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Don Garber Advises South Florida To Change Its Soccer Reputation

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber met with the Miami Ultras supporters group and other soccer fans in Fort Lauderdale Saturday for a discussion about bringing a MLS team to South Florida. More than 60 soccer fans attended the 60 minute meeting which featured a speech by Garber, followed by a question and answer session.

The main takeaway from Garber’s speech was that Miami still has a lot of work to do to convince MLS and investors that it’s a viable market.

“Miami needs to change its reputation as a market that believes in professional soccer,” said Garber. “I’m telling you as a guy who’s sitting in New York and promoting soccer matches, we worry about this market. This is a risky market for international soccer. There is no reason why it should be.”

He explained that South Floridians need to do everything they can to organize, congregate and improve attendances for its local team Miami FC, recently renamed as the Strikers, as well as international games such as this summer’s Gold Cup games in Miami to prove to MLS headquarters in New York that South Florida can support Division I and international soccer before its ready to support a Division I team (i.e. a Major League Soccer team).

Garber encouraged the Miami Ultras to grow it’s base of more than 1,000 fans who have pledged to buy season tickets for a MLS team in South Florida to 5,000 or more. With that, as well as improved attendances at Miami FC games to 3,000-4,000 (or 10,000 as Garber half joked), investors will take notice of South Florida and may consider it as a market for a MLS team. Garber also expressed concerns regarding a stadium plan for South Florida.

miami soccer fans Don Garber Advises South Florida To Change Its Soccer Reputation

More than 60 soccer fans met Garber to show their support for a MLS team in South Florida.

Several soccer fans in attendance expressed frustration that they’re not receiving any support from the NASL nor MLS to help grow the game in South Florida. Attendees complained bitterly that they’re often the last to know about soccer games or events happening in the region and that it’s only due to blogs and Twitter that they’re able to stay informed. Fans also expressed concern that NASL is not doing enough to advertise Miami FC games. NASL CEO Aaron Davidson, who was in attendance after personally being invited by Garber, said that the message was heard loud and clear and that he would meet with South Florida soccer fans to work together to improve attendances at Strikers games in 2011.

Personally, I walked away from the meeting feeling very disillusioned. The gateway to a MLS team in South Florida needs to be demonstrated through improved attendances at Miami FC/Strikers games, as well as international games, and a larger supporters group. The challenge with this is that Traffic Sports, who owns Miami FC/Strikers, doesn’t seem equipped or willing to spend the money to successfully promote the game to South Florida. It’s been more than three months since the last game of the 2010 season for Miami FC, and we’re still awaiting a decision on what the name of the new team will be. Will it be the Strikers, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Strikers FC or a different name? When a team name has yet to be decided, it’s hard to promote them. And in three months from now, the new season will have begun.

Garber did offer a slim hope by mentioning that the city of Toronto leapfrogged from very small attendances for its semi-professional Toronto Lynx team to a successful MLS team in terms of attendances, but that was definitely the exception. Without a doubt, Garber doesn’t believe in The Field Of Dreams philosophy where if you build a stadium, they will come. Instead, he’s very focused on the famous line from the film Jerry Maguire, i.e. “Show me the money!”  Garber wants soccer fans in South Florida, if they really want a team down here, to prove it by doing all of the hard work of promoting games, galvanizing support among soccer fans and helping get butts on the seats.

Soccer fans in South Florida now know they have a long road ahead of them if they want to succeed in bringing a MLS team to South Florida. There are many significant challenges and roadblocks ahead of them. The next few months will be a true test whether the Miami Ultras can push on from here and move their cause to the next level by becoming more organized and growing in numbers. At the same time, New York Cosmos looks like a shoo-in to grab the 20th spot in Major League Soccer, which means that the earliest South Florida could get a team is 2014 unless a MLS team decides to move before that.

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

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

81 Responses to Don Garber Advises South Florida To Change Its Soccer Reputation

  1. Juan Arango says:

    Good stuff, Chris.

  2. Charles says:

    You can’t argue that Garber doesn’t want a FRANCHISE to work here. It appears to me that he can’t find any investors.

    Why ? probably a toned down version of what all the people that thought it was a bad idea where saying unfortunately.

