it’s hard to imagine how the 2010 World Cup will transform media and culture in the US by June.

Broadcast media and advertising will kick in hard around March and draw international glare onto the sport in the US. Those who love soccer will become more openly passionate, more visible. In that spotlight, some Americans will rediscover their interest, and others on the fringe or new to the sport will discover the passion.

The spring landscape is complicated by the new MLS collective bargaining agreement, which needs to be fairly resolved by January 31. Will there be a strike or will there be MLS games where soccer fans, inspired by the international frenzy, can kindle their interest in the North American league? If there are no spring MLS games, will soccer-addicted fans spill over to the women’s game in the WPS league? When the union issues are resolved, will the outcome permit a second designated player (up to three with trades) and draw on more foreign star power? Will the cap be raised enough to improve the level of play, rules modified to attract desirable players?

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