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It’s Champions League Time … for Columbus

Posted on by Peter C

mls crew Its Champions League Time ... for ColumbusCONCACAF CL 93x100 Its Champions League Time ... for Columbus

The UEFA Champions League(UCL) knockout phase is underway. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that it attracts a global audience and captivates fans with competition that features many of the greatest players in the game.

When I was just beginning my journey of becoming a soccer fan(2003), I was struck by the emphasis that was directed at clubs finishing in the top 2, 3, or 4 slots because it meant qualification for the Champions League. Note that my first real exposure came courtesy of the then named Fox Soccer World which was broadcasting the Eredivisie, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, the EPL and other non UEFA leagues. And as I watched the UEFA Champions League(and thoroughly enjoyed the concept and the competition), my thought turned to my own Confederation(CONCACAF) and I wondered if we had anything similar.


Lo and behold, we did, the CONCACAF Champions Cup(CCL) which has since morphed into the CONCACAF Champions League. So naturally I wanted to know if clubs from MLS were participants and how well they fared against our regional foes. In fact, it turns out that MLS did fairly well in its early years. Admitedly, the Cup competition had many fewer entrants than the recently rebranded CONCACAF Champions League, but that didn’t diminish my excitement in learning that MLS wasn’t as bad as I was reading in the soccersphere. In only its second year of existence, 1997, MLS club Los Angeles was a finalist, losing to Mexican powerhouse Cruz Azul. In 1998 DC United won the title, a feat duplicated by the 2000 Los Angeles Galaxy.

Since then however, no MLS club has made it to the finals. In the 8 completed competitions since then, MLS clubs made it to the semi-finals five times. But that in itself is misleading as for several years, MLS clubs entered the tourney in the quarterfinals. In the 2009-2010 version, DC United won its preliminary tie to gain entrance to the group stage, but after a terrible start failed to advance. Houston also failed to advance when they lost their final group stage match against a team that not only had been winless but had a -17 goal differential(Isidro Metapan of El Salvador). Only Columbus survived the group stage and will play Toluca in a home and home tie on March 9 and 17. Toluca, after finishing as top point getter in the ’09 Apertura, is currently struggling with only 10 points from 8 games in the ’10 Clausura.

Columbus will still be in preseason when they meet. But Columbus coach Warszyka acknowledged that their last few preseason matches are being played with an eye towards the CCL. Unfortunately, the Crew are awaiting word on whether Frankie Hejduk and Guillermo Barros Schelotto will be suspended for the March 9 match due to yellow card accumulation during the group phase.

Many people have written articles attempting to explain the failure of MLS clubs to seriously compete in the regional championship. Among the factors to blame for such poor results are:

  • fixture congestion
  • roster sizes
  • poor team quality
  • MLS teams simply don’t care and play 2nd teamers in CCL matches
  • Lack of incentive

The fixture congestion issue has been attacked by the naysayers who point to Euro leagues and their busy schedules, failing to acknowledge the difference in roster sizes. Some of the bigger Euro clubs have upwards of 60 players(or more) under contract. Beginning in 2009, MLS rosters were reduced from 28 to 24.

Just to fill in the blanks on fixture congestion, it’s going to be a little bit ‘worse’ this year with the league taking off for the two weeks of World Cup group play. Here are the numbers and you may judge for yourself the impact on MLS clubs.

Last summer the preliminary round(home and home) ran from July 28-August 4. For the period running from July 25 to August 4(11 days), RBNY had one league match and lost to W Connection(T&T). OK, we all know they sucked, so no big surprise there. Toronto FC had 2 league matches during that period and lost out to the Puerto Rico Islanders. DC United also had two matches and progressed to the group phase by defeating Luis Firpo of El Salvador. The dates for the preliminary rounds of the 2010-11 competition haven’t been set yet so here are the MLS match counts for the two teams from MLS, LA(MLS Cup loser), and Seattle(US Open winner) for the period July 24-August 11. LA has three league matches and Seattle has four. We’ll have to wait for the completion of the Canadian Nutralite Championship to see if Toronto joins the other MLS teams in the preliminary round.

