There were already signs that the MLS is increasing its presence in Canada, which commissioner Don Garber confirmed in recent comments.
By many measures, 2016 was a banner year for the league in Canada. All three of the country’s teams–Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Montreal Impact–finished in the top 10 in attendance, while Toronto capped the postseason by hosting the MLS Cup Final at BMO Field.
The on-field success, combined with burgeoning soccer scenes in all three cities, should allow those teams to continue to be big draws in the future. There is also improved potential to reach other parts of the country, as the MLS announced in January that it had secured new five-year TV deals with TSN and TVA, the latter of which will French-language coverage of league broadcasts.
Certainly, the attendance figures and the chance to improve upon growing television ratings give the MLS some momentum within Canada. During a recent appearance in Vancouver, Garber, however, emphasized that the league is looking to take additional steps, including stronger promotion of the its signature games and gatherings. More from The Globe and Mail:
MLS will also establish a national marketing group with the goal of drawing coast-to-coast attention to some of the circuit’s marquee events, which include the playoffs, the all-star game and MLS Decision Day – the last day of the regular season, when several games are played at the same time.
The success in 2016 gives the MLS some hope that the league’s popularity will continue to grow in Canada. With the steps it has taken, it could certainly build from that momentum in 2017.
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Image courtesy Toronto FC.