  3. nc says:

    Poor team marketing is huge for sure. No point in rehashing what we already know about the fickle sports culture down here. The first big step toward overcoming that is to accept what we have. Right now the tone seems to be second division (for lack of a better term) soccer isn’t good enough, and that it is MLS or bust for supporters. What we need is to have the community embrace the club in the same manner that cities like Durham, Louisville, Indianapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Portland, embrace their AAA baseball teams. Correct me if I am wrong, but the league the Strikers (if that is what they end up with) will play in is provisionally sanctioned right now. Once they get the final sanctioning as the official second division of american soccer that will be a good springboard for a marketing perspective. I think the Rowdies success is important too. both communities can play off each other with this. Develop a rivalry that people outside the soccer communities can get interested in. The Rowdies (or FC Tampa Bay as they are going forward) are in talks with the city of st pete to play their games at the old Al Lang field, a beautiful waterfront property. They would remove all baseball dirt and make it a full time soccer pitch (better than what they had in Tampa). If both cities market their team/league, gain support, and excitement when they play, the rest will fall in place. But until the community stops this mentality of “i don’t care unless its ‘major leage’” then there”s a big problem at hand.

  4. nc says:

    one more thing, you can’t blame Garbar for being worried about making a financial plunge into any Florida market. MLB and NHL did this based on demographics alone, and neither can be considered a success at this point. Currently the only sports brand that is a consistent success at the gate is the Florida Gator football team. Florida State doesn’t fill their stadium unless FLorida or Miami is the opponent. Forget the Hurricanes home games. Their worse off than the Marlins really. Not coincidentally, The Gators are also the oldest sports brand in the state. MLS is a far cry from major college football in this state.

  5. Tampafan says:

    I’m glad Garber didn’t come to Tampa because he knows
    Ralph’s Mob is a great supporters group and we don’t need a
    motivation speaker to get our group growing. We don’t bombard
    garber with stupid e-mails “WE WANT MLS NOW” Bullshit and we don’t
    denegrate D2 like Miami has with it’s comments “WE ONLY SUPPORT
    MLS” I listened to the broadcast and most of the question’s to
    Garber started out with “As a MLS fan…..” I never heard someone
    say “AS a Miami FC fan…..” just shows the mentality in
    Miami.

  6. BTW says:

    Tampa had no marketing and we had triple the attendance Miami had, also the Toronto argument is easy to dissolve, Toronto has less major sport franchises than Miami.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Tampa had no marketing? What about the billboards in Tampa? And weren’t some of your games shown on local TV and broadcast on local radio?

      Cheers
      The Gaffer

      • TampaRowdy says:

        Tampa had very little marketing, you trying to make more believe? Just like how there have been more than 12 Ultras at a Miami FC game? We got like 3 billboards and minimal radio advertising on some AM stations.

        Stop making excuses. That is all we’ve heard from Miami fans for a year now is a long string of excuses. Just like Garber has told you, what we’ve been telling you, TIME TO PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

    • ERic says:

      Y’all had a decent first year. But it’s probably a good idea to take a breath and hold off talking about how great your attendance was compared to Miami’s until you have a couple more years in your pocket. It’s rare for a second-year franchise to increase it’s attendance. If y’all keep growing your numbers, then you have reason to crow.

  7. BTW says:

    Ralph’s Mob doesn’t need a motivational speaker for us to support our team and D2. The Ultras just showed their true colors “WE WANT MLS NOW” crowd. and no support for D2, why 60 members of Ultras go to a meeting but only 12-15 of them go to games? and also from the Q&A session I heard “As a MLS fan” why nobody said “As a Miami FC fan”. case closed.

  8. Taly says:

    Good talk by Garber. At least Garber is not teasing like he has done in the past by saying that I want a team here and I am trying.

    Instead he is saying to be impressive like the Sons of Ben or Timbers Army.

    • Charles says:

      You are right Taly.

      Unfortunately noone with a brain thinks that SOB or Timber’s Army would have drawn 60 fans for this. 60.
      Unfortunate for MLS and for Florida fans that want a big league team.
      ( It really shows why they shouldn’t call USL or whatever they named it, Division II without pro/rel )

      Sounderatheart.com had a conversation about this and someone asked how many show up for the Sounder fictional meeting. I wouldn’t have gone, I wouldn’t have been invited before the 3,000 others that were more involved that would have wanted to go.

      I have been a Sounder’s fan for 30 years and wouldn’t have made the cut. Somewhere between Seattle and FL there are quite a few other cities that will be in MLS before FL.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Charles, 60 is pretty reasonable considering the invitation went to Miami Ultras, most soccer people in South Florida didn’t know anything about it, and it was last minute.

