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Morning Kickaround

*It's deadline day for MLS expansion applications, with FC Barcelona joining forces with a Bolivian businessman to run a club in Miami. Ottawa, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Vancouver, St. Louis, Portland and perhaps others are also expected to submit bids for what is likely to be two expansion teams in 2011. From what I understand, MLS will formally introduce the applicants in a video on its website after 5 p.m. today.

*MLS tonight: A make-up game from a hurricane-related postponement with Houston hosting San Jose (9 p.m. ET, MLS Direct Kick). The Dynamo needs a victory to put some distance between itself and Chivas USA, while the Quakes are desperate for points to stay in the playoff race. "We feel like we owe them one," Dynamo D Eddie Robinson told the Houston Chronicle. "I think there is a little chip on our shoulder with the way we feel disrespected with not getting to keep our accomplishments from San Jose. We're really looking forward to showing them who won the two championships there and who won the two here."

*If you are planning to attend or watch on TV the DCU-New England match tomorrow night, the actual kickoff will not be until around 8 p.m. because of ESPN2's pregame show.

*Funeral arrangements have been set for Danilo Noel Diron, the DCU Spanish radio announcer who passed away last Friday.

*Cuba Coach Reinhold Fanz has been reassigned as an advisor and replaced by Raul Gonzalez Triana.

*In college action, No. 6 Maryland needed a late equalizer from long distance and then an overtime goal to defeat shorthanded Lehigh, 2-1, American scored four times in the final 23 minutes to upset Georgetown, 4-1, and the No. 16 Hoyas women defeated Syracuse, 3-1. The No. 1 men's team, Wake Forest, continued to roll, pounding UNC Greensboro, 6-0. Some observers are telling me this is the best all-around team at the college level in many, many years.

By Steve Goff  |  October 15, 2008; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , CONCACAF , College Soccer , D.C. United , MLS  
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Next: Qualifying Day

Comments

I'm quite excited to see that Blank is pursuing an MLS team.

Can MLS really deny Barca? That's a fantastic partner to have.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I pick Montreal and Vancouver - I like that they already have well supported USL sides and a stadium situation well underway. These are the two best from the litter based on existing support, market and ownership. However, the teams would end up being just as poor on-field as TFC if MLS doesn't allow Canadians to be counted as domestic players with Americans seeing as MLS is the domestic league for BOTH Canada and the US.

Miami/Barca - appeals because that's a great city that should have some manner of representation. However, I feel it won't succeed without an easily accesible urban stadium. Nothing in the suburbs and no branding that could potentially lead to a lack of support. The media market and footprint would help MLS.

I want St. Louis because of it's history for US Soccer and it's a good market in the middle of the country - however, I don't think Jeff Cooper or anyone else there has shown the ability for supporters to really exist on the level they have with Toronto, Seattle and Philly - who all else will be weighed against.

Atlanta has a USL team that is decently supported - and a great owner in Blank. However, what is the stadium situation going to be? Can they get one downtown? Does the market exist in ATL where every team is hampered by fickle sports fans?

Ottawa and Portland - too small and wait your turn.

New York - No brainer if it's the Mets and the team will have a stadium at the old Shea. However, the league would do well to let the Mets sit on the sideline - watch and learn some more and also throw Red Bull a bone and let them get into Red Bull Park and really have a run at the hearts of people first.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | October 15, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for MLS (re)expanding to the SE, on the condition that Barca's group does not follow the naming mistakes Vergara did.

Posted by: AJ | October 15, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I picked Atlanta, of course, and Miami -- frankly, because of Barca. But I really need to know what everyone's stadium plans are.

If I could pick Atlanta and anything-but-NY2, I would.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Can we vote for "none of the above"? Do we really need to add two more teams and dilute the talent base that much more? All of these applicant's have drawbacks. Miami has proven over and over again that they don't support pro sports. Having Barca associated with it won't change that.

Out of that group Montreal makes the most sense to me.

Posted by: Glenn | October 15, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

It would be pretty impressive if Wake Forest could compare the the UMD team that won the national championship in 2005.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 15, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

How about an option of no expansion? MLS has a business model that barely allows teams to make a profit (especially if you don't have your own stadium), can't generate enough cash to bid on better talent, and now they want to further dilute that talent by expanding again. What will be gained for improving American soccer by further expansion? MLS - stop and catch your breath at 16 teams and see if they all make it, improve the quality of play (and officiating) with better talent, then think about expansion.

