NASL Commissioner talks Cosmos, expansion and more

DavidDownsNASL (ISIPhotos.com)

By FRANCO PANIZO

The past couple of weeks presented an unprecedented period of media attention for NASL, with high-profile moves such as Eric Wynalda becoming the head coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks and the New York Cosmos joining the league for the 2013 season being announced.

Those are just some of the news items that have kept NASL commissioner David Downs extremely busy. From having to travel from NASL headquarters in Miami to New York for a string of meetings with the Cosmos' ownership group, to receiving more than 600 emails in a span of few days, Downs has had his plate more than full in recent days.

Downs recently took some time away from his busy schedule to take part in an in-depth interview with SBI. The NASL commissioner touched on a wide range of topics, from the addition of the Cosmos, to further expansion, to the possibility of acquiring more MLS players on loan, and even the chances of seeing promotion and relegation between NASL and third division league USL Pro.

Here is SBI's interview with David Downs (edited for clarity and brevity):

SBI: From Eric Wynalda becoming Atlanta Silverbacks interim head coach to the New York Cosmos being announced as an expansion team, the past couple of weeks have been exciting for the league. How has it been from a league standpoint?

DD: It's fair to say we've sort of been slowly but surely building our credibility and our brand image, step by step, from literally kickoff of last season to [Thursday's] great announcement. Some of the bits of news are obviously bigger than other bits, but virtually everything that's come out about our league over the last year and a half has been incredibly positive and I think that's one of the reasons why the Cosmos are so comfortable and eager, frankly, to join our league. They've been sitting on the sidelines for the last year and a half and observing what we've managed to put together and while we may be small, I think we're doing it in a very solid way and just about everything that's happening, whether it's Wynalda coming into the league, whether it's the fact that at the end of last season we put an entire team (Montreal Impact), a head coach from Carolina and nine percent of our players into MLS, or whatever the news is. But it always seems that we're doing it right even if we're doing it slowly and steadily and cautiously.

 It's really obvious to me not only is it flattering to us to have them want to be part of our league, but they are going to bring so much to our league. Whether it's their recognition globally of their fantastic brand to just having another real rock-solid, deep-pockets ownership group that can kind of steer us on the steady course if there are tough times ahead to the tremendous vision that they have as a sports management company. A lot of those things are real positives for the league, not just the name being in the league, not just another question.

SBI: The league has a more firm footing now than a couple of years ago when things were a bit shaky. What has changed over the past two years?

DD: I think our model is slowly but surely starting to work. Even though we lost a team, Montreal, up to MLS, and they were averaging over 11,000 fans a game, our attendance is fractionally up because San Antonio has done such a marvelous job filling Montreal's shoes and our individual teams are generally up, the seven returning teams are up against last season, so that's been solid. I think our sanctioning has been solid and every day that goes by, it becomes more and more evident what it means to be a second division in the United States versus a first or a third or whatever, but I think there's less confusion out there.

As you alluded to, there was a bit of a rocky start with the on and off again sanctioning, with some of the back and forth comments between the teams that broke away from USL and the USL administration, so it's good to get that behind us. And every day that we produce plays of the week and players of the month and standings and goals and so on, is another week where we become more and more of a fixture in the American soccer landscape and that's what it's all about. The more that we can provide that environment of legitimacy and solidity to this level of soccer, the more attractive it's going to be to bring in other teams and the opportunity is there for us.

MLS is going very carefully to find that 20th team and it's a big price tag and it's a very important piece of their growth strategy and they're going to make sure they do it exactly right. But in the mean time, there are probably eight or nine cities in the top 30 cities in the United States, population wise, that don't have professional soccer above the fourth division level. And that's going to be a tremendous opportunity for us to move into those markets and provide that service.

The Cosmos are unique in that they are technically in a television market that already has an MLS team, but the fact that New York is such an enormous market, I don't think anybody, including MLS, ever doubted that New York could support two teams. But there's so many fantastic cities in America that have an ability to support a team and we'd be proud to be the top of the soccer pyramid in those markets, too. I think that's our opportunity, bringing the Cosmos in only makes that opportunity more vivid and real for the cities that are considering it and the ownerships that considering it, so it's all good, I guess. I know it's a long-winded answer, I know.

SBI: How long had you guys been in talks with the Cosmos about the possibility of joining NASL? 

DD: The reality is Aaron [Davidson] was talking to the Cosmos before I even joined the league a year ago at the end of March, but that was with the previous administration of the Cosmos. It pre-dates both my tenure and the current Cosmos' ownership, so it's a really long time. And like any of these things, the one thing that these discussions are not, it's not like watching a software download on your computer. There's no bar that says '28 percent complete, three minutes and 11 seconds remaining.' It's one of these things where you think you're almost there and then something happens and seems like two, three months drag on and then you think you're almost there again and then suddenly you are there.

This has been a classic case of two years-plus in the making and moments where we didn't think there was a chance of it going right and moments where we thought we were ready to announce the next day and nothing happened. We've got that kind of pipeline going with four or five other people right now and it's frustrating for me not to be able to announce and say 'Yeah, this will be announced in a week, that will be announced in two weeks and that'll be announced in three weeks.' It just doesn't work that way.

SBI: There is a lot of talk about where the Cosmos will play next season, is there any word as to what will be the site of their home games?

DD: The official answer is that they are not ready to make an announcement, so we're certainly not going to spill the beans and make an announcement for them. But just to set the record straight, they do have options that are completely known and approved by us. It's not as if we let them in the league without knowing if they could have a place to play. That's the technicality, but we're not comfortable until they're comfortable saying where they think they're headed. They are very far along and it should be more a matter of days and weeks than months before that's announced. We're happy for that and I think it will work well.

SBI: You said you can't say where, but the press release the league sent out said a record number of ownership groups had presented expansion team plans during your recent meetings in New York. How many did you hear and how much expansion are you looking at for the coming years?

DD: The door isn't shut yet on another team or even two teams, I suppose, joining between now and the start of the 2013 season. But the door is rapidly closing on that because unless the team is an existing team that is merely saying 'We're not playing in league X, we're playing in league Y,' you probably wouldn't advise the team to start from scratch this late in the year.

But we have, I would say, advanced discussions with six or seven groups that are targeting either 2013 or 2014. One of them I can say, if only because they themselves put out a press release and announced they were applying for us, that's the San Diego Flash from the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League). San Diego is obviously a great market and one of our strategies is to move the league out farther into the western part of the United States. Adding the Cosmos obviously adds greater national relevance and helps us balance out a map. We didn't have a team in the northeast other than Ottawa coming in in two year's time, but obviously another high priority for us is to get out west so San Diego makes an awful lot of sense in that regard.

SBI: The press release also said some "possible changes to the league's competiton structure for upcoming seasons" were discussed. What where some of the ideas thrown around?