The 2009-10 group phase(6 matches) ran from August 18 to late October, essentially the end of the MLS regular season. From August 15 to season’s end, DC United had 10 league matches and failed to progress. Houston had 8 league matches and failed to progress, while Columbus had 9 league matches and advanced(as well as winning the Supporters’ shield). For the 2010-11 CCL, Columbus and RSL are in the group phase. From August 14 to the end of the season, Columbus has 11 matches, 2 more than they had in 09-10 and RSL has 10, the same as DCU in 09-10. Too much information? Well, it’s been a big part of the discussion, so I just put it out there.

As to the financial incentive, I give you this from the 2009-10 events…

CONCACAF CL
Quarterfinal Teams $11,000
Quarterfinal Winners $16,500
Semifinal Winners $22,000
Winner $27,500
Winner Total $77,000

CONCACAF CL prize money

UEFA CL
Advance to Round of 16 € 3,000,000
Quarterfinal Winners € 3,300,000
Semifinal Winners € 4,000,000
Runner-up € 5,200,000
Champion € 9,000,000
Winner Total € 19,300,000.00

UEFA CL prize money

The money factor, to be honest, has different implications for MLS than from any other league or teams, be it in CONCACAF, with it’s measly prize awards, UEFA, or CONMEBOL for that matter. UEFA clubs use the huge awards not only to balance their books, but for war chests to be used in acquiring new players in the ever upward spiraling marketplace of world class players. For MLS clubs, operating under a salary ‘cap’, the maximum reward of $77,000 is almost meaningless, except to the low salary players for whom any piece of the player share of prize money would have significance.

So what is the incentive for MLS clubs? Respect. Plain and simple. The Mexican league is clearly the dominant league in CONCACAF. Their teams have won 6 of the last 8 CONCACAF club titles, including the last four(Costa Rican teams won the other two). In addition to cementing their perch at the top of CONCACAF, those teams and the league get to extend their brand by their participation in the FIFA Club World Cup. For me, that’s the big reward and it shouldn’t be undervalued.

I guess it’s apparent that I’m a supporter of the CCL. As such, I’ve been collecting articles by folks I respect that touch on the topic. Here are a few….

Tom Dunmore on Pitch Invasion -Jan ’08 – A good Idea

Luis Bueno on SI.com -Jan ’08 – An ill bred concept

Steve Davis on ESPNSoccernet -Aug ’09 – MLS not focused

Steve Goff on Soccer Insider= -Aug ’09 – A Player’s thoughts

Bryan Zygo on MLS Talk -Aug ’09 – A Call for MLS to get serious

And here are links to Champions’ League websites.

CAF Champions League(Africa)

AFC Champions League(Asia)

CONCACAF Champions League(North America)

Copa Libertadores(South America)

33 Responses to It’s Champions League Time … for Columbus

  1. Quakes Fanatic says:

    Great blog my friend. I too wish that MLS took this competition more seriously. CONCACAF Champions League allows the winner to play a meaningful game of two against world class teams (Barcelona, ManU, etc). What is needed is a tweak to the format so that games are played with more incentive for corporate sponsorship. More sponsorship means more payouts to teams. Can you imagine if Arizona used the Beastly University of Phoenix stadium to host a double header of Seattle versus Chivas (not Chiavas USA) follwed by LA Galaxy versus Club America? Huge gate dollars and sponsor money!!!

    • vic says:

      good thinking. The way Guadalajara has started the FMF season bodes well for the next CCL later this year, especially if they make the Mexican apertura championship final. Essentially you’re saying that CCL needs to luck out and score some big market teams- LA & Seattle are good.
      However, another part of the problem is the standard of other CCL leagues. Copa Libertadores has two big leagues like Concacaf (Argentina & Brazil), but several strong leagues beneath that. Outside of Mexican clubs, and DC United from several years, the only non MLS or FMF club that has a strong standing is Saprissa. T&T needs to improve. This is a bit off, but if T&T and Costa Rica played each other and maybe formed a sort of joint league, that would create another strong league. My point is that even if MLS improves much more and takes CCL seriously, where are the other leagues that will provide consistently good teams? This is also a bit off, but the only hope for “Huge gate dollars” for MLS clubs in international play is for Copa libertadores to allow perhaps MLS teams below the 34th parallel (LA to Dal to Atlanta) to qualify for the tournament. Sao Paolo vs Houston would draw a crowd.

  2. Robert says:

    how can we expect MLS to take this competition seriously when it doesn’t even take soccer seriously? Examples: Conferences, MLS CUP, Salary Cap, March-Nov, Ridiculous Names, no lower divisions and the list goes on.

