Overcoming a looming strike by the players, the MLS kick-off went as planned this weekend. The MLS game of the week was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend for the league. The two newest additions to the league NYFC and Orlando City SC battled it out at the Citrus Bowl in Florida and displayed many positive signs regarding how far the league has come since its formation twenty years ago. Tickets were sold out, and 62,510 fans watched soccer superstars David Villa and Kaka attempt to lead their teams to history.
The league had initially started off with ten teams, but today, features twenty. The league and teams’ finances continue to grow. The increase in designated players, high caliber players that are the highest paid players in the league, serves as a testimony to that fact. The MLS featured only five designated players in 2007. In 2015, forty-seven designated players are ready to provide a true spectacle this season. Moreover, new TV and media deals have brought the limelight to the league like never before.
The game itself which ended in a 1-1 draw was not the most impressive in terms of field production, but the enthusiastic fans who were chanting from the first minute to the last, and some dramatic moments in the game were most encouraging. Villa the protagonist of NYCFC, set up a goal for Diskerud in the 76th minute. Orlando’s Aurelien Collin was sent off in the 83rd minute but Kaka’s goal in the closing minutes of the game had the fans on their feet. Another bright spot of the game was the fact that the referee of the game handed out yellow cards on three occasions to players who fell to the ground intentionally in an attempt to fool the officials and earn a free-kick. Diving is often described as one of the main reasons non-fans of the game are reluctant to watch a game of soccer. The sky seems to be the limit for the league but this season looks like it’s going to be a historic one.