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MLS Expansion: Feeling Bad for Miami, But Looking at the Remaining Bids

 MLS Expansion: Feeling Bad for Miami, But Looking at the Remaining Bids

Let me say that this is a bad moment for everyone involved down in South Florida. I understand what my colleague Kartik Krishnayier is going thru. Granted that I never supported the Miami Fusion back in those days, but when you’ve had your heart ripped out like that when your favorite player was traded, or your club had the plug pulled out, it’s not a fun thing.

Sure there are many people who have said that the city & area of Miami didn’t deserve a second shot at it, but to be honest I think Miami was deserving of a second chance. It’s not so much you have ex-pats of South America, Cubans and others living down there that enjoy the sport, there are ex-eastern Europeans that also wanted to see a division one club side from MLS as well.

My Grandparents and their friends along with some of my parents friends that are originally from Romania & Hungary immigrated to the USA and lived in the New York City area before moving down to South Florida for retirement were hopeful to see a Miami-Barcelona pairing to join the league. But of course the economy was the number one thing that probably killed the deal.

But let’s be honest with ourselves for the moment. If Miami did get a second bite of the orange (Yes I know that Florida is considered the Sunshine State), it would mean that all four corners of the country would be tapped in for MLS. As far northwest as Seattle, to the northeast as New England. Southwest as Los Angeles and what could’ve been southeast in Miami. But as of right now the last hope for Miami in this current situation is USL-1st Division side Miami FC. The heartbeat is fading fast as Traffic Sports who owns the club is ready to pull the plug if their 5,000 Season Ticket subscription quota isn’t met by this coming Sunday, March 8th.

So who is left from the current expansion bids to 2011. Vancouver, British Colombia & Ottawa, Ontario in Canada along with Portland, Oregon & St. Louis, Missouri. At the moment it sounds like the bid from Vancouver is a strong one as a front runner. The ownership group involving Phoenix Suns Steve Nash and the owner of the Whitecaps are planning to refurbish B.C. Place which is an indoor stadium, but seeing some of the plans on the Whitecaps website, they are planning to create a new roof that retracts out of a hanging scoreboard. It will cover the field and stands like one of the stadiums in Germany.

Recently you have heard about the public march by Portland Timbers supporters that wants to see their club get promoted to MLS by the Paulson family. The family that owns the Minor League Baseball team in the Portland Beavers which is the Triple A affiliate of the San Diego Padres and the Timbers would create a brand new ballpark for the Beavers and refurbish PGE Park into a soccer stadium & that means pulling out the carpet and putting in a brand new natural grass field.

For the Ottawa bid the owner of the Ottawa Senators Eugene Melnyk is planing to construct a big stadium either in the city or near his Scotiabank Place Arena. Of course this will help Toronto FC have a Provincial rivalry or a country rival in Vancouver. Or the St. Louis bid which we haven’t heard from recently except that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is joining the ownership group.

Who will be the two sides excepted for 2011 expansion into Major League Soccer is a big question, but whoever it is I think they will be strong candidates to help MLS move on. But going back to Miami for another chance & they say the third time is the charm, I personally wouldn’t mind it. If FC Barcelona and Marcelo Clarie joins forces to bring themselves back to the table, then by all means go for it. Sure the Football/Soccer supporter is fickle, but hopefully after the C.B.A. is fixed after 2009 all these silly rules of acquiring players will end and we can be as free flowing on purchasing  players just like the rest of the world. I’m rooting for Miami to return whenever they are ready.

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28 Responses to MLS Expansion: Feeling Bad for Miami, But Looking at the Remaining Bids

  1. Joey Clams says:

    The minute Vancouver is let in, Toronto ceases to be “our Monaco” and MLS will have ceased to be an American league.

    We went from platitudes about “the American player” to “new global realities” and a new-found emphasis on”cosmopolitanism” and no one ever raised a hand.

    Most insulting is the talk of MLS needing Canada, of our fraternal connections, of being in it together. That’s a bunch of crap, of course. I don’t blame Canadians for being hostile towards US soccer, though. I just don’t care to associate with people who boo our anthem at the all-star game of the league we founded.