DD: We didn't enact any changes, but we had a committee of experts study everything from player movement to annual operating budgets, you name it, of virtually every kind of scheduled format that's out there. We've talked about the European calendar and whether that makes sense. We've talked about what a number of teams in Latin America do, which is in effect two seasons in one and does that make sense. And we've talked about staying the way we are, and we've talked about staying the way we are but spreading the games out over a longer period of time. You know there's a lot of sentiment in U.S. Soccer that everybody's season is too short, including MLS's. And of course ours is probably a month shorter than MLS's, a couple weeks on one end and three weeks on the other depending on who is in the playoffs and so on.

All those things were discussed and analyzed and presented not in a recommendation format so much as in a just what do other people do, what impact would it have on us if we did it, what does anybody think about that. Essentialy, doing our due diligence. We might possibly enact something before the start of next season, we might not. One of the things I'm pretty proud of is we came back with the exact same 28-game schedule, everybody plays everybody four times and we have the exact same playoff format. I think if nothing else, consistency is a good thing for soccer fans.

Having said that, if we line up with nine teams next year, in order for everybody to play everybody else four times, now it's a 32-game schedule and not a 28-game schedule and what are the ramifications of that. Should we have some of our teams that are more logical rivals play each other four times but others play only three. Those are the kind of things we're looking at, nothing too wacky. Other people do it other ways.

One other thing that is interesting is that although we do have a team in Edmonton, and it's awful cold there in February and awful cold there in November, a lot of our teams are in very warm weather cities and the games in July, unless they're really special games like Tampa had a wonderful game, I think a record crowd actually for their July 4 game against the Strikers, but it can be kind of hot in Tampa in July. A lot of these things are under consideration, including how many times every team should play everybody else and what impact that it has on the travel costs, all that sort of stuff.

SBI: Promotion and relegation are talked about a lot by fans and media alike. What is NASL's current relationship with USL Pro? They are expanding themselves. Is it possible for promotion-relegation between you two down the road?

DD: One of the things that happened in the course of the break up of the USL second and third division was that USSF initiated these team ownership standards that distinguish between second division and third division. The USL teams chose to go to third division because they couldn't meet the criteria or chose not to meet the criteria because they didn't believe in them or whatever, I don't honestly know the reasonss why everybody made their individual decision. But the point is they made that decision.

That makes it kind of hard to have a promotion and relegation order between the two leagues, where the teams are jumping from third to second and second to third because not every team that got promoted would meet the qualifications. I don't think that's realistic from that practical standpoint. I think it's also fair to say also that while we have an exceedingly good, cordial, positive relationship, where we're speaking openly and honestly with each other in various board meetings where we're both participating in the same committee on the USSF level or whatever, that's fine. But I wouldn't say that we're in active discussions with USL to try and figure out how to put the two leagues together. I think that's not been the case.

You touched on MLS for a second and the reality is we've had discussions ongoing for almost a year now on a very serious level about things our two leagues can do, either officially or unofficially, to improve the development of young aspiring professionals in the United States. We believe a strong division 2 will benefit the sport in general in the United States and we also believe there are players right now who are on MLS rosters who are primarily playing in their reserve league, which is only 10 games a year, and really not getting significant minutes in MLS.

We think those players would probably be better soccer players if there was a way they could be playing on our rosters. Some of them do, on loan. Conor Shanosky is playing 90 minutes a game practically for the Strikers on loan from D.C. United. That's a great example of how that works. We've had some loan players come down and not even hold down jobs in our league, so obviously that didn't work. But I think in general we think there's got to be a solution that's beneficial to everybody, beneficial to MLS and their role in development, beneficial to us in putting better players on the field and challenging our existing players more, beneficial to the players by giving them minutes in a real environment.

I said it the other day, it's better for a 21-year-old aspiring professional to play 90 minutes for the Carolina RailHawks in front of 5,000 people in a meaninful game against real men than playing in a reserve game. Some people will argue I'm wrong about that, but I believe that to be the case.

We'd love to come up with something that our teams can do to be part of that solution to that problem because we believe that is our other mission. We have one mission with U.S. Soccer and that is to fill out the map of the United States, to bring professional soccer to cites that don't have it at a high level right now, and we can be a very useful organization that way.

We should be able to be a useful organization in grooming players as well. Last year, we managed to give 35 percent of our playing minutes to players aged 23 and under but I don't think it's that impressive a statistic if you go to 21 and under. I'd love to change that. That might require changing NCAA elibility rules, it might require a lot of things to ever have that really work. But you just kind of think it ought to be able to work, right?

SBI: We asked you about this last year. Orlando City is a team that has people talking and last year you said you would not mind in having them come up but that they weren't interested at the time. Has that changed?

DD: We have not had any discussion with Phil Rawlins and Orlando since the announcement of the Cosmos (Thursday). I think I've bumped into him on two or three occasions since the season ended last year. And he knows who we are and what we're doing and we know that they're doing a terrific job in their league and absolutely have the quality to play at a higher level but I think that's kind of their call.

If they're genuinely interested in playing in our league, they know where to reach us. We're not going to hound them on it, but I would say that they and a couple other teams in USL Pro that seem to be doing really, really well. And that's interesting to us, but we're also respectful of the fact that they're in a league and chose to be in that league and we'll wish them well in that league until such time they were to pick up the phone and say 'Are there any openings?'

SBI: Going back to loans between MLS and NASL, we've seen more of that this year than last. But why is there not more of that? It seems simple enough to send players down for a couple of months and then bring them back.

DD: I don't know for a fact why there's not more of them. I think you're probably right. Between last year and this year, the averages, we typically have probably somewhere between five and ten players total around our entire league on loan. One reason may be because our geogrpahically compatibility isn't all that great. MLS has no teams in the Southeast, we have more teams in the Southeast than anywhere else, so maybe coaches are reluctant to loan players away thousands of miles away from home. They'd be more comfortable if they were sending them to a team 50 miles away where they can occasionally see his progress or something like that.

I know in general the reluctance of some MLS coaches to loan out players is because they're fearful the player won't be played in exactly the right system or he won't be given the right minutes under the right conditions. I wonder about the validity of that argument. You certainly see in Europe a coach is willing to loan a player that they spent $5 million on the transfer market to get out to a lower division club of another country all the time. It doesn't hurt Arsenal, it doesn't hurt Barcelona to do it, so it shouldn't hurt the Chicago Fire to loan a guy out.

But I do think that some of the coaches just don't like giving up control of the player and not knowing if he's starting every night, not knowing what he does in practice, all that sort of stuff. I'd like to think the more we play, the more our games seem to be meaningful, the bigger our crowds are and the tougher the competition is, I think the more and more the coaches will realize it still probably does beat the heck out letting them play a reserve game once a month.

SBI: MLS has said they want to put a cap on expansion at some point. NASL has eight right now with more on the way. Is there a cap that you guys are trying to put on the league?

