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MLS Changes Unveiled

MLS has dumped the distinction between senior internationals and youth internationals, and provided each club with an additional foreign player slot (eight total). Insider readers have known for weeks that this announcement was coming. What we did not know until today was that those foreign slots can be traded, so if, say, the Rapids have reached the eight-player limit, they can deal for another one and fill it as they see fit.
We also learned today that.....
*.....the three grandfathered designated players - Eddie Johnson, Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz - will retain that status for not just this coming season, but for 2009 as well. However, in a change, the amount of salary beyond the league's responsibility (which is about $400,000) will now be paid by the individual clubs. No longer will MLS cover those players' entire salaries. Essentially, they are being treated as designated players, but without the DP-per-club limitations.
*.....Toronto will receive two extra foreign-player slots (10 total), but both would have to be filled by U.S. players.
*.....teams no longer will retain 12-month rights to players they have just waived. Effective immediately, waived players can be claimed by any other club without compensation.
*.....the allocated order and rules have been clarified (sort of), with San Jose, Toronto, RSL, Los Angeles and Columbus at the top of the list. Keep in mind, though, the allocation order is only relevant when two or more clubs claim the same allocation-eligible player (a U.S. national team player returning from Europe, for instance) on the same day.
*.....the league finds it impossible to avoid scheduling MLS games on international fixture dates, which will become more important this year as the U.S. national team prepares to play as many as eight World Cup qualifiers. (This news was not in the press release, but was addressed by deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis in a telephone conversation today.)
Before commenting on these changes, please jump below for Gazidis's explanations.

ON THE DECISION TO INCREASE THE FOREIGN PLAYER LIMIT AND WHETHER THAT CONTRADICTS THE LEAGUE'S PERCEIVED IDEAL OF DEVELOPING AMERICAN PLAYERS.....

This league will be built on the domestic talent that we produce. What has happened here is, as we go through what is likely to be a rapid period of expansion, we need to ensure that our product quality continues to move forward. As we look at the first round of expansion, we're looking at 28 new players, 18 on the senior roster, and asking our self whether the domestic talent pool in the short term has the depth to supply all of those players while at the same time allowing us to continue to make product quality better. The answer to those questions is, we believe we need to dip into the international market in order to supply players in the short term. What we have done here is add one potential international player, so up to 14 league wide. So I don't think it represents any abandonment of [developing U.S. talent], but just a realistic assessment that, in the short term, we are not going to be developing the number of players we are going to need as we go through expansion to keep the game on the field moving forward. In the medium to long term, we do believe we are going to be able to supply the league primarily from the domestic talent pool, as we have in the past. ...
We have to re-examine the policy as we go forward [with future expansion] and a lot will depend on to what extent our player development programs are supplying quality players. It's difficult to predict what exactly the future holds, but through each expansion round, we are going to have to look at it because critical for everyone's plans is that the level of play on the field continues to go up every year. But that doesn't represent the abandonment of the American player at all. In fact, American players continue to be the backbone of the league and they always will, but the better league we have for them to play in, the better players they are going to become. ...
We don't believe the domestic talent pool is limitless, and unless you believe it is limitless and has a limitless number of good, young players coming through, then every expansion is going to dilute the quality of play in the league. That's not desirable for anybody at this point in our development, including the American player. ... It's critical to us that we take the success that we had in 2007 on the field, and certainly not take a step backwards, and our aim is not to keep it where it was in 2007; our aim is to take just as big of a step forward in 2008, and in order to do that in the short term, there is no other way than going into the international market. In the medium to long term, it is going to be with our player development programs. ...
It's not a dramatic change in policy or strategy, but we do feel it is necessary to deal with in this period of expansion. ... Most of our teams are not hard against the international player limit with it [where it is] now. The reality of MLS budgets is, we don't have the money to go out and become a Chelsea or an Arsenal, and I don't think there is any likelihood of that happening. ... Our fans demand, and respond to, a higher level of play and the nationality of the players is less important to them than the quality of play. I do think that international players add value. We've seen with a number of them, the positive contribution they have made to the American players around them. The development of Chris Rolfe is significantly different because he is playing with Cuauhtemoc Blanco than it would be without him. Experiencing different styles of play and different types of players is not just good for our fan base, but it's good for our domestic players. ... What we are trying to encourage teams to do is develop their own distinct identities and I think this gives them another layer of flexibility to do that.

