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Early Thursday Kickaround

*Welcome, Seattle. Okay, I'm good with that.

*Welcome, Vancouver. Great city with soccer tradition and a strong club foundation, but should an American league continue to support Canadian soccer? Just wondering.....

*D.C. United second-round draft pick Lyle Adams, the Wake Forest defender who brushed off MLS to pursue a European career, has landed in Austin with the expansion USL1 Aztex. United retains his MLS rights.

*Hot rumor, but just a rumor at the moment: AC Milan vs. Chelsea, July 23 at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.

*Americans abroad:
D Carlos Bocanegra 90 in Rennes' 2-0 French Cup quarterfinal win over Rodez
D Jay DeMerit 90 in Watford's 2-1 loss at Cardiff City
F Eddie Johnson in 18 but didn't play in Cardiff City's 2-1 win over Watford
D Michael Orozco 90 (goal) in San Luis' 2-2 Cop Libertadores tie with Universitario

*Soccer on TV:
UEFA Cup, Aalborg-Manchester City 3:40 p.m. Setanta
Copa Libertadores, Estudiantes-Deportivo Quito 6 p.m. Fox Sports Espanol
Copa Libertadores, Nacional-River Plate 8:30 p.m. Fox Sports Espanol
MLS, Seattle-New York 9 p.m. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

*Stay current with the Insider's Twitter feed, whose volume will be turned to 11 starting next week. Stay organized with washingtonpost.com's soccer page (bookmarks welcome).

Back later with the final NCAA-style World Cup regional. Next week we move to the knockout stages.

By Steve Goff  |  March 19, 2009; 12:14 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS , TV , U.S. men's national team , USL  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: World Cup, NCAA Style (continued)
Next: Video: CONCACAF Champions League

Comments

Call me cynical, but can someone explain how MLS is not a pyramid scheme? Most teams barely cover their expenses with ticket sales, I still don't believe the League makes a lick of money off their TV deals (it's all hooked into the World Cup rights), and the Beckham jersey printing machine leaves in a few months.

So if the most money the single entity structure makes is off expansion fees, aren't we left with some unstable franchises kept afloat by more people buying into the League? I'll give you team sponsorships and the adidas jersey deal, but doesn't that infusion of expansion capital run out eventually, if the product on the field can't sustain itself? Isn't that a ponzi?

Posted by: IamAM | March 19, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Ownership is everything and MLS has numerous investors with very deep pockets. In addition, most teams now have soccer specific stadiums which are much more lucrative than their predecessors. Lastly, the league has hardly been one of rapid growth. They've been around since 1996 and they still don't have twenty franchises.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 19, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

They need to stop expanding. I was hoping that they would stop at 16. 18 should be the absolute maximum.

I agree with the pyramid scheme notion. MLS takes the "franchise fee" or whatever it is and plugs along ... until it all collapses ... or becomes like the NHL where things are so diluted that almost no one cares. You can't argue that the NHL is in better shape now than before the expansion craze in the 1990s.

The MLS needs to get back to its old, cautious roots. If a new city wants a team, they can do it the old-fashioned way, and go in and buy an existing one. I'm looking at you Kansas City

Posted by: diego_r | March 19, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

MLS NAFTA: A giant sucking sound going north.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

USL Expansion. The Rowdies are back in 2010. No news on whether Roy Wegerle will sign - again.

http://www.uslsoccer.com/features/Expansion/index_E.html

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Got me thinking... Anyway DCU could somehow make money off of *stadium Lottery tickets* for our stadium bid? Or roll out some Chuck Brown/Bad Brains collabo lottery campaign to really get the ball rolling?

Posted by: DadRyan | March 19, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

the single entity structure certainly lends itself to a degree of accounting flim-flammery. but i think the owners (like owners in most sports leagues) make their money if and when they decide to sell. for the most part, the value of franchises in successful leagues goes up, so even if the owners lose money on a year-to-year basis, they tend to do OK overall. (baseball owners used to be really good at making it look like they were losing money when in fact they were rolling in it).

for instance, i would imagine that the value of DC United would go up considerably the moment they have a completed deal in place for a stadium and then again once the stadium actually opens.

as for Goff's wondering about a US league supporting Canadian soccer, i think that any fan of the Canadian National Team would argue that whatever support they are getting ain't working. plus, this is just laying the groundwork for the inevitable socialist merger of the U.S. and Canada that is coming now that Obama is in office (welcome to our midfield, DeRo). as soon as the Canadians can get rid of Harper....

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | March 19, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

The answer is -- it's no longer a US league. It's a North American one, like its predecessor. I'm OK with that. It's good for the sport in both countries.

So, is Austin paying Adams more than United would, or did he figure he wouldn't make the team here? Of course, there's always the playing time consideration. Could be a win-win there.

Oh -- and I love me some Rowdies.

Posted by: fischy | March 19, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

If a Canadian team makes MLS more profitable and sustainable, is that not a case of Canada supporting US soccer as much as the reverse?

Posted by: Wendell_Gee | March 19, 2009 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Would Adams have used an international slot?

Posted by: sitruc | March 19, 2009 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Yes! Football in Baltimore! (that rumor better be correct)

Posted by: ssdesv | March 19, 2009 3:53 AM | Report abuse

We have a history of North American not American leagues. Every other league has teams in both countries (NHL, NBA, MLB) or a deal in place where contests are to be staged in Canada (NFL). Why would MLS be any different? With the success of TFC and the Winter Olympic games in Vancouver next year, the city seemed an obvious choice. Are they converting an Olympic game venue as Atlanta and Montreal did?

Posted by: croftonpost | March 19, 2009 3:59 AM | Report abuse

Regarding "should an American league continue to support Canadian soccer?"

Toronto - and Vancouver don't add anything negative to MLS, on the contrary, wheter it's tradition- history, fanbase, atmosphere, possible tv and sponsorships and rivaleries.

It's not that they take many places away for US players since both can have only 8 foreign players.

Canada won't be able to have their own pro league.

As for the argument US cities get overlooked because of them:

Any bid that has the finances/stadium/ownership/fans will be considered by MLS, regardless where it's from, the best ones get in.

If a bid from an US city is not as good as a Canadian - what would it bring MLS if they go for the US city just for the sake of it ?

Players make their first strides in MLS, the best ones go overseas (mabye sometime in the future, more will stay, or at least longer) - so it doesn't hinder any US Player Development at all.

Building up a proper youth system with the MLS being the top of the pyramid is the way to go and work together with USL and local teams & colleges.

Seattle trip is booked
Vancouver 2011 is planned

Posted by: Ben7LA | March 19, 2009 4:24 AM | Report abuse

Who does St. Louis have to blow to get a team around here?

Posted by: JoeS3 | March 19, 2009 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Steve: The Reuters story you link to for Vancouver includes a quote from Michael Cramer ("veteran sports executive"), who doubts the MLS can survive in No. America. Does he see something that other MLS watchers do not see? Steady attendance, soccer-specific stadiums, firmly controlled salaries, corporate jersey sponsors, TV rights revenues, billionaire owners, etc. etc. suggest that we are well past the point of questioning the league's existence. Or are we?

Posted by: bartapest1 | March 19, 2009 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Would be interesting to see some analysis on a) where MLS is going to find mostly North American players of decent quality to stock 4 whole teams starting play in the next couple of years (read *dilution*), and b) what the USL-1 game plan is after having lost key franchises in Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland.

Posted by: bartapest1 | March 19, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

The "hot rumor" about Milan-Chelsea in Baltimore was reported on BS, with a link to a website talking about the match, about a week or so ago.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 19, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Milan-Chelsea in Baltimore's...it's got to be the Maryland Sports & Entertainment Commission in conjunction with the Stadium Authority proving a point.

Good move. Everyone who wants a DC United stadium had better be there.

Posted by: seahawkdad | March 19, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Considering Milan is suppose to play Club America on the 22nd in Atlanta, a game against Chelsea on the 23rd would be unlikely.

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | March 19, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Did Adams sign with Austin because he didn't want to sign as a developmental player and make peanuts or was it also in part due to lack of interest from DC after he spurned us to pursue European options? Its hard to believe he could not have helped us out by being a backup to Namoff on the right.

Too bad.

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | March 19, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

"*Welcome, Vancouver. Great city with soccer tradition and a strong club foundation, but should an American league continue to support Canadian soccer? Just wondering....."

No. Especially when there remains an entire quadrant of the United States with ZERO MLS presence. Put a team in Atlanta first, Miami second, and then we can think about further expansion into Canada.

Posted by: afadgsafhgd | March 19, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Toronto gets within the top three of attendences in the MLS. It would probably be #1, now that Beckham is leaving, if they made the stadium bigger. Why shouldn't the MLS move into a better market? US expansion teams, and some of the established ones, have horrid attendences.

It is possible for Canada to have its own league, but it would have to resemble the Scotish League. There would only be about 8 teams and there would be multiple teams in some of the bigger cities.

As for the MLS not helping the Canadian NT, Toronto has only been around a few years it takes years and years to have a direct impact on developing players. Toronto is only now becoming a heavily Canadian team with Dero and Serioux joining finally.

Lastly the league isn't over expanding, they needed at least 16 teams to be viable with a playoff sstem. Having 8 of 12 teams make it to the playoffs was retarded. With the economy sucking they should probably slow the grow. But the teams that are already in the works if they have the money and the market let them build.

Posted by: bighungry | March 19, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

afadgsafhgd - I'm from the South but I don't think MLS expansion should be about filling in the blanks. It's about picking the strongest candidates. If all other things are equal, then sure, pick a candidate from the South. Otherwise, go with the strongest candidate regardless of where they are (within reason).

Posted by: Wendell_Gee | March 19, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I think that the argument in favor of expanding north of the border is that MLS was created, in part, to strengthen the US Men's National Team.

If MLS also strengthens the Canadian Men's National team, then that increases the competition in CONCACAF, thereby strengthening the USMNT too.

I'm all for it.

Posted by: TCompton | March 19, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

@ bartapest1: Reporters present two sides, the team ownership and an independent critic. How many times have they interviewed an independent academician who thinks that the league could survive? I wouldn't define that as balance, but that's how it is.

I don't remember much of the business of the NASL, but compare the 13 year-old MLS to the 13 year-old NASL. One is expanding the other was starting to hurt, no?

As far as the protectionist POV of soccer, MLS is a private entity. It should do whatever is profitable, including putting teams in viable Canadian markets. While I sympathize with those who do not have a top-tier soccer team in their area (and we all shared that misery 14 years ago), MLS should not prioritize riskier markets just because they are American.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I'll give you team sponsorships and the adidas jersey deal, but doesn't that infusion of expansion capital run out eventually, if the product on the field can't sustain itself? Isn't that a ponzi?

Posted by: IamAM | March 19, 2009 12:32 AM
_______________________________
What this doesn't take into account is the bigger picture: SUM. SUM has revenue streams beyond just expansion fees, which are considerable. Almost every time professional soccer is played in the US, SUM is getting a piece of the action in TV revenues, rights, gate receipts, licenses, fees, etc. It's not just about MLS (although MLS is their biggest product, obviously). SUM is the reason these various millionaires want in.

Posted by: schmuckatelli | March 19, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind the Canadian's in the MLS but they have an easy path to the Champion's League. What if Toronto wins the Supporter's Sheild and Vancouver wins the Open Cup? They both go to the Champs League, right? Then you have a playoff for Montreal and Vancouver (USL)? Pretty easy path for the 2 USL teams if you ask me.

How's about the winner of that match plays the highest ranked US team for that slot?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | March 19, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

@JoeS3

St. Louis just needs an investor with very deep pockets, not a group of investors with somewhat deep pockets. And no, Anheauser Busch was not the answer...they weren't involved in ownership, just trying to get rid of some property and make a good show of it.

Posted by: teo_68 | March 19, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

if the rumor is true then I am going to the game AC vs Chealsea

ill even make a shirt that says

"Its me, its me, its me...its
WashDipsSince88"

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | March 19, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

For people who are recording tonight's MLS opener, BSPN2 appears to have blocked out 2.5 hours, so I would expect a kickoff at 9:20 EDT or so.

Posted by: universityandpark | March 19, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

9 -

Canadian teams do not participate in the US Open Cup.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 19, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

FYI Garber did announce two more expansion teams in 2012.

Posted by: Reignking | March 19, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The executive above who doesn't believe the MLS can survive in North America is probably referring to Canada instead of North America. Canada is all about hockey with everything else a very distant second so there would be a natural bit of skepticism. Further, the introduction of top caliber soccer teams is relatively new to the country.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 19, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"FYI Garber did announce two more expansion teams in 2012."

Where did he announce that?

Enhancing Canada's game helps the US, don't you think? A stronger CONCACAF is better for the US program. Plus, would you rather play a WCQ in Vancouver or Guatemala City, given the choice?

And I do not believe the World Cup TV rights are bundled with MLS TV rights anymore. It's not like 2002-2006 when SUM bought the rights from FIFA and then bundled them with MLS. But Goff could check on that.

Posted by: very_clever_username | March 19, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Huh. So if the rumors about Portland being announced as #2 are true, and MLS intends to stick to a two-division (as opposed to a single table) format...would anyone disagree that Houston or FC Dallas would be placed in the Eastern Conference? Something like this:

Eastern:
Chicago
Columbus
D.C. United
FC Dallas/Houston
Kansas City
New England
New York
Philadelphia
Toronto FC

Western:
Chivas USA
Colorado
FC Dallas/Houston
Los Angeles
Portland
Real Salt Lake
Seattle FC
San Jose
Vancouver

6 of the last 8 expansion teams in the western conference, with 4 out of the 5 most recent expansion teams in the western conference. And three new teams in the upper Midwest. I am not saying that will be a problem per se, it just seems to lack some balance.

Posted by: TwinCity | March 19, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

upper northwest. northwest.

Posted by: TwinCity | March 19, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm

20 teams is a lot of players to stock on teams. However, the USL is making the case that there is some talent right now that is either overlooked or undervalued by MLS. So - there could be enough to make DECENT teams. The issue in my opinion is that you're harming the product of all involved with the creation of 6 dispersal drafts 5-7 years (8 over 7-9 years tossing in TFC and SJE).

That's gotta be damaging to the efforts of GM's, coaches and the clubs trying to build an identity. Too much plug and play with the rosters that aren't already horribly sick from that due to salary restraints.

I respectfully disagree with the above view that MLS isn't making money. I repeat - the US Tax Code allows millionaire and billionaire investors to not really give a toss about profits on a sports team. The losses will likely be carried over to their personal income taxes to assist them in avoiding paying higher income taxes each year.

The MLS today has a much better television, corporate sponsorship, and revenue generating model than it did even 4 years ago. And it stands to improve further with Red Bull Arena, Philly's Park, and the planned ones in DC, KC, SJE, and Houston.

Is the MLS out of the woods and on its way to incredible growth and in position to make a serious challenge at leagues elsewhere in the world and at the other sports in America - probably a lot more time needs to pass for that to happen. But the MLS is just as strong as the NHL, stronger than the Arena League and provides a good case as an attractive investment for guys who see the established leagues as too expensive and would rather risk 8 figures to get to 9 figures than 9 figures to get low, single-digit returns, if that looking at the state of discretionary spending in the US Economy.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | March 19, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

America should continue to allow Canadian teams in as long as Canadian teams continue to subsidize American soccer.
Toronto FC's revenues far surpass the revenues of most American MLS teams, thus the "cut" MLS gets is subsidizing American soccer. Not to mention that TFC is required to have at least 5 Americans on the roster -- and actually in practice has often had more than 5.
So it is doing American develop AND helping even out revenue disparities caused by KC, Columbus, San Jose, Fc Dallas, etc.
Thank the Canadians :)

Posted by: hendrix | March 19, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The losses will likely be carried over to their personal income taxes to assist them in avoiding paying higher income taxes each year.
__________________________________________

Unless they can apply some really esoteric provision in the law, this would not work. For instance, if you are in a 40 percent bracket, every $100,000 in losses on your team reduces your taxes by $40,000. That softens the blow, but you've still lost $60,000. Again, perhaps there is some provision that a clever tax lawyer or accountant would know that would magnify the writeoff.

Posted by: universityandpark | March 19, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The geography lacks balance because no-one lives between the Mississippi and the Sierras.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/7000/7052/us_population_2005_lrg.jpg

Maybe Columbus should be in the Western Conference. - after all, Ohio is in the Midwest.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Milan-Chelsea in Baltimore's...it's got to be the Maryland Sports & Entertainment Commission in conjunction with the Stadium Authority proving a point.

Good move. Everyone who wants a DC United stadium had better be there.

Posted by: seahawkdad | March 19, 2009 6:19 AM

Yep. Could be a big proving point that evening (although opponents of a Morgan Blvd stadium could say that a United stadium would just be competing with M&T so what's the point). I just look forward to a full stadium in Baltimore being a big middle finger to Fenty.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 19, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I-270Exit1,

I wasn't noting geographical imbalance (i.e., why no teams in Montana) Rather, I was noting the imbalance in the divisions based on clear geographical obstacles AND MLS's decision to focus on the West/Upper Northwest. It seems a little strange, given that there is relatively low population density up the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver line. (Compared to, say, St. Louis). I get that Helena, MT isn't getting a team, and I don't expect them to. I just expected that MLS would pay closer attention to what I (emphasis on I) believe are relevant logistics.

That's all.

Posted by: TwinCity | March 19, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Instead of bringing in NASA to consult, maybe we should just get rid of conferences?

(ducks)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 19, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I suppose Adams had 2 concerns:

1. Playing in Europe.
2. Playing, period.

At DCU, he'd have not been in Europe, and would have had a very hard time beating our best defender for a spot (even if Adams is a promising player). In Austin, he'll not only be playing, but could be one of their better players. I can certainly see the logic in that for him.

Maybe after a year in the USL he'll have some trade value. Or, maybe some Euro team will come calling and we'll get nothing.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 19, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

TwinCity, with those 18 teams, the geography splits nicely for a return to that gross 3 division format:

EAST
DC
NYRB
Philly
NE
TFC
Columbus

CENTRAL
Chicago
Colorado
RSL
FCD
Houston
KC

WEST
LAG
Chivas USA
San Jose
Portland
Seattle
Vancouver

Lets hope they don't go that route...

Posted by: VTUnited | March 19, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

But if they did put a team in Helena, they would have to be called the Handbaskets, would they not?

Posted by: mjhoya12 | March 19, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

mjhoya12--very nicely done.

VTUnited--I didn't think about that. Scary as it may be, it does "fit" pretty well, doesn't it?

[vomit]

Posted by: TwinCity | March 19, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I believe the Austin Aztex are affiliated with Stoke City in England. Maybe Adams felt like they might be able to hook him up with a trial or recommendation at some point.

Posted by: Eric_in_Baltimore | March 19, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I was agreeing with you, TwinCity, in my own peculiar way. The problem with two divisions is that separating Houston and Dallas would diminish the local rivalry vis-a-vis playoff spots. Moving KC or Chicago to the West to compensate would be silly - in other words, MLS will do just that.

If people would just re-distribute themselves across the country, we could solve this issue.

I have no idea what Kev29 is talking about. No idea whatsoever.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

My 2 cents -- MLS has consistently said they plan to go to 20 teams in or around 2012. Garber reiterated that yesterday.

As for the geographical aspect -- it's interesting that the league has suddenly skewed so far west. It wasn't the league's idea, frankly. Vancouver and Portland emerged as the top 2 choices by default. I think if you asked the front office last Fall, their top 3 prospects would have been Montreal, New York City and a Barca team in southern Florida. Each one fell by the wayside for different, and unexpected reasons.

The next round is likely to focus back East. A little bird told me something interesting yesterday -- and it makes total sense. Barca may be back in the next round, but not in So. Fla., where they had big concerns. Makes sense to me -- it might even explain why Barca withdrew when they did.

After the Madoff debacle, the Wilpon family is in a precarious legal and financial position. If they were concerned about the high buy-in before, then they can take on that kind of risk now. It's fairly common knowledge that league is desperate to get a team actually in New York City. The Flushing, Queens site (Shea Stadium, now Citi Field) remains the best location -- even if the Mets owners are out of the picture.

My guess -- prompted by that little bird -- is that Barca jumps back in, with a bid for a franchise in NYC (and imports Thierry Henry to be the marquee player, if he's still playing). If Barca doesn't take up this cause, the league will look long and hard to find investors who will.

Posted by: fischy | March 19, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

About the Canadian teams -- they aren't required to have 5 Americans. They are allowed to have 5 Americans, in addition to the other 8 internationals. It's not surprising that they might use all 5 US slots, as there is a paucity of Canadian talent. Having teams in Canada could support the development of Canadian players, but it will also provide additional slots for US players. And, if it raises the level of CONCACAF competition, that's all to the good. I'd like to see a qualifying tournament with no shoo-ins.

However, the roster depth is a concern all-around. Can the league handle expansion and a single table?

Conferences should become more necessary, not less, as the league expands. Can the league support going to a 38-game league schedule -- which is what you'd need for home and away in a 20 team league? They don't have the depth of the EPL rosters. We already have fixture congestion. I think they have to give serious thought about playing so many games. It might be necessary to have the conferences (perhaps even divisions), with maybe only one game against each team in the other conference. Or, maybe they'll ignore the problems and plow ahead as before.

Posted by: fischy | March 19, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Finally - I have a question:

I was intrigued by Schmuckatelli's observation. Does anyone know how SUM works? Does the money get divvied up, with some decent amount going to the teams? Or, does the league keep it?

Posted by: fischy | March 19, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

If memory serves me correctly, the M&T bank stadium field isn't large enough to accommodate a soccer pitch.

I remember this being an issue when they first built the stadium; Baltimore would be out for soccer matches if the US ever hosted the world cup or a summer olympics again.

Posted by: hasm314 | March 19, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

But if they did put a team in Helena, they would have to be called the Handbaskets, would they not?

Posted by: mjhoya12 | March 19, 2009 11:31 AM
==============

(note to self: steal that and pass off as original)

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I have no idea what Kev29 is talking about. No idea whatsoever.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 19, 2009 11:47 AM

No idea - like a fox! :-)

fischy makes some good points about the 20 team league. I think we'll see a continuance of a split league because 38 matches really is a bit too many. Unless you kill or drastically scale back the playoffs.

(ducks again)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 19, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Regarding conferences, I'm guessing they'd just move KC to the west, put both Texas teams in the east (for now). Not ideal, but it lets the Texas teams have more games together, and KC isn't that much more east than Houston or Dallas.

Count me with the folks who want more Canadian clubs to make a better Canadian national team to give more competition to the US team. A tougher CONCACAF can only help in he long run.

Posted by: eadc | March 19, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

At this point, I would worry less about geographic imbalance than financial viability and community support.

If the NW is soccer crazy, can support 20 K plus in season tickets and will have some great rivalries . . . seems like a no brainer to me. MLS can balance later.

Posted by: delantero | March 19, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I actually think the USL is better off lopping off the pacific time zone entirely for travel expense purposes and concentrating their league in the Eastern and Central time zone. They had some ridiculous road trips where an Eastern team played Friday and Sunday in Seattle and Portland.

Posted by: IamAM | March 19, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

delantero,

I agree. And that's why I caveated my first posting by stating that I didn't see it as being a problem per se. I am very concerned, however, about the current expansion plans, and whether they are fiscally responsible. Can Portland fill 20K seats regularly? I am just not sure. But I suppose I defer a little to MLS's evaluation, which I hope recognizes the financial obstacles and prioritizes the success of MLS as a league.

In the end, I think expansion might be getting a little West-heavy, but I recognize the reasons why Miami, Montreal and NY2 are not in the picture anymore. I just wonder what 2011 looks like for the Western Conference. That's a lot of expansion team growing-pains to justify a certain number of spots in the playoffs (assuming that MLS maintains a similar playoff process).

Posted by: TwinCity | March 19, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

..........a better Canadian national team to give more competition to the US team. A tougher CONCACAF can only help in he long run.

>>>

Until the canadians qualify at our expense!

Posted by: gode | March 19, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the USL isn't thrilled by the developments. This will make both the USL1 and USL2 (except for the PDL) regional leagues. Austin and Minnesota is as far west as they'll get, unless there's some change. While it might cut down on travel costs, it does make the league less attractive for FSC's coverage. I don't know what FSC's rights deal is, but if they lose the Western time zone, they might reconsider it. On the other hand, it makes the MLS telecasts much, much more attractive. There's a whole corner of the country that was cut out and will now be very engaged. Plus, there's no substitute for the impression it creates in the media.

Posted by: fischy | March 19, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse


I don't mind the Canadian's in the MLS but they have an easy path to the Champion's League. What if Toronto wins the Supporter's Sheild and Vancouver wins the Open Cup? They both go to the Champs League, right? Then you have a playoff for Montreal and Vancouver (USL)? Pretty easy path for the 2 USL teams if you ask me.

How's about the winner of that match plays the highest ranked US team for that slot?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | March 19, 2009 9:03 AM
================================

Canadian teams don't play in the US Open and if a Canadian team wins the MLS Supporters' Shield then the next highest ranked US team gets the CONCACAF Champions League bid.

Canadian teams can only qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League through the Canadian Championship.

Posted by: DemonJuice | March 19, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Quick question: Could the Puerto Rico Islanders theoretically join the MLS?

Posted by: jonathanskt | March 20, 2009 1:53 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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