DD: I don't think that's the case, but I do think its fair to say that we have aspirations to be a truly national league and we don't ever want to be four small regional leagues with an end of season playoffs to link us together. We would want to be in San Diego, in Edmonton, in New York, in San Juan, in Florida, in Texas, whatever, and all those teams play each other. Because of that we need strong ownership groups and finding them takes some time and so I will say that you're going to see our league grow at the pace of two teams a year for the next five, six years and settle in at a number somewhere between 18, 20, 22 and not try to go much beyond that because then you really would be forced to break into a series of regional leagues where teams didn't all play one another.

Maybe in the long run that will be the plan, but at the moment that's not the plan. Right now, we sort of say if we can hit 18 teams by 2018 and 20 teams by 2020, those have a nice ring to it.

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103 Responses to NASL Commissioner talks Cosmos, expansion and more

  1. Gotta love this site

  2. rprr;rlrrrr says:

    Forget the Cosmos. The 20th team needs to be in the Southeast.

    Either a team in the Carolinas or St. Louis or Florida or Atlanta

  3. WiscFan says:

    +1 – I’m happy to see NASL on a good path.

  4. smi says:

    USSF need to pump money into making a proper women’s league of say 10 teams and a proper 2nd division following MLS with say 12-16 teams.

    Takes money and time but i’d say a good decade and soccer in the US will be doing quite well. 10years and we may have the best league outside Europe

  5. Cyrus says:

    MLS really needs to utilize NASL for development. The reserve league simply doesn’t suffice for proper development for guys that aren’t getting minutes.

  6. Gnarls says:

    I’d love to see 20 teams in NASL, but I don’t get Downs’ opposition to regional divisions. He says, “We don’t ever want to be four small regional leagues with an end of season playoffs to link us together,” but isn’t that the ideal situation for a fledgling league in an area as vast as the US? More to the point, adding the San Diego Flash sounds great, but how does a full squad, coaches and trainers fly to Edmonton, San Juan, New York once every couple weeks on a second division budget?

  7. Seriously? says:

    I’d like to see the MLS reserve teams play in say a third division league, as in Germany I believe. I don’t know if there’s a technical reason why this can’t happen in terms of rosters or if it’s just a matter of MLS teams in general aren’t to the level where a front office can run 2 separate teams, in terms of stadium management and such. Ideally it would be in regional leagues around the continent, as reserve teams shouldn’t have to fly cross country our whatever. This way reserve players are playing meaningful games in a league that MLS itself doesn’t have to run it. Ten games is just not enough.

  8. froboy says:

    There is no $$$ in women’s soccer, its not going to happen any time soon. The league has already failed twice, I just don’t think it would be a wise investment.

  9. Big Chil says:

    Great interview, SBI! Thanks!

  10. wides says:

    No offense, but a women’s league is just not going to survive. The only way a women’s league survives is if MLS owners are making a ton of money and decide to run a league DESPITE it being a guaranteed losing venture.

    And frankly, there’s not many owners in MLS who are doing well enough to take on that bad bet.

    The WNBA has been around for 15 years and they still lose money. And that’s with much more appetite in this country for basketball on TV as opposed to soccer. And they run that league during the NBA and college offseason where they have no competition from the men’s game. A women’s soccer league would not even have that to aid it’s fortunes.

    I’m not saying it’s not a worthwhile thing to have, but I think we’re a long ways away from it as a soccer culture. Just my opinion.

  11. dan says:

    One day there will have to be promotion/relegation between the top 3 leagues at least. That day is a long ways away though. even when all leagues hit 20 teams we will gotta wait years to see how strong they are

  12. Yadaki says:

    I’ve been to a number of the games in both the NASL and the USL this year and actually the level of play in the USL is far superior to that of the NASL. I live in the Tampa area and attend the Rowdies games on a regular basis and I also drive over to watch Orlando City play regularly and to me the two leagues should be swapped. USL should be the second tier and NASL the third. There is a huge difference in quality of play.

  13. Seriously says:

    St Louis is not the Southeast.

  14. Seriously says:

    Sorry Nostradamus, but I think you are wrong on this one. Again, pro/rel is not a business model that is in place in the US. It is not a strong model in Europe. I find it very hard to believe that owners in the US would allow for the model to be put into place and risk financial stability.

    Sports is a business and when you look at it from that perspective I just don’t see it happening, ever. Especially in league environments that look for parity. Even from a fan perspective, it only seems good for those in lower leagues, no fan of MLS will be happy that one year the league adopts the structure and their team that has always been in the top division suddenly falls down.

    Pro/rel is a dream by euro-centric fans that makes little sense. Parity is the route US sports have taken and thrive in. Soccer is no exception. I would expect to see more leagues attempt to break from pro/rel in the world than to attempt to join the model from the ground up. It has already been explored even by the EPL.

  15. Tyler says:

    This country is large enough that NASL and USL-Pro could easily support 20-25 in the vacant markets which are not occupied by MLS. Assuming each of these teams would eventually have an academy it would bode very well for the future of the sport as a whole.

  16. josh says:

    Great interview..I love the pro/rel questions but non-plussed by the answer. Oh well, in time it will happen becasue its really does need to happen. I don’t think including the MLS is something that anyone should be looking for in the next 20 years, but after that who knows.

    For my money the USSF needs to strongly encourage the two leagues to adopt to pro/rel format. The attendance figures are comparable, and the skill level, although it varies widely, would eventually work itself out so that the better teams all in the second division. But I think expansion needs to be completed before it can happen.

    18-22 teams each in NASL and USL would be a perfect time to institute such a change.

    Gotta say I’m quite excited for the future of soccer in the U.S…A viable second and third division can only help on all fronts.

  17. josh says:

    Also, there has to be a mechanism that punishes teams that can only draw 500 people. Looking at you Dayton, LA, Charlotte and Pittsburg.

    Including the PDL would be an option, but much, much, much harder to implement considering many of those teams couldnt hang skillwise. Best bet is to just incorporate the top drawing teams of the PDL and NPSL in the expansion process and let it work itself out.

  18. Annelid Gustator says:

    Yep, that’s nuts. Regionalization is how lower tier leagues keep costs low.

  19. Rabid RBNY says:

    Nothing about MLS potentially buying out NASL and making it an official second tier league. Then having the second tier do the draft since it produces so little and so few teams care about it(unless you have a top 5 pick). I think the league would get much better if you had to prove yourself in a lower tier league before entering MLS. Whether you are a player or a franchise.

  20. jya says:

    What do you mean by vast difference? Looking at the rosters or coaches wouldn’t suggest such a massive difference. What specifically are USL teams doing that their quality is so much better?

  21. jya says:

    The USA is a long away from passing Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico. The MLS is more interested in preserving parity then creating a league that is the best outside of the top European leagues

  22. T says:

    So your saying the MLS should buy out NASL and turn it into the minor leagues? Not a bad idea. Then when the players show any promise call them into MLS training and have them play a few games.

