Looking over the World Football Challenge (WFC) I have come to the conclusion that this does nothing to help improve the reputation of soccer in the United States. I applaud them for bringing in the powerhouse teams such as Manchester United FC, Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Juventus FC but they missed the one chance to make this a big success in America.
In America we have the opportunity to see any sport we want, during their season, with easy access. Take the NFL for example. There are 32 teams, and living in a state with no team I can drive 6 hours and watch an NFL team. The ease of seeing a pro football game is there.
Take for example that you are the common American non-soccer fan. Does Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union appeal to you? Probably not, and its not their fault, its the fault of the marketing of the MLS. MLS prides itself on the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls. It is easy to see this looking from the inside, because when the big teams come knocking to play, we send out the Galaxy or Red Bulls.
9 times out of 10 that game is played in Los Angeles or in New York. How easy is that for you to get to see that game? Living where I do, Los Angeles is closer and it is still a drive of at least 12 hours.
Take the United States home matches. They do rotate between stadiums but big matches are always contested in the same few areas (Columbus, Tennessee, New York, Los Angeles, Florida). Only once, to my knowledge, has Rio Tinto hosted a match involving the United States men soccer team.
What I am getting at, is the WFC is a failure in my eyes of improving the value of soccer in America. We have 18 teams in the league currently. Why not take a week where there is no games played on Wednesday and do the World Football Challenge in a different format on that Saturday and Sunday. Bring in 18 different teams such as:
All different regions of the world and do a draw. Pull a name of an MLS club and pull a name of a World Challenger. Every team gets a home game against a big club that is well known/well established. Imagine the RioT if Real Salt Lake was pulled against a Manchester United or a Barcelona. The place would sell out. Look back at when Monterrey came to town. I know people who went to the game just because they knew Monterrey was a big deal to be playing our team. Heck, image if Real Salt Lake pulled the name of Monterrey. RSL is looking for revenge, the stories and advertisment just writes itself.
Do points for the MLS and points for the World. I would always have the MLS Cup participants get prime time ESPN view ship. Saturday night would be the MLS runner-up on ESPN playing a big club. Then Sunday night the MLS Cup Champion would be on ESPN with the entire would watching possibly a Real Salt Lake vs. Barcelona.
All in all, they should of used this as an opportunity to improve the soccer culture in America. Games would sell out, ESPN showing off the games would be a huge deal. You could get away from the MLS All Star game and just do a MLS vs. The World weekend event.