    • JB says:

      Robert, you are an idiot, please go back to 2001 where you and your ridiculous rambling belongs.

      • Charles says:

        Please don’t insult, he is entitled to his opinions, not matter how dumb they are…just kidding. In all seriousness, address the issues not the person.
        Is Sounders are rediculous name ? The whole city wanted it.
        Mar-Nov is what Brazil league does, are they wrong too ?
        Promotion-relegation is the single dumbest idea in the history of the world. The EPL putting Newcastle in the minor leagues while keeping a bankrupt team up would put a league like MLS into bankruptcy.

        • Robert says:

          you guys have no idea what your talking about. What has changed since 2001? no one cares about MLS which seems to be the status quo among you MLS fans. I have no problem with Sounders just that they play on fake grass and in a NFL stadium. what happend to garber’s guidelines for if a club wants to gain entry into MLS they have to have soccer specific stadiuM? i guess those guidelines were blurred when they saw how many idiots will purchase sounder season tix.

          Charles you know nothing about brazil soccer setup. why don’t you google it before you put such stupidity ..oh wait your a sounders fan… nevermind.

          • Charles says:

            Robert,
            You tell others they have no idea what they are talking about and then call QWest a gridiron stadium. It was built for soccer.
            That would have been enough, but you say that…
            MLS fans don’t care about MLS.

            At first I thought you were serious, then I realized you were making a joke. That was pretty funny.
            Nice post.

        • vic says:

          Sounders is the greatest name ever. Remember when the puget sound destroyed that newly constructed bridge in the 30s? Now thats power. As for the Brazilians, they’re on pcp. Thats why they play so damn fast.

      • David says:

        Yes, the rest of the world, with their thriving, successful leagues, are clearly idiots.

        • Charles says:

          I would hardly call a league, where the 20th place team in England doesn’t paying their debts, in a league that brings in as much money as the EPL, a perfect success.

          We have to agree on that? So it is only a matter of degree that we disagree on.

          Can you imagine if the NFL, the best run league in the world, went to only 20 teams and created a minor second league ? It is insane to even think about. It would cost them 100s of millions of dollars.
          Pro/rel might have worked in 1880, but somewhere in between it became a really dumb idea.

  3. Jammer says:

    I watched Houston play at Arabe Unido, a game they drew 1-1. Ashe was ejected at the request (bullying?) of the Panamanian team, for an unspectacular cross that drew blood when the defender stumbled and dove onto his foot. Oduro had a break and scored, appearing on-side from the tv camera angle. The linesman held the flag down through several touches, until after the ball hit the back of the net, then raised it and disallowed the goal. Later Holden was ejected with two nearly simultaneous dissent yellow cards. And he had reason to dissent, as Houston was receiving as many cautions and ejections as Arabe Unido, who were playing a much dirtier game. At the end, I was disgusted and disinclined to watch CL any more.

    If Houston wins that game, they advance. I am not saying this is the only reason for MLS’ poor results, but it may contribute.

    Personally I think the CL in its format is a waste of time and energy. Let’s have an MLS-FMF tournament which can draw the big crowds and tv audiences and money. Call it SuperLiga, or call it North American Champions League based on the usual distinction that Mexica, US and Canada make up North America. Let the Carribean and Central America play a champions tournament, the champion of which gains entry into the the North American tourney as a guest.

    Then MLS teams won’t have to congest their fixture with poorly attended, poorly watched, poorly officiated, unprofitable games against the nobodies of concacaf.

    • David says:

      Um, do you understand the regional setups around the world under FIFA? UEFA, CONCACAF, COMBENOL, etc.?

      • Robert says:

        seriously this is what type of American soccer fan we have. Jammer we do have the Superliga and it is a contrived tournament so MLS and FMF can make money. Also, some of these “nobodies” in Concacaf schooled MLS on how to play soccer. Jammer, you have no idea what your talking about.

  4. Charles says:

    Is this site back to life ? YES, must mean the greatest league ( definition: the one that plays where I can watch ) in the world is about to begin!

    Man, I can hardly wait. Seattle has sold out its first two games and is very close to selling out the season ( 35,500 ).

    It is funny to me, how all the people that love the UEFA Champions League hate the MLS playoffs. IF you are one of those people, don’t you think you are just a little biased against US soccer and MLS ? Just a little.

