Garber talks Beckham, New York expansion and more in state-of-the-league address

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

It is no secret that MLS is continuously growing as a league, but if you needed any reminder, Don Garber likely provided it on Monday.

Five days before the MLS Cup final is to be played, Garber held his state-of-the-league address to discuss a wide variety of matters with reporters. The near 90-minute conference call was a record long for MLS, and in it Garber touched on hot topics like David Beckham’s impending departure, MLS expansion and the uncertainty surrounding Landon Donovan’s future.

Beckham leaving the league after six seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy was one of the first things Garber spoke at length about, saying that the star’s arrival was key in helping MLS mature and that another player similar to him will join the league in the future.

“We needed David Beckham in 2007 to help drive our credibility, to help grow our popularity and to show the world, really, that the United States was ready to support a division one league at the levels that it could be supported around the world,” said Garber. “We don’t need anything today to get us to the next level. It’s a wide variety of initiatives, from player development to continued investment in our overall player player pool to better and more focused marketing to smart expansion to a transformation into a digital world where games are even more available than they are today, etc.

“I believe moving forward there will be another player that will surprise the soccer world like David surprised the world when he agreed to come to Major League Soccer. I don’t know who that player will be, but it will probably be one of the great players that’s playing in Europe today.”

Asked about the option in Beckham’s MLS contract that will allow the midfielder to purchase a future expansion franchise, Garber said that Beckham can transfer that option into an opportunity to join the Galaxy’s ownership group. The only thing Beckham cannot do with it is buy into a New York team.

“Anything’s a possibility other than his right to exercise that option in New York. To show you how important New York expansion is, we’re going to sidetrack here: Major League Soccer has been looking at the possibility of expanding in New York since the league was founded in 1996.

“There was a concept of having two teams in the league way back then. We knew when we were speaking to David that eventually we would have an opportunity in New York, regardless of the role that David played in helping grow the popularity of the league.”

Still, MLS remains focused on making its next expansion team a New York-based side that will play in Queens in a soccer-specific stadium by 2016.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen to finalize our agreement with New York City over our use of the land and our ability to lease that land to build a stadium,” said Garber. “I do believe that we will resolve that shortly. I can’t put any timetable on that, but we are at the finish line.

“Once we are there, we have to go to a formal approval process that all developers have to go through in New York City. That will take some time. We need to reach an agreement with the city, the local community and the state of New York on replacing the land that we would be using for the stadium approximately 10 acres of land.”

Garber also touched on the stadium situations of D.C. United and the New England Revolution, two of the league’s older franchises who are seeking new homes to play in. Garber started by showing optimism in United’s search for a soccer-specific stadium, saying that the new owners’ deeper pockets were part of the reason why there’s ‘new momentum’ on that front in the nation’s capital.

“There seems to be a more focused approach with [United co-owner] Jason Levien and the local government, but also with local developers who have access to land,” said Garber. “Both Mark Abbott and I have been in discussions over the last week with the holder of that land.

“I think Jason and his partner, Erick Thohir, along with Will [Chang's] continued involvement have the capacity to put more private equity into a deal. That makes the opportunity far more viable during these economic times.”

Things are not looking as rosy for the Revolution and their owners, the Kraft family. The Revolution are hoping to build a soccer-specific stadium in the downtown Boston area, but not much progress has been made in that aspect.

In fact, the Revolution are looking for some help in order to try and get a stadium deal done.

“We are looking for public support up in that area just because of just the cost of developing a project there,” said Garber. “They were here in the office two weeks ago giving us an update, and it’s fair to say that though there’s nothing new to report, the family is still very focused on it.”

One other subject Garber touched on was the status of Donovan, who is uncertain as to whether he will continue his professional career following Saturday’s MLS Cup final. Donovan has admitted in recent months that he has lost some of the passion for the game after spending so many years playing and promoting soccer in the United States.

“I hope to spend a little time with Landon,” said Garber. “I don’t think anybody who loves this game and is connected to U.S. Soccer or Major League Soccer doesn’t fully appreciate what contributions Landon has had on our sport in this country. He’s arguably the best player in U.S. Soccer history.

“He started as a teenager and has spent his entire life committed to the sport. I sympathize with what he is experience in trying to soul search figure what his future might hold, on and off the field. I think unfortunately for Landon, even more so than the [Michael] Jordans and [Wayne] Gretzkys of the world or [Lionel]Messis, frankly, is that he not only had to be a great player. But he also had to carry a lot of the promotional burden of growing the sport for a decade or more on his shoulders. He played during the day and had to promote it at night, and that’s tiring.

“I hope he can continue to help grow the league and the sport here and I want to do everything I can personally to help him figure out a right way to be able to do that.”

Other notes from the call:

  • The 2013 MLS season will begin on March 2 for its earliest start ever and the regular season and playoff formats will remain as they were in 2012.
  • It is unlikely that there is an increase number of Designated Players allowed per team in the near future.
  • Developing young talent continues to be a top priority for the league and Garber said MLS currently spends approximately ‘$20 million a year’ on that front.
  • MLS continues to be intrigued by the Miami market and think it is evolving, though it still needs to grow further before a team can return there.
  • MLS will continue to monitor the progress of Orlando City and if the club can finalize a stadium plan, the league would be ‘very interested in working with them on an MLS team.’
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142 Responses to Garber talks Beckham, New York expansion and more in state-of-the-league address

  1. Andy says:

    “It is unlikely that there is an increase number of Designated Players allowed per team in the near future.”

    Well, at least until LA wants a couple more.

