Things are looking good for the MLS. It’s reaching levels of popularity that nobody would have predicted as few as five or 10 years ago. In fact, just a couple of months ago, in December 2021, soccer overtook hockey as the fourth most popular sport in the US. That’s huge news, considering the immense popularity of the NHL!
A lot of the time, soccer’s popularity in the US is tied to particular events, including the World Cup. Not many people have cared too much about club football, at least until recently. But due to a string of exciting developments, it’s more popular now than it ever has been.
Another country that will be licking their lips in anticipation of jumping on the back of this success is neighboring Mexico. While international soccer has obviously always been a big deal in Central and South America, club football hasn’t really hit it off.
In fact, a lot of people will never have even heard of Liga MX, Mexico’s primary soccer league. But they might well do in the months and years to come. If the MLS can jump in popularity, why can’t Liga MX? This raises the question, what can Liga MX learn from the MLS in order to become as popular? We’re about to explore the options.
What has made the MLS so popular?
Up until fairly recently, the quality of soccer in the MLS wasn’t so good. However, a number of European stars began playing in the league towards the end of their careers, when their fitness wasn’t what it used to be and they couldn’t keep up with the pace of their domestic leagues any more.
Now, the list of superstar MLS converts from European football is huge. Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimović… It goes on and on. How could the league not be more exciting with these spectacular players on board? They create quite the spectacle.
On top of this, there has been a surge in the number of high-quality, homegrown American soccer stars. Consider the likes of Clint Dempsey, Christian Pulisic and Landon Donovan. While these stars are often shipped off around the world, they create a legacy of American soccer.
Another reason is investment. The MLS sees a lot more money than it used to. With David Beckham starting his Inter Miami team recently, it’s clear that MLS investment is at its highest ever, and that means there’s more scope to expand the franchise.
What does Liga MX have to do to catch up?
If we consider the things that have happened to the MLS, there are a few things that need to be attended to at Liga MX in order for them to try to catch up. First, a few big players need to go over there. If we can see some huge international soccer stars joining Liga MX teams, it’s obvious that the success of the league will increase. Look at China right now – not many were interested in the Chinese Super League until the likes of Oscar moved out there.
Mexico doesn’t have a problem with being a strong international soccer team. Sure, they’re not as good as their South American counterparts like Brazil and Argentina a lot of the time but historically, they’ve certainly been a stronger team than the US. This is not the problem for Liga MX.
In fact, the root of the problem for Liga MX is, indeed, money. This league sees nowhere near as much investment as the MLS does and it suffers as a result. If a few Liga MX teams were to be bought by wealthy companies or individuals, we’d certainly see a boost in popularity for the league as a whole.
Wrapping up on the MLS and Liga MX soccer popularity
It’s a shame that a lot of the popularity revolves around money but who’s to say things won’t get better for Liga MX in the not too distant future? If it can happen in the MLS, there’s no reason it can’t happen to its Central American neighbors. We have our fingers crossed for the future of Mexican league soccer!