OPINION | A few things MLS can do better

Watching Major League Soccer can be frustrating as much as it can be fun. It provides Americans, and others, the opportunity to watch the highest level of soccer in our country, share our passions with fellow fans, and more.

Although the league has its own unique identity in that MLS is so different than nearly every other league in the world, there’s a few small things that can easily be improved upon. Yes, there are some big changes that could be done to improve the quality of the league in our country, but these are just a few small things that could be improved.

Kickoff times…

It seems as if European leagues have starting kickoff down to a science. The players start warming up, retreat into the locker rooms, come back out onto the field, shake hands with their opposition, get into position for the match, and the referee blows the kickoff whistle right on the hour mark. In MLS, it’s a different story. On the schedule, it’ll say 7 PM kickoff but the game won’t kickoff until 7:18 PM or some other obscure time.

At Atlanta United games, we have a lot going on before the game. Before each match someone sings the National Anthem, then we have a celebrity hit the ceremonial golden spike where the fans chant “A” on the first hit, “T” on the second hit, and “L” on the third hit. If you’re confused, here’s a link to a video. We also have a ceremonial kick before every match.

My point is this: I don’t have a problem with any of those things. In fact, I love how the fans get all riled up and excited for the match. But why can’t all the pregame theatrics start earlier so matches start at scheduled kickoff?

Use of Video Assistant Referee… (VAR)

Go ahead and laugh at me. Yes, I’m an Atlanta United fan and I’m complaining about VAR. But it’s not just the Five Stripes that have been negatively impacted by VAR. The most recent example occurred in Orlando’s away game against Columbus Crew where centre referee Silviu Petrescu called a penalty with four more minutes left in the game. Before the penalty was called, Orlando led Columbus 2-1. The game finished 3-2 to the Crew.

Video shows there was minimal contact between Orlando right back R.J. Allen and Columbus substitute Patrick Mullins. With the use of VAR, the call could have easily been rescinded, but for some strange reason, it wasn’t. We saw VAR at the World Cup for the first time in Russia and it was almost flawless. If MLS wants to use the tool more effectively, they need to have a centralised VAR room with multiple VAR refs at the MLS headquarters in New York City.

Watching the league on TV…

When it comes to the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and the UEFA Champions League, I know what channel to turn to. However, with MLS, whenever I want to watch a particular match, I always have to research who is broadcasting the match. Researching who is broadcasting isn’t such a big deal, but it just makes sense for every match in one league to be broadcast by a single entity.

I’m certain having a single broadcaster would help newer fans become more familiar with the league. It can also be a big money saver for fans that watch on TV so they don’t need to buy multiple plans from their TV providers.

 

Written by Kyle Soto – (@KDSJ_99)

 

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