Posted by: BillyBob | October 15, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

miami?!? they barely sell out the dolphins..never mind the heat and the marlins. as for atlanta..ditto. definitely vancouver and montreal. we need more teams like toronto in this league.

Posted by: mizage | October 15, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

My worry about expansion has more to do with the schedule than it does with where the teams play.

Watching DC United stumble through the end of its schedule, after participating in the Champions Cup, Open Cup, SuperLiga, and Champions League, just isn't entertaining.

The addition of the Seattle Sounders next year will give MLS an option of moving its 15 team league to a single table with a 28 game schedule. Philly makes it a 30 game schedule (the same as this year).

Adding two more teams in 2011, bumps the schedule to 34 games. How will MLS teams be able to handle the longer schedule, the US Open Cup, and the Champions League/Knock-out, all while trying to manage rosters that will no doubt be raped over the next four years due to expansion drafts.

Additionally, how will MLS be able to work around the FIFA international dates and summer tournaments, with all the additional play?


Finally, how will fans be able to handle all the fixture congestion. It's not like DC United's "extra" games have been well attended. Hell, even the US Open Cup crowd was smaller than usual.

Posted by: TCompton | October 15, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I might be inclined to give ATL a little bit of the benefit of the doubt for this reason: It's my impression that Atlanta is, like the DC Area, filled with transplants who bring their team affiliations with them, leaving them a little light in their hard core support for the established American sports.

However, a lot of those people are unlikely to have existing Soccer affiliations that would conflict.

That said, it is a crowded sports landscape there, with all 4 major sports and significant College football competing for time and dollars.

I think any of the cities could work with the right stadium in the right location and a team that gets off on the right foot with the fan base. Which ones are they?

Heck, I don't know....

Posted by: JkR | October 15, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I see no reason to think that a team would succeed in Miami where one failed before simply because Barca's involved in the ownership. Miami is simply the worst sports town in the entire country.

Posted by: Bootsy | October 15, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I've live in Atlanta, lived in DC -- both cities are full of transplants.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid of Montreal because I hear they give away ALOT of free tickets to the USL games (and hence the reason the stadium is full). I went to Vancouver this summer, and it is HUGE. If they can get a stadium built in the city, I'm sure they would get good attendance.

They need to get a team in either Atlanta or Miami to open up the Southeast market. That will bring in more money (its hard to sign off for national broadcasts of games, when the bottom quarter of the country is not served).

Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities, so I would like to see a team there (if they can get that indoor stadium they have been talking about). Maybe they can get Chivas?

Posted by: Kyle | October 15, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Miami won't succeed unless they move FC Barcelona, part and parcel, from Spain to South Florida.

That is a disaster waiting to happen.

I picked Portland and St. Louis. Portland will shrivel up and die if they aren't added to MLS, having lost their main rival. St. Louis, for its history in the game.

I'm not convinced St. Louis' stadium site is a good one though. If I dropped them, I'd have picked Montreal or New York2.

Posted by: Eric in Baltimore | October 15, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm a bit concerned about MLS franchises in cities with well-supported USL teams. Sure, it gives attendance a jump start, but unless the USL team continues to exist it means a contraction, and perhaps the death of USL-1, and I think that would be a big mistake. We need a flourishing MLS AND a strong USL-1 as a complement.

Posted by: Hedbal | October 15, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Expansion brings a congestion to the schedule - the easy answers are the make SuperLiga the UEFA Cup (excuse me, Michel, Europa League) and to AXE THE PLAYOFFS.

4 out of 12 times the MLS Cup Champion has actually been the Shield Winner. The playoffs make the season meaningless in any sport except for Throwball and even then the New England Patriots might wish that weren't true.

So get rid of the 4 games at the end of the year - you want a marquee matchup MLS to gather some steam behind your television offerings - give the All-Star game and the Champions League to the highest bidder (ESPN). Give 2nd place the SuperLiga.

