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MLS fans were greeted by an interesting and welcome piece of news this morning. The league had its record-breaking 113th sellout game this season after the Toronto-Portland game. This is significant progress for the league and one that has been coming for a while now.
In 2007 MLS acquired its first bona fide international supertar in their prime: David Beckham. The pop culture icon transcended the game and MLS got a boost in attendance figures given the many sellouts at the Galaxy's stadium and throughout the country. This very blog site came into being as a way to track attendance per team in percentage number and median figures.
So what changed for MLS this year? Two factors: the World Cup and recruitment of American internationals in their prime. Such is the case with repatriated Michael Bradley (Toronto) and Jermaine Jones (New England). The marketing has been superb and more focus has been placed on player development and quality skill on the pitch.
Will this trend continue? Likely. With the expansion to new markets with NYCFC in New York and its superstars in Frank Lampard and David Villa, as well as Orlando City with Kaka, the upswing in attendance should remain. True, expansion might thin the league up a bit in terms of talent due to expansion drafts but quality players in academies are waiting to take over the ranks.
So now the league is breaking attendance without David Beckham, which means it's no longer novelty. In short, this is a good time for MLS. It's a good time for the fans and it's further proof that the game is here to stay.