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Quick notes on MLS commissioner Don Garber’s address

Nov 26, 2012, 5:21 PM EDT


MLS commissioner Don Garber dropped a few newsy tidbits during his annual State of the League conference call with national media on Monday afternoon.

We may circle back and dig more into some of these items. For now, the abridged version of Garber’s significant copy points:

  • The league announced its official Best XI during the call. Long story short, Sporting KC dominated.
  • Next year’s season will begin on March 2, five days earlier than this year’s first kick. So the 2013 launch (MLS Year 18) will be the earliest yet. While that creates a few more potential weather issues, it assists some off the other MLS endeavors, such as …
  • The league will do its best to avoid scheduling 2013 matches during FIFA international dates; that’s long been a major point of contention among clubs and fans. Well, and media, too
  • The league will have what Garber called a “light schedule” during the 2013 Gold Cup.
  • The 2013 playoffs will follow the same format as this year’s. The only tweak, Garber said, would be in trying to add more rest days between post-season matches. That is a change that MLS absolutely must force through, based on some scenarios that created clear advantages in some of this year’s matchups.
  • The league will continue to target a second team in New York as its 20th club, still aiming for a side to inhabit the new ground in Queens.  There are “many ownership groups” still interested, according to the commissioner.
  • The year 2016 remains a solid target to launch that second New York franchise.
  • Regarding the clause in David Beckham’s contract that allows him to purchase an expansion franchise for a below market price of $25 million, Garber said lots of possibilities remain in exploration. New York, Garber reiterated, is not eligible according to the clause.
  • The L.A. Galaxy, however, are eligible to be part of those discussions. That’s especially relevant because of AEG’s plans to sell the Galaxy and the Home Depot Center.
  • Garber said the league invests about $20 million in youth development and reserve programs, and said MLS will continue to aggressively invest in those programs, although no return on investment has yet been seen.
  • Not much new to report on stadium situations in two important markets, Washington, D.C., and New England. Garber did indicate renewed energy with D.C. United’s ongoing hunt for a home.
  • Garber stressed, once again, the great need for an MLS presence in the American Southeast. Nothing new, however, in terms of hard news.

(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s Best XI selections)

  1. jolo2000 - Nov 26, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    The comment about “MLS will continue to aggressively invest in those programs, although no return on investment has yet been seen.” is interesting. What are they defining as return on investment, players sold? Youth players into first team contributors? If you look at HG signings across the league, you see several players in starting roles. If you look at GA signings, guys like Mo Edu, and Jozy both have been sold for tidy profits. They don’t overcome the entire program costs obviously, but I think you can clearly see returns on several investments.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 26, 2012 at 7:13 PM

      An excellent question. I’ll get an answer this week at MLS Cup. So … stay tuned, as they say

      • joeyt360 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:50 PM

        Seems to me that with the expenditures, the ultimate goal must be transfer fees. Making a slightly better Mike Magee is nice, but the pay isn’t that good compared to the cost.

  2. mvktr2 - Nov 26, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    2016 for NY-team-20… man that seems so far away! Better done right than wrong, I was just hoping for something within 24 months… 😦 Of course I like most am also hoping team 20 comes with Cosmos branding and is big-brash-bold and pushes things to new heights.

    As for a team in the southeast I still doubt it’d be close enough for me to make games… 😦 I’m currently 9+ hours away each way, that’d be hundreds in gas alone. Sure it’d make for a nice roadtrip if I were in college, but with kids my MLS entertainment dollar will continue to be spent on MLS Live.

  3. mvktr2 - Nov 26, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Steve Davis, others… I’ve got it in my head that a 2nd-tier Designated Player system should be implemented. Such a system would be beneficial in retaining young talents such as Roger Espinoza and Omar Gonzalez but just as importantly it would improve the league’s ability to bring in more talent and would have the effect of loosening up the salary cap just a bit more.

