Friday, March 23, 2007

Which Teams Need To Be Successful In 2007?

To me, following the rise of the league off the field will be just as exciting as anything on the pitch. As a fan of statistics, I've always enjoyed following tv ratings, movie box office receipts, and music charts. So that's why this offseason has been the most exciting in league history. You have the DP rule, new tv contracts, shirt sponsorships, and more. It really feels like 2007 is the start of the long-awaited "rise."

And let's face it, certain teams being successful would help the league as a whole way more than others, not to mention the teams themselves. Some could certainly use a winning season. Which teams most need to successful in 2007? My rankings are below.

Last season, I also ranked the teams on this topic. Eventual champions Houston were ranked third, while the LA Galaxy were last. My, how things change.

1) Los Angeles Galaxy (2006-12th)

A no brainer. With David Beckham's arrival, the eyes of the country and the world will be on them. Having a quality team would be a great story and also would ensure even more exposure.

2) Real Salt Lake (2006-4th)

You definitely don't want to be branded as losers. Just ask the Los Angeles Clippers or Arizona Cardinals. So that's why this is a critical year for RSL. Checketts has said he expects nothing less than the playoffs this season. They get better coverage than other other team in the league, so they have the potential to really benefit from success, too. Plus they now have Adu.

3) Colorado Rapids (2006-10th)

For the first time, the spotlight will be on them as they open their new stadium. Like Dallas in 2005, this is a chance to reintroduce fans to the team. I don't think anyone expects them to put up high attendance numbers or win new fans overnight, but they will be getting more local attention and this is the time to plant some seeds. They need it given the team's history.

4) CD Chivas USA (2006-1st)

Like I mentioned last year, if MLS can draw a ton of Mexican fans with Chivas, it's one step closer to reaching all soccer fans in this country. Not to mention that Chivas has supporters all over the USA. The losses of Palencia and Garcia mean that the team has fewer superstars, so the win/loss record could be even more important.

5) Red Bull New York (2006-2nd)

Would've put them higher, but it seems like as usual with MLS teams, the real efforts will be made once the stadium is built. So this is kind of a throwaway year. The history of the team and the size of the market are both important factors.

6) Houston Dynamo (2006-3rd)

Why are they this high after 2006? Because, season one of MLS in Houston was a big success. they got a lot of media attention. Two straight years of good media coverage and success would help establish the team as a big time player in Houston sports. Not to mention the search for a stadium, as well as the potential for bigger crowds. With most older MLS teams, a successful year wouldn't mean as much compared to a new franchise establishing a foothold.

7) Columbus Crew (2006-7th)

Things certainly aren't as good in Crew-land compared to the 90's. Can a winning team bring the excitement back?

8) Toronto FC

Nobody expects much out of an expansion team. Plus they'll have lots of coverage and fan support no matter what. An average season would be just fine. Also, could winning it all right away actually be a negative?

9) Chicago Fire (2006-5th)

Like the Crew, seem to be lacking the excitement factor.

10) FC Dallas (2006-6th)

They've been pretty good for two years now. So it's hard to see what another good year would do for them.

11) DC United (2006-11th)

DC's been the most successful team in league history, and they can afford a down year. You could make an argument that their quality and style of play would make for favorable impressions among new MLS fans. But other teams that would be successful would likely play attractive soccer as well.

12) Kansas City Wizards (2006-8th)

They really have nowhere to go but up after the lack of advertising or televised games in recent seasons. With these efforts being made by the new owners, everything should be better (including attendance) regardless of the team's record. Let's also not forget the stadium they play in, and the fact that they'll have to play somewhere else next year. So it makes it hard to keep any momentum going.

13) New England Revolution (2006-9th)

The Revs have been very good for years now, and they still have low attendance. Hard to see anything changing this season.

Disagree? Post your rankings in the comments.

Comments on "Which Teams Need To Be Successful In 2007?"


Blogger The Manly Ferry said ... (1:17 PM, March 23, 2007) : 

Yesterday, I called you insane. Today, I'm calling you a monster.

Why, oh, why did you have to point out the painful reality that New England, as a business proposition, struggles so mightily.

It hurts inside...


Blogger Eric PZ said ... (9:54 PM, March 23, 2007) : 

Why is NY so low? After losing $14 mil last season, you'd think they'd need to improve their onfield performance to help in other areas. They should at least be ahead of the Goats here.


Anonymous Mark in NRH said ... (2:41 PM, March 26, 2007) : 

I would put RSL at the top of the list. Their position is tenious at best and a good gate showing throughout the year could solidfy their position. Same goes for KC.

Really, those clubs that have their own SSS really don't have to do well on the pitch -- they're not going anywhere anytime soon. And the Galaxy still have Donovan and Becks together for at least 2+ years, so ...

The league is very close to turning the corner in every aspect. Secure the foundation of a last few clubs and then MLS can concentrate on better marketing.

Those that need strong performances:
1) RSL --> not out of the woods yet
2) NYRB --> need momentum going into the Harrison complex. Don't pull a Dallas Burn/Chicago type bare bones budget and then have to start all over again
3) KC --> same as RSL
4) Houston --> Need to get the public behind a stadium. Don't want them to go NASL on us (moving every couple of years)
5) Colorado --> SSS needs to have fans in it
6) LA Galaxy
7) Chicago
8) FC Dallas
9) Columbus
10) Chivas
11) NE Revs
12) DC
13) Toronto FC


Blogger Mike H said ... (9:31 AM, March 30, 2007) : 

A great list. Here is my takes:

1. RSL - The stadium deal is still hurting them. The best way to make people forget is to have a strong year.

2. KC Wizards - Their attendance numbers are gutter ball. If they want support for a new field, they need to prove people will actually show up for it.

3. NYRB - After years as a joke, the sooner they start changing their image, the better.

4. Crew - They need to win before fans of Columbus forget who they are.

5. Houston - A good season will just grow their fan base and put them in a good place for stadium deals.

6. Rapids - This is their chance to be reborn.

7. Toronto FC - A solid first year would insure another couple good years.

8. LA - They all ready sell out at home, but now is their chance to become a national team.

9. Chivas - Just need to prove that they deserve the support.

10. Chicago - Great field, now build the fans.

11. FCD - They keep improving their numbers.

12. DCU - They have a great core of fans.

13. NE - As you said, good years on the pitch seem to mean little in terms of fans. Seems like a front office change is needed.


Blogger scaryice said ... (1:28 AM, April 09, 2007) : 

I think Chivas deserves to be near the top because they have the potential to pull in fans that normally wouldn't care about MLS.

KC is near the bottom because I think they'll get the stadium no matter what, because the owners are committed. Even if they draw poorly this year, they can say it was because of the previous neglect.


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