  5. David says:

    I’m an MLS season ticket holder. I’m also objective and recognize the product for what it is. I care because I know it could be so, so much better than it is, and because I care about the future development of American players.

    The difference between playoffs for a league title, and a tournament format (which is different from a playoff, obviously) for an interleague competition is pretty clear.

  6. Bandeeto says:

    Can’t wait to watch RSL play! Yes I’ve been a fan since before the championship. I understand the difference in quality of play between MLS and the EPL. MLS is my league, RSL is my team, the cup is at my stadium, and i can see all of it in person (barring a strike of corse)! How often do you anti-MLSrs fly to England to watch the EPL? To Spain to watch La Liga? That’s what I thought.
    My point is not whose league is better, or whose right. My point is that MLS is important to a growing number of people and it’s worth caring about. For what is is now and will be in the future.

    • Charles says:

      Baneeeeto !
      Different team, but same sentiment.
      I hope RSL is selling out every game after they won it all last year.

      Seattle already sold out the LA game…if they cap it at 35,500 1 day after tickets went on sale. Only 1,000 tickets left for the RSL game.

      • vic says:

        RSL is really the only team in the interior of the country (excluding chicago) that is doing decent attendance. RSl could totally afford to get a top DP, not to draw fans at home but when traveling to other cities.
        Congratulations to you little people up there in Utah.

  7. RioSoccer says:

    Peter – nice blog. I’m glad someone eles in the US like the CONCACAF CL . I too would like to see a MLS team host the trophy. But I do disagree with your statements about Roster & fixture pile up. European teams cope with 4 games in 14-20 days, so can MLS teams – think Rooney doesn’t play in Rome on Wed. and against Liverpool on Sun? Of course he does. What I blame it on is either terrible coaching or not putting a priority on winning by MLS. There is NO reason that a MLS team should dominate a Mexican side for 75-80 minutes be up 2-0 and then give up 3 goals to lose – I can’t remember whichteam did that. It just seemed like the Mexican teams were so much more tactically aware than the MLS teams. Look at Puerto RIco & Montreal 2 years ago – winning playing Long Ball.

    Someone help explain that to me. Also – whoever said that promotion/relegation is a bad idea – very sad statement. One of the things that makes watching European (really anywhere in the world) is supporting your local team (or team your really like) go through the ups & downs over the years. It matters that you win those games even if you don’t have a chance at winning the league. Its also great to watch the “little” guy go from village league all the way up to the EPL – like Burnley, a team from a town of 30,000. Another reason why Cup play is so great – the underdog. You think Newcastle fans and players don’t appreciate the EPL now and will work hard this year to get back. As opposed to our Baseball league – who wants to watch a team 20 games back of first by the All-Star Break?

    • Charles says:

      RioSoccer,
      It was me that said pro/rel is a dumb idea. Obviously this has been argued many times before. I never get sick of it, but I am easily amused.

      Virtually every team is the equivilant of “20 games back” in the EPL.
      This is with more than 1/4 of the season left.

      Seriously. Everton, middle of the pack, has to go 6 wins and 5 ties to catch up to Chelsea/Man U. At which point Chelsea and ManU will have 11 games to get 1 point and beat them. Watching your “ups and downs”, is not real is it ? There are only a handful of ups and the rest are very down.

      Putting a potential money making team like Leeds in the 3rd division ( or NUFC ), while a team at the top goes BK, just doesn’t make sense. IF they didn’t claim bankruptcy or it was denied, the league would have been a joke. Cancelling games already played, not finishing the full season, etc.

      • Charles says:

        One more thing RioSoccer.

        The Seahawks, if you dont follow gridiron football, would have been relegated for a couple of years in a row now. They sold out every game again last year.
        Newcastle ? Well they are drawing in the high 30s, low 40s, well below capacity for many, games. They were one of the highest money making teams in the world last year. This is a team, like the Seahawks, that could contend after building for a few years, but won’t now.

        It is not a coincidence that a pro/rel league has the same team win every year….and it is not all UEFA Champs league causing it.

  8. Bob says:

    I hope that the CCL can eventually be more than it is, but I fear that the fact it’s unlikely to be anything more than a bipolar tournament (USA vs. Mexico, with a club like Sarprissa occasionally stepping up) in the long run will limit it.