  23. Duneman says:

    It was interesting to hear the Man U coach talk about soccer in the US. In England most teams can play an away game and still get back home for dinner. The size of the US means travel is huge (cost, time zones, etc). He described seeing MLS at some point having like 3 or 4 sections with a play off. If we dont have prom/reg it seems like having a huge map of teams with a more exciting play-off format could work each season….but regardless…especially for the lower levels it seems like proximity would be important. D2 teams in other leagues still have decent budget…but there is no way these teams in the US can afford to fly cross country for multiple games….even taking a bus from NY to Miami would be a pain. It seems like a good East/West format for D2 in the US would make sense. Proximity seems more important for a string 2 and 3 level league vs geographical representation. They wont be on TV….they just need to be strong so the development efforts are strong.

  24. Annelid Gustator says:

    This is a business, not a hobby: MLS is most interested in making money.

    That does include making the on-field product better, but that’s a long process when you have many franchises struggling to MAKE MONEY.

    One of the ways that the MLS powers that be think they can make more money is through enforced parity. Maybe they’re right, and maybe they’re wrong. Tough to say.

  25. Annelid Gustator says:

    Yeah, a fully national second and third tier league is a long ways off, if feasible at all.

  26. Annelid Gustator says:

    I like that. Now… who’s got the money?

  27. Dimidri says:

    Yeah, no good players in the draft outside the top 5, that Ryan Meara guy ON YOUR TEAM sucks.

  28. Wncsport says:

    Ives:

    You said MLS said expansion has to stop at some point. It’s NOT their call.

    FIFA MANDATES a 20-team cap to any nation’s top tier. So when the NASL Commissioner (who by the way, actually ran the nuts and bolts of our failed WC bid) talks his usual excuses to why we don’t have pro-rel, have a bit of perspective.

  29. Wncsport says:

    American greyhound racing has pro-rel. Every day. It’s a $1 billion a year industry. It works.

  30. Vic El Paso texas says:

    MLS needs MLS 2 and Nasl can be that

  31. jya says:

    I don’t disagree that is how MLS see’s it I was disagreeing with the notion that in a decade the MLS will be the top league outside of Europe. Given the current business model the MLS clearly won’t be it will still be behind leagues in South America and Mexico.

  32. wides says:

    I was under the impression that it wasn’t quite a mandate, and more of a recommendation based on wear and tear of players. Can you provide a source for your mandate ?

  33. Gnarls says:

    I’d be very interested to see NASL teams’ financials. Heck, I’d be interested to see MLS teams’ financials. Boggles the mind how some of these teams can fly 2000+ miles regularly and still make a buck.

  34. jonf says:

    haha,,, either u don’t know shittt about the game or USL team fan in disguise. they may have been a little lucky in US cup but USL is not a million yrs close to the NASL. Listen real close phony the NASL is very close to MLS. USL is very close to college soccer,,, plain and simple no auguement

  35. Eugene says:

    The Cosmos are exciting. I’m not so sure that the NASL is exciting. I think most people likely expect the Cosmos not to be playing in the NASL in a few years time.

  36. Charles says:

    Wrong, MLS will blow through 20 teams very quickly. So what then ? Go BACK to 20 teams. Demote teams that are making deemed able to make money ?

    Not gonna happen.

  37. Charles says:

    Hmm, yeah, you would never be able to sell the 18th pick of the 2010 draft pick for millions off dollars of the NY Red Bulls roster. Ever.

  38. Seriously? says:

    Why will there “have to be” promo/releg? Just because Europeans do it that way? The same reason why people say you have to use the term pitch, because Europeans use that term, well the Europeans who’s papers we can read do, even though it’s not a term exclusive to soccer, they just have a different term for field, like they do for a car’s hood and trunk, or a sidewalk or parking lot, or do we need to use their terms for such things as well when we’re going to soccer game, excuse me, football match?

    People try to say that MLS will not be legitimate or something until promo/releg happens, well, not legit to whom? Players? If you believe that, then I suppose you believe that Drogba only when to China because he’s always been so concerned about soccer becoming bigger in that country, many nights spent worrying about the sport there as he was plying his trade at Chelsea. Players from small countries don’t try to move to leagues in England, Spain, etc not because those small countries don’t have promo/releg, it’s because the money is better. When MLS starts paying Premier League wages, it will start attracting Premier League level players.

    Or will MLS also not be legit until only the same few teams are able to vie the championship year in and year out, as happens in Europe, something that seems to be the case in all leagues that use promo/releg?

    Or do people think that the reason why MLS isn’t bigger in this country is because the average sports/MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL/PGA/etc fan thinks leagues aren’t legit without that kind of set-up? If only the NBA would switch to that format, like European leagues, then it might really take off.

    I’m not against the concept, but nobody seems to have an actual reason why it’s needed other than ‘well, it’s what other countries with older, established leagues do, and their teams are better than ours’, ignoring the fact that that’s not how they set just soccer leagues, it’s how all leagues are set up. And if you listen to the power teams in Europe, you’d know that it’s more likely they’ll move the sport away from promo/relegation in the future. Promotion/relegation grew out of how the sports leagues grew over time, from local clubs and organizations, it wasn’t something granted by God that the US missed out on. This article gave a real reason why teams actually chose which level to go to, but people don’t want to hear real reasons, they want to just state how they think things should be, ignoring reality.

    Just please, give us a real reason why promotion/relegation “has to” happen, one that doesn’t involve personal preference.

  39. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    I’m one of those people who think the Cosmos time in NASL will be short. They want MLS, maybe before they leave, they can bring some publicity to NASL.

  40. Charles says:

    So Litchenstein and the US have the same mandate on the number of teams ?

    I am going to take the other side….MLS will blow through 20 teams very soon.

  41. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    In 10 year MLS will be a top ten league because of the business model. They still will have a salary cap. MlS is in the top 25 now, by 2020 they will be even better.

  42. ViC El Paso Texas says:

    -NASL and USL need to combine and make MLS2, and the reserve league should be MLS3.By NASL and USL combining powers, the untap cities in USA and Canada should be for MLS3 the reserve league, kind of like Triple A baseball does it. Then have MLS-1 through MLS-3 work together with players, scheduling, academies.
    -As for MLS, MLS should do this to leave behind the west and east conferences.This would make expansion interesting and fans would definitely love this. If the MLS does not want a NY Red Bull vs Cosmos or Timbers vs Sounders, then they must be smoking something.
    link to aftncanada.blogspot.com

  43. ViC El Paso Texas says:

    link to aftncanada.blogspot.com

    -read this,it shows how to get rid of the western and eastern conferences, NASL might do it when they reach 18 teams or 20.

    MLS can easily use 24 to 26 teams, it has to be an even number to keep the season even for teams and YES the USA can do it due to the countrys size.

