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MLS: Taking the Good With the Bad

united fans 300x187 MLS: Taking the Good With the Bad

My views on MLS on this website in the last week have been dissected and criticized. I think this “summer of soccer” has yielded both good and bad for the American top flight. On the positive side, MLS has higher attendance than football leagues in Spain, Italy, Holland and France, making the league one of the best attended in the industrialized western world. MLS also fills a larger percentage of available seats than those aforementioned leagues. (My analysis includes friendlies but excludes Superliga)

Also positive, is that MLS continues to develop talent that is sought after by sides abroad. Rico Clark is a perfect example: MLS Cup winner, Confederations Cup runner up, and all around capable player who was sought after by several top European clubs before (apparently) agreeing to join Livorno. Yura Movsisyan’s incredible story, which I featured in early 2008 on the CSRN American Soccer Show has led to a European contract at Randers.

Additionally, we had 93,000 people show up to see the Galaxy and David Beckham play last week at the Rose Bowl and will have a similar crowd Sunday to see DC United play a home game at Fed Ex Field. MLS has clearly reached the masses in terms of crowd building this summer, which as I noted above places it among the elite football leagues worldwide in crowd numbers.

But while people flock to MLS stadiums, virtually no one is watching on television. The MLS All Star game finished with a 0.2 rating on ESPN2, just days after Fox Soccer reported their highest ever Nielsen rating for any telecast on the Gold Cup final. The ratings for ESPN’s Confederations Cup matches involving the US were also remarkably high.

Yet, ESPN has not recorded a single telecast with higher than 0.2 rating this year that did not involve the Seattle Sounders (whose games have never gotten lower than a 0.3 on ESPN, interestingly enough.) So while Seattle has helped the league both attendance and TV wise, the previous 13 American based teams struggle to make a meaningful dent in their local sporting cultures.

As I have editorialized in the past, TV money will eventually either make MLS a really top drawer league, or relegate the league to not being able to even compete to keep young American players at home. Right now, while MLS has received a rights fee for their broadcasts, ESPN’s own public expectations for the product are nowhere near being met. This comes at the same time as other soccer properties on the network are faring well, leading to an investment in EPL and La Liga rights.

The Univision family of networks has also seen a sharp decline in TV ratings. But they are pleased with the performance of Superliga, Interliga and the CONCACAF Champions League from what I am told, and thus will not break their commitment to MLS, even though the regular season games are performing terribly for the networks.

Additionally, the continued poor performance of MLS teams in international competition is worrying. For the first time ever, an A-League (USL-1) team has defeated an MLS team in a two leg home and home series. The Red Bulls were eliminated by a team of semi-professionals that mostly have other odd jobs to make ends meet.

MLS’ struggles in CONCACAF are nothing new. Every year we hear the same excuses from MLS supporters explaining why this happens. Roster size, fixture congestion, and especially the competitive nature of MLS and the importance of winning the league make international competitions for many a waste.

But CONCACAF is only one part of the issue. For years, MLS and SUM have done an outstanding job of getting top European and Mexican clubs to play in the United States during the summer. And for years, the friendly results, whether it was DC United beating Newcastle, Chicago beating Everton, United drawing Real Madrid or the MLS All Stars beating Chelsea tended to mask the realities of MLS’ competitiveness.

Even when MLS sides lost, they lost fighting, and tended to be a credit to the league in the process. But this summer, save the performances of Bruce Arena’s (the Maestro of American soccer as we have dubbed him) LA Galaxy, MLS teams have been humiliated. Seattle was comprehensively beaten by Chelsea, which actually was the Blues first ever two goal win over an MLS team.

But then the fun really started. Barcelona and Real Madrid tore apart decent MLS sides on national prime time TV, while the MLS All Stars drew with Everton, the first time ever that the MLS all star team did not defeat its opponent. That same night of course, Toronto FC lost at home to an A-League team, the Puerto Rico Islanders in CONCACAF.

The continued outflow of midlevel talent from MLS to league abroad or even in some cases to the A-League, has caused a drop in performance. This fact is indisputable.

