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MLS News!

In the aftermath of the Board of Governors meetings today.....

*As we told you yesterday, rosters have been trimmed from 28 players to 24 and the teams will have the option of having as many as 20 senior roster players. The current limit is 18. As a result, the reserve division is dead. Will the salary cap increase to accommodate more senior players? The Commish Don Garber said funds are essentially being re-allocated to allow clubs to add more experienced, higher-paid players.

*The 2009 season will begin on March 21, a week earlier than this season. Each team will play 30 games: home and home with each of the other 14 teams (28 games) plus two intraconference, rivalry-oriented matches. Seattle will join the Western Conference. The East will continue to have seven teams, the West will have eight.

*The league will give clubs the option of taking two weekends off or softening their schedule over a four-week stretch during the busy times next summer when international competitions are an issue.

*Only the top two teams in each conference will receive automatic playoff berths (the top three qualified this year) and the remaining four slots will be wild-card berths for the usual, eight-team playoff system. The playoff format will remain the same: home and home in the first round, single-game conference finals and MLS Cup.

Skip below for more.....

*Garber said the league is taking a serious look at holding MLS Cup at the site of a finalist, but for 2009, the game will be at a neutral venue. Next year's site and date have not been finalized.

*No club will play in both SuperLiga and Champions League:

SuperLiga: Chivas USA, Chicago, New England, Kansas City.
Champions League: New York, Columbus, Houston, D.C.

*Montreal has dropped out of the running for an expansion club in 2011. Six candidates remain for two teams. Representatives from Vancouver, Portland, Miami and Ottawa made presentations to the board of governors today.

*Garber said, contrary to widespread reports, Landon Donovan has not been loaned to Bayern Munich. (Perhaps MLS must say such things until details are officially finalized.)

By Steve Goff  |  November 21, 2008; 8:36 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: USA, DCU, MLS
Next: The Commish Speaks


such improvements..
I agree with the separation of the CL and the superliga..more exposure for other I smell our second tier tournament beginning to form..
sucks for the reserve division..never had the chance to see a game..
was there a reason why Montreal dropped out..I thought they were a shoe-in for sure..

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | November 21, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

one more question..why is Houston in the champions league?

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | November 21, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

All good developments -- except for Montreal. I really thought they would have been a good city for expansion with their stadium, fan base, and natural rivalry with Toronto.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | November 21, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

So with the size of the roster trimmed, that leaves too few reserves to have a reserve division.

That means we're back to the bad old days where reserves didn't get any regular game practice and so, if called upon, came into matches completely unable to contribute.

How is this a step forward?

Posted by: mmathai1 | November 21, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I would think Houston is in because NY and Columbus are the two MLS Cup finalists. Houston was the runner up for the Supporter's Shield.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | November 21, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think the reserves were playing enough regular matches to really help out. When they did play there were so many guest players it didn't seem to amount to a quality match.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | November 21, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

The reserve division being terminated seems to correspond the news that DC is in talks with the Puerto Rico Soccer Leagues to start a feeder team. Check the link above.

Posted by: grego1 | November 21, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Several reactions:

1. On rosters: it will be a function of how much the cap increases. If you have 20 real veteran players with maybe 1 or 2 cap exempt players, that's an improvement. As for the argument that without a reserve league, the subs get no games, that's wrong. The reserve league turned into something that was more hassle than benefit in a lot of cases, too many guest players. When you get approximately 40 matches during the year (or even 45 if you advance deep into CL), than getting your subs minutes is not an issue. I think the real question is just how much the reserve league contributed to growing players who otherwise would not have seen MLS minutes (ie: turned a non-MLS quality player into someone you felt comfortable having on the subs bench) and I think the verdict is out on that. It was mostly a chance to give minutes to young players not playing.

2. Good idea about splitting Superliga and CL. Houston, NE and DCU had brutal schedules this year. RedBulls and Columbus did not.

3. I like the scheduling option--we'll have to see how that plays out.


Posted by: JoeW1 | November 21, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

feeder team is excellent..

and o yea..right about Houston same for Chivas USA this year..

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | November 21, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

no, we're to the time when those managers who get their reserves into matches when possible are rewarded when they need them. It's about training. Let's be honest for a moment: if you are 24 and can't make a 20 man roster on any of the MLS teams, it just may be time to consider a new career. Under this system, no one should be a reserve player for more than two years, and the guys actually playing will be making a living wage. Add a hundred grand to the salary cap and you get two more $65k players, perfectly reasonable for a young MLS role-player. That's two more Clyde Simms. Now develop a way to loan young players to usl instead of old players to global powers, and you begin to make real sense.

I like the superliga/CCL split, even though it seems accidental. Having the fire in superliga is good stuff with Blanco. Be great to see some games in Mexico however.

Lastly, who do we figure the Dcu rivalry games are? Red bulls and who? Revs? Fire? In 2010 I figure Bulls and Philly, right?

Posted by: joshuaostevens | November 21, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I loved reserve league matches, even with guest players, because the younger players were busting their butts to show the coaches they deserved selection for league matches, either on the pitch or on the subs bench. It was also a good way to take a look at players undergoing rehab after injuries. I saw a lot of Freddy this way, and watched Clint Mathis begin his comeback. It also was fun to see some talented youngsters who weren't automatic starters, such as Mosysian. But I have to agree that it was probably more trouble than it was worth to team management. While paring the rosters, could MLS help the fringe reservists who will lose their jobs to find employment on feeder teams?