        Some of the Miami haters on other blogs estimated that 15 people would show up.

        Cheers
        The Gaffer

        • Clayton says:

          If you are Don Garber, is there really any difference between 15 and 60 people showing up? Neither is close to enough to convince MLS to put a team in Miami-err, Fort Lauderdale.

          Miami seems to think it deserves a team based on demographics. I’m not sure the demographics are still there when you consider the stadium is in Fort Lauderdale. It’s a bit like putting a stadium in St. Pete and calling it Tampa.

        • Charles says:

          Gaffer, You know that I hope it works out.
          The Strikers-Sounders games were some of my favorite memories at a sports game.

          But as an investor, you are not going to put your $50 million dollars to work on the guess that 60 might have 30k behind it soon.

          Garber got publicity for your cause. I hope it works out.

  9. Logan says:

    I keep trying to find a clear answer to this, but haven’t so far. Does anyone know, definitively, what is the max number of teams allowed in the top-flight? FIFA has some sort of limitation on this. I’ve heard it’s 20, and others have said it’s 24.

    If it’s 20, then the book is already shut on Miami and every other prospective MLS city. If it’s 24, I still think there are probably four other cities (after the Cosmos) that would get a team before Florida.

    Also, is no one worried that the Cosmos will take away the NYRB fans? Would be a shame to see that beautiful stadium never sell out, but understandable as the Cosmos will actually be in New York.

    • bradjmoore48 says:

      Logan,

      After what happened Dec 2, I don’t think The Don and MLS are too concerned about what FIFA says about team limitations for the top-flight. Plus, there are still teams that only draw 10k fans a match, re-location is always a possibility if another city can draw more. I don’t think South Florida will be that spot though.

      Re the Cosmos, NY is a big enough market for 2 teams, the Red Bulls may lose some fans, but I would guess if the Cosmos set up in Queens the people who would come would be upper borough based NYers and others from Long Island who saw RBA as too much of a hassle to get to, where NYRB would pull from North Jersey and maybe lower Manhatten and Staten Island.

    • Jack Duluoz says:

      There never was a limit on the number of teams in a top-flight league. Instead, FIFA was worried about the number of games each players had to participate in. Even if there was a limit, MLS could simply split into two conferences like the NFC and AFC for the NFL. Garber talks about taking a pause before continuing expansion, but the truth is there are simply no cities with investment groups out there right now except for a rather strange Cosmos group that makes people wonder is they’re really capable of pulling it off.

      • Will says:

        I PRAY that Major League Soccer NEVER EVER gets to that point. 30-team league would be awful, but this whole franchise system is pretty awful as well.

        The typical promotion/relegation hope. League stops at 20-22 forever, conferences go away, NASL and USL expands to the proper level. It seems unlikely, but if they want NASL and USL clubs to last and not fold after 3-5 years, they will need promotion and relegation to have a motive that you could make it to MLS if you work for it, not if you cough up money. It would be a long, arduous process, but the first step evidently is saying goodbye to the Don as commissioner.

        • Tim says:

          Or what you could do is 24 teams, 2 Conferences, play 22 home and away with your conference and 6 home and 6 away against the other conference. As we have learned fixture congestion is becoming a wee bit of an issue.

        • Daniel Feuerstein says:

          Pro/Rel would end the NASL & USL teams if it was put in right now. Money boys and girls, money and stadiums you can own. Not say it has to be 20,000 capacity, but not paying rent to a high school, college or an athletic complex to maintain your clubs existance.

        • Daniel Feuerstein says:

          Pro/Rel would end the NASL & USL teams if it was put in right now. Money boys and girls, money and stadiums you can own. Not saying it has to be 20,000 capacity, but not paying rent to a high school, college or an athletic complex to maintain your clubs existance.

          • Dave C says:

            @Daniel F
            Why would pro/rel end the NASL/USL? Wouldn’t it be a good thing for them (since they could potentially get promoted to the MLS)?

            Also, I’m not sure if owning their own stadiums is a big deal. If they’re playing in a fairly small stadium anyway, it might simply be more economical to rent a stadium from a school/college rather than pay for your own facility that would only get used once a week.

        • Lysander says:

          Yeah it would be horrible to have 30 cities in the US with top level soccer! TV rating might actually improve. What would we do?!?!?!?