  2. Juan Manuel Artega (Toronto FC Fan) says:

    Donovan needs to stop being a little b*%@$.

    This “feelings” is all based off seeing the treatment/attention/glory that Beckham is getting for his impact on the MLS, and who could deny that it is warranted.

    Donovan is feeling like “well what about me, I’m the american poster boy for soccer, I’ve been here longer, I was the first dp, I won more titles than him”

    Female trait: “Getting jealous of another girls things”

    Everyone respect you, and I don’t think anyone could forget him.

    Garber wants to talk to him to sit done and stroke his ego, probably offer him a role, more money, whatever he wants.

    AFO

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      We have a winner for most ridiculous, ill informed post of the year.

      • Marden08 says:

        I could not have said it better than Tony in quakesland

      • Jeff Fulton says:

        +100. The guy is tired. He’ll come around and play again. This is the first year that he has ever really had any injuries and you can tell that mentally and physically he is completely drained. He needs the next 4 months off completely. He’ll be back with the Galaxy though, I just don’t see him playing in any WC Qualifying matches until the 2nd 1/2 of the HEX when he will be needed.

    • Edwin in LA says:

      Donovan mentioned retirement way before last week’s announcement of Beckham playing his last game as a Galaxy player

    • rick says:

      You have no idea what you are talking about. I have watched every single game he has played for the USA National Team and have been a season ticket holder to the Galaxy for years, and I have never had the sense that he wants more attention. If anything he has always pointed out his teammates and has never ever been a ball hog on the field.

      • rick says:

        BTW, my comment was meant for Juan.

        • Edwin in LA says:

          No worries. If you noticed the way the site indents or tabs over for replies you can see both you and Tony in Quakeland are aligned with me in how crazy that comment from Juan was, but hey TFC’s front office will do that to you lol

        • Charles says:

          yeah, like no one could figure out it was for Juan.

          People need to quit the Donovan ripping, it is just stupid.
          He is vying for more money and has personal problems just like we all do. No big deal.

    • Gnarls says:

      This is the more ignorant post I’ve read on SBI in a ages. You’re not doing your fellow TFC fans any favors.

  3. Mysterious J says:

    Sporting KC fans would like an increase in designated players…from zero to one!

  4. Andrew says:

    Adding a second MLS team in NY is a great idea, right?

    Let’s see here…..
    They had one of the highest average attendances in the MLS.
    They had great fan support and sold out all of their games in the regular season.
    There was no where to put all the extra fans since every game was sold out.
    They had sell-out crowds at their play-off games.

    Wait, that’s not right. None of that happened….

    I agree New York is a big market, but if that one team cannot capture they city’s heart then I don’t think adding a second squad will make a difference. MLS should expand into areas they do not have teams if they want to maximize their TV footprint and revenue.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Those would all be fair points if the Red Bulls actually played in New York City. They don’t. They play in New Jersey. You might want to spend a day commuting from Red Bull Arena to the proposed site of the NY2 stadium project, either by public transport OR car, and maybe then you’d understand why those of us who live here understand that while the locations are close in terms of pure map distance, the locations are pretty much in two different worlds. That may not be easy to understand up in Vermont, but that’s the reality down here.

      A team in New York proper, run by ownership that actually know what they’re doing, would be a HUGE bonus for MLS. Just because the Red Bulls have been run by people who didn’t have a clue doesn’t mean that a second team in the market couldn’t succeed, particularly in Queens, where the Red Bulls/MetroStars never really made inroads.

      • Darwin says:

        In that case, Dallas needs a new team too.

      • fischy says:

        The question, for me, is not whether the NY team will be a success. It will be. The question is whether the team in Harrison will survive. I’m not sure.

        • Rory says:

          Everyone seems to think that the new team in NY will be ran “right.” I’m not sure what makes anyone assume that will happen. They could just as easily be another TFC front office.
          If NYC2 is ran “right” then wouldn’t they put a significant dent in RBNY? RBNY have made some stupid calls, but should the league go out of their way to hurt a longer term owner/investor (long term compared to whoever shows up and pays for NY2). Is this a sign to the other owners in the league that you better do things “right” or suffer the consequences? Why would I want to own a team in a league that might just split my population to draw from in half by adding a second team?
          While we are on the concept of teams ran “right,” I know Chivas USA gets kicked around a lot but their front office used to do a lot of “right” things… the shirts of their back promo, making players availible for media (way more Chivas players dropping by the old Fox Football Fone in than Galaxy players), a front office that answers requests by fans for autographs and stuff like that. Maybe they are doomed by the odd name/connection to one Mexican club that is a major hurdle to other Mexican fans, etc, but even front offices that run the club “right” aren’t a sure-fire success.

      • Jeff Fulton says:

        A downtown stadium in one of the Burroughs would be a HUGE success. All of the English EX-pats and American soccer fans (as well all everyone else who loves the game) would flock to the grounds on game-day. New Jersey is just a joke to anyone who lives in the city. I know it’s just a train ride away, but that’s like saying there are “no teams in London, so go support Leicester City, it’s just a train ride away”.

        • Rory says:

          Not a New Yorker and have only been to the Times Square part of NYC, but I am asking this seriously..
          If I lived in a borough far away from Queens, is it that much more difficult to get to the stadium in NJ than it will be to get to Queens? Do you have to switch trains a few times or something on the way to RBNY?

          • Adam M. says:

            Rory, the answer is not really. In general getting to NJ will be easier for those in Manhattan who live near a Path station, but the trip from everywhere else should be about equal (a few train switches possibly) or eaiser (and less expensive if driving) to Queens. Queens is obviously easier from Long Island and the North because of the Whitestone Bridge, and would be eaiser to drive to from Brooklyn.