  9. Peter C says:

    Quakes Fanatic:
    Thanks for the kind words.
    “Can you imagine if Arizona used the Beastly University of Phoenix stadium to host a double header of Seattle versus Chivas (not Chiavas USA) follwed by LA Galaxy versus Club America? Huge gate dollars and sponsor money!!! ”

    Ha! I’m there, in my dreams. Instead I settled for our amateur team putting up a good fight against Columbus last night and will see them again on Thursday vs the Wizards. Interesting note … Schelotto played without shin guards. And Frankie was …. well Frankie.

    RioSoccer:
    What I can’t see is Rooney playing 4 matches in 11 days. And that’s the difference. Whereas Man U can run out Dimitar or a host of others, or rest players against lesser competition, MLS teams have such parity, that becomes a dangerous ploy. Witness Columbus sitting Schelotto in their first MLS Cup playoff leg last year. That being said, the fatigue factor that an MLS team experiences does allow me to see how they could relinquish a 2-0 lead late in a match.
    And I agree about relegation, but anyone who thinks we can have it in the US within the next 20 years is dreaming.

  10. Logan says:

    Does anyone know where I might be able to catch this match online?

  11. Manuel says:

    Hopefully sponsorship money will come in to up the payout making it worth every team’s while to do their best in this tournament. I may take some time as the majority of the league competing in this tournament lack proper stadiums. With the exception of MLS and La Primera clubs and Saprissa the rest play in small outdated pitches. It’ll take time but with Montreal bringing in over 55,000 supporters during it’s home leg against Santos Laguna shows the potential. With the Sounders and Galaxy making it to the next CCL edition average crowds for the tournament should increase. Not to mention Chivas de Guadalajara are on a tear and could possibly get added to the mix if they make it to their season ending finale. I dare anyone to tell me that a Sounders/Chivas match wouldn’t be played in front of two sold out stadiums or watched by millions on television.

    To comment on some who think March – November season is ridiculous perhaps they themselves should go on Google or Wikipedia and find out that there are almost a dozen leagues around the world such as the Russian league, several Scandinavian leagues and several Asian leagues including the J-League all play a Spring to Fall schedule.

  12. RioSoccer says:

    Charles,

    You miss my point by a country mile. People will still watch Burley even though they don’t stand a chance to win the league, because they hope they will stay UP! People cry when their team goes down – thats soccer. The pure emotion, the loyalty to your team, the history behind it. Thats why you don’t get it – its not a money thing. Another thing I love about prom/rel is there are consequences to your managment. Don’t buy the right player, can’t motivate your players or play wrong tactics – have fun playing in a lower division. There’s no – “hope we do better next year” b ecause it may take you 5 or more years to get back up – look at Leeds.
    Looking at your post – I don’t think you really understand the concept – only 3 go down and 3 go up. Thats every year. Plus they’re other competitions to compete in, like the FA Cup, League Cup, European Games, plus the EPL. Some teams are fine winning the FA Cup but only being midtable in the EPL.

    And Peter – Rooney does play wed in the Champions league and then on sat/sun in the EPL. Happens all the time, same with Torres, Lampard or any other star. They can play 2 games in a week, why can’t the Americans? Is it a preference to win the MLS then? Then MLS should give the places to the CONCACAF CL to a team who is going to try and win it instead of embarrassing the league by getting beat by nobodies.

    • Roger says:

      I agree 100% RioSoccer.

      Promotion and relegation just make too much sense to keep being ignored.

      It is basically also a mathematical no-brainer, we have 50 states, some are as big as europe. There is no other “system” that can include a number of clubs that would keep a logical proportional relationship to our size, and potential as a country.

      No only pro/rel has proven to be suscessfull all around the world for more than a century. In no other country it makes more sense than here in North America.

      the arguments used against pro/rel are all base-less. Not one leage in planet earth has gone down as a result of pro/rel related big espending, like they are trying to sell us. NOT ONE!!

      There are interests that would hate to see pro/rel happen on US soccer,because they know it will be so big that they will loose money.That is what they are not telling! yes I am talking about NFL!! I said it!! they will do the imposible to miss lead and manipulate us!
      If US soccer implements a system that ocupies all that empty space that their monopoly leaves out; that would be the end of bussiness as they enjoy now . Irony is, our MLS comisioner has plenty of NFL related history.

      you can fool some people some time,but not all the people all the time.

