Major League Soccer created some buzz with its "Rivalry Week" this past weekend. But with so many don't-miss games taking place in essentially one day, most fans missed a lot of the best MLS has to offer. Solution? Make it "Rivalry Month."
It's no secret that rivalries make great viewing. I don't personally like Tottenham or Arsenal, but I make sure to watch the north London derby. I dislike both Manchester clubs, but I enjoy the intensity of that rivalry. So MLS is wise to play up their rivalries and even condense them to generate some early-season interest. However, it seems wasteful to spend all the rivalry currency in one shot.
Turning "Rivalry Week" into "Rivalry Month" would create at least as much buzz, and give fans more chances to see the big games. I realistically have time every weekend for maybe two or three games if I'm lucky. I don't miss the Rapids, and I try to watch My favorite German and English clubs if I can. So I pick and choose the other MLS games I watch. Normally I wouldn't miss Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders or the Los Angeles SuperClasico because they're usually great games to watch (as highlights suggest they were again this weekend). But I missed them on Saturday to watch Rapids-Real Salt Lake.
How many fans nationwide missed out on the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry, I wonder. It's a shame that it is not a featured game getting the national attention it deserves. Same for the other rivalries--they deserve more viewership and press. The full and noisy crowds make for great television watching and represent what is best about MLS to anyone tuning in. But I doubt many outside of the mountain time zone witnessed the majestic sea of Colorado flags flying in Utah or the very entertaining game.
So spread theses games out over a month. Have 2-4 "rivalry" games every weekend. More match days would allow MLS to also work in more of the other rivalries, like LA Galaxy-San Jose Earthquakes, the other Cascadia games, New York Red Bulls-Philadelphia Union, and Chicago Fire-Columbus Crew.
Props to MLS for a good marketing idea, especially during the late-winter dead period in sports. But next year, bigger is better.