    (short version) I’d envision it transforming the DP rules thusly: (rough numbers)
    DPs making 250K-750K would be considered 2nd tier DPs.
    DP’s making 750+K would be considered 1st tier DPs
    Teams could still only have 3 1st tier DPs
    Teams could sign up to 6 2nd tier DPs with no team exceeding 6 DPs.
    2nd Tier DP cap hits would be graduated based on age, harshly so, to reward seeking younger players.


    • krimsonyx - Nov 26, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      They have something like that with the Young DP rule…

      • mvktr2 - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:28 AM

        I realize there are graduated salary principals worked into the current model meaning the salary cap hit for signing a 21 year old (iirc) Freddy Montero is less than a 30 something.

        The emphasis of the rest of what I put forward is a way for teams to invest more money but in a structured way. For instance signing 6 DPs at an average of 600,000 each would cost only 3.6 mil vs some of the big names costing more than that alone. In essence it would give more leeway to clubs wanting to build with the likes of Alvaro Fernandez, Eric Hassli, Freddy Montero, etc. It simply makes sense to fill this league with the likes of Boniek Garcia… imagine what’s possible with just this little tweaking of the DP rules. The big spenders are going to continue to pay big for names-quality-marketing prowess, but the overall quality of the league could be more greatly effected by bringing in a number of these type of players onto every team. That and talent development/academies is where the future of MLS lies and it’s awfully BRIGHT!

        Take LA’s approach and slap 3 players mentioned previously in with their existing club, retain the rest of the roster trimming from the bottom and you have a much deeper team, which is the greatest weakness of MLS right now. Need I mention CCL right here? I know the overall talent needs to rise, and this addresses that as well, but if people recall when Manchester United skewered Seattle last year it was 1-0 at the half vs the starters, the other 6 goals went in when MU started putting on reserves named Rooney and SSFC was throwing out trialist with no name on the jersey.

  4. danielofthedale - Nov 26, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    @mvktr2, that 2nd-tier DP is a great idea. I would just say that to be eligible for that that the player must have been on the team prior to his 24th birthday. It would help push the teams to really invest in youth development or bringing in young talent.

    And Steve Davis as an Atlanta MLS fan I would love to hear your thoughts on the MLS and Southeaster expansion. It seems like a mortal lock that Orlando will get a team, whether its 20 or 21 does not really matter so it leaves one more open slot in the relative near future. What city do you see as the leader in the race?

    Is it Atlanta? I know that is a big reason why I am pushing my friends and other people to support the new Falcons stadium since Arthur Blank has stated he wants an MLS team and that the new stadiums is the best way for the to happen.

    Is it Miami since its a sexy pick and the big name European players seem to love the city?

    Both are close enough to Orlando to make it a drivable regional rivalry. Or is it maybe some city that is not in the headlines as much?

    • mvktr2 - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:43 AM

      I wouldn’t be opposed to that idea at all, U-24.

      I think the most important place for MLS to expand into is Las Vegas. One reason is that anything and everything MLS can do to make itself more gambling friendly will increase viewership. If you’re cautious of that statement, check some FBI statistics concerning how big gambling is and it’s impact on NFL and NCAA Tournament viewership. Make MLS better friendly and reap the rewards.

      As for MLS in the southeast I’m with you and others, Orlando seems to make a lot of sense.
      Please no Miami, and I’m leery of of ATL also, both those cities are so fickle with their sports teams.

      I think Charlotte or a similar Carolina location is viable, and don’t laugh but I can’t help but think it would work in Nashville, maybe New Orleans but that is a young party happy place that gets behind it’s sports with passion… compare that to Miami/Atlanta.

      Fwiw I think Phoenix and possibly Minnesota deserve teams at least as much as anyone in the southeast Orlando included.

      • wesbadia - Nov 27, 2012 at 9:44 AM

        FYI, Phoenix FC is joining USL-PRO for the 2013 season. This is an immense boost to the third division as LA Blues (the only west coast team) needs someone more local than Dayton to cut down on travel costs.

