A professional soccer team in Miami is becoming more and more of a reality. With an announcement in December by Miami Beckham United (the ownership group for the team, captained by former star David Beckham) that a stadium will go up in the Overtown neighborhood of the South Florida city, it appears that an MLS expansion to Miami has reached the point of no return. And while Miami futbol fanatics are thrilled about the news of their new team, here’s why the rest of the MLS should be as well.
Since the inception of professional soccer in the US, the common knock on the MLS was that it simply couldn’t compete with powerhouses like those in Spain and England. The root of that was simple, quality of players. And while signings in the more recent years of the likes of David Villa, Thierry Henry, and most notably David Beckham have shed some hope that this would change, these international icons were fading talents with little potential left at the time of their arrivals on American soil. The real question is how do we get young talent to come to/stay in America? Miami might offer the answer to that:
I’ll leave the population statistics out of it because I think this one is pretty straightforward. Miami is one of the most international cities in the US. For a player coming from a foreign country, especially a Spanish speaking one, living in Miami could help make the prospect of transitioning to a new country much less daunting.
It’s no secret that historically, soccer is not a sport at the forefront of American culture. While sports like football (American), baseball, and basketball have traditionally dominated viewers interest, soccer has usually fallen by the wayside. In Miami, however, that is not necessarily the truth. Yes, Miami fans love their Heat (and occasionally Marlins and Dolphins when they win), but because Miami is such an international city, a huge portion of the population are from an environment where soccer is the priority. A new MLS team in Miami could give the fans something to cheer for when it isn’t basketball season. What great player doesn’t want to come to a city where the fans love them and the game?
Quality of Life: We see it all the time in professional sports. Unless you’re LeBron James and have some type of sentimental tie to a city like Cleveland (with as much respect as possible), talent flows to the biggest markets. There’s a reason that cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas consistently have strong, winning teams. They have the most appeal to great players! Be it money, a great nightlife, weather, a beautiful high-rise condo on South Beach where half the world comes to vacation (:p), a prospective soccer talent would much rather live in a city like Miami than one like say Columbus, Ohio.
Put all these things together, and you have yourself a potential hotspot for international soccer talent. And it only takes a few great players to come and like it here before more start to follow! There have even already been rumors that Cristiano Ronaldo wants to come to Miami to play. Nothing is confirmed, but if it’s good enough for CR7, I think it’s safe to say it’s good enough for most.