MLS marketing hitting the back of the net

Red_bulls_logoOK, so FC Barcelona thrashed Red Bull New York of Major League Soccer last Wednesday at Giants Stadium, 6-2. That’s hardly a surprise, given the sleep-eat-and-breathe nature of soccer in Spain. Even the Red Bulls’ coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, conceded: "They’ve got midfielders that can pass forever." But watching the Bulls rally against one of the oldest and finest European clubs as twilight turned to darkness, soccer fans like me would agree: Even if the MLS team’s game wasn’t on, the league’s marketing prowess is. In May, MLS’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, signed a five-year, six-game package to promote FC Barcelona here in the U.S. That means Thierry Henry will be coming to play on our turf with some regularity (if he doesn’t join Manchester United). Enjoying international play right on U.S. soil, in some cases in our backyard (mine being Central Park, where the players sometimes practice)—what more could diehard U.S. soccer fans want? And if you’re at the stadium and you look closely, you’ll catch a glimpse of some of our own favorite sports stars, like the NBA’s Steve Nash, who has outed himself as a soccer junkie. (Nash is bidding to buy a Vancouver-based MLS franchise). Someone recently said to me that MLS is like what sushi was 10 years ago—very hip. I agree.

—Posted by Shahnaz Mahmud