        • Scott A says:

          Comparing Manhattan->Harrison to London->Leicester City=Wow. It’s a 20 minute train ride.

        • Joamiq says:

          I don’t think the plan is for NYC2 to be downtown though. If it’s out in Flushing then it’s just as hard for some to get to as Harrison is for others. Both Flushing and Harrison are easy or tough from the city depending on what subway lines you’re close to. That’s pretty much all there is to it. When I lived in the city, Harrison was a breeze but Flushing was an hour and a half easy.

      • Vic says:

        Any idea on what percentage of Red Bull fans come from Manhattan? I agree no one is going to go from New Jersey to Queens. However, Manhattan is about 45 minutes to Queens or Harrison with public transportation.

    • Tyler Kitchens says:

      You know you done f***ed up right? *Detective from Menace II Society voice*

      • Neal says:

        Awesome!
        Glad to see I’m not the only one.
        I drop that reference on occasion, but no response (*cue the crickets…)

    • Lorenzo says:

      I’ve lived in Ohio and New York City.

      There needs to be another team, and it needs to be there in Queens. 2 Million people live east of Shea Stadium/Cit Field in Long Island alone. Amish buggys could make it from Canton to Akron easier then Long Island to New Jersey. You may argue that the timing is not right for NYC expansion, but you cannot argue that the NY/NJ area does not NEED two teams. Not could support- but NEED. I’ve lived and played in NYC, and if you think NY Red Bulls could handle the organization and development of soccer and young players in NY, you are out of your mind. Just as there should be 2 teams in Los Angeles.

      The one point AGAINST another team in NY/NJ that NO ONE TALKS ABOUT is this: Yes, there are millions of immigrants and millions of soccer loving people in NYC. Probably the highest density of them in the United States at least. But so many of them come having attachments to foreign teams. Santos, Chivas, America, Milan, Millionares, River Plate, and so on. I am not saying you can’t get these folks to join in. But it is going to be a challenge. Just like it is to get immigrants to root for the USA when they already have a strong connection to some home land. I tell them they should root for both, but it doesn’t happen often.

      • Lorenzo says:

        For example my in-laws are fans of Benfica and Porto. They root for that team week in and out. My brother in law in Brooklyn follows Lazio just the same. They may check on the Red Bulls, but they aren’t “fans”. Perhaps a second team- one that is in the city- will help, and mostly help with coverage. I think a derby twice a year will definitely help.

        I definitely think NYC should get a team in the city (and on the subway line) will help. I think I made it to more Mets games then Red Bull games (and I am a way bigger soccer fan). It will help, but something needs to happen to help get passionate soccer people to jump on board with the MLS teams.

        I think there is a real chance Cristiano Ronaldo will come in 5-6 years, to NY, which would help. He would be huge, almost as huge as Messi. But Messi strikes me as the kind of guy who will go home to Argentina and raise little kids.

        • WK says:

          thats much the same problem San Jose has had. Soccer City has something like 100,000+ adult soccer players in leagues across silicon valley and the peninsula, but a lot of those folks support their old ‘hometown’ clubs or the club of their parents.

          A winning team this year and a new stadium on the horizon has certainly helped.

    • fischy says:

      Boy, that gets so tired.

      How many times does some bozo post some comment about how the Red Bulls struggle to draw, and then someone who actually has a modicum of perspective and understanding and doesn’t get off on hating on NY, has to point out that Newark, NJ isn’t the NY market. The New Jersey Devils aren’t exactly in competition with the NY Rangers for the same fan base. Why would it be different in soccer, especially when we’re looking at a Queens stadium, even farther from NJ than Manhattan (where the Rangers are located) is?

      • DK says:

        While I agree completely with your point, I do have one question: why did it seem like a good idea just a couple years ago for the Red Bulls to invest millions upon millions on the new arena in N.J.? Are we now saying that, with 2 years hindsight, that was not the right decision? I remember everyone being excited about Red Bull Arena and the public transit connection — are we now admitting that that idea was doomed to failure and Red Bulls will never draw sellouts?

        • fischy says:

          It was an improvement on the Meadowlands, but it would have been much better to move into NY, instead of moving farther out.

          • Rory says:

            And will we be spending our afternoon five years from now talking about how Flushing Meadows wasn’t as good a spot as ______________ (insert whichever borough is closer to the commentor)?

            Probably.

        • Adam M. says:

          I think it was the right decision. The stadium probably wouldn’t have been built anywhere else at the time. The planned revamp of the PATH station will help. I think the main downside is the area. There was supposed to be a major commerical/residential development fronting the stadium that fell through when the economy tanked, but there does seem to be some progress in the area. As the area improves, the stadium will seem less like an island in the middle of nothing and will make the experience of going better.

          • Rory says:

            Nearly all of these commercial/residential development deals have been disasters… ask the Rapids and FC Dallas owners about building the stadium before the rest of the area is built up. Sporting KC moved into a nice one that was already growing but then again it is easy as can be to get around in KC thanks to well layed out interstates criss-crossing and circling the city as well as less traffic.
            Even when the economy snaps out of this (if it does), there’s no garantee the development money isn’t going to be spent buying up abandoned/low valued downtown spaces and rebuilding them.

            • PD says:

              If this team was winning championchips travel to the stadium would not be an issue. Trophies will create sellouts.

      • Scott A says:

        I guess the Cosmos weren’t in the NY market either? Visualize an eye roll.