ON THE DECISION TO KEEP THE GRANDFATHERED DP DESIGNATIONS.....

When we started the designated player proposal, I think there were two competing concerns. For those teams that had players that were on high salaries - which, at that time, included Freddy Adu - they were going to have to give up value in order just to keep the players they had. In other words, the designated player proposal would mean they would have to take a step backwards [because of] something that was no doing of their own [the high salary of that player] when they accepted those players onto their roster. The other side of the coin was the concern that we continue to have a league where every team is competitive. There was a concern that the teams that had high-salaried players, if they were able to sign more high-salaried players [under the DP rule], might be competitively at an advantage over teams that didn't have those type of high-salaried players. What we tried to do in order to [alleviate] that second concern was to set the salary budget charge [salary cap] of the high-salaried players at a level that would mean effectively their introduction as well as the designated players didn't have a competitive, unbalancing of the league. But no one really knew how this would affect the league. At the end of our experience in 2007, the board looked at it again and the concerns that there would be a competitive imbalance had receded somewhat. Both of the teams in the MLS Cup final did not have designated players or high-salaried players. Those teams that had pre-existing, high-salaried players were saying, 'Why is it that we have to give up value if there is no competitive imbalance in the league?' The board considered that and ultimately agreed with it.

WOULD THE LEAGUE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MORE THAN ONE GRANDFATHERED DP AS WELL AS A DP ON THE SAME TEAM?

I think it would be possible [to have, say, Ruiz, Donovan and Beckham -- my words, not Gazidis's]. The competitive balancing act here is done by the salary budget charge [the salary cap]. So how tradeable these players are depends on how big their contribution is against that salary budget charge. ... These guys just do not count as designated players. They are like every other player in every competitive respect. In the financial respect, they are different because the teams bearing their salary have got the charge.

CAN YOU SEE WHERE THERE WOULD BE SOME CONCERNS THAT THERE IS SOME KIND OF FAVORITISM TOWARD THE GALAXY AMONG FANS?

There are always going to be accusations of favoritism. From the Galaxy's perspective, they were being penalized. They didn't know that when Landon Donovan was being signed from Bayer Leverkusen and they took him on their roster and gave up Carlos Ruiz that not only was that going to eat up a big chunk of salary cap room for them, they were also going to have to trade in order to keep him on their roster. I accept that, in a competitive environment, people are always going to have theories about favorites, but there is another side to that argument or equation.

WHY DID THE LEAGUE FEEL IT WAS NECESSARY TO GIVE TORONTO TWO EXTRA FOREIGN SLOTS?

They have a theoretical competitive advantage in that they have better access to the Canadian player pool than the other MLS teams. How big that competitive advantage is depends on how deep the Canadian player pool is at the kind of salary levels that MLS pays. On the other side of that is, they have a competitive disadvantage because they don't have as much access to the U.S. player pool. When we looked at expansion in 2007, we tried to, in the abstract, come up with the right balance and that was a little bit speculative. No one knew how it would play out in practice. Having had a year of experience with it, it's clear, at least for the time being, that at our salary levels, they don't have the depth of Canadian players yet that would really give them a competitive advantage. So the pendulum was swung a little bit too much away from them, so what we are doing is swinging it back toward them by giving them a little bit more access to the U.S. player pool. Again, this is something we will re-evaluate as we go forward. If, in fact, more Canadian players, as we expect, begin to develop, then that side of the equation becomes a little bit stronger and maybe we need to tilt the pendulum back a little bit.

WILL MLS BE ABLE TO WORK AROUND INTERNATIONAL FIXTURE DATES?

It is an impossible scheduling task. We have our MLS schedule, international fixture dates, U.S. Open Cup, international competition, CONCACAF is looking at an expanded Champions League, we have SuperLiga, television commitments (Thursday night on ESPN). ...It's going to be very, very challenging for us to be able to avoid those fixture dates.

By Steve Goff  |  December 18, 2007; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: CONCACAF Draws It Up

Comments

great interview with Gazidas.

gracias.

Posted by: nice | December 18, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Steven,

With the new waived player policy, do you know if players are still technically 'Restricted Free agents,' where the waiving club still has the opportunity to match contract terms offered by the new club? Or now once a club waives a player does that mean they've completely renounced their rights?