Start the season at the beginning of March. right there - we've added 2 whole months to the schedule for increased regular season games and left SOME flexibility for the international calendar (which never will really be solved until it's Fall - Spring, but that's asking too much right now!)

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | October 15, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

WF must be quality -- UNC-G hasn't taken a beating like that since... well, maybe never.

I went with Vancouver and St. Louis, though I'm a little hesitant to field another team outside of the states. But if they could provide a fan base anything like Toronto, it would be great for the league.

Gotta rule out Florida. That's a pointy ball state all the way.

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 15, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Ahem, I challenge you Atlantans - tell me how in your gas starved and overdriven municipality, will you drive the 24-32 miles out from the city center to Gwinnett and Cobb for Pizza Hut II?

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | October 15, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

First off, Miami is a HORRIBLE sports town, and it already failed there once. Why in God's name would you return?

Second, a team actually IN the city in NY has the potential to be the best thing that ever happened to MLS. Would also be a nice rivalry set-up.

Ditto for Portland or Vancouver, either way. Those types of cities are good because there's nothing else going on.

St. Louis would be the safe option, though I really don't like the midwest. Atlanta is also not a great sports town.

All this is why I chose NY-2 and Portland.

Posted by: c-hawk | October 15, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I think having a team owned by Barca would be awesome. However, I wonder if it would really make a difference in terms of attracting what has historically been a fickle Miami fan base. The Chivas USA team has not attracted the fan base that I thought they were going to in LA. And I wonder how much Chivas' ownership was counting on that same thing. I'm assuming that a possible Miami team would not bear any Barca branding, which would make that link even less compelling to a fan. However, it's certainly got to lend some credibility to the league in general. I hope it happens.

Posted by: Matte | October 15, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

VBB...depends on where you mean.

This Kennesaw idea is awful. College Park by the airport sucks, too.

There's available land (inside the perimeter, in the north, near 85 and MARTA). There are good options.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Those percentages on the poll don't make any sense

Posted by: bribri | October 15, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Miami - I can't imagine a worse candidate. They have poor demographics, poor geography, poor climate, and most importantly, a wretched history of support
Las Vegas - Without an indoor stadium, a non-starter
Atlanta - After Miami, possibly the worst sports town in the USA
Ottawa - Meh, what's the point?

St. Louis - I just worry about the finances and the stadium location, but it's a great soccer city
Montreal - Their new stadium is far less than optimal

NYC - Building a stadium in NYC within 10 years is gonna be tough, but the potential fanbase absolutely dwarves all other markets
Portland - Yes, please.
Vancouver - Why not?

The most important thing for me is having a stadium in an accessible urban location. No more exurban stadia, it kills the atmosphere.

Posted by: Seth|NYC | October 15, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

BTW, my other pick was Montreal. Just cause it's a beautiful city, and the TFC support has been awesome.

Posted by: Matte | October 15, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@bribri: a total of 195% doesn't make sense?

LOL

Good spot. Goffs, any idea as to what's going on with the poll?

Posted by: Matte | October 15, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I went with Vancouver and St. Louis,
[...]
Gotta rule out Florida. That's a pointy ball state all the way.

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 15, 2008 10:13 AM
=============

Ditto. I voted for Vancouver because of the current strength of the Looney and a local rivalry with Seattle (pause to think of clever, but not cliche, derby names... I got nothing). St. Louis puts another team in the uncrowded middle of the country, although I don't know if the history and youth soccer infrastructure will translate into attendance.

Florida lost both its MLS teams and no-one noticed. They shouldn't have another team anytome soon, Barca or no Barca.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca Derby doesn't quite roll of the tongue - and no telling how Bretos and Miles will pronounce that.

STEVE: thanks for the heads up on kickoff time. Less worries about traffic now.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 15, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Because you can select two, the total percentage of votes is not going to equal 100%.

Posted by: Eric in Baltimore | October 15, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

You'd think that was obvious...

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Cocaine is a hell of a drug

Posted by: Eric in Baltimore | October 15, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Pick TWO

Of course, the numbers are going to add up to more than 100 percent

Posted by: Goff | October 15, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Wake -- would Marcus Tracy look good in a DCU kit? He's got wicked good numbers.