        • fischy says:

          Different time, different circumstances. The Cosmos — originally an actual NY team — were a real happening…for a few years. The MetroStars/Red Bulls were never that. Maybe, if Henry or a player of his caliber and fame came sooner. Or not.

          Would there be some overlap — some loss of fans to the Queens team? Yes. Did some people who used to go to/watch Orioles games stop and start going to/watch Nationals games starting in ’05? Yes. I’m one. Coming to the DC area in the summer of ’97, I went to (at most) a couple of Os games each year, but was not an avid fan. When a team came to DC, I went to 3, 4 or 5 times as many games (or more) and followed every game.

          A Queens team will get some Manhattan fans, but most will be from Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island and Westchester County — for whom Newark is a loooooong ride or drive….and a Queens team would have struggled to pull fans from NJ.

          • Eddie says:

            Yes, indeed. As a Brooklyn resident and former Metro/RBNY season ticketholder I can tell you that one of the primary reasons I stopped going was the absurd amount of time and transportation issues associated with making that trip every match (then to be told by management they needed to dramatically increase the price of tickets to ensure people show up more often. Wait. What?). While Flushing, Queens may seem just as far mileage-wise, one transit system direct from my neighborhood to a stadium would make a massive difference.

            People who don’t live here just don’t understand that.

            • Scott A says:

              I live here and it’s a great location. The fact is, NYC is a massive metro area and we can have multiple teams, each one better for different people. To claim, however, that RBNY isn’t a NY team, and this new fantasy team would be, is BS.

              • Ives Galarcep says:

                How is it BS? The RBNY fan base is predominately Jersey-based. That’s not a myth. That is fact, and it’s born out of years of the MetroStars cultivating a New Jersey fan base and largely ignoring NYC. That approach cost the club a foothold in NYC but it did keep the market largely wide open for a new team. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some RBNY fans in NY. Of course there are, but the percentage of actual MLS fans to potential MLS fans in that area is microscopic. It really is a mostly untapped market.

              • Scott A says:

                NJ is part of the NYC metro area, just as Queens, the Bronx, and other parts are. The biggest drawing team in NYC soccer history, the Cosmos, had just about as high a proportion of NJ fans as RBNY does. Nothing wrong with that…NJ loves soccer and is a hotbed. Of course NYC can handle another team some day; it’s a massive place. That fact doesn’t make it a non-NYC team and a new team a NYC team.

              • Ives Galarcep says:

                Can’t really compare the Cosmos to anything happening in MLS. Wasn’t tough to get people to travel from far and wide to see a team with some of the biggest stars in the world. Safe to say Met Life Stadium could sell out of you had Messi on the Red Bulls alongside guys like Drogba and Buffon.

              • Scott A says:

                So your point is that big stars sell tickets? That’s not a revelation. I’m disputing that RBNY is not a NY team. Are you saying that the original Cosmos were not a NY team? Even with the debatable idea that the Cosmos had better stars in their prime than RBNY, are you arguing that having a few big stars makes a North Jersey team a NY team, and if they weren’t present, they’d be a Jersey team?

    • Old School says:

      Brilliant post. No sarcasm.

  5. jaime says:

    its a real shame red bull arena is always empty

    • Mark F says:

      2012 RBA Attendance by day of week:

      Saturdays (8 matches): 19,881
      Sundays (4 matches): 21.167
      Wednesdays (4 matches): 12,834
      Fridays (2 matches): 17,572

      Overall: 18,281
      Overall without Wednesdays: 19,958

  6. Brain Guy says:

    “Dear MetroStars/Red Bulls Fans:

    “Thanks for supporting the team for so many years, even in the concrete mausoleum in the swamp. Thanks for putting up with missteps and mistakes. Thanks for seeing us finally get a decent stadium for you. But, well, see, l got this great new opportunity to NYC. No track record, of course, and no ownership group. Or money. Or stadium. But my people tell me it will be for the best. And they promise me that it will be good for you, too. Even if it does take away half of your potential market. And even if it will still take almost as long for most of the NY metro area to get to a stadium in Queens. And even if it might just deal a crippling blow to your team, and to you, its fans. Sorry — nah, what am I saying? I’m not sorry. It’s just business.

    “Signed, Dan Garber”

    • ed - houston says:

      LOL very thoughtful. i was at first against a second team in the NYC area but it has grown on me, especially if the stadium can be built in the flushing area as proposed. i do see many fans leaving NYRB to support the cosmos if it ever materializes.

  7. TimmyU says:

    I’m still hung up on this idea of “NY20″ or NY2016 slowing the roll of MLS into the southeast. If Atlanta and Orlando are viable options for 2015 (for example) is MLS going to make them wait so New York can launch first?

    • matt says:

      While it’s nice for geographic symmetry, imo teams in Florida should not be thought of as “Southeast.” I’ve lived in both Carolinas, and in both cases it would be shorter for me to drive to DC, Columbus, or Philly than Miami. Orlando would be closer than Philly, but that’s it. Moreover, Florida isn’t really culturally southern, for what that’s worth. I think in order to tap into the southeast market the team needs to be in Atlanta or maybe Charlotte, and I realize neither of those cities is likely to have a team any time soon. If it was done though, it would be conceivable to win the loyalty of a vast audience. Virtually the entire southeast (who care about baseball) are Braves fans b/c they were the only MLB team on TV in the area for such a long time, and remain the only MLB team in the southeast.

      • Darwin says:

        “Florida isn’t really culturally southern…”
        Florida is the redneck Riviera, the farther north you go, the further south you get.

        Ever been to the panhandle?