Posted by: Pete | December 18, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I completely disagree with Gazidas in reference to the scheduling conflict. MLS needs to change the schedule to a Fall-Spring schedule to avoid these schedule mishaps. All this does is take away from the fan. Look at what happened over this past summer with the Gold Cup and Copa America. Many MLS fans lost out on the opportunity to see their favorite US players. As a paying customer, why should they have to sit through a game without seeing Eddie Johnson or Landon Donovan while they are participating in international tournanments. It takes away a lot of quality from the game and devalues it. This is a very stupid decision on MLS' part

Posted by: DC United Fan | December 18, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Once waived, they're gone.

Posted by: Goff | December 18, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Soy United:

Your post has been deleted. Once, again, please no references to anonymous web sites.

Thanks.

Posted by: Goff | December 18, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Steve, thanks for the info from Gazidis. I Still don't get why its not possible to have 2 or 3 games on a FIFA weekend instead of 7... That would make it only two or three players US players on any given weekend to have to make decisions about. Hopefully it would balance out that players could skip the odd MLS game and could skip the odd National team game and everyone is at least somewhat happy... Start the league a week earlier and have an extra weeknight game somewhere in there... that should free up enough space in the schedule.

Posted by: Jake | December 18, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

So a team could go trade crazy and acquire 28 international spots?

Posted by: undrafted | December 18, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

28 int'l spots? Yeah, in theory. If a team feels the need to make 20 trades to eradicate every American player on their roster, sure, go ahead. It still does not change the number of int'l players in the league overall.

Posted by: Goff | December 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Gazidis talks about finding the right amount of international slots for Toronto to balance the Canadian and US talent pools. Wouldn't it be easier and more fair to just lump the two pools together and designate an international player as a player from outside the US and Canada? This pool could be the same for all MLS teams. Would this be against FIFA regulations?

Posted by: Meister | December 18, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Goff,

Any insight about Barros Schelloto leaving Columbus? Rumours in Argentina are that he is being considered to coach Boca Jrs. if they let Russo go? Was he here on a one year deal?

Thanks.

Posted by: working late in DC | December 18, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Do you think DCU would still have traded Erpen with the new rules? One big reason was he was going to switch from YI to SI.

Posted by: wmsiii | December 18, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

MLS needs to change the schedule to a Fall-Spring schedule to avoid these schedule mishaps. All this does is take away from the fan. Look at what happened over this past summer with the Gold Cup and Copa America. Many MLS fans lost out on the opportunity to see their favorite US players. As a paying customer, why should they have to sit through a game without seeing Eddie Johnson or Landon Donovan while they are participating in international tournanments. It takes away a lot of quality from the game and devalues it. This is a very stupid decision on MLS' part

the stupid decision would be to have this league playing through the winter. in addition to competing against NFL, NCAA football, NBA, and NHL, have you been outside lately?

i can't comprehend how people think that is actually something MLS should do.

Posted by: pat | December 18, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

So does he really think there is more fixture congestion than for foreign leagues who manage not to schedule Int'l dates?

Posted by: Lloyd Heilbrunn | December 18, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"So a team could go trade crazy and acquire 28 international spots?"

Theoretical questions get parctical answers: "Could" and "Should" are two entirely separate things. With such a low salary cap, the trading of international spots becomes limited by the amount of cap space a team has. Additionally, whoever or whatever is traded would need to offset the loss of an international slot on the opposing team. It may happen, but won't be common.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | December 18, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The previous rule played a role in the Erpen trade, but at the end of the day, the club did not feel comfortable making a championship push with him back there. The trade didn't work out the way they had hoped, but keeping Erpen would not have solved their postseason problems.

FYI, Dave Kasper tells me that the club did not exercise the option on Vanney's contract and is in the process of negotiating a new deal. Presumably, at a much lower salary figure.

As for the ability of other leagues to accommodate fixtures, they play longer seasons (MLS 8 months, including playoffs; England nine months of regular league play). European leagues do not have to dance around stadium conflicts either. I'm not justifying Gazidis's comments, just providing some explanation.

Posted by: Goff | December 18, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

So much for the Erpen trade..

Posted by: Garret | December 18, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

does that mean that Vanney is free to negotiate a contract with any MLS team? if so, does DC get anything if he goes?