    NASL and USL can easily have 15 to 20 teams but I would rather see them join powers for MLS2 and MLS3 make it a reserve league like Triple A baseball.

  44. RLW2020 says:

    I bet that women’s soccer has a better chance than women’s basketball..

    WNBA, and Olympic women’s hoops never will reach the level of women’s World Cup/Olympics.

  45. RLW2020 says:

    the reason why so many people want it is because it makes every game meaningful. Just watch a EPL game in April/May between 2 bottom feeders. They play like they are in the playoffs, because they are! Compare that to a Cubs vs. Rockies game or even TFC vs. Columbus game in September; they are playing for draft picks at that point…

    Its also the idea that your “small little club” from anywhere can rise the ranks and play with the big clubs if the dream comes true; which happens!

    Instead with our model your “small little club” will never be anything more than it is because they aren’t as great of business as some other team… i agree its better for business but you have to see why pro/rel brings out the heart and dreamers in fan bases across the world.

  46. RLW2020 says:

    great interview. I love the part about trying to make the games more competitive and inviting to MLS teams to loan players too.

    I don’t like the idea of making NASL/USL some sort of minor league affiliates to MLS but having more young players on loan to quality DIV2/3 sides will really help US Soccer.

    Also its crazy to see how Div II/III have lost all of their marquee teams in the past few years with MLS expansion but have only gotten stronger! Lose Portland, Seattle, Montreal, etc and create Orlando and San Antonio.. hope for more of the same in future!

  47. fish says:

    No, parity is so much better created that clubs that are doing poorly rarely do poorly for long. And what about when teams have already clinched there spot with points in the standings? Personally, I think do or die playoff games are as exciting as they come. Yes, it’s not as exciting when you know a team is already ruled out and the game is meaningless, but there are usually very few of those games, and the excitement of a playoff system makes up for it.

  48. jya says:

    The top leagues all have super clubs that can generate big TV revenues in foreign markets that allows them to either buy or develop top ten talent.

    MLS business model will at best allow a few DP’s here and there but the MLS will still be behind in academies and talent. The MLS won’t be much more then it currently is because its business model is a cautious one that doesn’t allow for radical change one way or the other.

    There is so much the MLS has to do to catch up to a league like Argentina its unrealistic to say in 10 years they will be there. If the MLS academies were developing in half the talent Argentinas are the 10 year outlook would be better but at the moment the MLS hasn’t developed a single Champions league player

  49. kevdflb says:

    If MLS can be viable, and profitable at 24, 26 or even 30 teams… and grow the game even more in the US, you won’t hear a peep from FIFA.

  50. Jake says:

    Thanks for a great long interview!

  51. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    You have markets like Newyork and LA that are huge sprot markets. I’m sorry but the business model of MLS is better, why, because it allow a clubs in 10 years the T.V money will be bigger and no country is more of a T.V market then MLS. You don’t even need foreign markets, because of the US being the capital of media. I see MLS importing talent more, like the EPL. The EPL buys more players then they dev. However the lower levels dev. players. This is why NASL geting bigger is important in 10 years, NASL will have academies, meaning more Americans being dev.

  52. jlm says:

    yes, this is the way to develop the third league. develop the second with new investors and expansion as it is now.

  53. Herb says:

    How about MLS buys two NASL expansion teams in potential MLS cities. Use these two league owned teams for the best reserve team players from across the league to develope. Play meaningful games with longer seasons and more minutes. Maybe the coaches could pick from the existing MLS reserve rosters like a draft to select the best 25 players each. Benefits: test new markets, offer meaningful games and more minutes to the best reservists for better and faster developement.

  54. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Not really the case–the size guideline (with FIFA, provided there is money to be made, all rules are more like guidelines) is about total games played.

    So if you don’t play a balanced schedule, there’s no reason to stop at 20.

  55. Seriously? says:

    Sorry, I forgot the “fewer meaningless end of season games” argument, which is one of conveniently choosing facts. It comes from seeing the bottom teams fighting off relegation, but ignores all the meaningless mid-table matches played by teams who aren’t really threatened by relegation, and have no chance at qualifying for a Europe/promotion playoff spot.

    Plus, you pick baseball, which traditionally has the smallest number of teams make the playoffs. I don’t really like having a large number of teams in the playoffs, but when you have more than baseball, it does create more meaningful games at the end of the season, as teams fight to make the playoffs, or get a better seed. And as MLS attendances rise, the home field advantage will only increase and become more desirable.

    As for the romance of the little team making it big, the reality of it is that generally the teams that make it to the top do so backed more by money of a rich owner rather than just on dreams. Unfancied Blackburn won the Premier League title not based on them building up a team on hard work with local player, but because home town Jack Walker backed them with cash to buy players. And it was early in the history of the new league, when it was far less expensive to do so. Then billionaire Al Fayed came along just a little later, wanting to do the same with Fulham, famously saying he was to creating a Man United of the south, until he found out just how that would cost, so now Fulham are happy being a mid-table regular, and things are only getting more expensive as time advance.

    Plus, there have been many other attempts to do so based on dreams of money when you make it big rather than money in the bank, but the dream money never quite materializes, and many of those clubs end up struggling to stay alive. This phenomenon has basically created a situation where such stories will be far more difficult, since they’re trying to stop the idea of a big money owner coming in and spending his own money, far beyond the means of the club, so we’ll also see less of it in the future.

    But this romance comes from the history of the league and the central place the sport has in the culture. The romance people chase in Europe already exists, in the US you’re saying if we do this, it will create romance – basically putting the cart before the horse. The reality is, MLS needs more money to become more legitimate, and the wealthy owners aren’t going to invest in a new league in the US if it’s partly based on the ephemeral idea of romance. I’m not pro business, I’m just trying to look at all the facts and use those to decide, not pick which model I like best and try to craft a way to back it up. The big money US owners didn’t get into the Premier League because of the romance, they did it because they thought they could make money. I’m not saying I like it, but that’s just how it is.

    US soccer fans dream of a pro league some day rivaling the NBA and NFL. Again, I’m not against the idea of promo/releg, and saying Europe should copy us, but their history is different. No big money owner is going to buy the Cowboys or Lakers if they’re in a league where they could end up doing a Sheffield Wednesday, a relatively large club that has disappeared from the top of the league for ages. That’s just reality, and the US league has to be based on reality.

  56. jya says:

    Except there won’t be a magic explosion in MLS tv ratings to bring in EPL talent within 10 years. At the moment the WNBA gets higher ratings then MLS games the MLS has a long way to go before its even a blip in Newark or LA markets simply making avalaible direct kick won’t generate the revenues that an EPL club brings in. The amount of competition MLS has in LA makes it impossible that it will break through not even the Kings winning the Stanley cup made much noise in LA yet the MLS will miraculously become a huge player in 10 years?