    • Charles says:

      FIFA should set the number at 20 teams for every area the size of a European country. USA could have up to 300 teams.

      Or maybe population based we could have 100 teams.

      IF FIFA trys to set a limit screw them.

      • bradjmoore48 says:

        Yea, because I REALLY want as many US soccer teams as there are college basketball teams :-/ Assuming 30 players per team, do you really think the US has 9,000 pro level players (if you want 300 teams)? Not to mention over saturation of money…you think the salary cap is low now, just wait until you get 100-300 teams all competing for league dollars.

        No, either they need to cap the number of teams at the top or prepare for pro/rel.

  10. Roger says:

    I think that nobody is pointing on the right direction. The Miami fans are not the problem, the problem is the system that we have been imposed.

    Though I am not there right now, I am from Miami,played on a few local leagues including two Copa Latinas, and I am familiar with the local fans culture. Miami is a good example of how the fans feel un-linked to MLS and its single entity concept. Most of the local fans come from countries with a rich soccer tradition, they know first hand how the real thing feels like!
    A good example is “Seleccion Haiti”. A local team wich games are on local creole radio every time they play an important match. Their couch used to be “Nono” Jean Baptiste, a former Haitian international that played on the 1974 team that defeated Italy.For important local games like Copa Latina, they are usually follow by 3000/5000 fans. On almost every country on earth seleccion Haiti would be a local lower division club, but on america they would have to spend 40 mil plus wich is out of their budget. So here comes Garber and tells the local fans, “if you want this you ……blah , blah ,blah..). These fans dont need Garber to give them a team! THEY ALLREADY HAVE ONE!
    There is also Honduras Cinco Estrellas,Soccer Loccer, and so on. Now, I know someone could say..”but these teams are too small to be consider for MLS”…Of course they are,but if they are given a chance to exist and be part of the piramydal soccer structure that we should have, probably after a couple of seassons they get to the conclussion that if Miami is to have a “big” club , they should consider to join forces. And maybe they create something like “Miami United” or something like that. There would be a club history, fans would feel identify with it. It would happen expontaneously, like some of the bigger clubs in the world have.

    What we have now is non soccer people running the show, telling soccer fans that got more knowledge of the game on their left fingernail than they do…..”I dont care about your identity, you should go and support your generic franchise if you want us to consider you”

    Miami fans are not the problem, single entity is!

    • Dan says:

      Single Entity is not the problem. Single Entity is why Division 1 soccer is so stable in the USA. Without it the league would be a disaster like the USL. Now Single Entity wont last forever but it is part of the baby step movement has created a stable MLS. I live in San Antonio and we are finally getting a soccer team. NASL, but it is a start and it is up to us fans to prove that San Antonio can support a Soccer team and I know the Crocketteers and I are going go to as many games as possible and support our team. Even If they don’t go to MLS ill still support my NASL team. Of Course I have many issues with the USL who seems to have an ego problem.

      • Roger says:

        Yes, single entity is the problem. No matter how much some pseudo-fans try to hide it!

        A club, like a child, goes through a formation/growing process before they become something meaningfull. The actual system does not allows for that to happen.
        There is no in-between. It goes from no franchise to franchise in a year!
        You come up with 40 mil; the “owners” of the game decide to open the door for you; they come up with a franchise name (we all know how creative they could get lol); and decide “your” franchise colours, emblem, kits. Walaaahhhhhh…there it is!!!! Go and support your local franchise. There is no soul. No juice. No history. Most importantly, no team to support for the fans on literally thousands of markets that were NOT CHOOSEN.
        Single entity only makes sense for the private club that designed it! Not for the fans; not for the cities; not for the players!
        What should carry more weight?

        • Joe says:

          Please forward this comment to Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL. He needs to know that there is no “juice” or “history” in the most popular league in America (and the most profitable in the world)!