Posted by: pat | December 18, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

DC United Fan:

Imagine a thursday night ESPN game in New England last week.
Or a DC v. Red Bull game being played in the meadowlands last Sunday night in place of the Giants/Redskins matchup.

Doesn't work out too well, does it?

I get the appeal of a fall to spring schedule, but every time I see an NFL game played in those conditions I can't help but think it's a first rate way to destroy the league.

Nothing can compete with the NFL for the affections and attention of the masses, you know that.

Just because the wonderful folks over in europe do it doesn't mean we have to. South American, Central American, and Scandinavian Leagues don't strictly follow the "normal" calendar either, and the game isn't dying off there.

Posted by: d, dc | December 18, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't this make you wish we had kept Adu? With gomez going, and moreno too....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"I completely disagree with Gazidas in reference to the scheduling conflict. MLS needs to change the schedule to a Fall-Spring schedule to avoid these schedule mishaps. All this does is take away from the fan. Look at what happened over this past summer with the Gold Cup and Copa America. Many MLS fans lost out on the opportunity to see their favorite US players. As a paying customer, why should they have to sit through a game without seeing Eddie Johnson or Landon Donovan while they are participating in international tournanments. It takes away a lot of quality from the game and devalues it. This is a very stupid decision on MLS' part."

Posted by: DC United Fan | December 18, 2007 03:31 PM
--------------------------

Moving to a Fall-Spring schedule isn't the same thing as not playing on int'l match days. And if MLS can't not play on those dates now, one wonders how they'd manage with the kind of extended winter break that the league would have to employ if they seriously tried to play in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Columbus, etc., Dec-Feb. (even March). Not to mention what would happen to attendance if the league routinely scheduled matches in 30 degree weather.

I, too, want MLS to shut down for big int'l matches/tournaments. And I hope MLS reconsiders once every club is in its own stadium and MLS has total flexibility to schedule matches when it wants to; start a little earlier and play a little later, scheduling more early/late season games in the sourthern US, for example. "Save" a week by making the first round of the MLS playoffs a single knock-out match hosted by the higher seed. And, by all means, get rid of the All Star Game.

But pretending MLS can play in the winter and make it as a business just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: doug | December 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

DCU did not waive Vanney, they just declined his current contract option. They still have the right to negotiate with him.

Keep Adu?? Huh? Freddy was going to leave for Europe anyway, whether he was in DC or Salt Lake.

Posted by: Goff | December 18, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"I completely disagree with Gazidas in reference to the scheduling conflict. MLS needs to change the schedule to a Fall-Spring schedule to avoid these schedule mishaps. All this does is take away from the fan. Look at what happened over this past summer with the Gold Cup and Copa America. Many MLS fans lost out on the opportunity to see their favorite US players. As a paying customer, why should they have to sit through a game without seeing Eddie Johnson or Landon Donovan while they are participating in international tournanments. It takes away a lot of quality from the game and devalues it. This is a very stupid decision on MLS' part"

Never gonna happen until such time as all MLS teams have climate-controlled SSS's with retractable roofs. In other words, not in our lifetime. People in the US will NOT attend a soccer game in 3-degree weather. Or in the incessant pouring rain of the late winter/early spring.

My teeth chatter just thinking about the DC United -Harbor view game a couple years ago in 16-degree weather in mid-March at the Maryland soccerplex. I will NEVER do anything like that again. It just ain't worth it.

Posted by: Ron | December 18, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Off topic:

Any suggested DVDs for stockings of passionate fans on my list? U-13 to 50+

Thanks for the help

Posted by: S.Claus, Libero, North Pole FC | December 18, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Working late in DC - The Crew had a club option on Schelotto for the 2008 season, which they exercised prior to the November 30th MLS deadline after getting word that GBS wanted to return. Basically he's under contract to the league and the Crew through December 31st of next year.

Posted by: Fid | December 18, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I don't buy the explanation for the re-grandfathering. You (generic you, not you, Steve) can't unconvince me that what happened was that a year ago, the league thought the Gals would be able to swing a trade. But a combination of the disastrous Guevara trade, as well as Lalas trading away Findley, Gomez, Sturgis, and Ihemelu (in other words, almost all of their good, cheap players) made it impossible for Lalas to make a deal.