For example, in five previous two leg ties with sides from the Caribbean, MLS had never lost, but in the last two years, virtually semi professional Joe Public and semi pro W Connection have posted 10 goals against MLS teams in 4 matches, winning three of them and knocking out MLS teams both years. If that is not a cause for alarm, I do not know what else could possibly be.

After all, just 11 years ago DC United scored 8 goals in a game against the CFU Champions at the CONCACAF level. Then again, that DC team also beat Vasco De Gama the Copa Lib. Champions, something that would impossible to repeat today.

MLS is well supported by its core audience. These fans border on fanatical in supporting the league and defending it against any and all critics (myself included). These fans have also made MLS a better supported league in its stadiums than two of the top three leagues in the world. But at some point, MLS must be held accountable for its results- both in terms of TV audience share and on the pitch.

———-

Additionally, read my views on the addition of Bobby Zomora and Jlloyd Samuel to the T&T Qualifying squad and how it potentially affects the USMNT here.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Major League Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

36 Responses to MLS: Taking the Good With the Bad

  1. DrJonS says:

    There are never quick fixes for these questions, but I am in agreement with several commenters over the past several months about some things. The salary cap needs to be adjusted. I am a huge fan of the relegation system, if teams suck, they need to go down, regardless. If the USL teams are playing well, they need the spotlight shone upon them. The MLS also need proper, well run, development academies, more than just the do what you can with what you got mentality. This needs to be top down. The DP slot is good, for 2 reasons. First, regardless of who it is, they are largely phenomenally talented. Secondly, especially with the older players, they play smart, and the experience they bring is almost like having a second coach on the pitch with you. This is what a lot of young players need.
    Just throwing some stuff out there…..

    • Rob says:

      “I am a huge fan of the relegation system, if teams suck, they need to go down, regardless. If the USL teams are playing well, they need the spotlight shone upon them.”

      I’m sorry, but it makes absolutely no fiscal sense for MLS. Period.

      • true but it would be a great thing to happen as far as talent and determination to saty within the top league, it wont ever happen but it could be/would be entertaining to see.

  2. Bolacuadrada says:

    Interesting. As far as TV rating go, the TV networks are not doing their job to promote the games. Let me give an example, the hispanic community is big in soccer in the USA and the only spanish sports talk radio in the USA is ESPN Deportes Radio. Most of their programming is soccer. The so called sports talk people that conduct the programs are mosly fans of the teams from the cuntries where they were born. They do not talk about the MLS at all because they are not fans of the league. The only time they talk about the league is to bring the negative (the Beckham issue has been one) . The same way a part of the American mainstream sports media talk about soccer (hooligans they say). That is not all. ESPN Deportes Radio has the game of the week that also comes on ESPN TV. The people who do play by play during that game spend all game destroying the product. Fans cannot connect to the game because they are never told who is leading the standings, who are the players to watch, who is in playoff contention, etc. I have seen some of the games and some of them are entertaining. For this guys in ESPN Deportes Radio if it not Mexican or Argentinan it is not good. They are just not balanced about their coverage of sports. I believe that a big number of hispanic soccer fans are not going to the games or watching on TV because they just do not know about the MLS. Just imagine the NFL in ESPN. Even though the product is exiting and has the biggest TV audience in the USA, ESPN promotes it even more with most of their programming. We as fans should promote the MLS also.

  3. Casey says:

    Can anyone explain to me how the TV rating system works?

  4. Florida Goal says:

    Kartik, for someone who normally is spot on how can you make some of the following claims?

    “MLS has higher attendance than football leagues in Spain, Italy, Holland and France, making the league one of the best attended in the industrialized western world.”

    This claim is false. I do not know specifics but MLS does not have more people in the stands than these leagues. They may report higher attendances but in general they only sell 50-75% of the tickets of the reported crowd. Besides, they go tickets sold. Heck, I give USL some credit- Miami FC sold 1,300 season tickets and yet they reported under 500 fans for two games- that is at least honest though the crowds were clearly pathetic.

