Skip to content

Major League Soccer IS a seller’s league … and that’s OK

Mar 1, 2013, 8:30 AM EDT

Beyond Sport United Hosts "Sports Teams For Social Change" Getty Images

As soon as the words left MLS commissioner Don Garber’s mouth, I could feel the temperature rising in some domestic soccer supporter corners.

Meanwhile, his words were a soothing balm to others. It all helps demonstrate an ongoing conflict in the minds of some supporters: is Major League Soccer as a so-called “seller’s league” acceptable?

During his Google+ Hangout address on Wednesday, Garber said he wanted Major League Soccer to be a “destination” league. That is, he wants players landing in MLS to settle in, cozy with the knowledge that they have arrived at the promised land of a soccer career.

But we know better. Money is still better in Mexico, Europe and elsewhere, decidedly and measurably so in some cases.

So my question is this: Why isn’t that OK? Why is that anathema in some corners of the U.S. soccer supporters collective? Is being a “feeder” league to associations that have a 100-year head start, where soccer is so faithfully entwined in the culture, such a repulsive thing?

In the case of an MLS executive, I can see where it might be considered impolitic to say otherwise. But supporters? The Dutch Eredivisie is a technically strong, mid-level European league; aren’t we all excited to see Jozy Altidore excel there? The Eredivisie is certainly a seller’s league.

The real rock and hard place here is that supporters are divided – sometimes even within themselves. In some corners, we want MLS to mature, to evolve out of this position as a holding ground until something better comes along. (That’s hard to accept in a land where ambition was always a bedrock virtue.)

But in some corners, we get all twisted in an angry knot if MLS deciders don’t let the best young American stars go find their betters selves abroad.

“We don’t MLS to be a seller’s league!”

“But, uh … hurry up and sell that guy to the English club!”

What Garber (pictured above) said:

I’ve said this since I’ve became commissioner. If it were up to me, if this was a perfect world where everything was under my control, and no commissioner ever controls everything, we would never sell a player.

Part of our goal is to be that league of destination, so that the issue is how to manage all the players who want to come in. But that’s not the reality, players do come and go. The movement of players is part of any sport.”

Garber is a smart man. So, again, perhaps he is just saying what he must. Problem is, fans hear the words from on high and get on board.

Garber and MLS must accept the reality: until TV money arrives at a point where it becomes competitive with Mexico and the leader leagues in Europe, salaries will be similarly skewed. And until the domestic titles and trophies find the same level of reverence and relevance as UEFA Champions League and the championship targets of England, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc., it is the way it is.

And that’s OK. Major League Soccer now exists in the middle of the food chain, a place of destination for players from some countries and a feeder league for the world’s marquee associations.

It won’t always be that way – and the ambition to seek more is OK, too. But for now, it is what it is.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH: Rafa Marquez’s latest blatant, unnecessary attempt to injure

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT

    Rafa Marquez AP

    He’s simply one of the worst that’s ever played.

  2. Newcastle veteran Ameobi takes shot at club’s transfer failings

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT

    Newcastle United v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Shola Ameobi has played a lot of roles during his time at Newcastle; His latest role is vocal critic of the club’s transfer practices.

  3. Jermaine Jones’ tattoo will have opponents seeing stars (and stripes)

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    Jermaine Jones 2

    The USMNT midfielder posted this shot to his Instagram account on Tuesday, proclaiming his new stars and stripes knee tattoo complete.

  4. Liverpool’s Ayre to spend this summer: “It will cost what it costs”

    Apr 23, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT

    Leaders in Sport Getty Images

    The Champions League will make Liverpool more attractive, says its managing director, and the club will spend money to fortify its team.

  5. Manchester United adds another Class of ’92 member to training pitch

    Apr 23, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT

    Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    Paul Scholes joined former teammates Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt as Manchester United prepared for this week’s match vs Norwich

  6. Barcelona’s transfer ban suspended by FIFA, should allow club to make summer moves

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:32 AM EDT

    Neymar Getty Images

    This is a massive break for the Blaugranas and will no doubt be met with consternation by its rivals.

  7. Champions League preview: Defending champion Bayern Munich looks to end Real Madrid quest for 10th title

    Apr 23, 2014, 6:12 AM EDT

    Czech Republic Soccer Super Cup AP

    Bayern is two steps away from back-to-back titles. Real Madrid’s the same distance from its decima.

  8. Alex Ferguson backed David Moyes’ firing, will help select a successor

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    Ferguson has kept quiet during the club’s latest transition, but according to reporting Tuesday night, he’ll play a part in finding David Moyes’ replacement.

  9. Mourinho ready to turn Chelsea’s back on Premier League

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:14 PM EDT

    jose_mourinho AP

    With injuries forcing his hand, the Blues’ boss wants to concentrate on Champions League.

  10. ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 7

    Apr 22, 2014, 7:51 PM EDT

    2013 MLS Cup - Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

    They only took one point from Vancouver, but LA Galaxy won three spots in this week’s Best XI.

  11. Chelsea suffer season-ending injuries, suspensions as old guard evaporates

    Apr 22, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

    john_terry AP

    Chelsea boss has a big job on his hands ahead of the second leg:

  12. Five moments that defined Chelsea’s Champions League trip to Atlético Madrid

    Apr 22, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    diego AP

    Mourinho’s approach; Lampard’s card; and the Blues’ two big injuries.

  13. Three things we learned from Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea

    Apr 22, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Spain Soccer Champions League AP

    Chelsea do a job on Atleti, as everything’s up for grabs in the second leg:

  14. Champions League: Chelsea plays to type, holds Atlético Madrid to 0-0 draw in leg one

    Apr 22, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    juanfran_willian AP

    Evoking memories of their 2012 championship run, the Blues played out a scoreless draw in leg one.

  15. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Nick Rimando

    Apr 22, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    nick_rimando Getty Images

    He missed out on our award in Week One. Six weeks later, those no denying the RSL number one.

  16. The Manchester United Supporters Trust really really hates the Glazers

    Apr 22, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    David Moyes' United side have a mountain to climb after being torn apart by Olympiakos. Getty Images

    Excepting Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United Supporters Trust is really not fond of any higher-up at the club right now.

  17. Lineups out for Atletico Madrid and Chelsea; Fernando Torres up-top

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT

    Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring a goal against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London Reuters

    The lineups are out for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea in Spain.

  18. Report: Giggs won’t be considered as permanent Manchester United boss

    Apr 22, 2014, 12:58 PM EDT

    Ryan Giggs, Markel Bergara AP

    As much as he loves the club, perhaps even Giggs knows he’s not completely ready for the gig.

  19. USMNT players prepare to settle slimy food bet in Seattle this weekend

    Apr 22, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT

    GEODUCKS AP

    A lost Super Bowl bet means Colorado defender Shane O’Neill will be enjoying a gooey treat courtesy of Seattle’s DeAndre Yedlin.

  20. Hull player earns fine for perceived support of quenelle celebration

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    The celebration has now cost Anelka a job, West Bromwich Albion some sponsors and Sagbo some money.

Featured video

FIRED: Where David Moyes went wrong