Steve, a question...Reyna counted $325 against the cap. But you reference $400K with regard to Landon. Will he count $400K or $325K against the cap?

Posted by: superdave | December 18, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm ok with his reasoning on grandfathering Donovan, Ruiz, and Johnson. If you follow his logic then if a team aquired on of them now they would do so with full knowledge of the DP rule and therefore the future harm (like what the galaxy would have experienced by having to trade to keep Donovan) would be factored into the deal. Therefore in order to stay consistent with his logic once a player is traded the grandfathering should be null and void. Otherwise the team which aquires the grandfathered player has gained a "competitive advantage" over the rest of the league by adding a DP level player without using a DP slot.

Posted by: dwbpnm | December 18, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Do any of Donovan, Johnson or Ruiz have an MLS contract that extends beyond 2009?

Posted by: Grandfathers | December 18, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

As fixture congestion climbs towards it's peak around 60-65 matches once all the expansion is done and teams are in EVERY conceivable competition - then we'll be at wheer some clubs are in Europe.

Now - I hate losing my national team guys to duty and I don't exactly like that there isn't room in the schedule for nights off. But I understand it. I also understand that moving the schedule to a more traditional format isn't the fix either. If you start in late August and play until Thanksgiving - you're not playing again until late January. Then you're playing until June.

Let's be honest - it's not the scheduling but the roster depth. That's only going to get solved as more revenue pours into the league, salaries increase and the new CBA ups minimums substantially so that clubs have a decent second team to pull players from in the instance of international duty.

Posted by: UVA-United | December 18, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

i call bs on the "we can't schedule around international dates" everyone knows when they are months if not years in advance. if LA could play wednesday/sunday games every week from august on, then the rest of the league can as well.

Posted by: dashiel | December 18, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

----------
the stupid decision would be to have this league playing through the winter. in addition to competing against NFL, NCAA football, NBA, and NHL, have you been outside lately?

i can't comprehend how people think that is actually something MLS should do.
----------

starting a season in August and finishing it in May, does/would not require MLS to play games from mid-Dec to mid-Feb. winter breaks (like the one CONCACAF will have for it's Champion's League) are useful and necessary for soccer playing nations like the US, Denmark, Russia and other "northern/cold" countries.

having MLS Cup in May (or early June) seems like a much better option than going up against American football in Nov.

Posted by: schedule | December 18, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

and as was mentioned earlier:

"Moving to a Fall-Spring schedule isn't the same thing as not playing on int'l match days."

not playing on int'l match days is the much more important issue for MLS.

conflicting directly with NT matches really hinders the league, in my opinion.

Posted by: repeat | December 18, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Superdave, my question exactly. The league has always remained cryptic as to how much these players actually count towards the cap. If it is any less than what a 2nd DP would count, then it is blatantly unfair to the other teams in the league.

Posted by: GLC431 | December 18, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

--------
European leagues do not have to dance around stadium conflicts either. I'm not justifying Gazidis's comments, just providing some explanation.
--------

So once MLS owners control all their venues, MLS will tackle this int'l scheduling conflict challenge?

Posted by: Follow-up | December 18, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

It's impractical now for teams to think they can go all international and win. These changes must have been the compromise made to those who wanted to raise the cap.

Chivas USA taught many a good lesson. Had they had the ability to get 28 international players and make it an all Mexican club, they might have done so.

Who's to stop Red Bull New York from loaning out high price players from Salzburg? (see Markus Schopp)

I don't like the idea of trading int spots. MLS might as well do away with the limits altogether (which I think Germany did). I actually wouldn't mind that change.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 18, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Steve,

No word yet on the CCC draw?

Posted by: JH6 | December 18, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Gazidis talks about finding the right amount of international slots for Toronto to balance the Canadian and US talent pools. Wouldn't it be easier and more fair to just lump the two pools together and designate an international player as a player from outside the US and Canada? This pool could be the same for all MLS teams. Would this be against FIFA regulations?

Posted by: Meister | December 18, 2007 03:45 PM

I've thought the same thing. As long as its not against FIFA regs, or is at least something we can appeal, they should define an international player as outside US and Canada. It would make all this mess so much easier and no team would ever have an advantage or disadvantage.

Fall/Spring Schedule? Hell no...get real. The climate is too cold in most MLS markets. A better solution would be to start the league 4 to 6 weeks earlier and just brave the cold for a month. A less dense schedule will relieve conflicts and give players more opportunity to rest. This problem will only get worse.