    “Additionally, we had 93,000 people show up to see the Galaxy and David Beckham play last week at the Rose Bowl and will have a similar crowd Sunday to see DC United play a home game at Fed Ex Field.”

    LA was playing Barca, and probably 90% of the crowd came to see them. DC United is playing Real Madrid. You do not even mention the opposition.

    ” The Univision family of networks has also seen a sharp decline in TV ratings. But they are pleased with the performance of Superliga, Interliga and the CONCACAF Champions League from what I am told, and thus will not break their commitment to MLS, even though the regular season games are performing terribly for the networks.”

    You may want to check back with your source on this. They won’t break the contract but they aren’t exactly ready to hold to it completely either. They have re-evaluation points since they signed an 8 year deal and they will reduce their coverage or move it to a smaller channel based on what I have been told.

  5. Tony H says:

    Do you people realize how bad a .2 rating is? That statistically could mean that nobody is watching…………………………………………

    Garber can insult USL as a “minor league” and call this a Summer of Soccer which lines SUMs pockets and makes some MLS personnel rich, but no league in any sport has ratings that low. No individual sport has ratings that low. And I would venture to guess with proper promotion after a few weeks even the EPL telecasts at 4:45 am PT will have more viewers than primetime MLS games. That is simply pathetic.

    I agree with the author that MLS’ performances in friendlies against Euro clubs is at an all time low. I recall when DCU actually went to England and beat Spurs 1-0. Wow, that was a long long time ago when it comes down to it.

  6. JMB9039 says:

    1. I love it when people say “period” – as if that is supposed to be the definitive part of the argument. Give me a break.
    2. Salary cap needs adjustment and hopefully we can have a single table with relegation, but fiscally it won’t be a good idea for several years.
    3. Most of these European clubs have been around for near a century. Most MLS clubs have been around for maybe a decade…
    4. TV ratings will suffer until ESPN learns how to properly broadcast a game. If they can grab someone who is already a soccer fan, then they will earn some respect and eventually get other fans to enjoy the sport.
    5. Some MLS teams average more in attendance than a number of NBA teams. Of course, stadium capacity and arena capacity need to be taken into account.
    6. Some interesting views on attendance:

    http://www.mls-daily.com/2009/07/attendance-comparison-mls-vs-mlb.html

    http://www.theoffside.com/world-football/putting-mls-attendance-numbers-in-perspective.html

    http://armchairgm.wikia.com/index.php?title=US_Soccer-_MLS_Attendance_Figures_Near_Those_of_NHL_and_NBA

    7. Basically, it is going to take time. I think we forget that the first several years of MLB, NFL, and NBA all had dismal figures. Several teams would share stadiums, have players who also had side jobs, etc. It is going to take time to build the league. If they can follow the Seattle formula, MLS will have a decent chance.

  7. Tony H says:

    JMB- If your argument is MLS’ age how do explain that MLS always played better against European opposition in the past than it does today? Heck DCU won in White Hart Lane a decade ago and they crushed Newcastle 4-1 also that year. Just two years ago, LA almost beat Chelsea. Now MLS teams cannot even consistently beat USL teams. Sure MLS is better than USL but USL teams have won a higher % of Open Cup games the last two years than at any previous time since MLS was formed, and of course Puerto Rico knocked TFC out of CONCACAF.

  8. Watson says:

    MLS is actually top to bottom the best league in the world. That’s why the attendances are so high. Anybody can win any game. Also, in the past Euro clubs came here on holiday which gave MLS a chance to win the friendlies. Since the Beckham signing, they learned MLS is the best league in the Americas and they come to prove a point. Our teams are in midseason and worn down from playing in several largely meaningless competitions like CONCACAF CL- Any event that allows USL teams in from a league that the USSF should have shut down since it hurts our top division cannot be considered credible. Superliga is a better focus. But the point is now Euro teams know MLS is as good as any Euro league top to bottom so they come and try and make a point. If Wigan, Stoke or Hull City came here, they would have zero chance of beating an MLS team if the MLS team were focused.

