With the departure of legends such as Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia in the obsolete NASL, American soccer fans have had little to cheer about, and soccer has taken a backseat to the likes of the traditional pastime of baseball and football, generally the American public seem to have completely lost interest in the beautiful game that is soccer.
After hosting the FIFA World Cup in 1994, the Americans appeared to acknowledge soccer once more for what it really was. The success of the World Cup was what led to the creation of the MLS, Major League Soccer, however the league soon found that it was struggling from lack of attendance after the first MLS season. The league that showed such promise continued to fall further into financial debt which was the main reason that Doug Logan resigned as commissioner. In their hour of need the league turned to Don Garber, who was a veteran in the sporting industry and the former International Chief of the National Football League.
Garber placed his emphasis on how important it was to take small steps, something his predecessors had not managed as this would assure the stability of the league in the future. However, with just one team having a specific soccer stadium of their own the league found it was facing debt in the region of $34 million by 1998. Garber however took immediate precautionary measures to secure the survival of the league in the U.S. Garber along with fellow league owners implemented a commercial soccer company which they named Soccer United Marketing and the aim was to gain rights to all commercial soccer properties within America. This project turned out to be an excellent decision and led to the construction of the Home Depot which became home to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2003.
By sticking to the plan that had been implemented by Garber, the league saw substantial growth both in the quality of the soccer being played in the U.S and also financially. Although the league relied heavily on building a solid foundation of strong talent they did see the rise of a number of Canadian and American stars who have moved on to impress in elite competitions played in Europe.
The English Premiership club Fulham FC in particular is one of the main clubs that have benefited from the MLS with the growing America talent that has joined their ranks. Whilst the Americans may not have taken the Premier League by storm they have certainly made their mark.
Before the former manager of Fulham Lawrie Sanchez was sacked he was often heard claiming how the US players demonstrated a higher level of physical prowess, work ethic, team spirit and professionalism. It is true to say that American soccer has gain respect from the so called football experts in Europe.
The new designated player rule has provided the teams in the MLS the opportunity to have quality international superstar players in their league. Even the most glamorous of players have been tempted over such as David Beckham for LA Galaxy. The MLS went a step further when they expanded their market creating the SuperLiga, which is a North American competition which operates in the same way as the European Champions League. The competition saw four teams from America and four teams from Mexico go head to head to determine the best in the North American region. The competition was led by the infamous David Beckham but LA Galaxy fell short to Pachuca from Mexico when they met for a penalty shootout in the final.
Today the league is growing so rapidly that there may even be a possibility to implement a 2 league relegation table. In the same way as how the European pyramid system works, the top teams of the 2nd tier would get promoted to the top league whilst those at the bottom would be relegated to the lower league. Currently though despite the popularity of this system in Europe, the idea may not sit well with the North Americans and therefore they will be keeping the current playoff system or the foreseeable future.