    The little US soccer press that even exists, chose not to report on the USSF’s capitulation and conflicts of interest and can therefore never again claim to be independent.

    The whole thing is sickening.

    But the fact of the matter is that soccer fans in the US and Canada are getting what they want and in doing so have confirmed to everyone once and fall that they have litte concern for the game beyond in their countries beyond the centers of sophistication. Fans from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver practically take pride in reminding us about the limitations of the game beyond their shining city-states; American soccer fans never hide their contempt for the Midwest and South.

    For the sake of argumentation, I’ll stipulate that Vancouver and Montreal will be good for the league. Just don’t try to con me into thinking that anyone up there cares about the development of soccer in the United States. And don’t tell me that those people don’t regard an MLS schedule as anything but a string of high-profile internationals. You can insult my pride. Please don’t insult my intelligence.

  2. dave says:

    to joey clams:
    the reason the TO fans booed during the national anthem had nothing to do with the usa flag, etc– somebody goofed at the introduction and the canadian flag was also not coming onto the field for the opening ceremonies– the fans booed because it was on canadian soil and our flag was not represented along with the usa flag– u would feel the same way if the game was on usa soil and the 2 teams were vancouver and TO, and only the canadian flag was brought out for the opening ceremonies
    so IT WAS NOT ANTI-AMERICAN BOOING!

  3. Joey Clams says:

    Dave:

    It was booing. It never would have happened here. Not in a soccer game.

    And while you claim that the booing was not anti-American, I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t PRO-American.

    It was small. It was unbecoming. It appeared hostile. And it flew right in the face of all the high-minded talk of fraternity and shared destinies and that other insulting crap.

    Anyway, the damage is done. The bitter, angry rabble have been allowed to elevate MLS. And now throwing objects on the field is regarded as an expression of sophisticated appreciation. So, after Freddy Adu and Landon Donovan are pelted while trying to take a corner in Saprissa, the USSF can do nothing about it – par for the course, anyway – because the league that it sanctions permits such sophisticated acts.

    Hey, at least the owner-investors get to grease their palms. That’s what it’s all about, by the way.

  4. Kartik says:

    Joey Clams:

    MLS ceased caring about the development of American players a few years ago. That’s part of the reason I have been excessively negative according to some about the league recently.

    The league was formed for ONE REASON: DEVELOPING AMERICAN PLAYERS TO MAKE THE USMNT MORE COMPETITIVE WORLDWIDE.

    After succeeding at this mission initially, MLS is now a first rate failure.

    The expansion into Canada simply confirmed this. Continued interest in Canadian expansion makes the agenda perfectly clear.

    The increase in numbers of foreigners in the league and lack of patience MLS coaches now show with leaving young Americans on the pitch is also striking compared to let’s say 2001 or 2002.

    I’ve given up on MLS as an instrument on player development. When a player like Marcus Tracey skips MLS to sign with Aarhus I actually breathe a sigh of relief because he has a fighting chance to be the player he should be.

    Honestly, whatever we get from MLS in the future is positive, but the Bradenton Academy, US Youth National Teams and the USSF Development Academy are our hopes, and will continue to produce good players. I don’t hold out much hope for MLS ever being an “American” league again unless the economy turns so south that the league can only afford American players.

  5. Joey Clams says:

    Cheers, Kartik.

    I’m a traditionalist. In matters of sport, borders are to be respected and independence is to be encouraged. Humans are competitive; that’s why we play sports.

    One of my concerns, of course, is for the game’s long-term cultural appeal in the United States. Sadly, MLS has exploited desperation and angst in Canada’s, well, most “American” or “international” cities. That plays right into the hands of Americans who never had any time for cowtowns in the first place.

    It’s sad. And it’s perverse. How can the federation of such a huge country allow team from outside of that country to compete for the championship of the professional league that it sanctions? It’s absurd.

    Soccer fans here are happy, though. Rather than having to put up with the post-industrial squalor of St. Louis or the third-world bustle of Miami, they’ll get to flash those passports, smoke Cuban cigars and enjoy – in some many ways – being above it all.

