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MLS Tidbits

*Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena just returned from a scouting trip abroad. He declined to reveal his destinations, but said he remained "in this hemisphere," so let's go way out on a limb and say it was Latin America.

*Crew officials estimate that between 750 and 1,000 supporters will be at Home Depot Center on Sunday for MLS Cup. Both Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Gov. Ted Strickland, a Man U fan who has attended several Crew matches, were invited but unable to attend.

*MLS's Board of Governors will meet for several hours Friday and league officials are anticipating decisions to be finalized in time for The Commish Don Garber's state of the league address late in the day. Roster size is apparently under discussion, so don't be surprised if the overall number per team is reduced but the number of senior players is increased. [UPDATE: The latest buzz is that teams would have 24 players on the roster, 20 of whom on senior contracts. Currently, 28 overall on the roster, 18 seniors.]

*Before they were rivals in MLS, New York's Juan Pablo Angel and Columbus's Guillermo Barros Schelotto faced each other regularly in Argentina's superclasico -- Angel for River Plate, Schelotto for Boca. Their final meeting was in the 2000 Apertura, when the teams played to a 1-1 tie at River. Goals were scored by Boca's Martin Palermo and River's Javier Saviola. In the eight superclasicos, Angel and Schelotto played against each other between 1998 and 2000: Boca won three, River won two and there were three draws.

By Steve Goff  |  November 20, 2008; 7:35 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: Expansion Update

Comments

Reduced roster size?? Good luck to teams that are fortunate(?) enough to compete in other competitions. I'd have thought that MLS would have learned from DC United's experience this year -- teams need larger rosters and a higher salary cap to compete in both league and cup play.

Posted by: Curious99 | November 20, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't this also mean the Reserve League will basically dissolve?

As it was, even with 24 players, teams were suiting up equipment managers, interns, groundskeepers, and parking attendants just to field a full reserve side.

Honestly, the way MLS has employed the reserve system - much ballyhooed at the outset - has been a complete failure. The European model is highly effective for developing up and comers, and rejuvenating or rehabiliating veterans coming off of injury. MLS treats reserve matches like an inconvenience (recall how many of those matches get cancelled).

Posted by: ErickSp8 | November 20, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

-correction- I mean to write 'even with 28 players'

I need to fire my editor.

Posted by: ErickSp8 | November 20, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Honestly -- given what MLS pays the guys at the bottom of the pecking order, it's not like this will be a great cost-saving measure. The only benefit I can see coming out of this is that some of those guys might get to play in the USL instead of rotting at the ends of the pines in MLS. But, I doubt that's what MLS was thinking about....If their bottom lines are so tight they can't afford an extra 100k in salary and equipment expenses, the league is on shaky ground.

Given the talent dilution, it's essential to increase the senior slots, but this will cut them down to four non-senior slots. Is that a great way to build up the next generation of players?

After the next expansion, the league is going to need a lot more good players -- where will they be getting these players?

Posted by: fischy | November 20, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Does this decision have something to do with the expansion teams coming on board. IMO....By reducing the rosters it frees up players for the expansion teams - theoritically. That's always been a concern of mine with all the proposed expansion is where are the players supposedly going to come from? Plenty of media and fans already say the MLS is mediocre and has limited player resources.

Would like to hear others thoughts.

Posted by: Becks_for_prez | November 20, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

The problem with depth for the extra games wasn't not having enough warm bodies. It was that "bodies" #19-24 weren't good enough. Expanding the senior roster is the solution. Quite a few European sides play hectic schedules without needing to use more than 24-25 players.

The reason for cutting the 4 developmental spots is to leave something out there on the negotiating table for the next CBA. If MLS just upgraded 2 spots, they'd be giving the players something without anything in return. MLS higher-ups play harball with finances.

Is there really evidence that a standalone reserve league is that great? Is that why England produces so many top tier British players each year? (That's sarcasm).

MLS has some decisions to make about the reserve league. I agree it needs improving. Perhaps the CBA for 2010 will address the matter. A 24 man roster gives no margin for error in having players left over after a first team match to start the reserve game. It'd be nice if they could use youth team players instead of local scrubs, but I don't think the NCAA would play along. 2009 might be a tough year for the reserve league. A price MLS seems willing to pay for no-added-cost, short-term gains in first team quality.

Posted by: undrafted | November 21, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Is that you Bobby Boswell(@undrafted)?
I'm feeling what you're spitting bro.
DEPTH and REAL COMPETITION in the team...Yeeaaaaaaah!!!

Posted by: DadRyan | November 21, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

@ undrafted -- You're right, of course. I wasn't considering the league's posturing for the upcoming CBA negotiations. That probably is the most compelling reason why they're proposing to cut roster size. Thanks for your comment, putting this in proper context.

Posted by: fischy | November 21, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Any Idea what kind of position/player Arena is/was after...


More Senior Player Slots = Good

Less Developmental Player Slots = What's the good in that ?

Unless MLS has agreed to team up with USL and Universitys/Local Leagues for Youth Programms/Loans of players...

Posted by: Ben7LA | November 21, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

*Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena just returned from a scouting trip abroad. He declined to reveal his destinations, but said he remained "in this hemisphere," so let's go way out on a limb and say it was Latin America.
--------------------------------------------

Depends on whether meant "this hemisphere", or "this hemisphere." The geographic Western Hemisphere includes Portugal, most of Spain, Ireland, a good chunk of England, and a healthy chunk of Western Africa.

Just sayin...

Posted by: edgeonyou | November 21, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

And of course the Northern Hemisphere excludes pretty much all of South America -

Posted by: JohnDorsey | November 21, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

There's little "good" in cutting developmental spots besides saving money and leaving something to offer for the next CBA.

Those last 4 developmental spots usually go to guys drafted in the 3rd or 4th round of the SuperDraft or in the Supplemental draft. It can take 2-3 years to figure out if a player will stick around and "graduate" to the senior roster. So let's look at the 2005 draft. The Supplemental Draft produced Jason Hernandez, Abe Thompson, Aaron Pitchkolan, Dan Kennedy, and Jeff Larentowicz. Kennedy spent the bulk of his "developmental" years in USL. The last half of the SuperDraft produced Chris Rolfe, Gonzalo Segares, Quavis Kirk (generation adidas), and Boyzz Khumalo (spent 3 years in USL).

Under the new system, these guys will still get to come to preseason and impress. Those like Rolfe and Segares who impressed right away will probably start out on higher initial salaries. I think Segares was highly rated but slipped in the draft due to international status and questions over him staying in MLS. Those like Pitchkolan will have to go to USL. It's a definite risk to lose out on a player like Rolfe, but a 1 year sacrifice of a few developmental spots will probably mean losing out on no more than 6 players, most of whom will probably end up in MLS in 2 years anyways.

I look at the low paying developmental spots as an "extended trial", necessary since college soccer dilutes the level of play with so many teams. A handful of players emerge out of lesser know schools or benefit from better coaching and better fulfill their potential in a couple of years. It's nice to have, but it's not the basis of how MLS produces most of its top players. MLS can get away with sacrificing it for now, but the real question is the future of the developmental league. If MLS teams are going to start pulling in youth players, it'd be nice to have a competitive reserve league to put them in. That'll cost money and might require some help from USL.

Posted by: undrafted | November 21, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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