    MLS is already one of the top leagues. The TV ratings reflect ESPN’s unwillingness to promote the league and the eurosnoberry of its producers and announcers.

  9. Larry says:

    Um Kartik, after some great articles this week you’re trying to sugarcoat things for the league here. You’re wrong about the attendance- Italy averages 21,000 plus a game while MLS minus friendlies and doubleheaders averages under 15,000. Spain averages close to 29,000 essentially double the MLS number without doubleheaders and friendlies.

    Also, this was the first time a USL team beat an MLS team in a two leg series because it was THE FIRST TIME THE TWO LEGS EVER PLAYED IN A TWO LEG SERIES! So in fact despite the bluster of the “soccer don,” MLS has never beaten the “minor” league in a traditional international standard two leg tie.

    MLS teams continue to be shown as frauds in real competitive matches versus the Mexican League. Superliga does not count.

    These comparisons would not come up if the “soccer don” did not continue to exaggerate or flat out lie about the standard of MLS vis a vis international leagues. American MLS fans have a very skewed and wrong perception of how their league measures up internationally. They also tend to have a very skewed and condescending view towards USL, which is the league we have in much of the country, and the league which has worked so hard to grow American players and the American game from the U-16 level on up.

    Kartik, you usually make perfect sense but this piece reflects a willingness to appease those who have attacked you this week. Count me among those that are disappointed by this fraudulent piece, where you resort to the same methods as Garber to exaggerate MLS’ achievements, including a few flat out lies that MLS types perpetuate and normally you’d call them on, and simply repeat some of the less effective arguments you made in earlier pieces without repeating the stronger ones for fear of being attacked by MLS again.

    I like your work, but perhaps your fear of being ostracized led to you back peddling a bit here. The TV argument is fine, but you omit the fact that FSC gets more viewers for WPS who pays them to air the games than they do for MLS whom they pay a rights fee too! Again, you’ve brought this up before, but now want to avoid the subject.

  10. ERT 145 says:

    I’m with Florida Goal and Larry. Well said both. Kartik, I am a big fan, but your attempts to get back in the MLS YES conga line have been noted and those of us who come here for critical and well reasoned analysis are disappointed by this piece which is full of stats skewed to make MLS look better than it should.

  11. ERT 145 says:

    If the league were so well run and so honest in drawing 15,000 fans per game they would not have to try and grab Kenny Cooper’s transfer fee, now would they?

  12. eplnfl says:

    Good piece Kartik. On the plus side for MLS the league has been able to put players on a steady basis into major European leagues now and also be a reliable feeder of talent for the USMNT. Just look at the line-up for the Mexico game for the proof of that.

    Yet, while the MLS can now produce talent when those players go someplace else the league gains $$$$$$$ but takes a hit in quality. Thus, the point you make on international results that seem to indicate a league that is less effective on the field. When you get a summer like this last one then MLS fans will take a hit in quality due to call ups to the National team.

    The TV ratings remain a problem. Do we have numbers on how non-MLS soccer is doing on ESPN? That would be an interesting to know. Also, are the early rating for the Mexican League still good on the Spanish channel.

    Larry, no one here has ever said hide the problem areas for MLS. Kartik never has nor I have said MLS is perfect or even close to it. As some have submitted, it is our big league and we should support it to make it better. Kartik has listed only some of the things that need to be attended to by MLS and those would be only a start.

    Let’s focus on how we can all work to suggest improvements to America soccer as a whole, USMNT, MLS, USL-1, PDL, etc.

  13. Lou, sadly the ratings for non MLS soccer on ESPN are very high by comparison- Champions League averaged a .4 in the middle of the day on weekdays and the final which was held on a Wednesday afternoon got a 1.3 rating. MLS occupies better time slots than the CL- had the MLS been played on a Wed. afternoon it is fair to assume statistically no one may have been watching.