    The MLS might have a chance if it was to develop a super club but the MLS model won’t allow that so instead they have a Galaxy that can win an MLS cup and doesn’t even get a parade. Even if we are generous about the type of TV money the MLS makes in the USA it will still be below what Mexico pulls in. There is nothing but MLS fans hopes and wishes that points to the MLS being able to have EPL type cash given the current business model its design to avoid throwing around that type of money

  57. b says:

    Please don’t make things up and then try to pass them off as facts. FIFA does NOT cap leagues at 20 teams. And Garber has already said MLS will go over 20.

    The US is huge, my guess is MLS will get up to 30-40 teams. Every other major pro sports league in the US has 30-32 teams. 24 is the MINIMUM, but I think MLS will eventually blow through that number even if it stops there for a few years to let things settle.

  58. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    How do you know that? MLS ratings improve 40% so far this year. Also I’m not just talking about just League T.V revenue improving, but also big local sport market T.V revenue. Again the NFL doesn’t have a super club, do you know why it’s not needed. You need T.V revenue, with that MLS model is more able to give clubs their share, which they would be able to spend on players. You don’t need a super club, the US is a media market.You only need top markets, like LA,NY and others in the league.The reason a super club is needed in Euorpe, is because the model is different Also the NHL is not a huge player in, they are the fourth rank league and make 4 billion a year. Lets say MLS in 10 years past the NHL, well you have your answer. UEFA is one of the most popular events in the world. Yet only made 1 billion, The NFL with has no global fan base, made 12 billion. US is a media capital. Mexico will improve, but MLS is improving faster, I see a couple of leagues improving in the couple of years, C.Rica and Honduras. I think Concacaf in a few years will be an exciting champions league.

  59. jya says:

    Even with the improvement in this years TV ratings the MLS still isn’t pulling in the kind of numbers that will lead to the TV revenues you mention. Ratings equal ad money which equals TV revenue money so we know the MLS is no where close to getting EPL type money in the USA. Manchester United makes more TV revenue just in North America then any MLS club the MLS truly isn’t close to making EPL money.

    Of course if the MLS starts to make more money they will still need to gain prestige or they will be like the Russian, China or the Middle Eastern leagues that pay out a lot of money to a few mercenaries but can’t attract enough talent to really up the leagues level.

    The NFL doesn’t need a super club because gambling, fantasy sports, the super bowl and tradition will keep it the top sport. The MLS doesn’t have any of that going for them so they can’t be compared to the NFL model no one can not even baseball. The NHL is generating huge revenues because Canada is crazy for the sport and is over half the league. Canada’s good for MLS revenue but they will never be that good, the USA will still have to drive MLS revenue.

  60. wides says:

    Ummmm, you do realize that multiple women’s professional soccer leagues have come and gone and yet the WNBA is still here.

    WPS folded THIS year, even with all the advancement in the soccer culture in this country.

    And don’t confuse the national-team-based Olympics and World Cup every 4 years with the day to day and year to year operation of a professional league, especially one that is guaranteed to lose money. Last I checked, there weren’t a whole lot of money-making swimming events out there, but they sure are a big draw every 4 years.

  61. Tyler says:

    who would coach them? a league appointed coach?

  62. WildDrawFour says:

    I would like to see USL and NASL combine to form one strong second tier. Cities like San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Detroit would make good expansion candidates.

    Although the NASL commish doesn’t want it, semi-independent divisions would be the way to, financially and meteorologically. Most nations have a soccer pyramid structure that divides geographically at some level. Considering the size of the United States, Canada and the Caribbean and the popularity of soccer here, it would make more sense to divide the league in the second tier. That would allow the divisions to play in different seasons, keeping the players healthy and avoiding extreme heat and cold.

  63. Jess says:

    David Downs knows what he’s talking about. It’s refreshing to have at least one of our leagues with a commish that views soccer as the global game.

    I think by 2024 we could have promotion/relegation between the two leagues.

  64. Jess says:

    i think the 3rd division should divide into regional leagues. I’d prefer that NASL stick to a single table. One thing that turns me off about MLS is the conferences.

  65. Jess says:

    i’d rather see every MLS team have an U-23 side in the PDL.

    Lets leave MLS out of NASL and let NASL grow into a solid division 2.

  66. Jess says:

    triple A baseball? WTF? soccer is not baseball. What works around the world is division tied together through promotion and relegation. I would say we’re still a long way from that but that should be the goal.

  67. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    Majority of NHL revenue come from t.v contracts in the US and American companies. Also when looking at the revenue of the EPL, the EPL only makes 2 billion a year, 2 billion behind NHL revenue.So MLS could easily past that in 10 years. Lets say in 10 years MLS have 4 T.V deals just about 400 million and more company partners. You really lack the understanding of a media power, which the USA is. MLS will be one of the richest league in soccer, because of where we are.

  68. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    Also Local T.V deals will increase, I’m sorry I really think you have no clue what you are talking about.

  69. Jess says:

    b,

    not going to happen. Because if you go that high then you won’t be able to have promotion/relegation. Well it would just be much more difficult.

    We know how successful soccer nations structure their leagues. It’s promotion/relegation between divisions throughout the pyramid. Once NASL is built up with 20 teams with a majority of them with SSS then pro/rel can happen. This is probably 15 years away at least.

    But you’ll never see MLS getting to 30 or 40 teams. Hell, i doubt MLS goes higher than 22. It’s just not how the global game is played. MLS has learned the lesson what happens when you Americanize soccer : NO ONE WATCHES.

  70. bullsear says:

    Presumably it works because you get an owner with deep pockets who is willing to lose $2-5M per year for a decade.

    And you don’t take your whole team.

  71. Annelid Gustator says:

    Nobody cares about how the league is structured if the play is good. Only strange fetishists. Except for a very few places the top level leagues are huge cash-burners, and heavily indebted. MLS is trying to avoid that and run net profits for everyone–a model that works in America.

  72. yankiboy says:

    I disagree with yadaki and I disagree with you, too. I check out both. Been a season ticket holder for both. There’s not a big difference between the levels of play between NASL and USL. Any gap, if it exists is a very, very small one.

    So there’s an argument. Plain and simple.

  73. yankiboy says:

    Ok, so we are going to decide to embrace pro/rel, but we’re not going to base it on the on the field results, we going to base it on what takes place in the stands???

    Bro, you just tossed that out there to provoke some chatter, right?

  74. yankiboy says:

    What’s so exciting about the Cosmos? Would you plese elaborate a little on that assertion. Coz I’m clearly missing something.

    Thanks.

  75. yankiboy says:

    Bro, there’s too much bad blood, too much history–that just isn’t going to happen.

    They split for a reason. They’re not going to kiss and make up anytime soon. It was an ugly divorce that involved custody (franchise affiliation) battles.

