Whether it be regular league matches that ramp up to the playoffs, U.S. Open Cup competition, international friendlies or CONCACAF Champions League play, all are important to the credibility of MLS. Making it to a MLS Cup Final match should not be every teams' sole focus. A high standard can be set my squads taking these other competitions seriously. In recent seasons, qualifying teams have stopped sending their "B squads" and have sent their most talented players and legitimate sides. When teams do not take this approach, soccer fans outside of the United States view our national league as a joke.
Winning outside of our country has become very important to those familiar with Major League Soccer. They are tired of being looked at as Mexico's "little brother." Taking all competitions seriously would make MLS appealing to Mexican players. They would have opportunities outside of their own country to play soccer and have an extended career. Real Salt Lake accomplished a lot by drawing at Monterrey in Mexico and narrowly losing the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League final. These results earn credibility for MLS in our neighboring countries.
The next step is to draw large attendance numbers to these important matches. Only the Sounders have done so thus far, drawing 35,615 to Century Link Field in their 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire. Imagine drawing 40,000-50,000 rabid supporters to a U.S. Open Cup semifinal or final match. I agree intimate venues make these important matches more special, but the previously described scene with squad supporters chanting in unison at a neutral site venue would be astounding. What also would help draw more watchers and followers to MLS would be winning the CCL and advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup. Then people from all over the world could see our teams competing for this prestigious title. Footy fans in Asia, Australia, Africa, etc. would get to see our teams compete against the best from Europe and South America.