Skip to content

Garber comments show league, PNW fans heading for Cascadia Cup impasse

Jan 18, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT

MLS Sounders Timbers Soccer

Major League Soccer may be trying to diffuse the “Cascadia Cup” controversy, but after Thursday comments from Don Garber affirmed the league’s intention to trademark the term, supporters groups in the Pacific Northwest are digging in. While MLS may see trademarking as necessary to protect what’s becoming a league microbrand, fans of the Sounders, Timbers, and Whitecaps see it as MLS’s attempt to usurp a fan-created entity.

The resulting face-off is consuming fans in the Pacific Northwest, with Major League Soccer often being portrayed as a greedy, money-grubbing overlord. It’s an unfair depiction, but it’s also understandable given the passion fans have for something they’ve created. One Portland fan site author summoned Orwellian cynicism in depicting an over-marketed Cup future (while ironically tagging the post “Cascadian Exceptionalism”). A Seattle fan blog’s more even-handed coverage acknowledged MLS’s latest comments are “far short of what supporters were hoping to hear.” One Vancouver blog described fan reaction as “vitriolic”. (Those SBNation blogs are seriously great fan sites.)

Clearly, passions are high. Commissioner Garber addressed the situation yesterday in Indianapolis, admitting the league has “not done a good enough job communicating with the fans in the Pacific Northwest”:

“The goal is to have a trademark that’s managed, so that we – the league that has its teams playing in the Cascadia Cup – can ensure that that trademark is managed properly. That it’s not exploited by people that shouldn’t be exploiting it. That it’s not offered to those that might not have the right to be associated with Major League Soccer.”

Garber went on to explain why he feels Major League Soccer, not the fan groups, should dot he managing:

“[MLS can] ensure that it’s controlled. Prospective fan groups, in theory, could offer that trademark to a competitive sponsor … They can take that trademark and sell it to a promoter. They can produce merchandise that’s not merchandise that we would want associated with our teams or with our league. There are so many things that go into intellectual property management.”

It’s a compelling point, but the fact remains: The supporters in the northwest created the trophy. Major League Soccer may be better equipped to manage the brand, but it’s not theirs. With the recent creation of the Cascadia Cup Council — an umbrella organization that’s also seeking the U.S. and Canadian trademarks — fans finally have a singular entity that can make their ownership claim.

But as Garber implied, that’s not going to work. At least, not for Major League Soccer. The Cascadia Cup may have been created by supporters, but in the league’s view, the Cup has transcended its first life as a fan trophy. Major League Soccer is marketing it, it’s becoming a part of league initiatives like Rivalry Week, and whether the supporters admit it or not, much of the Cascadia Cup’s current (and future) prestige is tied to the league’s promotion of the trophy.

Fans may not want to hear it, and they certainly don’t want this Salazar-esque MLS monster they’ve concocted telling them what to do with their hardware, but without Major League Soccer signing off on it, the Cascadia Cup won’t mean much. If they don’t get the rights, Major League Soccer could create a replacement trophy, start promoting it, and slowly ween its three franchises away from any implicit promotion of something the league can’t control.

You would think there has to be a middle ground, but where it is? For fans, it’s untenable for the league to own something supporters created. But for Major League Soccer, it’s unacceptable for another entity to make money off their success of their franchises (or control the right to do so).

In a way, both sides are right, but with Major League Soccer scheduled to have a conference call next week with Council representatives, there doesn’t seem any room for compromise. If MLS doesn’t win the battle for the trademarks, we might see the quick diminution of the Cascadia Cup in Major League Soccer.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Stoke City seeks European loan for Brek Shea; Many interested

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    Burton Albion v Stoke City - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Birmingham City, 1860 Munich, Millwall, Nurnberg… it seems Brek Shea is a man in demand when it comes to his loan from Stoke City.

  2. Bundesliga season preview, predictions: Bayern on top? Sure, but then who?

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Cup AP

    The Bavarians added Robert Lewandowski, and look poised to lead again. Who are the favorites to emerge in the race for second?