    The USMNT has averaged between a .6 and a .9 rating on ESPN. Now this is down from the period leading up to the 2006 World Cup and also the period before and after the 1998 World Cup, but is higher than the lead into the 2002 World Cup and qualifying for the 2006 WC.

    MLS Cup got its worst rating ever last year partly (no offense to anyone here) because Columbus made the final. This year it will be on ESPN2 instead of ABC for the first time ever meaning likely that even fewer viewers will watch it unless Seattle reaches the final.

    FSC has had telecasts at 7 am PT for the Premier League that have garnered more viewers on a network in 36 million American homes than some of ESPN’s primetime MLS games that are aired in 98 million homes.

    MLS is a big loser on TV. Their is no positive way to spin it.

    Now to the attendance issues outlined above.

    MLS has higher attendances than Italy or Spain. If you factor in SUM friendlies, and SUM marketed matches not involving MLS sides and consider the second divisions in both Italy and Spain, MLS is higher. Secondly, MLS stadiums have fewer unsold seats in them even without the doubleheaders and SUM events than Italian or Spanish stadiums.

    MLS attendance is in reality the fourth best in the industrialized western world behind Germany, England and Japan.

  14. Tim says:

    Everyone needs to start to realize that it really isn’t completely unheard of a leauge to fluctuate in its quality. 10 years ago no one would argue with you if you said that serie A was the best league in the world. After that La Liga was the best league in the world. Now the EPL is the best league in the world. A League’s quality changes based on many different factors. Our country is at the point where it doesn’t have the money or the ability based on a development stand point to keep a lot of its young talent from going over seas.

    Once this changes and some better scouting in latin america from an quality standpoint. And the latter really seems to be happening with some of the more recent signings in the league. For those who haven’t seen FCD Jair Benitez, you need to he is a quality left back.

  15. kyle says:

    At what point do we stop hearing about MLS only being x years old? MLS has a salary cap of 2 million dollars and no real youth systems. Ratings for MLS are absolutely terrible and attendance is not really that good. So how in the hell is MLS ever suppose to be anything other then a third rate league?

  16. Lars says:

    My lord, people are dumb. They’ve missed the entire point of this article. Major League Soccer is indeed a third rate league, but it’s a third rate league that has experienced only a very small crunch in terms of income this year in what is arguably the biggest financial meltdown since the late eighties, and perhaps even the late twenties. Compare this to leagues across the world and you’ll be hard pressed to find third rate leagues that can claim the same.

    Is the quality of play not very good?

    Certainly, but the fact the league has survived the brunt of a major recession, with the economy back on the growth track, is certainly good news for the future quality of the league. With little drop in attendance, this will indicate to many of the teams in the league, especially the small stadium teams like KC and San Jose, they will be able to loosen up the purse strings and roster restrictions and improve the product. Why would they do this? Because they will have realized they’ve only scratched the surface of what can be in American Association Football.

    I’m actually not concerned at all over poor TV ratings. Yes, the league needs TV as a source of revenue, but the NHL, a league much much older, achieves almost as atrocious ratings, despite pursuing a model of seeking out the large TV markets. TV ratings will come as the league sets back on improving quality of play as well as the pursuit of Association Football Specific Stadiums.

    Major League Soccer has survived a major recession folks, and it did it in style. The owners will see economic profits to be gained, and will invest accordingly. Rejoice.

  17. Lars knows me well- my original title was going to be “recession proof MLS still lacks quality” but I softened it- but yes that was the point!

  18. kyle says:

    Thanks Paul Allen the Hunt family and AEG for being rich, screw you Don Garber.

  19. Timothy says:

    Anyone who isn’t truly concerned about MLS’ ratings is crazy. A .2 hardly even registers.

    Lars, the NHL situation is differnet. Versus is in fewer homes than ESPN2 and the league had a strike a few years ago. Yet, they still have a network contract on NBC and have not had a single game in the last two years on NBC which got a rating as poor as last season’s MLS Cup on ABC. Their cable rating on Versus is also twice that of MLS’ on ESPN2.

