Arsenal Partnership Pays Dividends for MLS Side


Stan Kroenke’s possible takeover attempt on Arsenal a few years back has paid dividends for Kroenke’s MLS side, Colorado Rapids. As part of the agreement when Kroenke bought into Arsenal, a partnership was developed with the MLS team which includes the development of a youth academy at DSG Park, the home of the Denver outfit, as well as the continued ability for the Rapids to train at Ashburton Grove every preseason.

Now with the Rapids squad imploding, Gary Smith, an Arsenal employee sent to Colorado simply to set up the youth academy has been thrust into the role as Head Coach of the MLS side following the somewhat bizarre departure of Fernando Clavijo, former US National Team defender and longtime MLS manager.  Smith’s Rapids has achieved two victories in three matches since he took over and now seem poised to make a run at the playoffs. Smith made two significant changes to the side: inserting Preston Burpo in goal over Senegal National Team netminder Bouna Counduil (who has not regained his previous stellar form since returning from the Cup of African Nations) and handing the captain’s armband to Mike Petke, a workmanlike player that can relate to the British style of play.

With links firmly established between the two Kroenke influenced sides and the partnership growing thanks to Smith’s success, what does the future hold for Arsenal in America? Could the Gunners be the second current Premier League side (following Stoke City which owns the USL-1 side Austin Aztex and has put an English board member in charge of the club which begins play next year) to have outright control over an American based side? Would this be a good thing as Arsenal swins upstream to build its brand in the United States against big money clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea, who have as of yet not invested in the American game the way Arsenal has?

6 thoughts on “Arsenal Partnership Pays Dividends for MLS Side”

  1. Its actually 2 wins in 4 games since he took over, and technically for teh first win Clavijo was still head coach but was in Uruguay dealing with a family emergency so Smith ran the team that game. It wasn’t until the week following that win that Clavijo resigned.

    And I doubt Arsenal will ever own the Rapids. Due to the “single-entity” legal structure of Major League Soccer nobody “owns” the teams, each “owner” is actually an investor in MLS LLC which is a single company. Think of the teams as the branch office of MLS LLC in each city. You have the Denver office (Rapids) the LA office (Galaxy), etc.

    Even if that were to change KSE has sunk a lot of money into the Rapids and into building their stadium and I don’t see them selling out to Arsenal. More likely is that Kroenke continues his take over of Arsenal and then merges both ARsenal and the Rapids into a “Soccer Operations” department of KSE or something.

  2. The facility KSE built for the Rapids is by far the best soccer facility in the country. I see an eventual partnership with the clubs growing to Arsenal loaning players to Colorado for experience that MLS could provide.

  3. Take the comment ‘experience that the MLS could provide’ was tongue in cheek? If not, apologies John but the standard in the MLS is light years below what a Premiership player requires.

  4. Yeah Anthony, that’s why players who’ve gone right to the EPL from MLS like Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey have failed so horribly. Uh oh, wait, they haven’t.

  5. To take it a step further Anthony, last year there were more MLS alumni in the Premiership than there were from any league outside of the EU.

    No one doubts that the Premiership is vastly superior to MLS. But you are taking that to an extreme, most likely based on cultural bias and not on actual analysis.

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