Major League Soccer (MLS) commissioner Don Garber lauded a "transformational year" for the league, attributing unprecedented interest to Lionel Messi's arrival and a new broadcast deal with Apple TV.
Despite acknowledging the scheduling challenges posed by numerous club and country competitions, including the World Cup, Copa America, and FIFA Club World Cup coming to North America, Garber expressed confidence in MLS's upward trajectory.
Garber highlighted Lionel Messi's decision to join the MLS as a significant moment, making the league a major global sports story. The new 10-year streaming deal with Apple TV contributed to increased viewership, with record-breaking attendance at stadiums and successful events like the Leagues Cup, featuring clubs from Mexico's Liga MX.
While celebrating the success, Garber acknowledged the difficulty of fitting in multiple competitions, including the upcoming Copa America, FIFA Club World Cup, and World Cup in North America. Despite the challenges, he emphasised the region's role as the "epicentre" of football in the coming years.
Garber discussed the need for creativity in scheduling to accommodate various competitions, hinting at potential changes to the MLS season organization. He mentioned the possibility of exploring systems like "Apertura and Clausura," used in some South and Central American countries, where the season is divided into two halves.
The commissioner also mentioned ongoing discussions with US Soccer to enhance the knockout US Open Cup, suggesting potential changes in the future. While Garber recognised the economic impact of the World Cup in 2026, he ruled out playing MLS games during the tournament, emphasising the need for a strategic approach to ensure player well-being and maintain the league's growth.