Posted by: BK | December 18, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I favor honoring the international dates. But I realize that it's probably true that doing so would cost MLS money. It'd mean more midweek games or a longer season. I think eventually MLS will have to take that risk, but until more teams get into owner/operator controlled stadiums, I'm not going to push the issue.

Around 2010 I think it's time to push the issue. The 2012 World Cup is the biggest part of this debate. My insticts says MLS is planning to play through in 2012 and there's not much anyone can say that will convince them otherwise.

Posted by: undrafted | December 18, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I imagine the league wants to build the Canadian player pool as well. If a Canadian club treats US and Canadian players the same, they might not sign as many Canadians.

Posted by: canadian | December 18, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Also, clarifying question on the waivers and "effective immediately" - does that mean someone waived 10 months ago can now sign with anyone or does it mean from this point forward anyone waived can be signed immediately?

Posted by: JH6 | December 18, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Tell me more about this 2012 World Cup....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 18, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Tell me more about this 2012 World Cup....

I believe it is called the Olympics.

Posted by: what | December 18, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The other things to consider in avoiding international dates:

1) There are teams that still don't control when they have access to play. That gives nightmares to the League Office enough I'm sure.

2) The International dates are fixed years in advance - however, the dates for SuperLiga, Champions League, etc are not fixed and are also subject to the big issue that is #1.

3) It probably isn't the greatest practice that MLS is playing on these dates - but the rest of the world does not have the unique issues that confront the American sporting landscape.

4) In 4 years time, there will be enough MLS teams and enough international teams that it's likely a team would never lose more than two players to the national team call. Perhaps that is when teams begin denying the USMNT for games that aren't on the international calendar and the CBA/Revenues will have grown to the point where MLS teams can field a full 20 man first team and 24 man reserve team with assistance to both at the youth level as well. Call ups hurt like injuries but are always chances to blood the youth.

Maybe things will be better once teams control all their venues. But - until such time, it's going to be tough - and when there are 36 League Matches, 1 US Open Cup Match, 6 Champions League Matches, and 2 Play-off Games (and maybe 3 SuperLiga - if it goes on?) 45 games a minimum?

Assuming that you take December and January off as well as June and July - you still look at a season with games every 5 days.

It's just different - and we and the world will have to get used to it.

Posted by: UVA-United | December 18, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

[quote]WILL MLS BE ABLE TO WORK AROUND INTERNATIONAL FIXTURE DATES? It is an impossible scheduling task.[/quote]

They have answered their own question. MONEY & PROFIT over pride of country.

Posted by: shirteesdotnet | December 18, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

First off all thanks - your my MLSNews Source Number 1 !

happy the International Youth/Senior things has been made a bit easier.

still feel having a DP + a gradnfathered one is "prefered" treatment to other teams and I'm a Galaxy fan.

too bad about the fixture conflicts

Posted by: Ben | December 18, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Those of you looking for the CONCACAF Champions Cup draw results go here:

http://www.concacaf.com/competitions/match3.asp?id=1&year=2008

as published on an anonymous rumors site.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 18, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the rule change would have made a big difference in dumping Erpen.

PS MLS clearly favors Toronto.

Posted by: Todd H. | December 18, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Re: Fall-Spring Schedule. Europe has something the US does not have--the Gulf Stream. This moderates the weather quite a bit in Europe, especially in England but also south of the Alps, which are a natural barrier. This allow games to be played through most of the winter in most of Europe, but especially in England. This may be seen by the fact that in latitude Rome is NORTH of Columbus, by a few miles. Their weather is, of course, considerably different. FIFA tends to think they can control everything, but they do not control the weather. Even germany gave up trying to play in January and now has a long winter break, as do most of the other continental countries. FIFA could force the world to conform to a single calendar, but that would hurt the sport in many parts of the world--just on weather issues alone.

Posted by: kgilbert78 | December 18, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Well DC would get to host the return-leg of every series.

Posted by: UVA-United | December 18, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Finally an international tournament where we don't have to worry about Chivas.

