As the NHL Sinks, MLS Rises

| David M Singer

Why Soccer Threatens the NHL

Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League crossed paths this week going in opposite directions.

Heading into Saturday’s championship game between the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS Commissioner Dan Garber sounded victorious. The MLS set new attendance records and averaged nearly 19,000 fans a game this season, including 114 sellouts. The improving level of play, made possible by the addition of a new class of international talents such as Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry, has made the game more attractive for fans, who are embracing their teams. “There’s a true supporters culture that is developing in MLS that is providing us a true point of difference,” Garber said. And you can see in places like Seattle, where the games have a distinctly European feel. (Without the drunken louts and fan violence.) The league is strong enough that the pending loss of David Beckham, who since 2007 has single handedly provided MLS with an identity, can be considered a healthy transition.