MLS 2022 expectations
Major League Soccer (MLS) has some big plans. Founded in 1993 and officially launched three years later, MLS started out as a relatively small outfit as part of the United States of America’s successful bid for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
It was initially launched with 10 teams and struggled for many years to stay afloat, with two teams even folding in 2002 due to financial problems. Since then, MLS implemented changes that have helped it become a profitable organisation.
They built soccer-specific stadiums throughout the US and, with an average attendance of 20,000, it now holds the fourth-highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the US and Canada.
In 2007, the league introduced the designated player rule, which allows teams to sign a limited number of players whose salary is above the established cap. England and Manchester United legend David Beckham was the first major player to join the MLS under this new rule, signing for LA Galaxy.
By signing world-renowned names, MLS was adding to its legitimacy and attracting wider audiences across the US and beyond.
Lastly, they also signed national TV contracts for broadcast rights to MLS games, bringing in further income and attention.
At the beginning of last year, MLS outlined its plans for the future and they are by no means conservative. Jorge Mas, who co-owns Inter Miami with Beckham, told Reuters that he believes the MLS will be on par with the biggest soccer leagues in the world – such as the Premier League in England and La Liga in Spain – and might even surpass them.
The MLS is unique in some respects as media rights only make up a small portion of its revenue, whereas leagues like the Premier League receive billions of dollars for broadcast rights not just in the UK but across the globe.
At the end of 2022, MLS’ eight-year $720 million broadcast deal with FOX, ESPN and Univision will end, and they expect to sign a major new deal which will significantly boost their revenue.
What this all means is that the 2022 season could be more competitive than ever, with major MLS teams vying for supremacy in a bid to bring in more money and better talent.
The Seattle Sounders are the current favourites to claim the MLS title this season, and if you’re looking to make a bet with a sportsbook, they’re priced at roughly +500.
Los Angeles FC and Orlando City are also in the running, and all three teams will be serious contenders in 2022 as well and are both looking for their first MLS title.
Next season will also see the introduction of a new team; Charlotte FC, who were announced to be joining the MLS several years ago. This is a part of the league’s continuing expansion, with other teams set to join over the next few years.
The biggest change in the MLS for 2022 will be the implementation of a brand new, lower-tier league. In June, MLS announced that it will introduce this new league to focus on the development of young players.
This new league does not yet have a name, but in its first year it will feature roughly 20 teams with a view to this number increasing as time goes on. This league will be an opportunity for younger players within youth squads to gain crucial experience to help prepare them for the top-tier in the MLS.
The organisation hopes this will also attract a new wave of coaches and backroom staff to help run and manage these teams and clubs. Essentially, this is yet further expansion of the MLS.
MLS confirmed that this new league will bring teams to towns and cities currently without a major soccer franchise, in the hopes of widening their audience. It also provides opportunities for new broadcast deals, advertising and sponsorships, all of which will bolster the MLS’ efforts to become one of the top soccer leagues in the world.
For 2022, this means there are likely to be less young and developing players in the MLS’ main league, as they will be more focused on this new league. However, it does mean that in future years, there’s an increased chance of fully-developed young players coming through from this new league into the top-tier, potentially raising the talent levels in the league.
As it is still such a young soccer league, the MLS is still working on ways to establish itself as a world-leader in the sport. It has shown in the past that new changes and adaptations have helped the league grow, which bodes well for the introduction of this new developmental league.
2022 could be a pivotal season for the MLS, as they will be looking to sign a new media rights deal, and the league will continue to expand with the addition of Charlotte. If MLS can continue to attract international talent like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while successfully introducing these new changes, they might just achieve their lofty goals and make not only the sport of soccer but betting on soccer, just as popular.