With a third of the 2013 season completed, a very exciting race has developed on the sporting side, but off the pitch the Major League Soccer (MLS) is creating headlines in both the USA and Canada. The New York Red Bulls have started with a series of successes in the Eastern Conference, accompanied by strong competition from Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact. In the Western Conference, FC Dallas lead from Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers, while champions Los Angeles Galaxy are lagging behind, as they did during the regular season last year. But the professional football league of the USA and Canada is producing larger headlines with news about its economic base.
The fact that Continental AG have renewed their sponsorship contract with the MLS, and at the same time signed an agreement with the US Soccer Federation (USSF), was widely reported in the media. With this contract running for several years, Continental remains the official partner of, and sole tyre supplier for the MLS in the United States and Canada. In addition to perimeter advertising at MLS matches, the company will also be publicised with further activities at events such as the MLS All Star Game and the MLS Cup. It is new that Continental Tire will also become official sponsor and tyre supplier for all US national teams. The contract includes the US men’s team, the very successful US women, as well as the junior teams, and is also valid for the FIFA World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The partnerships with the MLS and the USSF are part of the international co-operation by Continental with football. In England a four-year contract with the Football Association (FA), concerning the training centre at St. George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent, received much attention.
Not just the co-operation with Continental, plus the top match between Eastern Conference leaders New York Red Bulls and title holders Los Angeles, which the Bulls won 1-0 with a goal from Australian Tim Cahill in the final minute in front of 25,200 spectators on May 19, dominated public interest. It was also news that the MLS is to expand. In 2015, a 20th team will be admitted to the MLS – New York City FC. Behind the club are Manchester City, the 2012 English champions, and record-winning baseball champions New York Yankees. “It makes us very proud that two of the most famous professional clubs world-wide are going to engage in the MLS”, said MLS boss Don Garber. The rivalry between NY City and the New York Red Bulls should further increase interest in football. ManCity will become the main shareholder of New York City. The former Bundesliga professional Claudio Reyna, who played with Leverkusen and Wolfsburg between 1995 and 1999, has been appointed sports director at New York City FC. Six years ago the now 39-year-old played with Manchester City.
And the positive news around the MLS continued. Three days after announcing his retirement from active football at the end of the season, David Beckham talked about taking over an MLS team. After his last match at Paris St. Germain on May 26, where he once again achieved a title, he is obviously planning a new career. Beckham, who played with Los Angeles Galaxy from 2007 until the end of 2012 and won two championship titles, has learned to appreciate the MLS and the United States. First talks have already taken place between his advisers and management with the MLS.
An MLS spokesman disclosed that the talks would continue in order to find a suitable location for a Beckham club. “Sports Illustrated”, the leading North American sports magazine, reported that MLS Vice President Dan Courtemanche had hinted Beckham wanted to found his own club and not take over an existing one. The magazine wrote the Englishman could receive special conditions for a foundation. The costs should amount to 25 million US dollars. Montreal Impact had to pay 40 million dollars to join the MLS as the 19th team a year ago. And Beckham apparently is already considering a location, which could appeal greatly to the MLS leadership: Miami, the metropolis in the US Federal State of Florida is where Beckham feels his ownership debut would be suitable.