    Several branches of my family go back to Irish communities in England. We’re Catholic New Englanders. And I’m proud to be able to say that my paternal and maternal ancestors regularly attended professional soccer matches in Pawtucket and Fall River. They’d bust their humps in mills all week and then go see a footy match. They were working, church-going people, part of urban America. As such, I’ve always respected the factory towns and our American form of multiethnicity.

    No one cares about that anymore. No one cares about the game’s roots. No cares about taking pride in something uniquely theirs. And no one in Fall River or Pawtucket cared about contrived rivalry or sharing something for which they sweated.

    Maybe I’m the one without a clue. But, if I’m unmoved by talk of how cosmopolitan Vancouver or old world Montreal enhance MLS (I was about to see “our league”), at least now you’ll now why.

  6. No, Joey you are right.

    I actually agree with everything you say in your reply. I just know MLS is beyond repair in this regard. The league is run by fancy suits on fifth avenue who have no interest in the history of the American game (if they did they wouldn’t be so anti honoring NASL traditions as they were for so many years) and are simply running an entity for profit now.

    That was NOT why MLS was founded. St Louis and Miami may be the two biggest sources of players for our national youth system as you imply above, but both markets have been ignored by MLS. True, St Louis is technically in the running for a new team, but seriously we know they aren’t getting it.

    This morning Garber has contradicted himself again telling the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he didn’t want Miami because of artificial turf. But the turf is okay if it is in Toronto, I suppose.

    He’s given that as one of the main reasons for the bid failing. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth so much it is unbelievable. When he wanted to accept Miami’s bid, the turf didn’t matter but now it is an over riding issue since he’s looking for a justification for rejecting the bid: c’mon!

    American players don’t develop at the rate they should in MLS anymore. We are probably the only national team in the world with a significant population whose most recent player pool members have been disproportionately developed either overseas, or domestically outside our league.

    MLS likes to take credit for developing players that often times the USSF Academy or local youth teams developed. They also have allowed key national team youngsters like Mo Edu and Marvell Wynne to end up playing in Canada on turf for two successive coaches who could care less about the American game. (Actually I am pretty sure Carver has been trashing MLS to Sir Bobby Robson).

    I simply laugh when MLS apologists list for me all the players developed by the league. This list almost always exclusively contains players I give MLS credit for: I have stated MLS did an outstanding job developing American players under the Logan/Gulati regime and early in the Garber/Gazidis years before the league turned Hollywood and decided they wanted to be a mini Premier League.

    The league isn’t American anymore, Joey. It just happens to be based in the US.

  7. Joey Clams says:

    Kartik:

    Nice work, my man. I’m sorry for previous hot-headedness.

    The list of hypocrisies is endless. And, as I’ve said before, being a US soccer fan is thankless.

    You know, I grew up playing with Cape Verdeans, Portuguese-Americans, Irish immigrants, Colombians, Brazilians, lace-curtain Irish-Americans, blue-blooded preppies, blacks and now all of a sudden I’m a xenophobe and guilty of ethnocentric hysteria just because I want MLS to remain American and serve all of America. Well, I guess my dream of a marriage of traditional soccer culture with Americana was always fantastic.

    Kartik, do you remember the press conference after the recent US-Mexico WCQ in Columbus? What could you hear in the background? It was the whistle of a freight train. I had been to several games in Columbus and what most struck me most- figuratively, of course – was the train passing the stadium.

    That’s why I bristle at those who dismiss aspects of the St. Louis bid as “too suburban.” Wait a minute. Suburbia is a valid expression of Americana and people in the St. Louis area don’t see soccer as a fad, a badge of cosmopolitan honor.

    The droning of vehicles on a nearby interstate is more poetic to me as a soccer fan than Carlsberg-propelled Euro-aping in a beer garden.

  8. Joey Clams says:

    And the complicity of the USSF just boggles the mind.

    Sunil Gulati, the USSF president, is an employee of the Krafts. Do you think that he voted independently?

    Once the word came down from the owners, do you think that any member of the Board of Directors who makes a living trough the game would vote their consciences and risk contradicting the owners’ cash-grab?