        • matt says:

          No I have not, so I guess you can amend my comment to be Orlando/Miami are not culturally southern. Obviously that’s a huge generalization to begin with, but I just think that a city like Atlanta would more easily generate loyalty from wide swaths of the Southeast than any team in Florida could. And from a geographic standpoint, potential markets in Florida are farther from much of the southeast than many existing franchises.

        • thepoorwayfarer says:

          I live outside of Atlanta. While the panhandle might be considered “culturally Southern”, Orlando and Miami are not. There are two Floridas, really. That being said, as much as I’d love to see Atlanta get a team, I know full well what an awful sports town we are. Our local NASL team is usually at quarter capacity.

          • Rory says:

            I’d like to see Nashville get a team. It has some recent soccer history with olympic qualifiers and some WCQ games hosted there, a big youth soccer market (not that those have ever been successfully rolled into MLS fans), and would be much closer to other MLS teams than Atlanta or Miami/Orland would. Plus, only the NHL and NFL to compete with, no MLB team playing through most of the season.

            • thepoorwayfarer says:

              I go to Nashville whenever the USMNT plays there. It’s a helluva drive, though. Not convenient. But I’d probably support that team – at least it’s in the Heart of the South.

  8. Eugene says:

    The Kraft family needs public support to build a stadium in Boston?? What a load of CRAP! Those guys need to open their pockets and invest, rather than trying to get Mass. taxpayers to foot part of the bill (or a bigger part of the bill). Unbelievable. The only reason the Krafts are dragging their feet is because they want someone else to pay.

    • Seriously? says:

      Yeah, as I’ve said a million times, everybody knows that building a stadium in Boston is really simple, all you have to do is want it, and spend a little money, just look at the 2 biggest teams in town. The Red Sox got a new stadium when the previous owners were really pushing for it, and the Pats play in a downtown stadium as well. All both teams did was say they wanted a new stadium, and voila.

      And again, I’m not trying to say that the Krafts are great MLS owners, but I can’t stand all these people who like to insist that it’d be easy to get a stadium in Boston if the Krafts wanted it more. They wanted it pretty badly before, but were forced to settle for staying in Foxboro.

      • Reid says:

        I do actually feel bad for soccer in the boston area, even though land is priced high in and around boston, its next to impossible to build anything and keep costs down when very powerful unions control much of the workforce.
        $28/hr for a waterboy (19yr old kid on a golf cart) at the Big Dig will jump the price of tea up quick.

        • Seriously? says:

          Uh, what? It wasn’t unions that kept the Sox and Pats from getting the new stadiums they wanted, it’s intractable local governments, and NIMBY’s. If anything, unions would push hard for such projects, in the interest of creating more jobs for their people.

          • Reid says:

            the unions in Boston are just as bloated as its government

            • Seriously? says:

              on second thought, you’re right, unions are the root of all evil. Not only are they the reason why new stadiums can’t be built in Boston, but they cause cancer, spread infectious diseases, and are solely responsible for global warming.
              (I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a member of a union, but this is just a bizarre non sequitur, completely unrelated to the conversation)

    • ed - houston says:

      possibly but i can tell you that very few communities nationwide will want to foot taxx bills for a new soccer stadium. it happened here. nowadays the owners have to put up the majority of the investment will little funding , if approved, by local government. it sucks but that’s the way it is now. the bad part about it is that here, in houston, we the tax payers are still paying a huge bill for reliant stadium/NFL, toyota center/NBA, and minute paid park (formerly enron field) MLB. the big markets across the country having same issue. new/prospective MLS owners/investors just have to get used to this.

  9. Jamie says:

    I am all for NY2, but can I also get my Minneapolis team?

  10. Henry (Hal) says:

    the league should not go over 20 teams

    • downintexas says:

      I see a day when MLS is split into two separate but equal leagues. West v East. Each league has 20 teams in it. Seems a bit of a stretch but if you keep stadiums at 20-25K many markets could support 2. Hell Texas could potentially have 6 teams, without doubling up., (Would not be the best idea but could work)

      • Henry (Hal) says:

        it would be unprecedented considering no other top division on the planet has more than 20 teams. I think Europe and South America know a thing or two about structuring soccer leagues. Not to mention, a top division with that many clubs would be watered down with a lot of low quality play. That would be bad for any league.

        If we actually reach a point your talking about (with demand that high in more than enough cities to fill another league) then a pyramid with promotion and relegation will happen. The fans/media/players etc will just demand it.

        • Duneman says:

          We could easily do 40 teams at some point. 20 East and 20 West for example and the teams play in their own division during the regular season and then play across in the post-season playoff or something (could still do a few cross division cups or something so you can have your LA/NY games). We don’t have promotion/relegation but we do have a play-off format not really found in other leagues so we don’t kick out the bottom few teams for a season BUT we do “relegate” the bottom few clubs in each division from being able to play in the post season. Its not the same but it is a more familiar format to the US fans and does not have the same financial burden of a relegation system. Travel is hard on players and club budgets and harder for fan travel as well. In the EPL any team can play any team and still make it home for dinner. In the US players are in hotels and crossing multiple time zones when they need to cross the country for a match.

          • downintexas says:

            That was what I was saying two separate MLS leagues. No need for promotion/relegation. But having it set up like this saves money for the clubs, saves travel time for the players which makes for a better product.

            If soccer gets as big as NFL it is even possible for 3 20 team leagues.

        • fischy says:

          Unprecedented? Is there a top league that covers so much territory and so many people? Is there a top league that covers two continent-spanning countries? Would it really be so outrageous, if MLS had 20 US teams and 4 Canadian teams?