On to expansion -- first, the poll. My guess is the numbers will not add up to 100% because we're supposed to vote for 2 teams -- that it's calculated out of 200%, but one or two people only cast one vote... Unless they should be votes, rather than percentages....

My poll vote was for Montreal and New York, because the league needs to get more cosmopolitan. Speaking of which, I hope the New York team gets the rights to the Cosmos name. I miss Cosmos soccer. uh-uh uh-uh-uh uh-uh-uh-uh Cos-Mos. Building a stadium for the Mets will not be that hard at all. There's plenty of room around Shea -- they'll just need to figure out how to accommodate all the cars, especially if they play the same day. A team in Queens seems like a no-brainer to me, and a second soccer team in the area -- especially one in the city -- will probably help the Red Bulls. Much more attention from the media.

Montreal, I'm not so sure about, as I read above that the crowds are inflated by giveaways. Of course, St. Louis has the tradition, but can they support a team, especially one that's actually in Illinois?

I really hope that MLS isn't seduced by Barca's involvement. Miami is a terrible place for a soccer team, in so many ways. Too hot, and the people there aren't big fans -- a bad sports city, but I think especially bad for soccer. Atlanta has more of a base of soccer players, but I wonder if it can support a team. It's probably better than a couple of current MLS cities, but I feel like there would be better choices.

Right now, I'd say that Portland and Vancouver might be the best soccer towns on the list, but I don't think they'll get the teams.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 15, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

My take: any of those cities could be could MLS towns. I think the "city" isn't the issue. I'm not wild about Vegas--they struck out on a couple of exhibitions there--didn't draw squat. Ottawa and Montreal and Vancouver--we can praise their USL work and hope for a repeat of TFC in terms of fan support. But right now, TFC can't get enough decent Canadians to be able to start just 3 of them consistently. Who are those other clubs going to sign: Marco Roda? Chris Pozniak? And again, those aren't absolute obstacles either, just minor ones.

To me, it's not about the city. It's about the ownership and the stadium. I think a stadium that is built for soccer, in or near the city, near metro or easy access, with a good organization--it will succeed. New York is a class anti-example: they are a huge area, tremendous numbers of both soccer fans and ethnic groups, lots of media...there is absolutely room for at least a niche sport (if not bigger) somewhere in the NY/NJ Metro area. But you take incompetent leadership and a terrible stadium situation and you get....NY/NJ MetroStars and Redbulls. Ugh!

It's not about the city or it's size. It's about the stadium and the ownership. That determines success or failure for MLS at this stage.

Posted by: JoeW | October 15, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Is Eddie Robinson as dumb as he sounds in that quote? What accomplishments have "they" taken away?

I guess once a team clinches a playoff spot, they have to find motivation where they can. Yes, this looks like a real barn burner. I predict 0-0 draw with 9 yellows in the final 15 minutes.

Posted by: Tommie | October 15, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

If any of those, I have to go with Atlanta. One city I'm actually shocked that I haven't heard yet was New Orleans. The people down here really love their sports teams and aren't fair-weathered fans. It's actually pretty scary....

Or maybe I'm just being selfish and I'm just so far away from any MLS team!

Posted by: Just Sayin' | October 15, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Atlanta is in a tough place.

Transplants bringing their teams with them hurts the major 4, so attendance is a concern, naturally.

Site: Well, it won't be downtown, unless Arthur can convince the city to take away one of the parking lots around the Dome/Philips Arena area or The Ted (not likely). Silverbacks Park is in a great spot, but unlikely to be used.

Ownership: Arthur Blank is a savvy guy that is starting to understand the concept of hiring people who know what they're doing, sit back, watch the play improve and the money roll in, and would do everything in his power to get an SSS on par with any in the nation.


So, uhhh, final verdict: The more I think about it, the more I'm down with it, but I just don't see it happening, not in this cycle, at least.

Posted by: Jacob | October 15, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Maryland 2005 was a fine team, but I hate to say it but this Wake team is hands-down better than the MD 2005 team. They are better than last years Wake team. Wake may well be the best college team since Bruce Arena's powerhouses at UVA in the late 80's/early 90's.

Posted by: Ron | October 15, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it make more sense if your poll listed number of votes instead of percentages. Per cent of votes becomes less meaningful if you have two votes per voter. If you want to stick to percentages you probably should have gave each voter 1/2 a vote. That way the percentages would have added up to 100%.

