With just a month to go until the new season begins across the Atlantic, now is the perfect time to surround yourself in all things soccer.
The United States is home to a plethora of English talent and with the MLS completing its annual Superdraft only last month, more prospects have been added to the league’s rosters.
Here’s my top six reasons why you should keep an eye on American football this year.
1. A host of English stars are making the move to America
This summer will see two of England’s most decorated internationals make the move to Major League Soccer. Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has agreed a move to current champions LA Galaxy, whilst goal-scoring midfielder Frank Lampard will join expansion side New York City, once his projected move is complete in the summer.
This means two stalwarts of the English game will no longer be starring in the Premier League. However, despite both players now entering their twilight years, they still have plenty to give and their experience and reputation will not only benefit their respective sides, but the nation’s football as a whole.
2. The MLS is easily accessible via British media
The United States’ premier football league is broadcast across the world. When ambitious sports channel BT Sport was launched in August 2013, they announced exclusive coverage of the MLS, a deal which would see them broadcast up to 99 live matches a season, including extensive coverage of the end of season MLS Cup playoffs.
So long as you have access to a platform which broadcasts BT Sport, catching up with your favourite Englishmen across the Atlantic has never been easier.
EDIT (06/03/15): Sky Sports now have the UK TV rights to the MLS.
3. Three tiers of professional football
In England we are accustomed to having four tiers of fully professional clubs, with additional full-time sides in the Conference. Abroad though, most countries have just two professional leagues, with lower divisions split into regional amateur divisions.
The US, however, has three professional divisions, keeping standards high across the country. After the MLS, the country also has the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the United States League Professional Division (USL Pro).
With no promotion or relegation active in America, these three divisions are run on a separate basis but that does not mean sides cannot move between the divisions. Orlando City will be competing in the MLS for the first team this year after they were awarded MLS franchise spot. The club had previously been playing in the USL Pro division.
All three leagues are well covered, with American’s fondness for statistical data analysis coming into its own, and there are Englishmen plying their trade in each tier, so it should be easy to find a club to support.
4. The playoffs
American sport is renowned for its post-season showdowns and football is no different. Twelve teams will enter this year’s MLS playoffs, six from each conference, meaning every team has something to play for right until the end of the regular season. This means there are no pointless end of season mid-table battles.
The NASL and USL Pro leagues both have their own playoff systems, with the former elaborately naming their grand final the Soccer Bowl. Who wouldn’t want to watch the Soccer Bowl?!
5. Fanatical support
With the growing popularity of football in the States, fans are becoming increasingly passionate. For just a glimpse of these fanatical fans, look no further than MLS side Portland Timbers.
English defender Liam Ridgewell stars for the Timbers, whose fans regular pack out the 20,000 capacity Providence Park, displaying giant tifos, setting off flares and even chainsawing tree trunks every time they score.
6. Gives you an excuse to stay up all night and something to watch in the summer
If you live in the UK or most of Europe, then the majority of the matches played in the US are in the evening or throughout the night. Although at first this may seem an inconvenience, it gives any football fan the perfect excuse to stay up all night and have sole control of their telly. No more depressing evenings once Super Sunday has finished, extend your weekend with a double helping of MLS action on BT Sport.
The US football season also runs throughout the year, especially important this year with no major football tournament to keep us entertained. Gone are the summers where a football fan longs for the return of Premier League football, let soccer fulfill your footballing needs.