  76. CÉU says:

    Hi all,

    Here in Brazil I find it very strange the way you guys talk about the football clubs. Here in my country football teams are born of recreational sports associations and Guilds of cities and neighborhoods.
    These associations and Guilds non-profit and has no owners. There is a sense of loyalty and pride of the local population with his club and is a mutual feeling. They already tried to create clubs like you guys do, like Sao Caetano, but had a short life. I think a sacrilege when you guys talk about getting a team of a city and takes it to another. I follow football in his country of great interest to see if he can win the complôr made ​​by other sports leagues such as NFL, NBA, MLB … etc. For people watching see the games in stadiums, I think you on the right track and I believe that the success of football in his country no longer has to be stopped.

  77. Rabid RBNY says:

    Tim Ream and Ryan Meara are two gems in an Everest size haystack. Remember Tony Tchani and Austin Da Luz that were taken ahead of Ream…they are still here and there is no sign of them getting sold any time soon. The stucture of the NCAA doesn’t support soccer the way it does every other sport. Our National development program is changing I think our professional development program needs to grow with it.

    RBNY has had far more productive academey products than draft picks(Altidore, Agudelo and now Connor Lade). Some people think that it’s just a matter of time until the league gets the money together. Perhaps this will all happen when the Cosmos join MLS.

  78. jya says:

    No you appear to be lost thinking MLS fans will just appear in large numbers. You sound as credible as the Chivas USA owner that thinks just because LA is a huge media market the fans will come and the money will be there. How did that turn out for the Chivas? This isn’t field of dreams you still need something to draw in fans.

    Local TV generally doesn’t cover MLS scores but sure they will start forking over lots of money next year for MLS games.

    In order for your scenario to happen the USA will have to import a lot of top level players something that isn’t happening now. The MLS will also have to grow at a very rapid rate in terms of TV viewership something that is still not happening since WNBA games still pull in more viewers. At this point a WNBA fan saying they will be at the NHL’s revenue levels is more credible.

    Somehow you have convinced yourself that the Galaxy will go from being so irrelevant in LA that they don’t get any attention for their MLS cup to generating the type of revenues the Kings make.

  79. jya says:

    Even Bocanegra isn’t thinking about heading to the MLS now that Rangers has fallen apart. However a mass flood of EPL talent is on its way for the MLS? The EPL level of play didn’t get stronger just by importing players they did develop talent in academies that are well beyond anything in the USA at the moment. In order to import top talent you need to be able to develop top talent if your domestic players aren’t EPL level you won’t attract to many EPL level players its the way it is in this sport

  80. jya says:

    The most recent IFFHS ranking has the MLS at 55 I doubt its that low but the fact that it is so far away from 25 makes me believe you are being very generous with that statement

  81. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    First, MLS is not a 55 rank league, second You keep mention large numbers, MLS is already adverging almost 19,000 fans a game, that ranks top 10 in the world.Don’t believe me look it up. Again looking at the past couple of years, I see MLS being 10 times better then now. Bocanegra, is thinking about MLS, you know how I know, because he was at sporting kansas city game and said so in an interview. EPL got stronger by importing players, they hardly dev. players. The dev. of players happens in the lower levels and not the EPL. I live in NY and MSG always has NYRB commercials on, and they get high ratings. Again the EPL only makes 2 Billion a year, that is nothing to what the MLS will make in 10 years.Wayne Rooney is the best player of British decent in the EPL, the rest are imports.

  82. Jess says:

    Annelid,

    not true. A large % of soccer fans in the U.S do not watch MLS because it is too Americanized. Globalization has changed things. US soccer fans are being socialized into the game not by MLS but through a global narrative. They see MLS and see it is not like how the game is structured everywhere else.

    the strange fetishist is the MLS homer that wants our soccer league to be structured like the NFL.

  83. Don says:

    American soccer fans are being socialized into soccer through a global-centric view of the sport. Not an American-cenric view. Asking why we should have pro/rel is not the question. The right question is “can we do it?” and if we can do it then we have to. We live in a globalized world and more and more soccer fans (who watch euro leagues far more than MLS) see the pro/rel structure as exciting. It is the global game and this is how the global game is structured. The global game is not structured like an American sports league. So if we can manage to get pro/rel between leagues we have to try.

    I think its a ways off though. You would need a D2 with a majority of teams with MLS style SSS so relegated teams dropped down into a strong league. So i don’t buy the idea that pro/rel can happen soon. It’s 10-15 years away.

  84. jya says:

    I saw the same KC interview its why I brought him up in it he said he wasn’t sure now is the time to move to MLS and he is an American its going to be that much harder to convince non American elite players the MLS isn’t a retirement league. Brazil and Mexico are importing more impressive players at moment then the MLS. The MLS is importing journeymen and guys at the tale end of their career.

    Stadium attendance isn’t were the money is especially when its 19,000 fans. The money in soccer is in TV rights and, sponsorship’s.

    The EPL does still develop Champions league level talent Lampard Walcott, Gerrard, Hart, Terry, Wilshere are champions league level players developed in the EPL. The MLS isn’t at that level yet and won’t be anytime soon. There has never been a league that has become strong just on imports alone I am not sure how old you are but that is not how the EPL became what it currently is there are still a lot of domestic players that can handle that level of play. Do you know who Leeds and Nottingham Forrest are and what they achieved? The EPL didn’t become an elite league because they imported their way to the top I am not sure where you came up with that

    One thing you seem to miss is teams like Man City are importing because their owners don’t have the restrictions MLS owners have. In order for the import boom to happen those restrictions need to be taken away and they won’t be even in 10 years. At best the MLS model will allow it to become like Germany a solid league but not import crazy

  85. Jess says:

    ceu,

    we could have gone the more organic route but it would have taken 50 years to go from local club to building a soccer culture to getting a D1 sanctioned league established. And even then the stadiums would have to come from somewhere. Brazil didn’t need investors to come along and create a league. You already have 80 years of culture in place.

  86. Annelid Gustator says:

    So, what evidence do we have that MLS isn’t wathched because it’s too “Americanized”? I’d have to see some evidence.

    What I hear fans talk about is the gameplay, their favorite players (and their goats!), their favorite teams (and their enemies!). Those things are just barely impacted by leagues structure–not no impact, just very small.

    Consider Mexico. Strange division of the calendar with two “championships” per year (similar to Argentina), with strange playoffs.

    Turns out that’s not how things are done in most Eurpean countries. Oh! Except where it is.

    Belgium has a mini post-season, too.
    Denmark doesn’t play a balanced schedule. Ukraine breaks a top-two tied finish with a golden game.
    Russia is moving to an extremely odd structure.

    A country’s leagues need to be structured in a way that makes the most sense for that place and time.

    Powers that be in MLS think that their track is sustainable (modeled by other sports in the US) and likely to grow the sport here (any financed business, which these are, in a real way is predicated on market growth). Fact is, the current setup is what happened when people put their monies where their mouths were. That speaks volumes to me.