          • Rory says:

            Seriously, how many of these South American and European leagues that know how to run a soccer league know how to run a soccer league in a massive country that isn’t that nuts about soccer to begin with? None of them. So I don’t think they are the experts on making soccer work in a country this size with no tradition of soccer being the only sport that really matters. We are Americans, we are used to doing things in new ways because that is what works for us.

          • Henry (Hal) says:

            Russia and China are both very big countries. Both have pro/rel.

            the size of the country is irrelevant.

            • Rory says:

              Vast majority of Russia’s teams are in the West of the country, aren’t most of the chinese teams on the East side of China? Maybe we could just drop one coast or the other and stick to 20 teams.

        • Adam M. says:

          “Europe” has more than 120 first division teams in the area the size and population of the US, and a few second division leagues that are on par or better than MLS. The US, eventually, can easily support 40 teams.

          • Rory says:

            Does anyone think we could eventually support an MLS2. I’m not meaning to get bogged into pro/rel talk, but with single entity ownership, wouldn’t a widely profitable top division support the non-profitable second division… but of course that would require us to get to a point where we have a widely profitable first division.

    • Camjam says:

      I know that 20 teams is even Fifa’s directive. MLS would actually have to get a “pass” so to speak just to go over 20. That being said, I’ve heard some quotes from FIFA execs to the effect of MLS could have 24-26 teams, because A) its a large area and B) 3-4 of those teams will be in Canada anyway, which in turn qualifies for it’s own “20 Team” league.

  11. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    The league needs from 22 teams to 26- west and east need the same amount of teams and each conference needs more than 12 teams in order to make each conference tougher and simply better. The problem is the west has less options to expand into And the east has a buffet of options. However if I had a choice, I would go for a 26 team league but not a west and east format, I would go for a nfl or mlb set up and even change the season schedule into the european format but that is why mls needs southwest and southeast teams for warmer climate in order to work with season schedule.

    • Camjam says:

      I totally agree. I think 22-23 American clubs is good for our landmass, and then there are the 3-4 Canadian teams to take us to 26.

    • Big Chil says:

      I think 24 teams is a good near-term target within the next 10 years. We have enough unserved markets to support it, and then we can finally have two conferences of 12 with a six team, single-leg, higher seed hosts playoff system, like the NFL, and get rid of the home-away leg nonsense which renders seeding irrelevant.

      • Rory says:

        Geographically speaking…

        Split the current teams (plus NY2) into East and West conferences and you wind up with 8 in the West, 9 in the East and three that you could slot into either (Dallas, Houston, KC).
        So if we started putting in other cities you could see all of the middle teams thrown in the West along with one more team (San Diego, Sacramento, San Antonio, whatever suits you) and in the East you would need 3 teams which could be Atlanta, Miami (or Orlando), St. Louis and you would be at two 12 team leagues. Even this scenario would leave out a couple of the cities I wrote above plus any others.

  12. Jason says:

    I hear this guy has a poster of Sepp Blatter in his man cave.

  13. Dimidri says:

    Do the league’s single entity status and various ‘in the greater good’ measures (no sarcasm intended) allow it to evict bad owners?

    I’m sure there is some loyalty to the Kraft family and he has probably done something positive for soccer in the US (15 years ago, but still), but what about Chivas? That owner has done nothing for MLS, a second team in LA could clearly do well with open pockets, geographic differentiation, commitment to success, a non-offending team name, etc. Chivas doesn’t need to be relocated, it needs a new owner.

  14. Jason says:

    Things look like they are progressing…USA is the top market…players at Barca or Man U might not want to admit, but they’d love to (geographically speaking) be playing in LA, NY, Seattle and many more USA cities.

  15. Henry (Hal) says:

    Beckham was very good for the LA Galaxy brand. The signing was worth every penny. Before Beckham LA Galaxy had a local brand now I think its a worldwide brand. When i go to Scotland to visit family they ask for Galaxy tops. Before it used to be lakers, dodgers etc.

  16. Jake says:

    That European will be Ronaldo….It’s just a matter of time

    • Gnarls says:

      He fits the Beckham profile in some regards: talented, pretty face, great potential pitchman, really likes money. But Beckham is more of an altruist than Ronaldo. I really think Beckham cared/cares about growing soccer in the States. I have a hard time envisioning Ronaldo in that same altruistic role – well, not before he’s 35.

  17. Skeeter says:

    Bring on Lampard.. his heart is really in to it..

    LOLla

  18. Henry (Hal) says:

    anyone calling for more 20 teams in MLS hasn’t really thought it through. They aren’t alone though, the NFL and NBA guys who run MLS haven’t thought it through either.

    The biggest problem with MLS with over 20 teams will be the watered down quality. Consider this, there are discussions in the MLB and NBA that expansion has created a watered down league with less quality. This is coming from two sports that America dominates and has leagues with no competition.

    Soccer is a global game and MLS is not a top league. If MLS has 24 teams the quality will be very poor at times. The goal should be 20 teams and then build up the rest of the pyramid to prepare for promotion/relegation. This is how it is done everywhere on the planet and America is not special.

    • quozzel says:

      I think MLS eventually will wind up with 80-100 teams…in several tiers.

      Everything I’ve heard indicates we’re on the “heel” of an explosive growth period for professional soccer in the USA. Soccer is the second most popular sport among people aged 12-24 and is poised for massive growth.

      That said, I’m in agreement that the “top” tier of American soccer doesn’t need to be more than 20 teams. MLS is going to freeze at 20, maybe 24 teams tops.