    And then the same people who worry about the encroachment of commercial crassitude suddenly become aware that the bottom line is all that matters.

  9. PCFC says:

    Joey,

    Rewarding passionate fanbases in a non-competitive CONCACAF neighbor will ultimately help US Soccer. Recently, there was an article that stated that for US soccer to grow in this country, Mexico is going to need to win in future high-profile matches. The reason behind this argument: rivalries inspire.

    What would CONCACAF be without Mexico? It would surely guarantee US the 1st place slot in WC Qualifying, not to mention bore American soccer fans.

    By putting MLS and USL teams in Canada, we are not only providing American players with chances for development, but we are also creating soccer fans (passionate ones at that) in Canada. Is that an American priority? No, you’re right it is not. But keeping the MLS prosperous is. It should be USSF’s #1 priority as some of the best players on our USMNT would not have developed without it. Nevertheless, by developing passionate profitable fans bases in neighboring Canada, one could argue that we are simply helping the Canucks develop. But let’s think: What keeps USA-Canada matches from gaining the publicity that USA-Mexico has? Easy answer: Canada sucks.

    However, inadvertently, as the Canadian NT becomes strong, the US will surely develop a rivalry that could match US-Mexico. And if that happens, CONCACAF will no longer be the joke confederation of FIFA. Bitter rivalries, politics in sports, border disputes, and reflective history are all what makes international soccer competition great. To sum up, once Canada becomes competitive, CONCACAF becomes competitive. Once CONCACAF competes, US Soccer flourishes…and the passion only seen in USA-Mexico will no longer be the rarity, but the norm.

    Flourishing soccer in North America is the ultimate step to having it flourish in the US.

  10. Garber’s comments need clarification. He does not want Turf in warmer climates because of the heat according to his quote. That means Toronto, Seattle, New England are okay with turf.

    What is he talking about?

  11. Joey, are you sure the USSF is complicit? I am under the impression that while not doing anything overt to stop it that they are concerned at MLS’ drift away from developing native players and towards buying foreigners.

    Your logic Joey is right on though about the league. You are a 100% right. Garber is not interested any longer in even the present-ability of the product. He and SUM are concerned about making money.

    I give the league credit for survival this long but honestly, if a good American prospect feels he must go overseas to some 2nd division in Europe to develop his skills and be fairly compensated that is a problem.

    Also, MLS’ pay scale is clearly biased against Americans. Brian McBride and Kasey Keller, two aging national team heroes aren’t given the compensation the likes of Marcello Gallardo, Claudio Lopez and Denilson were given.

    Keller wanted to move to MLS in 2007 but they insulted him with an offer which was less than a Romanian team! Can you imagine treating a legend of your nation’s soccer history that way?

  12. Ian says:

    Sorry Canadians. I will never agree that TFC, and potentially more Canadian teams will “help” US Soccer. Sure it’s helped MLS and USL, but the continued de-emphasis on developing American talent has as both Joey Clams and Kartik states hurt the national team. They have had to find other ways to develop players.

    I also think the exodus of players like Danny Califf, Brian West, Clarence Goodson, etc further demonstrates how MLS Clubs are more willing to pay someone with an Argentine passport whose quality may be questionable than to pay a fair wage to an American who is on the fringes of the national team player pool.

    This to me borders on scandalous for what is supposedly an American league.

  13. Joey Clams says:

    PCFC:

    I find that argument axiomatic. And I feel that the supposed benefit is not worth our many sacrifices.

    Believe it or not, I’d like to see Canada improve just as my neighbor wouldn’t mind me seeing me fix the rotting fence out back.

    Let Canada sort itself out.

  14. Joey Clams says:

    Kartik:

    It’s a hunch, but I’m certain of it.

    It’s ironic that I once found it important that MLS reps dominate USSF proceedings. I should have been careful with my wishes; the fed and the leauge are blurred and the fed’s oversight and independence have been lost.

    And what can you say about Garber? He could dice a tomato in your front pocket and you wouldn’t know it.

  15. Joey Clams says:

    PCFC:

    I also resent that our supposed responsibility vis-a-vis Canada puts Canadian bids at a competitive advantage.