          • bradjmoore48 says:

            American football doesn’t need pro/rel because we are the
            only country that plays the sport. You can’t use the NFL to justify
            what is good for another sport. You also have to consider that
            there are proper development routes for all the major sports in
            this country. A kid can start playing t-ball at age 5, and through
            Little League, HS, and then either college or getting drafted and
            starting the minors, there is a route to a pro career. American
            football has Pee-Wees, HS, College, and the Pros, all with very
            deep scouting within this country. Soccer does not have that. Only
            15 US cities have MLS teams, so its safe to say that, at most, 15
            US cities have an academy system developing young players. There
            are a few colleges with soccer programs, and at that, a handful
            develop very good players (Caleb Porter at Akron is a big name,
            Sasha Cirovski at Maryland), and then there are the pay-for-play
            programs, where upper class kids parents pay assloads of money to
            see their kids only develop a mentality of winning and hope to get
            a nice scholarship to college. Who’s being left out? A LOT of kids.
            If you don’t believe, look at what Thomas Rongen has done going
            abroad getting kids playing in other leagues abroad to come back
            and play for the US. He’s been relatively successful, but he
            shouldn’t have to do it in the first place. So what am I getting
            at? Pro/rel is actually a pretty good option if you want more local
            involvement, and with more teams on a small scale level, you have a
            better chance of not missing kids and the chance to develop them
            properly. Jay DeMerit played HS soccer in Wisconsin and then went
            to Notre Dame, but no one in MLS had any interest in him, so he
            went abroad, played in England’s 7th tier, and then got noticed by
            a Premier League (at the time) side, and at THAT point, the US said
            “hey, maybe we should cap him.” Does THAT make any sense? It
            doesn’t. I remain skeptical that, in this country, “clubs” will
            become some sort of socioeconomic symbol like some clubs are
            overseas, mainly because I don’t think too many Americans see sport
            as emblematic of politics. Sports rivalries in the US have come out
            of on-the-field results, not political or socioeconomic factors,
            and I don’t expect that to change. Having said that, to me, there’s
            more good than harm in a new way of thinking of how to improve
            ourselves in the game. And I still think it’s possible to have a
            system like pro/rel without necessarily becoming “like Europe.”
            i.e. running insane amounts of debt to fund over-priced players,
            which stems from a public that only demands nothing less than every
            title imaginable, and loyalty so staggering that fans are willing
            to threaten physical harm on players, managers and owners who go
            against their wishes. And in the end, Barcelona or Real Madrid will
            always win the title. Fuck, I don’t want to become “like Europe” in
            a lot of respects, but we don’t have to blind ourselves and say
            things like “Single entity is the only way, it’s the American way,
            and anyone who says otherwise is a (insert slur here)” I would look
            at the J-League and Bundesliga models, where you see great fan
            support, great financial rules in place to counter any greedy
            owners, and systems that have great quality of play, in turn
            helping their respective national teams.

          • Roger says:

            NFL this…NFL that…NFL the other…NFL…..NFL……you anti promotion / relegation guys have NFL in your mental speed dial,and I don’t think that is a coincidence at all!

            There is no way to convince me that at least some of you posting here are pseudo soccer fans.It is very unlikelly that kind of NFL praising coming from a soccer fan.

          • Joe says:

            Yes, God forbid I mention one of the most successful sports leagues in the world as an example of how success can be achieved without promotion/relegation. Clearly that’s the only way MLS can succeed!

          • Roger says:

            without promotion and relegation
            with less than 40 teams in a country of 50 states
            No other clubs to play with internationally
            no continental championship
            no world cup

            If you do not understand the diference between real futbol and the NFL, if you dont understand the magnificence and greatness of club soccer, then you should keep enjoying MLS.

          • Tim says:

            So MLS shouldn’t look at the most lucrative sports league in the world as an example of how to work? OK, I guess I’ll choose the one where the teams are leveraged and are in hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Makes sense no?

        • ERic says:

          I’m confused by your comments. You complain about single entity, but say that in any other country, Selection Haiti would be a lower division team.

          Single entity has no bearing on lower division teams in the US. Selection Haiti could join any one of a couple lower division leagues — USL PDL or the NPSL. There’s nothing stopping them that I know of, as neither of those leagues are single-entity. Granted, there’s no formal promotion (as you appear to feel is necessary), but as shown by Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Miami, if Selection Haiti drew well, they could decide to move to the NASL, and if they do well there, they could decide to move to MLS.

          Just because things are different here, there’s nothing except for desire and marketing ability keeping any Miami team from going as far as they want to. Deep pockets an issue? If you can prove yourself at the lower division levels in the US, someone can probably be found to make the rest happen.

        • Charles says:

          Roger, I read virtually every post on this site for a few years now.

          I have yet to see you post about actually soccer. Instead it is about the structure of the league, or the bosses of the league or some wild guess about how you could have saved NASL and the USL.

          Not once about soccer, am I wrong ?

          It is off topic, but why don’t you take a moment and write in this article about who you think will win MLS and why.

