MLS thrives but ubiquity is Holy Grail for Garber

Tue May 19, 2015 1:43pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With soccer-specific stadiums proliferating in the United States and 24 teams likely to be competing in Major League Soccer by 2018, Commissioner Don Garber could be forgiven for thinking that everything is rosy.

Ever the realist, though, Garber has long targeted soccer 'ubiquity' in the United States and he is well aware that much still needs to be accomplished before the sport becomes a perennial topic of water cooler conversation.

"We have not yet been able to create the ubiquity that exists with the other more established leagues, like the National Basketball Association and the National Football League," Garber told Reuters. "That's really our next frontier.

"That challenge is a generation in front of us but there is no doubt that the market is very ripe for Major League Soccer and we just need to stick to our knitting and be sure that we go about it in a smart and careful way."

For Garber, the 'Holy Grail' is all about soccer becoming a part of the daily conversation for sports fans, rather than being largely event-driven.

"We had a front page article in the LA Times," said Garber, referring to media coverage this week about Los Angeles Football Club, an MLS expansion team who will launch their inaugural season in 2018 after their new stadium has been built.

"I want a front page article when the Galaxy are playing Orlando, like they did at the weekend on ESPN, but we didn't have that. We had an article in the newspaper but the LA Clippers (of the NBA) were on the front page.

"We are still a ways away from that level of intense connection but that will come in time. You can't manufacture that."   Continued...

MLS commissioner Don Garber (right) presents Los Angeles Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz (left) with the MLS Cup championship trophy after the 2014 MLS Cup final at Stubhub Center. Dec 7, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports