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The Commissioner Speaks

Highlights from MLS Commissioner Don Garber's State of the League address.....

SEATTLE'S IMPACT: "The launch of the Sounders will go down as one of the key moments in the history of this sport in this country. ... The credibility that we have, the awareness that we have of the great success in Seattle -- on the field and off the field -- gives us something that we have never had before, and is a real indication as to what this sport can be in this country. ... That team was just plain relevant. People cared about it, from the governor to the mayor to the man on the street to those people who love the game. That's what we need: We need more relevance for our teams, and we now have a great case study. ... That was an important lesson to our clubs, particularly some of the clubs that have been around for a while and are struggling in their markets."

EMERGENCE OF FAN CULTURE: "We are beginning to see a real evolution of the soccer fan in our country. For many, many years, people said, 'Hey, soccer is never going to make it because Americans don't understand the game, it's a foreign sport, people might play the game but they stop playing as teenagers.' We have proven in many, many markets ... that all of these people who have grown up with the game now can get into stands and can replicate that aspect of the game that gets them very excited when they are watching the EPL or La Liga on television. We now have that in MLS. ... We listen to these guys and women and they are an important part of driving our thinking and our decision-making."
BECKHAM, GALAXY BOOST: "Obviously, It's hard to say that you prefer to have one team over another and still keep your job as commissioner, but I certainly look at what other leagues have been able to achieve when their most popular teams in their largest markets with their largest fan bases get into their championships, envious when you see the Yankees and Red Sox and the New York Giants and the Cowboys and the Lakers who seem to consistently be in their most important events. So it's good to have a team like L.A. with David Beckham and Landon [Donovan] and a guy like Bruce [Arena] in the championship game."
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT (expires in January): "We are in regular meetings. We have met a half-dozen times. The formal discussions began six months ago, and like all leagues and unions, they have ebbs and flows and at times they become heated. I expect that this will be a difficult agreement to finalize, but I am very confident that we will be able to reach a productive agreement. Both we and the union are committed to that. I've been hearing and reading about players going on strikes and other work-stoppage issues. Any discussion about a strike or work stoppage is totally premature. It's way too early for anyone to come to that conclusion. It's counterproductive to what has been a very mutual commitment with our union to reach an agreement that will be good for management and good for players."
FUTURE EXPANSION: "Today, we believe we are going to be a 20-team league. What we think in 2020 or 2025, I can't answer and won't be around to have to address. This is a big country, it's the size of a continent, and along with Canada, it gets even bigger. We're covering 300-plus million, which is far bigger than any other country where you have the 18- or 20-team leagues in Europe or other parts of the world. We don't have promotion and relegation, so the size of the league is less relevant than a league that might have a second and third division. ... We have had productive conversations with Montreal to be our 19th team. We have not put a timetable as to when that team would enter the league if we reach agreement with them. We don't have any active discussions for the 20th team."
MLS CUP HOSTED BY A PARTICIPANT: "There is support to strongly consider moving MLS Cup away from a designated site and into a market where the team that earns the right to host it does so. We obviously have a lot of logistical challenges that we are working through to figure out whether or not we can pull it off. Years ago it wasn't really a possiblitity because we didn't have enough stadiums where we could even control the dates. We also had a handful of markets where we questioned whether we would be able to get the support, and I don't believe there is any market in this country that, if they got MLS Cup, wouldn't be able to do a terrific job in a short period of time and get a very big passionate fan base. Look what Chicago did [for the conference final on short notice] in just four days."
SINGLE TABLE: Not next year, no. And whether or not it's in the near future, we haven't gotten that far."
IMPORTANCE OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: "We need to win the Champions League. Those opportunities to compete in a global competition are important to show how far we have developed as a soccer nation, and the opportunity to do it on the pro club side is with the world club championship. We've got to win that [CONCACAF] tournament. We've won it in the past as the Champions' Cup. We need to prove that we can be among the best teams in the region, and that means beating Mexico. It certainly means beating teams from smaller countries that don't have our resources. What we've got to look at, clearly it is almost a disincentive for clubs when they finish in the top four [in MLS] and they play right now in so many different tournaments and competitions. We are trying to mix that up between Champions League, SuperLiga and the U.S. Open Cup. But if you are Houston, you are playing in a lot more games than Salt Lake is, and that's probably not fair. There are things we have to look at so we are not penalizing those clubs and be disadvantaged in the league tournament, but probably more importantly, what do we need to do to ensure that these teams make it a priority? Right now, not all of our clubs believe it is a priority."

By Steve Goff  |  November 16, 2009; 5:02 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: Tuesday Kickaround

Comments

So again, you spread out the participants so someone isn't playing four competitions and over 50 games, but as much as a salary cap helps keep your league on equal footing, we're seeing that the difference in games played is having an affect as well. So, is there some sort of revenue bump for teams that EARN the opportunity to compete. Some plateau that affords them an extra Freddy Montero to come off the bench and not a Fred. Some bump in the cap for year that will allow you to have Clyde Simms back up your defensive midfielder instead of Alvaro Pires?

Just a little wiggle room so you can afford to sign an Edgar Castillo, Jose Torres, or Chris Rolfe without having to then gut the whole roster in order to make it work?

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | November 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Garber = "Wonk Wonk"

Posted by: FatSickBoot | November 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Overall, seems balanced. At least he was honest about his Galaxy favoritism. When he said:
"all of these people who have grown up with the game now can get into stands and can replicate that aspect of the game that gets them very excited when they are watching the EPL or La Liga on television."

It feels a little too Euro to me. Perhaps he should be focusing more on driving Latino business into the stands - Fans from Mexico, Central and South America certainly get excited when watching their leagues too. But I know what he means.

Posted by: WorldCup | November 16, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"SINGLE TABLE: Not next year, no. And whether or not it's in the near future, we haven't gotten that far"

So is Salt Lake or LA representing the Eastern US in the MLS cup? Name another pro sport in the US that would have a western conference team in the eastern conference playoffs. Even in the MLB where you have a team imbalance they wouldn’t do it.

Either we stick with an Eastern and Western conference or we have a single table. What we have now is bizarre.

Posted by: Southeasterner | November 16, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Southeasterner wrote: "Name another pro sport in the US that would have a western conference team in the eastern conference playoffs."

Answer: The NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship (March Madness). And don't respond "But I said *pro* sport." All posing to the contrary, it *is* a pro sport.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | November 16, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I like your idea VBB.

So tired of all this Flounders nut riding. Garber is a moron not recognizing the perfect storm that happened in Seattle this year. It's not the fans that made this, it was the marketing and terrible sporting climate in Seattle that ALLOWED this mass consumption to blossom. If they are still packin' the lower bowl 5 years from now I'll give the props then when it's finally earned.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 16, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The regions in the NCAA b-ball tourney are based on the location of the games not the geographic location of the teams playing.

Posted by: Southeasterner | November 16, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Not MLS related, but this is the newest thread . . .

"Mexico international striker Antonio de Nigris has died at the age of 31 from a suspected heart attack."

http://www.cnn.com/2009/SPORT/football/11/16/football.denigris.mexico.larissa.death/index.html

Posted by: emanon13 | November 16, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I hate seattle more than anyone else, but I have to give them props for what they did this year, yes they had an advantage over our team in 96, but the fact is they got a great atmosphere done, look at chivas or RSL. they got a small stadium that they can call ther own (except chivas) yet they struggled and keep struggling, toronto started it Seattle made it better, if they suck next year and the following year then we should give them hell at that time but not now. As of right now as painful as it is to say they deserve all the praise the don is giving them, even if there 10 year old forward is a wuss.

Posted by: Norteno4life | November 16, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you on that on VBB. The league already gives out "you suck" allocations. Why not reward the teams that actually do well and qualify for the CCL with an allocation that will allow them to add a little more quality to their roster?

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | November 16, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I disagree that teams in the champions league should get extra salary cap room, otherwise the teams not in the champions league are never going to be able to compete with the teams with better players & a deeper bench. that would just keep the same teams finishing in the top 4 or whatever year after year.

Posted by: joe_hill | November 16, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

"We need to prove that we can be among the best teams in the region, and that means beating Mexico."

To be competitive (win half the time) with Mexican clubs that have $20M in players on their books at any one time, an MLS team would need $12M-$15M in players (Mexican national players are paid far above what they would fetch on the world market).

I'm ready for a $12M salary cap...is Bob Kraft?

Posted by: Shmenge | November 16, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Garber's right that MLS teams need to step up and do better (read: regularly make the semifinals/final and have legitimate hopes of winning) in the CCL. However, that's like saying it's important to go to work if you want to keep your job. What I think most fans would want to know is what MLS plans to do to make this more likely.

Bringing up the Champions Cup is interesting. What was the difference between DC 1998/LA 2000 and the teams we send out now?

1. 1998's tournament was held entirely at RFK. 2000's tournament was held in Los Angeles and Fullerton, CA.
2. Good-but-not-great MLS players were still playing in MLS (rather than taking deals for 3 times as much in roughly equal leagues in Scandinavia) or were eager to get into MLS via the draft (rather than skip that to try their hand in Europe).
3. MLS had fewer teams.

We can't replicate #1, and that's for the best. MLS improves every time a team goes to play on the road in CONCACAF, both from a team perspective and in terms of individual improvements.

The second problem is a much bigger concern. MLS teams have good top-tier players. Our elite players could play anywhere in CONCACAF and have success. It's that next level down where we get thinned out. It's happening again this year; Chris Rolfe (a fringe national team player) is headed to Denmark, along with a very promising young striker in Yura Movsisyan. They're not going entirely for the money, but let's not pretend that the money isn't a huge part of it. These players have to be given an incentive to stay other than being in your home country, and we also have to increase their ranks when MLS teams sign foreign players.

#3 is tied into #2. Just as losing our quality non-superstar players is a problem, so too is overexpansion and the resulting diluted player pool. Good teams are losing good players to build up expansion teams that, at this point, often don't justify the stretch the rest of the league has to make. For every Seattle or Toronto, there's a Chivas or the reborn Earthquakes. Columbus won the Supporters Shield starting a guy like Eric Brunner, who is a pretty average player. LA is in the final starting Mike Magee and regularly using Alan Gordon; RSL is also there, despite using run-of-the-mill outside backs and a rotation of erratic strikers. Is Philadelphia going to make such a positive impact that it will be worth extending the years-long plateau of quality that has hit MLS since sometime around 2004? When does the league actually get better rather than just bigger?

I'm going over the character limit, so this'll be a two-parter.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 16, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Chest beat me to it with his third point. 20 teams sounds like an unbelievably stupid idea. It becomes far more difficult for any one team to become an established power if they don't have the right talent, which hurts us in the Champions League. Without salary increases, this league isn't going to increase in overall quality.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | November 16, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Want to reward efforts in CCL? Give the teams who participate standing points if they win. Provides a "bonus" of sorts for success and makes a CCL game relevant because it has MLS consequences.

Posted by: griffin1108 | November 16, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Agree w/ Chest, who should apply to work for MLS. The progression of young, talented players coming out of high school/college in the US is currently MLS-> Scandinavian league-> Eredivise, Bundesliga, Ligue 1-> Serie A, EPL, La Liga (the last part is obviously the dream for the player). It needs to be MLS-> Bundesliga, Ligue 1-> Big 3. Salary but more importantly the promise of getting looks from bigger leagues is really the deciding factor in players leaving for Europe. Not sure how you convince players to stay here, other than to pay them more. Or perhaps get more talent directly into bigger leagues, so young players dont find the Danish league a necessary step in their goal of making the EPL, La Liga etc.

Posted by: rademaar | November 16, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

How do you fix these problems?

Step 1: Don't expand any time some dude shows up with $30 million and says he might have a stadium, maybe. MLS needs to prioritize here. What's a bigger complaint from soccer fans that aren't MLS fans (aka MLS's enormous untapped market)? Volume of teams or quality of teams? When I hear Premier League-only fans trash MLS, I never hear them say that the big issue is that there are 20 teams in the EPL and less than that in MLS.

What would be the harm in letting the league's teams get stronger rather than more numerous?

Step 2: Don't continue with a draconian salary cap that leaves teams unable to offer real salaries to players. At this point, if you're amongst your team's best 5 players and you're not a DP, why would you even give a second thought to staying in MLS when some anonymous Swedish club comes along? Let me make this a bit more scary for United fans: Why would Chris Pontius stay here for $85K if a struggling Norwegian side offered him $250K, a car, and an apartment? It's a higher-pressure league, there's the increased likelihood of transfer to a big league, and you are much wealthier. Living abroad is a big challenge, sure, but it's not keeping guys like that from bolting. Take away those upper-middle class MLS players, and we're down to a handful of big names and a bunch of college kids.

Step 3: Don't keep a 24 man roster for teams that are playing over 40 games, most of which involve flights. How is an MLS club going to expect to advance from a CCL group when they get stuck with a Mexican club and, say, Saprissa or Marathon (in our case, how about both at the same time)? When MLS teams have to approach a CCL game with a short bench and/or starting guys that need to be resting, something's wrong. It's not like illnesses are taking out half the roster; that's a freak happening. MLS teams are regularly traveling for CCL and MLS games with the only healthy players they have. This step is obviously intertwined with step #2, since you can't expand the rosters without making the cap larger.

Yes, I'm spending the money of strangers by saying all this, but what other way is there? Right now, MLS simply isn't devoting the resources that are required. It's hard to get too upset with MLS clubs coming up short in this tournament, because their hands are largely tied. The group stage takes place when good teams are busy prepping for the playoffs, and the knockout round happens in the preseason. Rosters aren't big enough to reliably have 18 fit players in every game, and they aren't stocked with the quality needed to get results on the road.

To be honest, MLS's results in the CCL are well within the range I was expecting: 1 or 2 teams get through to the knockout round, and the only way they advance to the semifinals is if they don't draw a Mexican club AND play about as well as they possibly can in preseason.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 16, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, I don't want to see the same teams finish in the top 4 each year either (unless it's United sitting on top of the table and looking down as everyone else fights ;) )

But, since the league, it's owners, and whatever other interests are involved (cough, cough Bob Kraft) don't really want to open up the league wide purse strings to make a really sizeable increase in the salary cap and make sure that our bottom rung salaries convince kids to stick around then you're going to need some sort of modest exception - the value of one or two players (and this is where it works in theory and hardly ever in practice) that would give you the needed bump to compete in CCL/SuperLiga but wash out as equal over the course of your 50 games and San Jose/Colorado's 30....

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | November 16, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

"That was an important lesson to our clubs, particularly some of the clubs that have been around for a while and are struggling in their markets"--
In all honestly, didn't Seattle just have two major sports in its town before the Sounders? Mariners and Seahawks, I guess you can count the WNBA team but eh. So you had a team that left in a major sport. And expect the fans not to embrace a new professional team. Of course your going to embrace it. Now they have something esle to do.
Very different in other markets, let say DC because other than United, you have the Deadskins, the Expos, the Caps, and The Gizzards. And Garber expects this town to fall over heels for United. United will always be the black sheep in city, we win championships and the others win a good set of boos except the Caps.

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | November 16, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey you locals, can anyone give me their opinion if there is any on Khary Stockton's Soccer programs. Particularly Kicks for Tots. Happened upon some information about a program that I might like to enroll my daughter in early next year if it gets any positive ratings. If not does anyone have any other leads on programs for kids that will be 3 in the summer of 2010. My daughter is particularly a early May baby if that helps. Not sure how all those age brackets are sorted.
Thanks

Posted by: DadRyan | November 16, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Look at who the top teams are right now in MLS (and no, I don't mean the teams in the playoffs--I mean the teams that over the past couple of years have consistently performed at a very high level and then at least sometimes won in the first round of the playoffs or even won an MLS Cup). The best example is Houston. That team is well coached, develops American talent well, does a super job scouting and then trading within MLS.

The argument that to aid those teams in CL would keep some teams down is nonsense. The teams that have traditionally stayed down have done so not b/c other teams had big advantages but b/c they've been incompetent (Red Bulls are the best example but DC United could be an example the past two years--especially last year when we spent beaucoup money on transfers and a DP). The teams that do the worst traditionally are ones that are poorly run and poorly coached. The league needs to avoid overloading a few teams with a gazillion games. This year was a first step by dividing CL and SuperLiga. It needs to provide help for the teams in CL (two extra roster spots? An extra $100K in cap room?)

Posted by: JoeW1 | November 16, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The teams in the Champions League in a way do get a bump in salary cap. Their players earn bonuses for playing in the tournament and getting wins and advancing to the next rounds.

The amount of teams in the league is diluting the talent pool is a pretty weak argument when an expansion team is one of the best teams in the league having to pull from that supposed weak available pool of talent. Each team can bring in 8 foreign players there are plenty of players around the world that could increase the level of play in the league if they are properly scouted. Also the much maligned MLS draft brings in a good amount of talent and the academies are going to start to produce viable players. Continue to bring in quality markets when the opportunity presents itself and the league will get stronger.

Posted by: csd1 | November 16, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

"When does the league actually get better rather than just bigger?" --Chest_Rockwell

I don't think it's dichotomous, Chest. I do think the league got "better" this year after introducing the Sounders to the league.

On Concacaf:
I think winning and playing in the CCL is more prideful than MLS, and thus worthy of your regular starters getting full action.

Posted by: redskinsux | November 17, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

You can call it a single table or not, but the reality is that next year will be a defacto single table. There will FINALLY be a balanced schedule. And given the wacko playoff format that allows teams to qualify regardless of "conference" it really doesn't matter what you call it. I have always been far more concerned with having a balanced schedule which adds a level of fairness that has not existed before.

Posted by: fedssocr | November 17, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

The praise for Seattle is a joke.

Their support is nothing but the same plastic garbage you see in Chelsea. A bunch of Anglos wearing a team jersey.

Tifo is non-existent. Their songs make Columbus look creative in comparison. So they've had good crowds, big deal. We've seen expansion sides have great 1st seasons and taper off as the years pass.

The biggest positive Seattle has going for them is Kasey Keller. Having a keeper of his caliber playing for what is comparatively peanuts, is honestly an unfair advantage. It allows them to have Ljunberg as their DP, with money left over for Montero (who would be an idiot to not sign in Europe this winter).

Otherwise, Seattle is an average team, with a large plastic following.

Posted by: alecw81 | November 17, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse

DadRyan,

SoccerTots is the program you're looking for, lots of locations in the area. Will I get banned for posting a link?

As for the commish's comments, I'm disappointed we wont see a single table. We almost have it already, so the only thing that would be affected would be playoff positioning...

Not really a fan of Seattle, but they've created such a buzz its hard not to jump on the band wagon.

Vamos United.

Posted by: SoccerVA | November 17, 2009 1:34 AM | Report abuse

"The praise for Seattle is a joke.

Their support is nothing but the same plastic garbage you see in Chelsea. A bunch of Anglos wearing a team jersey.

-- what a bigoted, racist comment. Unbelievable.

Tifo is non-existent. Their songs make Columbus look creative in comparison. So they've had good crowds, big deal. We've seen expansion sides have great 1st seasons and taper off as the years pass.

-- Tifo validates a crowd? Are you kidding?
Oh, and DCU/Barra's "If I had the wings of an Eagle" (or pick any one of our songs) is a paragon of origionality and artistic expression? They haven't had good crowds in Seattle, they have had FANTASTIC crowds, crowds every MLS FO drools over.

The biggest positive Seattle has going for them is Kasey Keller. Having a keeper of his caliber playing for what is comparatively peanuts, is honestly an unfair advantage. It allows them to have Ljunberg as their DP, with money left over for Montero (who would be an idiot to not sign in Europe this winter).

-- Again, are you kidding? Do you think for one minute Seatle gets 30,000 people to come to games to see *Kasey Keller*? Kasey is a fine keeper, probably the best in MLS even at his age, but come on, goalkeepers don't sell tickets.

Otherwise, Seattle is an average team, with a large plastic following.

Posted by: alecw81 |"

-- Seattle is a team that tied us once and beat us like a rented mule twice. If they are "average" what does that make us? That's right, we have to admit it, right now we stink.

Don't know what you mean by "plastic" unless it is just code for more of your bigotry and racism. Seattle has a large following, they stand, and sing and cheer in numbers that dwarf ours, they buy shirts, hats, scarves by the boatload. We need to face it, despite the fact that some of their fans are every bit as insufferable as we can be, Seattle has (marketing wise, and they didn't do too bad soccer-wise, either)taken MLS success to the next level, one which we are outside of looking in.

Whether they can sustain that is another question, fair enough, but otherwise at best your post is sour grapes, and at worst it is the kind of racism and bigotry that the game is trying to eradicate.


Posted by: Ron16 | November 17, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

A lot of sour grapes regarding Seattle - give credit where it's due. Everyone will see what an outstanding job the Sounders did in terms of generating strong fan support in a recession when Philly becomes the latest version of KC fan support.

My major problem with MLS management is that it seemed to make a concerted effort to tear down United after it's early dominance of the league. I guess they decided it was in the league's best interest to favor NY and LA at the expense of DC.

Unfortunately, corrupt and greedy DC city officials were only happy to oblige with their pathetic handling of the new stadium effort. DC (the city) had its chance, now it's time for United to leave the confines of the city for a locale which won't take them for granted.

Finally, the cap has to be raised substantially. It's embarrassing to call this a "Major League" when you have players making minimum wage.

Posted by: grognard66 | November 17, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

"It's embarrassing to call this a "Major League" when you have players making minimum wage." -- huge, huge point. Bravo grognard66.

DadRyan,

At 3 years of age, your kid should be fine toddling about chasing a ball. Don't get too focused on formal programs for another couple of years. Even at 5 or 6, some say that is too early for formal footie. Of course, YMMV.

Posted by: 22206no1 | November 17, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"The praise for Seattle is a joke.

Their support is nothing but the same plastic garbage you see in Chelsea. A bunch of Anglos wearing a team jersey."

We have a new contender of dumb comment of the month!

Leaving aside the inane demographic cheap shot. What on earth are you babbling about?

Seattle's attendance AVERAGE was close to 31K.

Other than our first match against the Galaxy, I cannot remember a crowd even close to that in our inaugural season.

Regarding Alec's puerile petulance I wonder where he was in 1996? Did he think that the RFK tifosi were massed in abundance with coordinated songs ringing all game long that season?

I would surmise that most of us would be absolutely thrilled to see RFK filled with those same "plastic" fans wearing Black instead of a sea of orange seats lo these many years later!


Posted by: Lot_8_for_Life | November 17, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

"The praise for Seattle is a joke.

Their support is nothing but the same plastic garbage you see in Chelsea. A bunch of Anglos wearing a team jersey."
-alecw81

Come on, Bro! I enjoy reading your posts but that is racist. Straight up. Replace "Anglos" with any other ethnicity and that would be considered inflammatory.

back in late August or September, if it wasn't you (and I think that it might have been), it has been thrown around here before on the Insider.

It is just wrong. If you don't want to give them the props that they so obviously deserve, then hey--more power to you.

You post strong. Even if I don't agree with some of your takes, I usually find them insightful. But the racist/ethnic stuff is poisoning the well...

Posted by: yankiboy | November 17, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"....that all of these people who have grown up with the game now can get into stands and can replicate that aspect of the game that gets them very excited when they are watching the EPL or La Liga on television. We now have that in MLS..."
-DonnieG

Whoa! Slow down, Playah. Let's not get ridiculous. Yes, it is nice to see the growing passion in a lot of the MLS stadia. Artistic license is one thing; Self-delusion is another.

It appears that we are progressing. Let's just not oversell it.

I'm just saying let's just keep it real.

Posted by: yankiboy | November 17, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Those scarf-waving plastic Anglos pretty much saved MLS from oblivion, so STFU. More revenue, more fans, and the attention of investors around the world. Things the league did not have last year.

And yeah, take away their three international superstars, and they are an average team. Oooh, snap!

Nothing wrong with looking DCU square in the face and saying, your operation doesn't cut it any more. That's progress.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | November 17, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

re: ""It's embarrassing to call this a "Major League" when you have players making minimum wage." -- huge, huge point. Bravo grognard66."

It's even worse than that. Some players, including some on DC United, are at the local poverty line.

Posted by: Ron16 | November 17, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Do they sing, "We have to win tonight"...

at DAY games???

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | November 17, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I guess everone here hates Seattle just as much as I do.lol I just hope there snobbiness rubs someone in our FO off the wrong way like the open cup campaign and we could actually get a good 35-40k fans for our game against the coffee lovers. Rivalries is what Futbol it about, thats what makes for big games and great turnouts as long as fans don't start lighting busses on fire then Im all for trash talking. Getting 45k fans to see beckham is not what futbol is about, getting 45k fans to see seattle get torched, not that is what i am talking about. Fans that will show up to back the home team against a fierce rival, not fans that want a to look at a jockstrap. Seattle has got us beat, we can (united) either admit it and try to match them or sit on behinds and ignore there success of the field at least.

Fan for fan we are better than they are, the problem is for every 10 fans we have they have 20.

Posted by: Norteno4life | November 17, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Seattle has been fantastic for the league. As was Toronto. As is any expansion team that brings another full stadium of fans every week.

I just hope Philly can bring it as well as they have. And Portland. And Vancouver.

Posted by: Reignking | November 17, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Do they sing, "We have to win tonight"...

at DAY games???
-Godfather_of_Goals

Sure they do. Otherwise you don't get you complimentary Xbox when they have that promotion.

See, THAT is really the root of the problem. Our best promotion here in DC is a Volkswagon impinted supporters' scarf. Theirs is a free XBOX. They also have the $500 Starbucks Gift Card night and the Limited edition Pearl Jam boxset night.

Oh yeah--they also got a marching band.

They pretty much crush us. Who can compete with that. Maybe we need to have the Wizards leave like the Sonics did or we need a high profile celebrity type owner like Chest Rockwell...

We get our chance for revenge next year and I am hoping that it is sweet like a Double Moca flavored Veinte with a double triple expresso dose of caramel.

Posted by: yankiboy | November 17, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

It was too long to post here, so put together some ideas about how to handle the CCL and Superliga over on my blog: http://on-soccer.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-to-deal-with-ccl-and-superliga.html

Posted by: pateyler | November 17, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

RE: Soccer Tots, I appreciate some feedback, I'd love some more if anyone has any. I also don't think you'd get banned for posting a link that someone is looking for SoccerVA. I think the problem is folks spamming this site with crap no one is looking for.

I'm less interested with her "learning" anything about soccer, but I'm curious about anything that may continue to spark her interest.
Much like the tumbling, swimming, and art classes we've already had her in, I'm curious about what exactly is out there and offering her the opportunity to explore if she so desires. We've also have few boys in the neighborhood who are the same age, and could be interested as well.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

alecw81: "The praise for Seattle is a joke."

No. It's well-deserved. They nearly doubled our attendance, made the playoffs, and beat us at RFK in a must-win game for DCU.

alecw81: "Their support is nothing but the same plastic garbage you see in Chelsea. A bunch of Anglos wearing a team jersey."

As numerous others have pointed out, this racist statement is appalling. Your credibility is shot.

My hat is off to Seattle for what they accomplished this season.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | November 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@Reignking, there is a huge difference in Toronto's supporters vs the Sounder supporters in general. RPB's have been extremely supportive of our stadium cause and showed a lot of solidarity, while Sounders fans just come off as stuck up, flavor of the month, fashion victims. Constantly patting themselves on the back and bad mouthing the District of Columbia, which as anyone who knows anything about the area really has little to do with United themselves other than oppressing their stadium efforts.

I personally look forward to seeing Toronto supporters down in Charleston again if our clubs get invited back. Could not say that about Sounders fans. Again, I haven't interacted with any but a few at the Open Cup final and I know it would be a mistake to take comments from d-bags like AlbinoSounder as the face of the club's support. Just sayin' that the Sounders fans have done an excellent job alienating themselves from plenty of followers of MLS with the chip they've got on their shoulder that they've hardly earned.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 17, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I remember having this discussion last year, about increasing the salary cap. And some figures popped up that showed like only 2 or 3 MLS clubs were profitable in 2007. I can't imagine that's gone 180 in 12 months. So if the league is generally not profitable, salary caps ain't going up. At least not enough to make a difference.

So maybe getting bigger will bring in more dollars. Which in turn will mean improved salary cap. Eventually. ???

Posted by: Matte | November 17, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Toronto was the same way -- they thought they were special, filling their stadium from day 1 and crying about rivalries.

But continual losing has sucked some of the swagger from Toronto.

Posted by: Reignking | November 17, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Well there you go... Not making the playoffs has sucked the swagger out of many Sounders knobs in case you haven't noticed. It's only a matter of time. I'm actually looking forward to Philly coming in so the press darlings will have a chance to get over themselves.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 17, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, Seattle has great fan support. They have Drew Carey as a partial owner. And some of his terms involved fan support and participation. Maybe we need more entertainers owning teams.

Do you think Jon Stewart would buy a partial stake in DCU, in exchange for being charge of fan relations?