        My perception of expansion, especially in lower leagues, is that geography needs to be considered. Travel expenses in the US are the worst of any league in the world. I’ve written about these problems on my blog (click the link in my username to read), and I’m a sincere advocate on “filling out the map”, so to speak. Meaning that finding regional geographical locations to expand into multiple cities is key to success. It not only fosters regional rivalries (which are so crucial to this sport), but it also makes economic sense.

        In this light, I would say that the only reason Garber is focused on NY2 and not Orlando at this time is because he does not see additional cities in the southeast being able to support a team to go along with Orlando. If you look at the expansion efforts since 2004 (with RSL and Chivas), you’ll notice that all of them were done in a way to emphasize another team (or in anticipation of another team). RSL to Colorado; Chivas to Galaxy; Toronto to Vancouver/Montreal; Seattle in prep for Portland/Vancouver; Philly to DC/NY. When regionalism occurs and is maintained, the league seems to flourish. It’s hard to root for a team that has no other team close to it to compete with. That competition fosters a healthy sports culture. It’s why college and high school sports are so popular. My town vs your town for the domination of “X” area. Hence all the cups being established in MLS.

      • danielofthedale - Nov 27, 2012 at 6:12 PM

        As a life long Atlantan, I have say that I think you are wrong to lump in a future MLS teams fans base with the rest of the city. The demographics of MLS supporters are different than that of those of of the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA. MLS season ticket buyers tend to be younger, better educated, more liberal, and less into the big four sports. If you look Atlanta is one of fastest growing cities in terms of recent college graduates which are the ideal target market for MLS ticket sales. Atlanta also is routinely one of the top 10 or so TV markets for the World Cup, Euros, ect and usually in the top 3 of non-MLS markets. In 2011 between the Sliverbacks in the NASL and the Beat in WPS we avg about 9000 between the two (4,800 for the beat and 3,500 for the Silverbacks).

  5. magicbucs - Nov 26, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    ORLANDO CITY LIONS will be the 20th team. The citrus bowl will be used for a season (2014) and orlando should have a new stadium built by 2015, long before NY. NYC can wait.

    Commish didn’t mention it but it’s coming 😉

    • danielofthedale - Nov 26, 2012 at 11:42 PM

      I have seen that a vote on a new Soccer Specific Stadium is up coming down in Orlando. I think the only think holding Orlando back from getting the team is the fact that The Don seems hell bent on making NYC2 number 20 and no other team. That is the only reason I see Orlando having to wait for the team.

      I also can’t wait for the drives down I-75 from Atlanta to whoop up on Orlando City!!! 😉

  6. valiantdraws - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    I know if I were Garber, I’d wait a while before adding any other teams. NYC in 2016 is actually a pretty safe bet. Let’s see how Toronto fares after losing a lot of fans with their ineptitude. Let’s see if Dallas and Colorado can boost the attendance to respectable numbers. Let’s see if New England can stop pretending they’re in USL Pro. And let’s see if Chivas can do…something that isn’t embarrassing.

    • mvktr2 - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      Sadly VD makes some cogent points. 😦 But I want things to move FAST dangit! fast Fast FAST!!!! I’m pushing 40 I’ve only got half a lifetime for US soccer to ‘arrive’. 😉

      Do you/others think there’s a real chance that Dallas or Colorado franchises could be in danger and get moved? I sort of swing the other way. By moving quickly to add NY2 it makes the single entity far more financially secure and pushes back any needs for some of the tail-draggers to be moved. I do also lean toward something is going to have to be done with ChivasLA.

      Btw MLS’s recent TV deals were a nice boost, yet I anticipate a really large boost next go around which is just about 2 years away and directly follows the 2014 world cup. Wonderful timing plus solid plans should be in play for NY2 boosting things even more.

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