    So, even though the NHL is supposedly “struggling” on TV it has twice as many viewers as MLS, while other soccer properties have 3 or 4 times as many viewers. The FMF whose coat tails MLS has tried to ride off avergaes on a Saturaday night about 5 million viewers. MLS games on FSC average about 30-40 k viewers. FSC’s Prem games if they include Liverpool or Chelsea ALWAYS get more viewers than ESPN2′s average MLS telecast even though FSC is in 60 million fewer homes.

    If TV doesn’t bother some MLS fans, they are living in a fantasy world created by the vacuum of the American soccer community and blogs like this, twitter and other things that make MLS seen like a big deal.

    • Lars says:

      The NHL’s TV Situation speaks for itself. They technically could be paid nothing for having their games on NBC. NHL promoters like to point about the so-called “high ratings” during the playoffs as a success but it’s an utter failure. The NHL is a league that has been around since 1917, and is considered something of a joke in the American sports world. MLS is too, but the difference is MLS is not even 20 years old, and is growing, and survived with almost no recessionary impact. You point to NHL’s “success” in improving their ratings, but then ignore the fact that at least 5 teams will never, ever, make a profit.

      Yes, they achieve double on Versus, that MLS achieves on ESPN2, but once again, the league is ancient in comparison to MLS.

  20. OPI says:

    Kartik’s pathetic attempt to suck up to MLS fails. Not only because he skews facts and numbers much like the Soccer Don does but also because he still cannot resist at pointing out the obvious about the league’s failings at the end of the piece. I love how some MLS lovers always say “oh but it is only X years old.”

    The league was better 10 years ago- more competitive in CONCACAF, with better foreign players and a more watchable product. The SSS have been great, a huge upgrade over the football stadia from 10 yrs back but otherwise MLS has gone backwards with the exodus of American talent and continued over expansion of the product which includes signing unaccomplished foreign players for ridiculously high salaries.

    Everyone says we cannot afford this or that, but how can this league pay Pablo Vitti almost 350k, and at one time was paying Ronnie O’Brien over 300k. “we cannot afford to pay players is the mantra” when in fact it should read “we don’t want to pay Americans because guys with foreign sounding names and European or South American passports impress the crowd we are trying to win over.”

    This league makes me sick.

  21. eplnfl says:

    Let me add to what I have said above. We should be supportive while remaining critcial when necessary, and it is necessary of MLS. However, the time is now for MLS, massive crowds are greeting toruing European squads, America is caught up with the Champions League, the World Cup, the Euro’s, even the Gold Cup. The window is open now for MLS! Steps must be taken in this off season that will lead to overall quality improvements to MLS and each of it’s teams. That is from top to bottom players must be acquired that will attract the growing general public interest in soccer. One or two household names must become part of the league. Beckham is a one man travelling show for the league, with Blanco doing his bit in the Spanish language community. We need nine others. Players who can arrive in a town and sell tickets to the broader community other than the die hard MLS fans. If we can not do this now MLS will miss out.

    ESPN is committing $$$$$$$ to soccer. FSC is doing the same. An American league of world wide substance has to join in or the sport will cease to be an American one but a traveling tv show, for a few weeks during the summer. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!

  22. Lou- I’d prefer the league remain American rather than become like the world leagues abroad that don’t develop their domestic talent as well as they could. The model should be Holland and not England or Spain. I have however made myself clear on this in the past and know I am in the minority. A season long traveling circus of superstars doesn’t do anything to enhance the USMNT and that to me is a big problem. However, that is better than the current course of the league.

    Right now, MLS isn’t doing either- developing players at the rate or caliber as they once did (don’t name guys like Altidore who stopped in the league and was essentially the real deal when he left Bradenton….I mean more like the Hejduk’s and the Sanneh’s that got big Euro contracts just years after playing in the A-League thanks to MLS honing their skills) or providing sufficient entertainment for European oriented footy fans.

    So as I have stated before they need to pick one path or the other- right now they opt for neither, and that accounts for the lackluster TV ratings and general lack of interest outside of the core fan who obviously has made MLS one of the most successful draws in the world.

