Unpredictability Reigns in MLS, Giving the League Something Not Found in Europe

(Note: Rankings of the wealthiest soccer clubs are courtesy of Forbes.) There is little doubt that Major League Soccer is growing in popularity. Paul Kennedy of reported in April that through the first seven weeks of the season, attendance was up 16 percent across the league compared to last season. After nine weeks of the season, Kennedy reported that viewership of ESPN broadcasts of MLS matches is up 18 percent compared to 2014. Viewership of Fox Sports 1 matches is up 58 percent compared to matches on NBC Sports Network last season. Clearly then, MLS is moving in the right direction. This comes as a result of several factors. The expansion of the league into new markets desperate for soccer certainly plays a role in the above numbers. Increased and improved television coverage has made it easier and more enjoyable to watch the MLS from home. The quality of play in the league is constantly on the rise, as made apparent by the Montreal Impact's run to the CONCACAF Champions League Final, among other things.  But, as the 2015 MLS season continues, it is becoming more and more clear that one of the biggest factors in the success, excitement and growth of North ...
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6 Lessons Learned from the First Meeting of the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC

The buildup to Sunday's match between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC was among the most interesting yet confusing in the history of Major League Soccer. The league and New York media billed the match as a huge rivalry, a meeting of clubs with fanbases that simply did not like each other. Hatred between fans may well exist, but the question remained: Would the two teams, essentially strangers, play the match like it was a rivalry? Thankfully for the league, media and neutral observers, the game had a rivalry feel from the opening whistle. Fans of both teams were loud throughout the match, an early goal set the pace for a frantic match and a first-half red card to Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga served to both give the match a level of controversy and grit, as well as level the playing field for an overmatched NYCFC side.  The first half closed with the Red Bulls up 1-0 but down to 10 men. NYCFC held the ball for most of the second half, but a second goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 52nd minute was all the Red Bulls would need to get the victory. A Patrick Mullins goal with ...
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5 Lessons Learned from the New York Red Bulls’ 1-1 Draw Against the LA Galaxy

The New York Red Bulls may be somewhat frustrated with the 1-1 draw they earned against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, but they certainly put forth a performance they can be largely proud of. The Red Bulls dictated the pace of the game from the opening whistle, again putting their game plan of high pressure on display early and often. They were undone in the ninth minute by a moment of brilliance from 18-year-old Bradford Jamieson IV, but they allowed few other opportunities for the Galaxy. New York managed to find an equalizer in the second half, but no more. Bruce Arena's team clearly and understandably was content with leaving Red Bull Arena with a point, which made New York's task of finding a game-winner incredibly difficult. The Galaxy deserve credit for executing their game plan well. But for Jesse Marsch's Red Bulls, six matches have now passed, and the 2015 season is beginning to take shape. Sunday's match against the Galaxy came with some valuable lessons with regard to what is going right and wrong in Harrison.Begin Slideshow
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New York Red Bulls Face Questions After Thierry Henry Departure, Playoff Exit

It came as no surprise when it was announced that Thierry Henry would not return to the New York Red Bulls on Monday. The Frenchman will leave as a club legend, even after the team failed to lift the MLS Cup for the 19th consecutive year. With Henry's inevitable parting with the club now official, the questions that New York faces this offseason have become clearer. The answers to those questions, on the other hand, remain as unclear as ever. With New York City FC joining Major League Soccer next season, there is significant pressure on the Red Bulls to remain relevant. The answers to these five questions will shape the future of the Red Bulls and determine how the quest for continued relevance fares.   Who will the Red Bulls protect in the expansion draft? On December 10, NYCFC and Orlando City SC will take part in a 10-round expansion draft to help fill out the rosters of the newly minted MLS clubs. In short, the Red Bulls can protect 11 players from being taken by either expansion club, with Connor Lade, Matt Miazga, and Santiago Castano automatically protected due to their homegrown status. Surely, six of the 11 spots will be taken by Luis Robles, ...
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Why the New York Red Bulls Can Win the MLS Cup

The New York Red Bulls have never been able to do it. The MetroStars could not do it either. With a franchise cursed for nearly 20 years, what makes this season different? With Saturday's 2-1 loss at D.C. United, the Red Bulls advanced to the Conference finals for the first time since 2008. In all likelihood, this sets the Red Bulls up for a showdown with the New England Revolution in the MLS final four.  That means with three positive results, the Red Bulls could take home the MLS title for the first time in the history of the club. Though the franchise's history in the playoffs is less than stellar (to put it kindly), there is a different feel with this group; this year's New York Red Bulls can win the MLS Cup. Though New York had a rough first half of the season, in the second half of the season and the playoffs, four things have emerged that suggest the Red Bulls can go all the way.   Tactical Change In New York's first 25 regular season matches, the club only managed three clean sheets. The Red Bulls were not—and are not—a spectacular defensive team. But the team's defensive record up to that point ...
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