Alexi Lalas in an interview says the Premiership is all hype and this inferior product is sustained through clever American style marketing.
When Lalas talks, don't expect much to be held back. But even this is a bit hard to swallow. Lalas must have gotten knocked really hard in his soccer days and this manifests itself in his occasional detachment from reality. MLS is improving but it still has ways to go and the perception of it as a way station for more talented players to make it to the big European leagues and as a retirement league for players in their waning years still remains relevant.
One likes Lalas's passion of making much more of Beckham coming to the LA Galaxy but lets face it, the decision was influenced by the fact that Real was not committing itself to renewing Beckham's contract. Premiership clubs like Blackburn and Newcastle were balking in bringing in a player who they thought would prove to be more of a distraction than an asset. A lot of Beckham coming to LA also had to do with Posh's career needing a botox boost. Never count out the power of Hollywood, Alexi!
An inferior product cannot be sustained for long even with all the clever and creative marketing used to keep it afloat. Remember Vince McMahon's short lived XFL. On the other hand look at how creative marketing can enhance an essentially sound product like the J-League. Japan's love for soccer has supplanted baseball as a crowd favourite and the change is permanent.
The signing of a few stars does not a future of a sport make. The NASL and the NY Cosmos attracted stars like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia with some juice left in their legs. The NASL had money and was backed by Steve Ross and Warner Bros. But despite that soccer never took off and the NASL disbanded after a decade or so. It never could sustain its hype because in the end it became impossible to fill a 80,000 seater stadium in a football and baseball loving town season after season despite all these superb players in attendance.
The MLS is viable because it has played down expectations and is building smaller soccer size stadiums. Its low key approach is ideal because soccer attracts a certain demographic who don't necessarily look to MLB or NFL as a source of assimilation and/ or as in many cases look to soccer as a matter of differentiation; or still yet, see an intrinsic worth in being part of the world's most popular game. But to really put a sport into a nation's consciousness the game needs superstars or a super accomplishment. Maybe Beckham can pull it off. But just as Lalas voices his irritation at the patronizing attitude of the pundits in England, I too take umbrage at his attempt to paint Beckham as an introspective sort who comes to the MLS entirely on its own merit.