Sunday 8 March 2015 14:39, UK
Seattle Reign FC forward and Scotland international Kim Little is not surprised at the growing appetite for Major League Soccer in the UK.
Little, who was voted the Most Valuable Player after a resounding first season in America, said: “We’ve got a local MLS franchise, Seattle Sounders, who are successful and attract a good amount of support. They play in front of decent crowds at the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium because their seasons run at opposite times of the year.
“I know that Clint Demsey and Obafemi Martins are playing for the Sounders. We sometimes go to watch at their stadium and help co-promote each others games but we are not partner clubs.
“There are a couple of MLS teams that are linked to the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) teams; Houston and Portland. It works in the same way as Premier League clubs like Arsenal and Manchester City that are linked to their female teams whereas clubs such as Bristol Academy are separate.”
Both Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will cross the Atlantic this summer to play in MLS and Little believes that marquee Premier League acquisitions will only help the sport to grow.
“The teams are attracting some of the best players from England, like Lampard and Gerrard, which helps promote the league massively. I think they see the UK as being the frontrunner for soccer.”
“A lot more people are watching the NFL in the UK now but also the audience for MLS is growing and getting more promotion as there seems to be more interest in it.”
Little transferred from Arsenal Ladies last year and settled in America seamlessly as she netted a record 16 goals in 23 games in her debut season.
“It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t enjoyed their experience over there,” said Little, speaking from the Cyprus Cup on behalf of Scotland team sponsor Vauxhall.
“It’s definitely something that I wouldn’t change. There are a few Scottish girls playing in different countries. It’s beneficial to put yourself into a different environment to learn and develop.
“In America there are so many sports with incredibly high profiles whereas at home football is the number one sport. Soccer has found it difficult to build a fan base but it’s definitely something that is growing for both the male and female games”
Watch live coverage of the MLS on Sky Sports 3 HD on Sunday night. Orlando City v New York City (9pm) and Sporting Kansas City v New York Red Bulls (11pm) are the featured games.