          Go ahead, in the meantime the NFL playoffs are about to start and every Sounder fan that I know will be watching our Seahawks tomorrow.

          YOU are the PSEUDO FAN. No question about it.

      • Charles says:

        Dont mention USL please. It doesn’t jive with the pro/reg guys reality.

        1. Pro/reg is the only way and without it you have failure
        2. EPL is their favorite league because MLS quality is not up to par
        3. Teams inferior to MLS should be able to move up to MLS, even with number 2 also being true.

        “Sounder’s Pseudo-Fan for longer than Roger has been alive” Charles

    • Pakapala says:

      I am not a fan of the MLS powers that be, but to say that Garber prevent lower division teams to exist is missing the point. MLS is the highest league in the country like EPL is in England, not the only league. Garber or anyone else do not stop the Selection Haiti to be part of a lower-division league. It is happening all over the country, amateur and semi-pro teams are involved in some type of regional league. That is not the job, nor the duty of the MLS to make sure that happen. However if a team like that have the ambition to become pro and rise through the ranks and into the MLS circle, then yes they’ll need to be capable of spending big time.

  11. Roger says:

    http://www.theglobalgame.com/blog/2010/01/in-disaster-soccer-infrastructure-becomes-haitian-lifeline/

    there is a picture of the Miami Haitian fans on this article, as you could see there are way more than 60.

  12. BTW says:

    I love it Garber basically went down to Miami and gave the Ultras a lesson in supporting their local team and in-style basically telling the Miami geeks to stop emailing him.

  13. D says:

    I agree with Roger. South Florida has a very diverse demographic, and each has its own team in local leagues etc. What they need is to find a way to coordinate all the different groups and leagues etc, so we eventually get behind having one team.

    Additionally, Miami fans are notoriously fickle because they are by majority one generation removed from supporting power house clubs in south america and europe. Its hard watching a USL game, when its just barely a notch above where you used to play in your home country.

    So the question, is how do you galvanize all the different groups to be behind one team?

    • Roger says:

      Thanks for the coment D.
      My answer to your question is that the best way is to let it happen espontaneously.
      At the begining the diferent groups will probaly create small local clubs that would joint the “entry level” of the system. If after a few seassons none of the local clubs gains promotion, 2 or more clubs may unite and make a bigger club. it is unpredictable to know exactly how it will happen, of course!
      If we look at the history of some of the bigger clubs in the world, they followed that path. Very much every club that have the word United on it, it is because it was a result of a merge among 2 or more smaller clubs.

    • Roger says:

      adding more thoughts to your question D.
      Whoever wants to design what is the best strategy to galvanize all those different goups behind one team, should first understand local fans culture!
      Garber has publicly admitted that he does not understands supporters culture, and he hasn’t resign! What does that tell us?!
      If the fans are a apriority, like it should be. How do our “soccer lords” justify having a commisioner that doesn’t understand it, on duty?!
      The system in place (single entity) is design NOT to grow our game and pursuit our true potential as a soccer nation. It is design to protect a small group of interest have total control over it. It is designed to keep our game under certain parameter so that it never becomes a threat to the american sport stablishmen that people like Garber comes from.

      Promotion and relegation is the last thing they want to hear, it will open the game for all the cities and fans. That is why we face so much manipulation on the pro/rel debate. It is the only thing they can do to justify the overwhelming evidence of promotion and relegation been used all around the world; for more than a century; on countries of all cultures posible; every political or economical system.
      That is why we keep getting the: ………”big is bad, very bad, the worse that could happen. Small is the best, very small, small is very stable. Fast is bad, very very bad, it will be the end if we try to grow fast; small is good very very good, the smallest the better.”

      • Clayton says:

        Hey Roger,
        Don Garber is not the one that is stopping all of your little local clubs from actually organizing and gaining a large number of fans behind them, Miami fans are. How many different excuses can you come up with for Miami fans being frontrunners??

        • roger says:

          @Clayton

          The anti promotion relegation people always try to separate the structure from the game. The system used, the structure of the diferent tournaments are part of the game itself.

          There was a time when the Concacaf Champions was a disgrace, so therefore it did not atracted a lot of atention. One time a haitian club was champion because a mexican club just decided not to play the final. Do you think that would have hapen if there was a tickect to the Clubs World Cup on stake?