  3. Prindi’s Premier League Picks: United to get it right, Arsenal to stumble

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT

    Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal AP

    Matchweek 2 brings a few killer games including Everton v. Arsenal on Saturday and Manchester City v. Liverpool on Monday.

  4. Profile: The life and times of Mario Balotelli

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrat

    From the early days in Italy, to the craziness of Man City and then back to AC Milan, here’s the timeline of Balotelli’s life so far.

  5. Julian Green gets bench nod for Bundesliga opener, could make league debut

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    Bayern Munich's Julian Green fights for the ball with Al-Merrikh's Ramadan Ajab during their friendly soccer match in Doha Reuters

    The 19-year-old American attacker’s only senior appearance for Bayern was a Champions League sub. That could change today.

  6. La Liga season preview, predictions: Can anyone outlast Real Madrid?

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Probably not, but with Sevilla and Barcelona strengthening while Atletico deals with roster tumult, look for some changes near the top.

  7. PSV enlists water cannons in next-level ALS Challenge (video)

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.40.31 PM

    PSV Eindhoven called the police, upping the ante on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

  8. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 2

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 2, right here.

  9. Friday transfer rumor roundup: Manchester Utd mid search, Remy a Spur?

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT

    1408716222483_wps_1_CRICIUMA_BRAZIL_AUGUST_9_ Getty Images

    A young Brazilian is the newest name linked with Louis van Gaal, while Manchester City could be selling a top young defender

  10. Report: Jermaine Jones to MLS transfer tied up in red tape

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup US Germany AP

    Jones wants to head to Chicago, and wants more money if he goes to New England.

  11. Americans Abroad Preview: Guzan, Howard face tests; Bundesliga opens

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-NANTES-PSG Getty Images

    Nantes is off to another strong start, and Ale Bedoya’s club now stares down a match-up with Monaco.

  12. Cardiff City calls for resignation of LMA chief over Mackay statement

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    cardiff_city

    Labeling vile statements in text messages “friendly banter” has Cardiff in a frenzy, and looking for fresh consequences.

  13. WATCH: Arsène Wenger talks Everton, final buys, Balotelli ahead of trip to Goodison Park

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:50 AM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Arseanl boss calls Everton an important test while praising Liverpool’s impending acquisition.

  14. Balotelli flies to Liverpool for medical, but won’t play against Man City

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:16 AM EDT

    AC Milan v Ajax Amsterdam - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    The Reds were still sorting out Balotelli’s personality and commitment, and missed a deadline to have him play for the club this weekend.

  15. Georgios Samaras makes the move from Celtic to West Bromwich Albion

    Aug 22, 2014, 7:36 AM EDT

    West Brom West Brom

    The 29-year-old Greek national teamer will try to rebuild his Premier League image after tough times in Manchester from 2006-08.

  16. PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – The Benefit of Mid-Week Edition

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:13 AM EDT

    joao_plata AP

    LA’s loss is RSL’s gain at the top of our pecking order.

  17. Torres in, Hernández and Jiménez out for Mexico matches against Chile, Bolivia

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 3: Erick Torres #9 of Chivas USA celebrates after scoring a goal against the Houston Dynamo on May 3, 2014 at StubHub Center in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images

    “Cubo” gets his first call from Miguel Herrera, while two established names stay in Europe.

  18. WATCH: Roberto Martínez talks Arsenal challenge, Ross Barkley injury

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:16 PM EDT

    Martinez AP

    Everton will get answers this weekend against Arsenal, while it’s still too soon to tell when Barkley will return.

  19. Vancouver sends Nigel Reo-Coker to Chivas USA for Mauro Rosales

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:26 PM EDT

    mauro_rosales Getty Images

    Something for nothing? Vancouver swaps a spare part for one of the league’s more prolific assist men.

  20. Howard and Donovan comparisons can only go so far

    Aug 21, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    United States v Canada Getty Images

    They’re both stars, both taking elective leave from their national team. That’s where the similarities end between Donovan and Howard.

Featured video

Wenger on Everton-Arsenal, NBC, 12pm