Posted by: ChivaH8r | December 18, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Steve - I'm confused on the Vanney deal. DCU did not pick up his option. I understand that they will continue to negotiate for a lesser salary. In the meantime, does Vanney have the right to negotiate a new deal with other clubs (say San Jose or LAG)? Does DCU have the right of first refusal or get a draft choice if he signs with someone else? I guess, How does this work?

Posted by: Crazy Al | December 18, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Vanney was not waived. That rule change is for "waived" players. Vanney is out of contract and can sign anywhere outside of MLS for next year. I think his situation is now like any MLS player who's contract is up.

MLS has never fully explained all the details, but as far as I can tell, as long as a player was offered some sort of contract (maybe 30k?), the team retains the rights to the player and gets to negotiate a new deal without interference from other teams.

Posted by: undrafted | December 18, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

On "building the player pool"...

What about oh, I dunno, raising the developmental player salary to, say, $40K per year or so? Heck, the Redskins PRACTICE squad players get something like $80K, right?

Do that, and you might actually discover a larger player pool.

Posted by: Juan-John | December 18, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: schedule | December 18, 2007 04:12 PM
_________________________________________

so rather than playing MLS' biggest match of the year against early season NFL games, you think competing early season MLS vs. NFL is going to be better? Expect a lot of 4K turnouts unless all early games are done on weeknights.

Many people have provided reasons why Fall-Spring won't happen (all totally valid) they do need to make a more concerted effort to sked around international dates and they need to fix it when the WC2010 comes around. Playing during the WC is ridiculous.

Realistically, nothing can be done until at least half of all teams are playing in venues they have complete sked control over. We should be up to 6 teams soon (if RBNY ever gets done) once we are there, I'll be more angry if they don't fix that anomally. Plus the mid-summer is just unbearably hot to play in and the play does suffer in mid-July.

Posted by: papa bear | December 18, 2007 7:19 PM | Report abuse

As is typical for Gazidis, his explanations don't hold much water. I especially liked "They didn't know that when Landon Donovan was being signed from Bayer Leverkusen and they took him on their roster . . .(that) they were also going to have to trade in order to keep him on their roster." News flash: they weren't going to have to trade to keep him on the roster -- provided they didn't sign Beckham. At the time they were thinking about signing Beckham, but had not yet signed him, they were *definitely* aware that they'd have to trade to keep him on the roster, since that was spelled out in the DP rule. The league did not hold a gun to their heads and say "sign Beckham or we'll shoot." They made a choice knowing that it came with consequences; the league has chosen to let them off those consequences. Nice try Gazidis.


Posted by: Bootsy | December 18, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I imagine the league wants to build the Canadian player pool as well. If a Canadian club treats US and Canadian players the same, they might not sign as many Canadians.

Posted by: canadian | December 18, 2007 04:29 PM
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Yeah, but slots for Canadians would be opened up on the 13 (soon to become 14, and then 15) rosters south of the border. The NASL treated all North Americans as "domestic" players. The Washington Diplomats had a fair number of Canadians (Iarusci, Marcantonio, etc.), as did many other US-based NASL teams.

Posted by: 22201 | December 18, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Any suggested DVDs for stockings of passionate fans on my list? U-13 to 50+

Thanks for the help

Posted by: S.Claus, Libero, North Pole FC | December 18, 2007 04:06 PM
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You should start with the Iranian film Offside, which is still the best film I've seen yet this year, not just the best film about football. It is in the tradition of such films as Fever Pitch (the original UK version, that is), and The Cup (that cult classic from Bhutan), both of which are also worth considering. These films are all loosely based on actual events in which fans were driven to extreme measures because of their passion for the sport. I think we would recognize ourselves in the characters in all of these movies.

Posted by: 22201 | December 18, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse


Off topic:

Any suggested DVDs for stockings of passionate fans on my list? U-13 to 50+

Thanks for the help

Posted by: S.Claus, Libero, North Pole FC | December 18, 2007 04:06 PM

I recently have seen Once in a Lifetime, Goal 1 & 2, and The Game of Their Lives, all of which I would recommend, although Once in a Lifetime probably not so much for the youngest.

Posted by: billy | December 18, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I recently have seen Once in a Lifetime, Goal 1 & 2, and The Game of Their Lives, all of which I would recommend, although Once in a Lifetime probably not so much for the youngest.

