The soccer landscape in the US looks very different now to what it was around a decade ago. Despite reaching the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea with a squad featuring 11 MLS players (including a 20 year old Landon Donovan), the 2003 MLS season played out with just 10 teams competing with 8 of them going on to the play-offs. Hardly very competitive.
Fast forward to the present day, and it’s barely recognisable. Firstly in this post, I’ll be looking at the ways MLS has transformed its fortunes over the years. The latter section will look specifically at league expansion and attitudes towards it franchises.
If you aren’t aware of the PSG resurgence into one of Europe’s elite clubs, then firstly, where have you been for the last two years? Secondly, hopefully you’ll be a bit more clued up after reading this.
PSG are hoping, and on course, to win their first Ligue 1 title since 1994 and in doing so they will have reached a milestone in a journey that started back in 2011. Their relationship with the Middle East started when Emirates became a sponsor back in 2005, which progressed to them being the main shirt sponsor the following year. Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) purchased a 70% stake in the club during 2011, and a year later, QSI completed their takeover of the club by buying all of the previous owners shares. QSI president Nasser Al-Khelaifi pledged ‘to make PSG a great team and a strong brand on the international scene, one that will make all the fans proud.’ The QSI takeover has propelled PSG into one of the richest clubs in the world, not bad for a team that finished 13th just three years ago. £121million was spent on Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Pastore (the most expensive signing in both league and club history). This can be closely compared to the £139million Real Madrid spent assembling their ‘Galácticos’ of Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham. Investing huge sums on players is never a sure fire recipe for success.