    I still think we have things to learn from how other countries do things, but this place is not England, France, or Germany. It’s also not Mexico, Brazil, or Argentina. Like everything else in America the thing we center on will be odd and syncretic and most of all, profit-driven.

    HOPEFULLY, it’ll also be beautiful and exciting.

  87. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    Again you are talking about restrictions, I’m talking about 10 years from now, things in the league will be different. How do I know this, because MLS always changes it rules every year. So in 10 years it will be the same.Boca said he didn’t know, because of the situation at Rangers, not because of MLS. Leeds and Nottingham Forrest WERE YEARS AGO, and the EPL wasn’t formed till the 1990’s, this was the beginning of the EPL today, in which they import more talent then they dev. This can be seen on the national team. Many of England players are okay, however many of them are not elite players. Brazil is a good league, never said it wasn’t, however Brazil does not even come close to the 2B dollar rang and never will. There is a wide gap between the high and lower class of brazil, even though they are a growing economy. Mexico imports south American talent, however will have trouble with European players because of the drug wars in Mexico. MLS is a dev. country, and a media market. I’m not saying it will past the EPL, I’m saying it would be very close and will be the beginning of the MLS era.

  88. Seriously? says:

    I’d say the right question is “can we convince the owners of teams to choose to go from a single league, to risking that their huge investment could go down to a lower league”. This is why I mentioned earlier that owners (and I’m not talking about the American ones) in leagues where promo/releg is part of the sports culture would stop it if given the chance. Do you honestly think that the MLS owners would choose to do this?

    Also, the American soccer fans who are familiar and dying for promo/relegation is still a tiny portion of general sports fans in the country. Most Americans would find the idea very strange.

    Lastly, again we have this thing about how we “have to” try it, and this time the reason is because it’s how the rest of the world organizes their sports leagues. The American sports league model is hardly an unsuccessful one, and it could easily be argued that promo/releg causes more instability among teams. The lack of promo/releg is not what’s keeping MLS from growing to NFL/NBA proportions, and going to that format wouldn’t cause the league to take off. As I said, there aren’t more meaningful games, it wouldn’t have the same romance here it has over there.

    Again, I just want a reasoned argument that would appeal to the people with money behind the league, to give them a reason to change. The “well, everybody else is doing it” argument never worked with anybody’s mom, and it wouldn’t work for people with real money on the line.

  89. Jess says:

    the evidence is the television ratings. For MLS they are woeful. Just two years the MLS Cup final got beat by women’s volleyball in the ratings. Meanwhile the TV ratings for European football are way up. EPL games are starting to be shown on network TV.

    globalization has changed how individuals become socialized into a sport. The American soccer fan is being socialized into soccer through a global-narrative not an American-centric one.

    so its not surprising that there is a very large % of American soccer fans that do not watch MLS. It goes against how they see the global game.

    to say that nobody cares about how a league is structured is just silliness. How a league is structured is the most important variable in this equation.

    do you consider soccer to be a global game or not?

  90. Annelid Gustator says:

    Also, sorry for the “fetishist” remark. I just get frustrated by people trying to shoehorn one particular Euro model into the US. Our landscape is just plain different.

  91. jya says:

    Garber isn’t going to get rid of financial restrictions as he is still adding expanding teams that would be a huge mistake. As far as your importing the way to the top I’ll believe that when I see it but anyone that knows anything about English football knows that isn’t what happened in England. The EPL may have started in the 90’s but that isn’t when England first gained its prestige as a league

  92. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    Garber is going to up the salary cap at one point, The restrictions will be lessen, he said it himself in an interview. England became the best when they started to import talent and if England dev. their players, why don’t they have a creative central Mid? The result of their national team failure, is because of the EPL, Importanting talent rather then dev. it. I bet you in 10 years the league will look different and will feel different.

  93. jya says:

    Yeah Liverpool, Villa, Leeds and Forrest never won European titles that just magically started when foreign players started coming in. Wilshere, Gerard and Lampard are among the elite CM in the world you make no sense Suddenly starting in Chelsea and Arsenal champions league games means nothing because England’s national team sucks? Obviously Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy are ahead of England in terms of player development that isn’t the same thing as saying the EPL doesn’t develop talent.

    Garber will probably change the financial restrictions at some point but it won’t be done as the league is expanding he is smart enough to know you don’t do both at once. Your dreams about the MLS will have to wait until that is done

  94. Annelid Gustator says:

    That was not responsive to my question. The level of play is significantly higher on average in the EPL than MLS. They have “incumbency” bias–I had EPL on cable in 1993, before MLS existed. They have bona fide global stars on the plurality of EPL teams, whereas we have 2.

    You’ve provided no evidence that people are or are not watching because it’s single table or not. You’ve provided no evidence that people are or are not watching because they have pro/rel. You’ve provided no evidence that people are or are not watching because they don’t have a “playoff”. You’ve provided no evidence that people are or are not watching because they are or are not on the FIFA calendar.

    Also, are you both “Jess” and “Don”? Because “socialized into [a sport]” is a very strange construction…

  95. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    Wilshere, Gerard and Lampard are good players, but compare that with germany, spain, italy,brazil and spain you find they are adverge.

  96. jya says:

    Compared to the national team players from those countries they are average compared to a random player on a mid table team from those countries they are elite.

    Any player that starts for a team in the knockout rounds of the Champions league is elite and anyone that disputes that point doesn’t know anything about this sport

  97. BEASTOFNEWYORK says:

    I’m sorry but can Wilshere, Gerard and Lampard get a game on any of those teams roster I mention, No. They are good players,never they wasn’t, but not elite. Elite are players like Xavi.

  98. jya says:

    I said the national team players on those teams like Xavi were better but we were talking about leagues. If you are rated among the top CM’s in the world and all Champions league knockout players are then you are by definition elite. Your definition of elite seems fairly arbitrary players like Lampard have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or. You seem so bent on saying the EPL doesn’t develop players you are completely divorced of reality

  99. Céu says:

    You are right.

  100. Jess says:

    there’s only anecdotal evidence and unscientific surveys. But the reality is that it is a globalized world and the US soccer fan views the sport through a global narrative. Not an American-centric one.

    everyone i talk to who is a soccer fan that refuses to watch MLS says this. That MLS is too Americanized.

  101. Annelid Gustator says:

    Do you know who does use actual evidence? Rigorously conducted surveys, focus groups, and calibrated viewership data? Folks at MLS and SUM. And they disagree, as evinced by their actions.

    Do you not get that they’re taking actions designed to grow their business? Exactly what business do you think that is?

  102. Annelid Gustator says:

    Actually “organically” is exactly how our sports developed over the late 19th and early 20th century.

    The subsequent professionalization and nationaliztion of our sports changed that, and soccer withered a bit here.

  103. CÉU says:

    You are right.