I'm not a roman but it thing per cent means per hundred. So, I think by definition, the total should add up to 100%. Unless you are a coach then you can sometimes get away with 110%.

Posted by: slow day at work | October 15, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

JoeW: it is all about the owner and stadium for me, too -- that's why Atlanta and Miami could work out. But I need to hear more on their plans.

I hate hate hate NY2. Heck, I hate LA2. Spread the wealth!

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Portland. For obvious reasons...

- The Timber's Army: second past supporters in the US next to the DCU groups (LN, BB, & SE).
- Stadium: a bonafide downtown stadium that isn't a giant gaping NFL stadium. Capacity is roughly 28k with bleachers added.
- Location: a Seattle & Portland rivialry is needed in this league. Since relegation doesn't exist, why watch the LA/Rapids/DC (gulp) at the end of the season unless they are playing for something.
- Competition: the rest of the cities in the running have shown either poor support for footy in their city (ATL,LV) or downright down deserve a team (miami, ottawa, st. louis)

Posted by: DCU to PTFC | October 15, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"the rest of the cities in the running have shown either poor support for footy in their city (ATL,LV)"


To be fair, how do we know that? Silverbacks games average around 2000-2500 a game, and the leagues they have there are fairly full.

It's not like Miami who had a team and lost it based somewhat on attendance problems. Atlanta provides Ives' with his most number of hits of any non-MLS city.

Posted by: Jacob | October 15, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

@Fisch Fry

As good as Tracy is for Wake, and he is REALLY good, I would take Ike Opara, a sophomore, over him. He is the most dominating defender in college soccer and has five goals on the season. Noone can match him in the air. Head and shoulders above the rest, literally...

Posted by: Jaime | October 15, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Robinson actually. "They" is MLS who decreed that all of the records and accomplishments of the team that plays in Houston now were permanently attached to the San Jose area and were transferred to the current SJ team even though no one there had anything to do with them. So, instead of being the 4 time champions Houston can only call themselves two-time champs despite the fact that the players and staff are the same people (for the most part) who won two titles in San Jose.

Posted by: Glenn | October 15, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Jacob, he doesn't know that -- he just made it up.

I can only find and offer that the Atlanta WUSA team was second in attendance in 2001.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

My worry about expansion has more to do with the schedule than it does with where the teams play.

Watching DC United stumble through the end of its schedule, after participating in the Champions Cup, Open Cup, SuperLiga, and Champions League, just isn't entertaining.

The addition of the Seattle Sounders next year will give MLS an option of moving its 15 team league to a single table with a 28 game schedule. Philly makes it a 30 game schedule (the same as this year).

Adding two more teams in 2011, bumps the schedule to 34 games. How will MLS teams be able to handle the longer schedule, the US Open Cup, and the Champions League/Knock-out, all while trying to manage rosters that will no doubt be raped over the next four years due to expansion drafts.

Additionally, how will MLS be able to work around the FIFA international dates and summer tournaments, with all the additional play?


Finally, how will fans be able to handle all the fixture congestion. It's not like DC United's "extra" games have been well attended. Hell, even the US Open Cup crowd was smaller than usual.

___________________________________________

It will be interesting to see what the league does with the schedule in future years. Once Seattle and Philly are in, my guess is that the league will have a 30 game schedule, with each team playing the other on a home and away basis. While that is ideal for a single table, I think further expansion to 18 teams nixes it. 34 games may be too much and I could see the league moving to conferences where every team plays each other, but a DC may only play at LA one season, but not host it, and then host LA the next season.

Thoughts?


Posted by: J | October 15, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Schedule weekend tournaments at a neutral site and play 2 games a day.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh, yes, the WUSA. The Atlanta Beat. Brianna Scurry. Playing at Tech. That stupid song on the commercials. And didn't they win the thing one year?


And there is all I remember of the WUSA.