    • Peter C says:

      Rio,

      Sorry but you missed my point. Yes, Rooney and Lampard can play on Sunday, then again on Wednesday and maybe again on Saturday, but they wouldn’t be playing 4 games in 11 days which is what MLS coaches and players have faced regularly during CCL time. That’s the roster size issue. Euro teams have rosters of 30, 40, and more with quality players, not so MLS teams.
      So coaches are left to choose and hope for the best, but it’s been apparent that their primary concern has been league matches.

  13. Peter C says:

    I was hoping to stay out of this discussion, but since so many have usurped the topic of MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League for that of pro/reg, here goes. And by the way, I like pro/reg.

    GET OVER IT! At least for 20 years or so, ain’t gonna happen here.

    Take your hearts off of your sleeves, pull out your calculators and do the math. NOBODY is going to buy into MLS for $40M, then assume more debt for all or part of the cost of a stadium(or its renovation), and then run the risk of being relegated to a league that has only once has seen more than one team attract over 10,000 attendance in a single season since 1999, and has not seen overall league average attendance over 4,400.
    Oh yeah, and when Vancouver, Portland, and as everyone expects Montreal move up to MLS, what remains is only one team that brings in more than 4,000(Rochester-6,400+ in ’09). Without the three teams mentioned, average attendance was just under 3,100!
    Now we’ll see how St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Orlando(if the announcement happens today) draw, but I don’t see those teams dramatically pulling up the averages elsewhere, as much as I’d like to see that happen. Certainly not enough to entertain the idea of pro/reg in the near future.

    • Roger says:

      Your first point is part of the problem,one of the things that have to change.$ 40 M is an absurd amount of money. If we go pro/rel, the newcomers wont get straight to first div, but to an entry level league,wheather it would be third div. or forth its something that would depend on how the league would be “design”. Association fees will need to be much lower. $40M is one of the things that need to go, one of the things holding our growth.

      The stadiums issue is another highly manipulated. Club owners will have to decide,like in any other bussnisses, what strategy are they going to use. The smart ones will succeed, some will go bankrupt and their clubs will be relegated or sold. It happens an leagues all around the world. A relatively cheap stadium could create,if properly design, a very good atmostphere,very intimidating for visiting clubs. Pro/rel gives every club a chance to spend acordingly to their economical potential.Cant afford a first div super stadium, you can maybe build one suitable for third.

      Promotion and relegation would give every city a chance. Single entity with its $40M tag dont.Even Barcelona did not bite it.

      Your last point is another example of how they manipulate issues against pro/rel. Clubs like Portland,Montreal,Rochester,Charleston,Carolina,Puerto Rico etc, have being playing under very unusual cirscumtances,completly isolated from the soccer world. No chance of promotion. No qualification spots to any linked championship. In spite of this conditions the have manage to keep a very loyal fan base. If conditions changed,if they had a chance of promotion, their games would be more meaningfull since they will be playing for something substancial. That would change the whole situation. Their attendance would increase for sure,resulting on extra profits that could be invested on further develop the club.

      The true potential of places like Rochester,Charleston,Montreal,Mississipi,Edmonton etc, could only be measure when they become part of the league that we should have. The perfect example of this idea is Seattle, in just one seasson they have the biggest MLS attendance.

      Using the actual attendances,and realities of such clubs, as an example of why we should not implement the system that could give them the chance to grow,is part of the problem. Reversed logic.

      We are being thrown the same empty arguments over and over and over. “remember the old NASL” “big spending will kill the league” “nobody will pay this…” “nobody is going to watch that..” “our sport culture is diferent, way diferent” “small is good,very good” “big is bad, very bad”………

      you can fool some people some time……………………

      • David says:

        Roger this is a great post and summation.

        It will be difficult for MLS to reach it’s potential by trying to out-NFL the NFL. A smart strategy would be to differentiate yourself in America’s crowded sports marketplace — emphasize the things that make soccer different and magical- not just the beauty of the game itself, but the culture the surrounds the game, the excitement and gossip from the international network of player transfers, how every single league game is meaningful because of promotion and relegation, and how the smallest 4th division team is part of the same competitive framework as the league’s biggest powers.

      • Peter C says:

        Roger,

        Sorry it took so long for me to reply. Been a little busy.