    And the Canadian point of view is pitiful: they have placed the future of the pro game in their country in the hands of American businessmen and the USSF AND seem incapable of contemplating decisions not going their way or alternatives. And yet they’ve converted their very own weakness and desperation into an advantage.

    Beyond that, benefits to the US game are much less direct than those from good old fashioned expansion in the US and the creation of jobs for American players. Think about it: the “improved Canada helps us argument”- the improvement coming from all of three professional teams – demands and assumes limited MLS growth in the US no matter how you look at it. And if we were so concerned with the competition that Canada provides, we would started a league there and then launched MLS with the idea of catching up to it.

    It’s about quick money and appealing to MLS core followers, the denatinalized elites who care more about road trips with border crossings than they do about the American game.

    Most insulting are the roundabout arguments and high-minded harangues that defend MLS new direction.

  16. Joey Clams says:

    Another thing to keep in mind is that Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver have driven up the cost for St. Louis and Miami.

    Is that fair?

    Now YOU can remind ME that it’s all about money, after all.

  17. dj mk says:

    i do not care if the new expansion team comes from vancouver or miami. as long as the new team has a good plan and puts fans in the seats, it will be good for soccer on both sides of the border.

    currently, seattle, portland and vancouver has some pretty good rivalries. there is soccer history here in the pacific northwest that i was scared would be lost when the sounders entered left the USL for the MLS. however, recently, the sounders played the vancouver whitecaps and destroyed them. too bad the game was closed to the public.

    and all this rhetoric from joey and kartik about the MLS is for US player development is a load of crap. US players will only get better when they play with or against the best of the best. canadian cities will have american players.

    furthermore joey, every country boos each others anthem. the US has done it to canada at other sporting events. its called rivalry and can be exciting it not taken too seriously.

  18. Joey Clams says:

    The booing of anthems is not something that we’d expect in MLS, certainly not from people who claim to be our soccer brethren. I do appreciate the honesty of the gesture, if not the gesture itself, because it’s so telling.

    Protocol ceremonies that degenerate into slag-fests have do not impress Americans.

    And MLS WAS meant to be about the US player.

  19. dj mk says:

    the MLS is about making money. it’s a business not some sort of soccer charity.

  20. Kartik says:

    While, not a charity, MLS was founded to promote the American game and the American player.

    MLS is chartered under the USSF and not the CSA for a reason. It is not a Canadian league and was never meant to be.

    I am also disturbed by the PDL allowing teams in Canada. The Laredo Heat a legendary team was beat by Thunder Bay last year in the final and that was IMHO a very bad sign.

    I’m all for Canada. I’ve done shows and segments on your national team. I’ve finally embraced TFC even though I would totally dishonest if I said I wanted you guys in the league to begin with.

    But enough is enough. MLS has gotten way off track and needs to be dealt a dose of reality.

    I feel for the Canadian fan. The CSA is inept. But understand we were in worse shape than you when the NASL went down. You guys made World Cup 86 and we did not because you were better organized and more prepared to move forward in the post NASL landscape.

    Hard work, player development and alot of guts on the part of those who love the game in the US got us as far as we have gotten. My message to Canada is to work to improve your own soccer/football institutions rather than lecturing us on what is wrong with ours. (Like Canadian fans booing the Star Spangled Banner and going on various message boards talking about how Americans don’t understand the game)

  21. dj mk says:

    Kartik

    i really hope your not basing your opinion of the direction of the MLS on various message boards. now, i may not know much about the CSA, but it really sounds like you are lecturing the canadians on their soccer institutions.

    in the end, who cares. heck, let Venezuela in. as long as we are playing the same game. and it’s all about the love of the game, not some sort of geo-political minefield. whatever puts fans in the seats and creates an exciting games with rivalries is ok with me.