Posted by: Jacob | October 15, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

well, if we are using USL attendance to gauge interest, we really have to consider Montreal and Portland, right? Hotlanta is 4 times the size of Stumptown, but draws only a quarter of the attendance (yes, I know the stadium is much smaller, but if the Silverbacks thought they could draw 8k regularly, they'd find a way to expand, right?) and can anyone really see a supporter's group going nuts in the summer in Atlanta or Miami? place is going to sound like a golf tournament.

next up: what does Barca want this for? brand development? player development? either way it doesn't really make sense. Chivas has shown the brand development model is tough (and that's in LA, where there are more Chivas fans than Laker fans) why associate yourself with a club that is most likely going to be second rate for a while?

as for player development or scouting, start a freaking Academy and bring the Barca method to the States that way, the team has enough cachet to pull that off without going through the motions of losing money in MLS. I just think that foreign ownership of an MLS club at this point is a bad idea, how much care is Barca really going to put into this club, especially if it doesn't carry the FCB name?

Posted by: northzax | October 15, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

yes, I know the stadium is much smaller, but if the Silverbacks thought they could draw 8k regularly, they'd find a way to expand, right?)

The stadium is new, and slowly expanding.

They even have real bathrooms now. No more port-a-potties!

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@ J -- If they get to 20 teams, I would think a conference-based schedule like you suggest is likely: a 28 fixture schedule -- 18 in the conference (home and away), and 10 out (one against each team).

At 18 teams, I don't see a good schedule option. 34 games would be too many, but 25 might be too few? Although, given MLS' salaries, perhaps they could survive with only 25 regular games, sprinkled in with other competitions.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 15, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

South Florida is a horrible sports market. Expanding to Vancouver and Portland after adding Seattle last year may be too much growth in one region for now, unless the schedule is going to be unbalanced and you play regional teams more.

Posted by: tim | October 15, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Glenn,

They (the Dynamo) can call themselves anything they want. Robinson if he was on those teams in San Jose can call himself a 4 time champion.

Again, if this is what motivates this simpleton, more power to him. I think he would be better served by not letting "them" define whether he is successful or not. For all I know he will use this comment as bulletin board material.

Posted by: Tommie | October 15, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I voted Portland and Montreal. Although I'd substitute Vancouver for either of those. I think you'd get a bigger and better rivalry out of a Portland team.
Miami is a great place to visit in the winter, but I guess not so good for Soccer in the summer.. Atlanta from a geographic standpoint seems like a pretty good location, but I don't know anything about the sports dynamic.

Hey STEVE! Thank you for the heads up on tomorrow night's kickoff! We just might get some grillin' in after all!
Thanks for the heads up on you doing you on WaPost Live as well as your live chat.
Bust Russ Thaler's Balls a little bit about his call of the game!

Posted by: dadryan | October 15, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Unless you've been following all the expansion candidates for a long time, and have seen all of their plans, stadium solutions, investment partners etc, it's a fruitless endeavor to simply pick 2 cities.

That's proven by one of the earliest comments in this thread that Portland is simply too small and should "wait it's turn".

Portland was dead last in USL1 this year, yet they have better support than most of the teams in MLS.

From the ridiculous amount of data I've personally read on all the expansion candidates, I'd go with Portland and St Louis.

Portland has a tremendous downtown location, a solid plan to renovate historic PGE Park into a first-class SSS, as well as a plan to move the Triple-A Beavers out of PGE and into a smaller stadium of it's own.
The only other Major League team in Portland, is the Trailblazers, so there isn't that much competition for resident's entertainment dollars.

St Louis is one of the country's most historically soccer-friendly cities. They would also help bridge a geographical gap in the midwest between KC and Chicago. My only reservation with them, is the location of the stadium in Collinsville, Illinois.
However, most St Louis locals seem to agree that a downtown location in St Louis would be detrimental to drawing fans, as many soccer fans and families are afraid of the ridiculous crime rate.

I'd like a team in NYC as well, but let's hold them till the next round of expansion. As much as I hate RBNJ, let's give them a chance to solidify their base in Jersey with the opening of RedBull Park.

Atlanta and Miami are pipe dreams, and neither city support their existing Major League sports very well either. Why would anyone believe that MLS teams would be well supported when their NFL, MLB, and NBA teams are not?

Montreal only gets decent fan support because the team is highly subsidized by the city, meaning the vast majority of fans at Saputo haven't paid a dime for a ticket. That's hardly a sustainable business plan for an MLS franchise.