Posted by: b18bolo | November 21, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how this helps roster depth. This is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. 2 more senior roster players contributes little when all it does is mean two guys now making $33,000 as opposed to $17,900. The younger players need playing time for the future and teams need that time to evaluate and develop that talent into senior roster material. Hopefully, of the several developmental players, two or three will become contributing senior roster talent. Now, you're either on the senior roster or not playing much. This doesn't bode well for development of third string players, especially goalkeepers.

Posted by: BelovedCartoonMouse | November 21, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

2nd and 3rd string GK's like Cepero and Burse were getting USL loans last year. Expect that to pick up.

The question is do these 2 senior roster spot come at the expense of 12k/yr DEV spots or 17k/yr SDEV spots?

I'm all for a reserve league, but in this spread out country, it's expensive. Spain, France, and Germany put their reserve teams in the pyramid. Italy doesn't seem to have an actual reserve league, but an under 20 league and a system of loans/coownership. England has standalone reserve leagues, but most decent prospects are loaned down the pyramid, most don't follow the reserve league, and the country isn't exactly known for producing top players lately.

Was copying the English system the way to go? A reserve league is better than nothing, but I'd rather cut it that the new youth programs. Apparently MLS wasn't going to properly run the league (cancelled matches, extensive use of "scrub" guest players, marginal talent signed to 12k/yr contracts).

I agree with the idea that players will now get 1-2, not 2-3 years to make the senior roster. 5 years ago, MLS had 22-24 man rosters. After contraction, it was briefly 20. It's a loss, but MLS was mostly training guys for USL careers in that 3rd year on the dev roster.

I doubt they expand Generation Adidas like some say Garber suggested. A bad economy may mean sacrifices, but investment in youth players (ages 14-20) should be one of the last things to go.

Posted by: undrafted | November 21, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

For me the most exciting news was possible changes in the MLS Cup location. I would love to see the team with the best regular season record get to host the final every year (either the best finalist or the best overall). If it were the finalist with the best record hosting, you are very nearly guaranteed a large, passionate home crowd. It also would mean that the last games in the season are more likely be relevant for all playoff teams. The one potential problem is that you have less time to market the game, get plane tickets, plan events, and find lodging.

If it went to the overall best regular season record then you have more than enough time to market the game and make the regular season title more important. The one draw back of this would be that maybe you get bad attendance when/if the favorite and host of the final gets upset earlier in the playoffs, like seems to happen all to often.

Posted by: Dancy1 | November 21, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I like the Super Liga and Champions League fixed.
I don't mind seeing reserve league gone as long as the senior roster would remain hopefully healthy and accountable. Not many people go to see reserve leagues nor they contribute good amount of quality for the team. Besides, it's too expensive to have the reserve league in a league that tightened the salary cap to its neck almost to death. Any development player who is ready to contribute should come from the teams' academic system or some other system.
I also like and hope it becomes a reality for the final cup games to the finalist.
One thing I hope didn't happen is discussion on single table not necessarily relegation but SINGLE TABEL.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | November 22, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad to hear about the separation of the tournaments. Give more teams a crack at international play, but not in the same tourney. This will be fun to see.

I'm gld MTL is out, though they could have been a good MLS city. I just would prefer for the CSA to get its act together and formulate a duly modest DOMESTIC league that CANADIANS can be proud of.

As always, an interesting address.

Posted by: purplecma | November 22, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Lastly, who do we figure the Dcu rivalry games are? Red bulls and who? Revs? Fire? In 2010 I figure Bulls and Philly, right?

Posted by: joshuaostevens | November 21, 2008 9:40 PM


When the league goes to a 16 team format in 2010 with the addition of Philly and presumably keeps the 30 game schedule, every team will play each other home and away and that will account for all 30 games. No more reason for extra rivalry matches.

And a perfect time to introduce a single table ...

Posted by: jofij | November 22, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The way I'm reading it, Garber is saying that there will be no salary cap raise, but instead the salaries from the 4 subtracted spots will be given to 2 senior players. That is a definite step back, since that is, at the absolute most, $71,600 to split between 2 players (and that's if the 4 spots taken away are the senior developmental salaries). $35800 is barely above the senior roster they really expect teams to improve by anything more than a negligible amount by adding 2 guys that would accept that salary? I suppose this does give Seattle the chance to cherrypick the best of the developmental players cut loose, but if those guys are making up the bottom of their senior roster, Seattle will be flat-out bad. The cap has to go up some if they want quality to go up, especially with Seattle thinning out the pool.

The allocation of Superliga spots to the 4 best teams that didn't qualify for the CCL is reasonable.

I'm surprised that Montreal dropped out. I can't say I was enthusiastic about them as everyone else (too cold there; Canada already struggling to supply starters to TFC), but I figured they were the frontrunner. I wonder what caused the sudden withdrawal.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 22, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Any reserves should be loaned out to USL teams.

Posted by: Juan-John | November 22, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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