Posted by: terryr1 | November 17, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Hate to break it to you, dadRyan but Seattle made the playoffs.

It is DC United that failed to make the playoffs. Talk about having the swagger sucked out.

Taking potshots at other teams from our cellar is a plenty big chip to have on the shoulder.

Posted by: Ron16 | November 17, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Drew Carey is entertaining? Damn- when did that happen...

Posted by: laur84 | November 17, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm DC United all the way, but I have to agree that Seattle has been a great addition to the league. They may be using gimmicks and promotions to draw in fans, but every major sports team does it.

From the few games I've see played their the fans seem knowledgable and passionate. Its not the Beckham crowd that was showing up two years ago looking for a glimpse of the great one.

DadRyan - www.soccertotsdc.com is the local site. www.soccertots.net is the national program for anyone outside the dc area. Its non-competitive and more about kid development than winning games. I know a lot of parents who have taken the class and loved it. Good Luck!

It pains me to say it, but I'm pulling for the Galaxy this weekend. I'd like to see the champions club kept small.

Posted by: SoccerVA | November 17, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Sounders made the playoffs? I honestly forgot already... Literally.

Ron, I lived there, I was stoked for old friends when the team was announced, thought they could sorta be my "west coast team", but things didn't turn out the way I expected. Most Sounders fans are just like the endless number of rich, frat boy, never stepped foot out of the Pac NW, idiots that I'm happily not surrounded with anymore. Seattle is a great town, the Club seems well run, but their fan presence is like 30,000 PowerBoater69's wasted, and wearing puke green.

No Thanks.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 17, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

southeasterner: That's just the point -- the regions in the NCAA tournament *used to* only draw teams from their region, but they changed it -- much like the MLS playoffs were changed.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | November 17, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Now that's how you trash a seatle fan DadRyan.

I hope and pray that DCU improves over the offseason.

Posted by: TheDane1 | November 17, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Now that's how you trash a seatle fan DadRyan.

I hope and pray that DCU improves over the offseason.

Posted by: TheDane1 | November 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan, So you know 30,000+ people personally and individually well enough to make such a judgment?

Posted by: Ron16 | November 17, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

No, but I do know less people back there that are cool, thankful, excited about their SSFC, than the legions of obnoxious idiots that turned up here, and other, lesser soccer blogs talking a bunch of baloney. A lot of my friends couldn't care less, and some say it's just too expensive to try to fight the crowds and get ripped off by scalpers to go watch games they can watch at home.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 17, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan, so you admit you paint all Seattle fans with the same brush based on a handful of people you know and a few internet trolls. And, based on that you are more than willing to badmouth that team's contribution to the league. Pretty narrow-minded, if you ask me.

Posted by: Ron16 | November 17, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Seattle Sounders were indeed a boost to the MLS image. Its fans are are the heartbeat of the franchise, but their resigning of key players may change the euphoric atmosphere. Otherwise, there are ominous clouds surrounding Commissioner Garber. The new contract talks will be pushed to the limit by the player's union and the current MLS system of parity needs to evolve into a more flexible movement of players. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a player strike. The league needs to compensate their second tier players above the current poverty levels in order to get a better product on the pitch. There is lots of room for improvement and it needs to happen sooner than later.

Posted by: juke2 | November 17, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Re: the crying about Anglo's being a racist term.

I'm white, and of British, Scandinavian, and German descent.

I stand by my comments from last night.

Their following is plastic, i.e. fake. Just like the legions of Chelsea fans who couldn't name somebody who played for Chelsea prior to Abramovich buying the team.

You also missed my point about Keller.

He's a non-DP player on their payroll, but easily the most talented keeper in the league. It had nothing to do about him putting butts in seats.

For the record, in 1996 I was 15, went to the home opener and a few other matches that season, but was more concerned with playing soccer than following any professional side, in the US or abroad.

Posted by: alecw81 | November 18, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

alecw81, you still have no license to label an entire group of people as "garbage". You are a self-loathing bigot, and you have ZERO credibility. I am done with you.

Posted by: Ron16 | November 18, 2009 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Ron, you're just an @$$HOLE. You come off as a grumpy old man, who has no room for any opinion but your own, yet have the gall to call people narrow minded. STFU already.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 19, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

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