Vancouver has had a gorgeous downtown stadium planned for quite a few years, that the team owners have pledged to build using private money. The problem is, the city of Vancouver can't seem to cut through the red tape necessary to get the stadium built.

I like Las Vegas' stadium plan, and originally I was behind them getting a fair shot at a franchise, but I'm not terribly confident that they'll be able to really support an MLS club with our current salary cap constraints. Maybe when the cap is boosted, and MLS is competing for more top players, a team in Vegas would be able to draw. But I just don't see them drawing without several big-name headliners.

Ottawa is far too small, too remote, and it seems like they only really want an MLS team so they can build a stadium that can also draw a CFL team to the city.

Posted by: AlecW81 | October 15, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

For someone with more of a legal mind than mine, what kind of antitrust implications are there for MLS to move teams into USL cities. Does the USL have any recourse? I realize most cities around the world have multiple teams in them, but I don't think U.S. antitrust rules really care about FIFA law. I wonder where US Soccer is on all of this...

Posted by: AM | October 15, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

@AM: What makes you think there would be ANY antitrust implications?

Posted by: Ron | October 15, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Antitrust? This is MLS, not MLB.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

In this round of expansion, MLS isn't moving teams into USL cities, the owners of those USL teams are looking to "Promote" themselves to MLS. The USL Sounders no longer exist. If Portland got a team, the USL Timbers would no longer exist. If Montreal got a team the USL Impact would no longer exist... you get the idea.

It isn't MLS that's plopping teams down in cities, it's investor groups that are submitting bids for their cities.

Posted by: AlecW81 | October 15, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Alec, not in Atlanta. Or Miami.

Posted by: RK | October 15, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

MIAMI WILL GET A TEAM

As someone stated it's all about the owner and the stadium.

Owners:
Miami will be co owned by only one of the most recognized and successful sports teams and brands in the world. Chivas they are NOT. They will be partnering with Claure a Bolivian multi millionaire who beyond a great businessman has vast experience and passion in soccer. Not to mention the other smaller co-owners who have strong backgrounds and networks internatinoally and locally and know the Miami market better than anyone.

Stadium:
FIU for the first 2 yrs, with rent that would put DC to shame and controlling many of the revenue streams. 50 million already earmarked by the authorities for a SSS stadium at the OB site.

People who automatically dismiss Miami as a disaster in the wings don't really know the details. It's a foregone conclusion
MIAMI will get a franchise. Bank it.

Posted by: Barca FTMFW!!!!!! | October 15, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

@Ron

One could make the argument that MLS expansion into so many territories could make them a monopoly of professional soccer if the USL can't continue operations. While MTL and PORT would be 'promoted', ATL and MIA would have completely different ownership. I would think MLS going into those territories, with the blessing of US Soccer, puts those current teams out of business.

I don't know - I am just discussing here - I think the intertwining of US Soccer and MLS (Sunil is on the board of the Revs) makes for some incredible conflict of interest as it relates to any other non-MLS pro soccer teams owning businesses in the U.S.

Posted by: AM | October 15, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Barca Fan, you're wrong.

As long as MLS has a Spring-Fall season, Miami is a horrible idea.

Posted by: AlecW81 | October 15, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Barca Fan, you're wrong.

As long as MLS has a Spring-Fall season, Miami is a horrible idea.

Posted by: AlecW81 | October 15, 2008 5:55 PM
----------------------------------------

Sorry Alec, you could be completely right about it being a horrible idea, but it's a forgone conclusion. Miami is getting a team everyone else can boo hoo all they want. It's done

Posted by: Barca FTMFW!!!!!!!!!! | October 15, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

There are plenty of other markets like Miami that thought they were "a lock" but both Toronto and Real Salt Lake weren't exactly strong candidates either.

Posted by: AlecW81 | October 15, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

@AM:

I suppose those things could theoretically happen, and I suppose that USL could argue that, and, who knows, they might even win. The USFL, after all, won its antitrust suit against the NFL. And not only that, but the damages were tripled!

So the USFL walked away victorious over teh evil monopoly NFL with a tidy sum of three dollars ($3.00) in damages.

With precedent like that in the case law, MLS better be very careful!

Posted by: Ron | October 16, 2008 6:59 AM | Report abuse

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