Posted by: billy | December 18, 2007 08:05 PM
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I heartily concur with the recommendation for Once in a Lifetime, although it may work best for those of us who are old enough to have lived through that era. (That said, I'd love to hear the perspective of younger fans who've watched it.)

My feelings about The Game of Their Lives (actually, the DVD version is called The Miracle Match) are mixed at best. You may be better off with the wonderful little book by Geoffrey Douglas on which the film is based. Douglas largely lets the surviving members of the 1950 side tell the real-life Cinderella story in their own words, and it is fascinating.

Posted by: 22201 | December 18, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

MLS going to August-May schedule = Dead Horse

MLS starting its present schedule 4-6 weeks earlier = Another Dead Horse

Posted by: Ron | December 19, 2007 7:12 AM | Report abuse

S.Claus, Libero, North Pole FC
22201 and Billy gave you great suggestions on DVDs, but if you have the duckets, you could get the DVD "History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game" which runs about $60.

Posted by: gallegoscot | December 19, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Re. this:
"not playing on int'l match days is the much more important issue for MLS.
conflicting directly with NT matches really hinders the league, in my opinion."

and this:
[quote]WILL MLS BE ABLE TO WORK AROUND INTERNATIONAL FIXTURE DATES? It is an impossible scheduling task.[/quote]
They have answered their own question. MONEY & PROFIT over pride of country.

How is going into a head-on competition (for paying spectators, TV time, advertisers, etc.) with NFL and NBA, which MLS is guaranteed to lose, and the resultant even-higher financial losses, with likely eventual going out of business, worth the "more important" avoidance of MLS games on FIFA dates?? How does "pride of the country" justify moving to a schedule that will kill the league?

p.s. Russia plays its domestic season on the same schedule (Spring through Fall) as MLS. Not Europe-like season with a winter break like someone suggested.

Posted by: tlk | December 19, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Does Russia (or even bigger/better leagues in UEFA or around the world) play league matches on or near Fifa dates?

The idea is to get on a soccer calendar that makes sense.

MLS goes head to head with Fifa (NT matches) too often.

Big leagues (once that attract the best players and have strong followings) don't clash with Fifa.

If MLS wants to become "Major", they'll have to figure out at some point how to not conflict with Fifa's international calendar.

Posted by: A soccer jam | December 19, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I believe that Russia schedules games of domestic top level league on days of FIFA/UEFA qualifiers, but shuts down for the duration of actual WC/Euro final stages.

The debate about the "need" to switch to Fall-Spring schedule to "align with the world's soccer calendar" is never-ending there, with the primary argument for the switch actually being the disadvantage at which Russian club teams are in Champions League, UEFA Cup, etc. from having to play important later-rounds games (if they reach those) against teams from Italy/Germany/England/etc. who are in mid/late-season form while themselves being in early-season form, and with lineups different from those that reached these later rounds. It's a very compelling argument, you'd think, but they still realize that it's impossible to play a schedule aligned with the rest of the world due to their country-specific conditions. (Some propose building covered and heated stadiums, but that's totally impractical for teams in lower divisions, and promotion/relegation is a long-standing tradition, so seasons must be aligned across all divisions.)

What makes US "special" and incompatible with the rest of the soccer world (soccer's status as 4/5th sport and corresponding lack of money, dominance of NFL/NBA and their schedules) may be different than in Russia (climate), but the end result may well be the same: when two conflicting arguments collide, "need to be on FIFA schedule" is a far weaker one. Not that it would not be nice.

Posted by: tlk | December 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I recently have seen Once in a Lifetime, Goal 1 & 2, and The Game of Their Lives, all of which I would recommend, although Once in a Lifetime probably not so much for the youngest.

Posted by: billy | December 18, 2007 08:05 PM


Don't forget 'Victory'... featuring Pele' (in his first starring role...), Michael Caine, and Sly Stallone. :-)

More seriously, despite Robert Duvall's wobbling Scottish accent, 'A Shot at Glory', is a pretty decent film.

Posted by: Todd11 | December 20, 2007 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Start the season earlier. End the season later. Have the MLS Cup be only between the top 4 teams, single game only. Take 4-6 weeks off during the summer (this would both be the summer "transfer window" and would be moved around to accomodate the World Cup, Gold Cup and similar events).

This can't occur until every MLS team has its own stadium, but is where I see things going....eventually.

Posted by: Andy - Baltimore | December 20, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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