      After that where the growth is going to come from is the NASL, and the USSL. You’re going to see massive growth in these second-and-third-tier leagues as grassroots groups spring up – MLS can’t stop them. And what’s going to happen is that the biggest and best-financed of these NASL teams are eventually going to get on a par with MLS teams and start hunting the MLS teams in the US Open and CONCACAF Champions league…and all of a sudden, you’ll have an NFL/AFL type situation where there’s a lot of legitimate debate about who the best teams in America actually are…at which point, the cries for a unified American soccer pyramid will become deafening.

      It may take 20 years…but it’s going to happen.

      • fischy says:

        It will take a lot more than 20 years.

      • Seriously? says:

        Yes, I’m sure this will happen, just as you describe, right after they finally find Bigfoot.

      • Beto says:

        Its a pipe dream but the mls/nasl – afl/nfl comparison is great. I believe the nba had a similar situation too. Hopefully MLS’ success continues and spills over to the NASL. I dont know if mls will/can expand past 20-23 teams but the demand is there and there is nothing stoping the nasl from being just as big as the mls. I hope the nasl expands into the markets that mls can not (san diego, nashville, etc) and even sets up compeating teams in the same markets (boston!)

    • Duneman says:

      The rest of the world is not producing NFL or NBA talent (well in the past 10 years we have seen more global growth with player development coming from non-US markets)….but top soccer talent is developed in every country in the world so adding 5 new US clubs with 30 people rosters wont really water down the talent pool in MLS. You might loose some talent and quality in other smaller leagues like people who play in Non US/Mex Concacaf leagues when they leave for MLS but there is plenty of global player development to avoid the same water down issue some might see in the NFL.

    • Big Chil says:

      There’re a lot more kids playing soccer than basketball and football in the U.S. alone, and then the entire rest of the world is also producing talent. I think there’s plenty of room for more division 1 soccer teams in the U.S. without watering down quality. Also, the number of kids playing football is actually shrinking, a problem for the NFL coming down the line.

      I think 24 teams in 2 divisions is ideal for the near-term. Then we can have a proper 6 team per conference playoff, like the NFL, actually rewarding the higher seeds who host a single leg at home. With the wild card rounds, that makes 4 rounds, or 11 games total. The reason we have this crappy home-away leg stuff which renders seeding irrelevant is that MLS wants to have a decent number of games in the playoffs.

      • Henry (Hal) says:

        soccer is not American football. Please stop trying to Americanize the global game.

        • Big Chil says:

          We’re going to have playoffs in MLS. Get over it.

          • Henry (Hal) says:

            i didin’t say anything about playoffs.

            im talking about nfl style conferences and divisions. That won’t fly. Even less people would watch than do now if they pulled that crap.

  19. Pingback: Garber says negotiations for NYC stadium in Queens at ‘finish line’

  20. AzTeXan says:

    Don Garber (under his breath/tired): Okay, that’s the last question I’m tired.

    Underling: But commisioner, Ives is on the line with a question and he’s getting mad.

    Garber (alert/nervous/a little scared): Well put him through you idiot, don’t make him wait any longer.

  21. slowleftarm says:

    Can’t have more than 20 teams per FIFA. Time for MLS 2. Let’s go. We can have 40 teams in two divisions by say 2035, maybe more.

    • Henry (Hal) says:

      it can be done by 2020. We could have a proper soccer pyramid if the powers that be wanted it.

    • Charles says:

      Give it a rest. There is zero reason to tell teams that can’t win a championship every year in a parity league. Zero.

    • Gazza says:

      @slowleftarm What FIFA rule says you can’t have more than 20 teams?

      That’s some fairy tale made up by the likes of Tinfoil Teddy and Dennis Justice. Total rubbish!!

  22. UnionFan says:

    Is there any chance we see some more progressive measures implemented/repealed by the MLS? They deserve credit for getting this far, and I am not trying to take that way from them.
    But in terms of getting to that NEXT step, I wonder how much of what has worked will actually continue to work. Salaries are too low, we are literally closer to Blue Square Premier salaries than EPL salaries – exactly how can we attractive the wide swatch of talent we desire like that?
    All the archiac roster management rules only hurt the small teams as the big teams seems to load up on DPs and big names anyway. Notice the Kaka/Lampard rumors – are they rumored to go to successful teams like KC, Houston, SJ or Chicago? Nope, LA or NY. Like always! These rules are in the name of parity but I don’t see much anymore.
    And do we even know why we require loans into the league have an option to buy? I imagine this turns off plenty of teams who would otherwise be willing to let talented young players come here for a season, which is only another avenue we could exploit in terms of increasing exposure and maybe even the quality of that team.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Not a Galaxy supporter but how can LA not be on your list of “successful teams”?

      • Gnarls says:

        Why? Because haters hate.

      • James says:

        Way to miss my point, I was pointing out successful teams that are NOT international hotspots with an attractive city that are world famous.
        This was in an attempt to highlight my point that despite all these “pro-parity” rules in place, the biggest name, most attractive cities (LA, NY) still attract a disproportionate amount of interest from DPs/big names.

  23. Yusef says:

    $20 million on youth development for the entire league? That is not much of a commitment.

  24. Gnarls says:

    2013 season starts March 2. That means our league is finally nearing the off-season length of the European calendar. December, January, February, then BAM we’re back at it. So stoked.