        I agree that the $40m price tag is steep, yet teams have ponied up the money for a franchise. Anyway, with the league approaching 20 teams, what would lowering the price tag mean? Unless you think that the first division in the US should expand well beyond 20 teams. Where we are now is that owner/investors have large stakes at risk, what with their franchise fee and mortgages for stadiums. That’s done, there’s no going back, which quite frankly makes most of the rest of the discussion moot, i.e. “$40M is one of the things that need to go, one of the things holding our growth.” I’m not saying it was right or wrong that we got to this place in the manner we have, but it’s done. So let’s move forward.

        So with that in place, the current I/O’s simply are not going to take the risk of relegation. They would be broke in one year. It’s the lack of significant television revenue, which from what I’ve read, accounts for upward of 30-35% of Euro revenue streams. That’s the difference of survival and bankruptcy. The market has spoken on that issue as far as the US leagues are concerned. Roughly $21M in domestic rights(excluding local deals), is a pittance. $10M for the global rights is absurd, but that the deal that’s currently in place. Is pro/reg going to change that? Will there suddenly been networks flocking to give big dollars to USL/NASL because those teams have a chance at promotion? I think not.

        Another problem with your very well stated argument for pro/reg is this… there simply aren’t enough folks willing to lose money to field a team at the lower levels. My local team, for example, might be considered 4th division, they are a USASA team, figuring MLS as 1st, USL/NASL as 2nd, USL-2 as 3rd and PDL/USASA as 4th. And my team is on hiatus from the NPSL for the 2nd consecutive year due to a lack of geographically proximate teams to form a Southwest division.

        It’s very easy to say, “The smart ones will succeed, some will go bankrupt and their clubs will be relegated or sold.” when it’s not your money. And “Pro/rel gives every club a chance to spend acordingly to their economical potential.” We already know the economic potential. As of now, and until the television rights grow substantially, the numbers do not work. Back in 2007, Adrian Hanauer of the Sounders said in an interview that he ran the club as a labor of love, losing 300-400K per year. How many Adrian Hanauers are out there. Not as many as I get the sense you think there are.

        I could keep going in circles here, but like I said, we are where we are, and given that, pro/reg is very far off in the future. The idea that pro/reg would instantly turn the US into a nation that had 3 or 4 robust, stable divisions with an endless supply of ‘sugar-daddys’ waiting in the wings to step into failed markets simply doesn’t make sense to me.

        Is single entity the long term solution to having a successful top division in the US? I don’t know. But as much as you protest, the NASL does have lessons for us. Even the vaunted UEFA confederation has seen the storm clouds on the horizon and as of 2013-14 season, clubs will have to break even to be eligible to play in the Champions League and Europa Cup. As of now, 50% of the UEFA based clubs would not qualify(according to the UEFA report).

        And finally, you talk about empty arguments…“nobody will pay this…”, they’re not paying it, “nobody is going to watch that..”, the ratings are not good, “our sport culture is different, way different”, it is, MLS is an attempt at a top division of a major league that is not even close to considered the best in the world. I ‘d call that a big difference.

        As you say, you can fool some of the people some of the time…

  14. Roger says:

    Peter.

    .” I’m not saying it was right or wrong that we got to this place in the manner we have, but it’s done. So let’s move forward.”

    I say that it is wrong and in order to really move forward first we have to fix it.Not only fix it,but find out why was it wrong .How did it happen?Go to the ruth of the problem.
    In order to build something meaningfull,the base of the building should be kind of important I think!
    This MLS was built ignoring basic values of our game.Soccer is the most popular sport on the planet because FIFA have more countries afiliated than the UN. To include as many as posible,thats is the philosophy that has allow our game to be what it is. The MLS price tag is as oposit to that noble idea as it could be.

    The rest of your post is more of the same manipulation we are submitted over and over. Reasons to justify why a system that have proven suscessfull all around the world for more than a century will fail here.Even though it has never being given a chance.
    The right strategy should be to take advantage of the unique oportunity that we have in north america,wich is, a LOT of cities with no sports teams of any kind.Hit them where they are weak(Art of War),give all those cities a chance and make a diference.
    To integrate ourself to the great world soccer family, to capture the essence of our game,to present the soccer experience to the american sports fan as it REALLY is;to think not only on protecting millionaires pockets but on how our society could benefit from making our game affordable for all; to brake the pattern of sport monopolies on north america. Those should be the GOALS.

    Promotion and relegation acomplish all of those goals.

    as I say:

    you can fool some people some time…………

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