RG Exclusive: Exploring the Growth and Impact of Major League Soccer in North America: Insights from Ray Hudson

Ray Hudson on MLS: Growth, Comparisons, and Star Power

Ray Hudson portrait

In an exclusive interview with Sol Fayerman-Hansen, editor-in-chief of RG.org, Ray Hudson, former footballer, manager, and renowned commentator known for his vivid descriptions of European football, shares his unique insights on Major League Soccer's development, its comparison to the Premier League, and the significant impact of international stars like Lionel Messi and David Beckham on the league's growth and recognition in North America.

Major Differences Between MLS and the Premier League

Messi & Ray Hudson

Ray Hudson on MLS's Evolution and Challenges "MLS has flourished, getting a phenomenal following now on the international level," Hudson reflects on the league's journey. He emphasizes the stark contrast between the league's humble beginnings and its current success, marking a trajectory "like a bottle rocket" with significant contributions from figures like Philip Anschutz, who he credits with saving the league from early financial turmoil.

"There's vast differences, and you know, the development of Major League Soccer in this country has been a brief span of time. It's been like the trajectory has been like a bottle rocket with few setbacks." 

The Messi Effect

A Game Changer for MLS The arrival of Lionel Messi at Inter Miami has been nothing short of transformative. Hudson passionately discusses Messi's impact, noting that he "ignited what was already there" and "made the spark even bigger." Messi's presence has not only raised the profile of MLS globally but has also amplified interest and excitement around the sport in North America.

"Messi has ignited what was already there. He's certainly raised the profile of the game around the world after his magnificent success at the World Cup with Argentina."

David Beckham's Legacy and the Designated Player Rule Hudson also highlights the significant role David Beckham played in the evolution of MLS. Beckham's arrival marked the introduction of the Designated Player Rule, which allowed teams to invest in international stars, thereby raising the league's quality and global appeal.

"David Beckham's arrival... was hugely historic. It opened the door for phenomenally great players... That was very significant for the development and the continued improvement of the league."

Looking Forward

The American Influence in Global Soccer Hudson concludes by touching on the broader implications of American investments in global soccer, including ownership stakes in Premier League clubs. This "spreading of the wealth" represents a growing American influence in the sport, although the impact on the general public's perception remains nuanced.

"The spreading of the American interest in the global game as a business entity is substantial... It's a very real part of it but it's not something that the general public identified with specifically."

Future Outlook: The Continuing Rise of Major League Soccer in North America

As Major League Soccer continues to grow and captivate audiences, the contributions of international icons like Messi and strategic moves like the introduction of the Designated Player Rule signify a bright future for the sport in North America. With the upcoming World Cup poised to further elevate soccer's profile in the U.S., Hudson's insights remind us of the league's dynamic evolution and promising horizon.

Ray Hudson: From Professional Player to MLS Advocate

Ray Hudson Manager

Raymond Wilfred Hudson, born on March 24, 1955, is an English former professional football player and manager, currently excelling as a radio host for SiriusXM FC 157. Starting his professional career at the young age of 17 in 1973 with Newcastle United, Hudson quickly became a fan favorite, earning the nickname "Rocky." After spending four years with the Football League First Division side, he moved to the U.S., where he played with various teams for approximately 15 years.

Following his playing career, Hudson transitioned into coaching, taking the helm as head coach of the Miami Fusion in the middle of the 2000 season, and later, D.C. United in 2002. His coaching stint ended in 2004, leading him to a successful broadcasting career as a color commentator on television and radio. In 2012, he joined Sirius XM Radio, hosting The Football Show on SiriusXM FC 157.

NCAA Baseball
Conducting Interviews
Digital Art
Art Collector
Creating Books
Advanced Technology

Meet Our Authors

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.

Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG


Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.


Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed thousands of articles and reviews to dozens of online platforms, sharing his research, knowledge, and perspectives.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Nick Ashbourne
Nick Ashbourne
Senior Writer

Nick has been fascinated with sports since he was first taken to a Toronto Maple Leafs game back in 1998, and he's written about them professionally since 2014.

Nick has covered baseball and hockey for outlets like The Athletic, Sportsnet, and Yahoo Sports, and his sports betting expertise has grown since its legalization in Ontario in 2022. 

Between 2022 and 2023 he worked for a betting startup called NorthStar Bets, and in 2024 he contributed to Oddspedia before joining the Responsible Gambling team.