  25. Bruce Spiegelman says:

    Anyone who really thinks that the Kraft family either cares or will put on extra penny into the Revs is smoking funny stuff. Men will be walking on Mars before the Kraft’s invest in the Revs in a serious way. They have been the death of soccer in New gland, once though of as a main venue for soccer in the USA. There is only one solution to this problem. The Kraft’s must sell the sam to someone who actually cares about soccer. From the terrible stadium, to the dirty, semen-stained carpet the Revs must play on, no ownership group has done worse since the start of MLS. New gland soccer fans will, as a group, cheer when we see the last of the Kraft’s.

    • thepoorwayfarer says:

      I agree. As a Connecticut native, I was an original Revs supporter when the MLS began. I was incredibly excited to have a team represent my region, even though I’ve been transplanted to the Deep South. However, in all the years of following MLS – from the very beginning – only the Revs remain an anachronism. Horrible uniforms, outdated branding, no real effort to lock down a DP, etc. I think the Krafts should shuffle off and let someone else play with this toy. Shoot, send it down to Hartford – I KNOW they’d love to get a professional team. Whalers FC baby.

  26. Jason says:

    It is possible to have MLS teams in 20 cities…possibly 40 cities if you really really think about it. You can’t have soccer in the same cities as other sports because they’d never support it. Let’s think about Miami, Atlanta and Tampa Bay for a minute. Summer schedule and always hot to begin with. These guys never had any fans in the original NASL and they failed. Atlanta would be a poor choice mainly because they’ve now lost 2 hockey teams and can barely draw for a basketball team that’s won nothing. Baseball and College football and auto racing rule this part of the US and there’s no changing that. Miami might work now because hockey has sustained itself there along with Basketball. Can’t say baseball either. The Marlins are one of the worst run franchises ever…still cannot believe they have 2 WS. But the fans in Miami stink. Team isn’t doing well they will not show. Minnesota good option, and even some smaller cities…Cincy, St. Louis, Indianapolis, – a few others can be named that are smaller…I remember MISL having Witchita, it doesn’t have to be cities where fan bases are made of multiple cultures either. I went ot RBA this summer and there mainly yuppies from around NJ and NYC.

    • thepoorwayfarer says:

      As an Atlanta area resident I understand your point, however I would throw this out there: soccer is NOT other sports. Perhaps the average Joe sports fan would fail to support an Atlanta team as they’ve failed to support just about any other team – but soccer is different, and Atlanta is extremely multicultural. All those Hispanic and Caribean immigrants who don’t go to NFL or NBA games might turn out for a soccer team. Might. Again, as I posted earlier, our NASL team has trouble drawing but that might be its location.

    • Beto says:

      Watching the marlins flop this year made my mind up about miami for mls. I cant imagine the mls version of the marlins producing a better stadium/location and potential fan base that they had…

      Florida will be a div2 stronghold but can not play at the d1 level

  27. Tom Traubert says:

    I think re: NYRB et al, look at KC. A few fans echoing around Arrowhead for years. Total media irrelevance. Look now- rabid fan base, a club that impacts the community far and wide. Young kids there will grow up bleeding that club’s colors. All because of a change in ownership. It can happen anywhere. Even my FCD had a better attendance year with some simple fan-friendly changes (yes, they should move the stadium but that’s over). The Krafts need to get off autopilot and up their game. NYRB just needs to get a clue. Support has to be earned, no matter how many people are immigrants or play the game in a community.

  28. bottlcaps says:

    I think the next big step for the MLS is to increase the revenues from existing and future TV rights here and abroad. The MLS do have some great marketing people and you have to hand it to the MLS in having the FOURTH major sport, topping NHL Hockey. Having networks like ESPN and NBCsports actually compete fro rights is awesome, but with all the Central and South American players we should be selling packages to some of the TV networks down there.. It is when the MLS can start bringing in some serious TV revenue can it start to bring in higher paid talent, both from abroad and home grown players. I think the least the MLS can do in the short term is raise the lowest salary levels to be at least above minimum wage (no kidding)

    I think there is a higher possibility now in replacing Beckham with Kaka than ever before. Apparently the talks of AC Milan buying him have stalled, Mourinho would like to keep him as a THIRD alternate for his position for the long La Liga season, but keeping in mind his contract is up this summer, it’s either re-sign or sell time. I do not think that a deal like Beckhams, a personal services contract with the MLS while he was still playing for Real Madrid is in the offing. I think the Galaxy might have to pay a somewhat expensive transfer fee, plus his normal contract, which is considerable. But Kaka is relatively young (30) compared to Drogba or Lampard who are in their late 30’s. The big plus is that the Galaxy are big on Brazilians having them in the mix since day one of the league. Arean is very comfortable with his Sarvas/Junihino midfiels and adding a player like Kaka would be seamless.

    And Finally, when the Dogs and Stars collide you have the unique opportunity this week if you are a big California soccer fan (and have money/tickets) then take a short 2.5 hour drive down the freeway to the US/Mx border and watch Tijuana play for the Mexican League Title on Thursday and then back to LA to see the Galaxy play in the MLS Cup in LA on Saturday!! Too bad the final leg of the 2 leg Championship is in Toluca on Sun, but to see both the US and Mexico titles decided in the same week in the same region (SoCal) is truly a unique experience. Go Xolos, Go Galaxy.

  29. WorldCitizen says:

    I’ll believe the Krafts are going to build the Revs a stadium the moment a Revs match actually takes place in said stadium, and not one moment earlier. The fact that the Krafts bought into MLS for a paltry (by their standards) $5 million back in the day in order to (a) help pressure the relevant authorities to give them a sweet deal for their Gillette Stadium and (b) have another tenant to fill 20-odd extra dates per year in their new stadium is among the worst-kept secrets in MLS.