  22. MJ says:

    Why on earth turn this into a Canada-bashing free-for-all? Being at the stadium for the all-star game, I can tell you there was a lot of booing, just not directed at the US – it was directed at the idiots that organized the pre-game ceremonies and appeared to not recognize where the game was being played. Next – most leagues in North America have Canadian teams, and they all make the leagues and teams in it stronger no matter where they are. In terms of being concerned for development of soccer in the US, I think it’s clear to most that we are all concerned that the leagues themselves are strong and developing. Large sold out crowds and a high level of fan interest will help all! And for the MLS in particular, surely doesn’t that mean that the league has the strongest teams and support possible, no matter if it’s in the US or Canada? Considering that for the champions league games last week Montreal pulled in over 50,000 and Houston just 10,000, I think there might be some that would argue the Canadian teams have potential, and implying that expansion into Canada isn’t good for US soccer is just plain ignorant.

  23. Gazza says:

    “They also have allowed key national team youngsters like Mo Edu and Marvell Wynne to end up playing in Canada on turf for two successive coaches who could care less about the American game.”

    Kartik,

    What is the basis for this statement? I think John Carver cares deeply for the American game and all his players including Wynne, Barrett, Cronin, Edwards, Ibrahim, and Johann Smith. If you don’t believe me ask the players.

    The best way to develop the “American game” is to have a successful top tier league and if that includes 2 Canadian teams out of 20 then so be it.

  24. Hollywood (FL) Fan says:

    Canada can probably support MLS better than most American cities.

    Seriously, Dallas, Colorado, Kansas City, c’mon. Without a star attraction these places are jokes for the game.

  25. eplnfl says:

    First let me say to all my South Florida friends your time will come but in the meantime we all understand your hurt. I AM NOT HERE TO BASH CANADA, but I would rather see Miami in the league over a Canadian city(please see my comments below) because Chicago has always had a great rivalry with all of the sports team in South Florida and it’s a nice excuse to escape some bad weather in Chicago to see a game in Miami.

    Those who have been disappointed by this action by MLS should not single out and a particular person or office for the failure. I know it does not help but how many communities have been lied too, deceived, or wrongly promised a sports team to see it go somewhere else or even worse pack up and leave during the night. It’s business and next year things maybe different.

    Now back to Canada. I have stated this before and will do so again, I want Canadian teams in the league. The sooner MLS has a team in Montreal the better. American and Canadian soccer will both benefit. The USA-Canadian relationship is like no other and we share many things with Canada and American’s should be happy and proud to have Canadian teams in their sports leagues. We are not Eurosnobs after all! It’s a great moment for me when I can attend a game where a Canadian team is playing and here O’Canada.

    This is not a negative sum game. We can all win!

  26. bigprof says:

    Uh,
    last time I checked MLS was a for-profit enterprise while the us soccer federation is a national entity. MLS is about money, and Canadians are 7.2 times crazier about soccer then we are. That means they will also spend much more on MLS related merchandise. They should expand to both Vancouver and Montreal…and eventually plan on moving KC to Portland or to the other side of Missouri (supposedly a “traditional soccer city”). Before MLS expands in the US, they should consider that some teams will be too unprofitable to remain where they are at. MLS is not as stable as has been reported. Barca and CLasue bailed the second they realized they weren’t going to have two games with 30-40k attendance (with Beck’s departure).
    MLS should hold tight on expansion and raise the salary cap…with a national DP or 2 so they can afford back some American guys who have already headed to Europe.

  27. eplnfl says:

    bigprof:

    Some sound ideas there. Getting some of our American players back in MLS would be a plus but also attracting better talent from Latin America would be a plus. Expansion should only come to MLS as a whole when the talent pool has been increased by the salary cap increases and new DP’s to a level that the quality of the league as a whole will not be effected. MLS can not afford what happened to the NHL, where a couple decades are needed to bring up the talent level.

  28. Lars says:

    Epl. This is probably the one time I’ll disagree with you. Expansion generally improves talent, believe it or not, because it allows more opportunities for players to develop. Essentially players (and their families) have more incentive to develop their talents and will spend more money on it. The more expansion teams, the more domestic players that are mandated into the league. This means a widening of the talent pool. While yes there will be an initial drop off in talent, in the long run the talent will catch up, much like it did in the NHL, the NFL and Major League Baseball, where anyone will tell you that players now are significantly better than they were 20 years ago with smaller leagues.

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