  23. eplnfl says:

    Do not take my comments to believe indicate that only overseas talent can fit the bill for MLS upgrades. Dollars should be found to keep our local talent home. That would include talent from the Concacaf nations that would be natural draws for MLS clubs.

    It should be the first priority for MLS to “buy American”. The likes of Howard, Altidore, and Bradley, etc. should be in MLS. That way the leaders from our national team can be seen in person and more frequently in the various American media outlets.

    However, our national character is that if there is a quality player out there in a sport and we play it then we want that player to be here. So, while 10 Beckham’s are not in the best interest of MLs/American soccer 5 may become an necessary element.

  24. ERT 145 says:

    “Has made MLS one of the most successful draws in the world”

    ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  25. Alejandro RUiz says:

    Oh no, a 14 year old soccer league in American isn’t one of the best. Stop the presses!

    It still doesn’t excuse the half-truths and deceitful facts to make your point. I know you’re a “blog” and I shouldn’t presume any journalistic integrity. But could you at least try? Reading the tea leaves over midsummer friendlies by superclubs. Yeah, we can’t beat Barcelona…..shocker. Neither can 99.9% of the world, not even Man United could do it. Real Madrid, Chelsea, those teams are on a similar level.
    It took Barcelona 180mins to score on Chelsea and we all know how loaded RM is this season. They could actually be better than Barcelona, at very least their attacking is their equal.

  26. gmonsoon43 says:

    I know comparisons about the standard of play between now and 10 years ago have been made. Could anyone compare the salary caps from those 2 time periods? The money in the game has exploded in the last 10 years, it very well be that the increases in the cap haven’t kept up.

  27. Jon says:

    One thing to consider…money ain’t everything when it comes to a player’s choice to go to play in Europe. Many players want to go and play in a European league simply to be in a place where football is king, have an amazing cultural experience while they are still young, etc. Almost all of the Yanks Abroad will tell you that money was not the main reason they wanted to play in Europe. It is the soccer culture already embedded there for decades that is the biggest draw. You are kidding yourselves if you think a salary cap rise is going to keep all the mid-level talent here. It is going to take some time for young players to dream of playing in MLS and not in Europe.

    • Lars says:

      You’re foolish if you think it wouldn’t. Often times, you’d be able to attract higher level american talent to stay at home if they’d be paid more. There are quality Americans here, and the league’s quality and profile will be raised with salaries. It’s been big news throughout NFL, MLB, even NHL and NBA when a huge contract is signed. Remember when Beckham’s contract was signed with MLS? Also big news, mainly due to the name, but the number was no small figure. Big news surrounding salaries draws attention…

  28. Lars says:

    Oh, by the way, Argentina’s Premier Division may not even have a season this year due to financial insolvency. Thank your lucky stars, and MLS should be trying to get the second half of their season on every TV in Argentina for free if possible. Just give the rights away, ANY exposure is better than none down there, and with nothing to compete against it might help.

  29. Jon says:

    Lars-

    Notice my use of the word “some”, indicating quite clearly that I do believe it will keep a few of the current players at home. You might consider reading my post clearly before calling me foolish.

  30. soccer goals says:

    You made some good points Kartik.

  31. abinosounder says:

    If the MLS wants true success, it’s time to get rid of the salary cap, and reward the teams that bring in the ratings, the support, and the fans. The Sounders average more fans, bring in more revenue, and ratings that any other team in the league. Yet they aren’t able to capitalize on this success, and bring in the talent needed to help their team. If the fans, ratings, and money is there, then the Sounders should get more of the money. If they win the MLS cup for 5 years in a row, so be it. It will teach a lesson to teams like the Red Bulls, who have been in the league forever and have no support. Everyone hates the Yankees, yet they show up for the games. The Sounders could do the same. But only if they are rewarded sufficiently for their efforts. It’s pathetic that the rest of the league is now relying on the Sounders for their money, since they can’t drum up any support of their own.

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