          US lower divisions are meaningless, as long as they are not linked through promotion and relegation to the World Soccer Clubs structure.
          To use the actual reality of US lower divisions to make a case against implementing the system that would give them an substantial incentive to grow, is reversed logic!

  14. BTW says:

    How can Garber understand Miami when it’s not like other U.S. cities, it’s like a third world country. Most of the fans in other cities are usually Americans or Mexicans. Miami has too much a diversve community and all of them hangout with their own communities.

  15. Charles says:

    ps. you can’t argue with The Don on expansion.

    Look at the top of the league for attendance numbers. It is close to a mirror of what The Don has done.
    Next year will not be an exception with Portland doing better than ok and Vancouver crushing it.

  16. Jason says:

    I swear this site is journalism by people who can’t write for people who can’t read.

  17. TampaRowdy says:

    Roger, you should consider not posting any more. Your comments are pretty bad.

    • Tim says:

      He’s one of the Pro/Rel soccerreform.us nuts where all the issues of soccer in America will be magically solved if you instill pro/rel, no salary cap, and destroy the single entity because it is evil and they don’t like it.

      Sadly they pollute several other websites with this nonsense.

  18. Dave C says:

    Was this thing only aimed at/advertized to Miami “Ultras”? If so, it seems a pretty strange way to gauge the viability of an MLS team – I imagine the Ultras only make up a tiny proportion of soccer fans in Miami.

    This whole idea of having to create bigger attendances for FC Miami/Strikers etc in order to “prove” that a city is worthy of an MLS team seems pretty dumb too. It’s like saying you need to go see some un-signed band no-one has ever heard of, in order to prove that your city is capable of hosting a Lady Gaga concert.

    Personally, I would go see MLS games if they had them in my area, but I have absolutely zero interest in paying to see a semi-pro/amateur team in the current US soccer environment.
    p.s this doesn’t mean I don’t like watching soccer just for its own sake – I quite often watch amateur games, kids games, recreational games etc whenever I’m in a park.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Dave, the invitation was sent by MLS to the Miami Ultras. Garber wanted to personally meet with the supporter’s group, to chat about the topic of a MLS team coming to South Florida.

      You hit the nail on the head, Dave. The 60+ people who were there all go to Miami FC games. The challenge we’re having is trying to convince the rest of the South Florida soccer community why they should attend those NASL games too with zero advertising budget (from the team) and very poor communication. It’s an uphill battle, which is why I was pretty disillusioned after the meeting with Garber because I know the huge roadblocks we have in front of us.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • nc says:

        Whether you are for or against relegation, it seems that both sides can agree that implementing a system like that would be very difficult to do in our country. So what is the alternative tactic to make division 2 and lower league’s teams and supporters feel closer to the top flight of American soccer? What about an FA Cup type of tournament to be played during the seasons? Have all the lower divisions compete for 12 slots to include with the 20 MLS teams, and stage a 32 team single elimination knockout tournament. It would likely involve 100% MLS teams by round two, but hey, you never know. If staged properly it could generate excitement for lower divisions that would spill over into their respective regular seasons.

        • Dave C says:

          @NC – isn’t the US Open Cup essentially the equivalent of the FA Cup already?

          Also, I wouldn’t be so sure that such a cup would be “100% MLS” by the second round…I think the gap between MLS and some of the better semi-pro/amateur teams is nowhere near the gulf that it is in some countries.

        • Roger says:

          nc
          I think you bring a good point.
          The US Open Cup is the only way in wich lower division clubs play MLS teams on a competitive setting. The only oportunity for fans on smaller markets to see their clubs live against “1st div” teams.

          MLS franchises first play a round among themselves, wich makes no sense, and reduce considrably the number of clubs that would get an oportunity to play an MLS team, wich would be the highlight of the year for fans on smaller markets.
          The series of elimination are not home/away!? They are one game series! Just like the NFL play-offs!?
          This past year’s USOC AC St Louis lost to the Galaxy playing away. Their fans did not get a chance to see their new club play ONE home USOP game! NOT ONE!
          How could anybody justify such structure helps the growth of our game in north america?

          We have so much debate about what is the right way to make our game grow, but at some point, face with so much nonsense, we are going to have to ask ourselves:
          -Do these people really want our game to grow ?

        • Daniel Feuerstein says:

          To NC: I am actually for Pro/Rel, but I’m not screaming blind to have it now. Things have to be more stable financially and expanding it slowly. It took MLS a good long time to get where they are today. I don’t want Pro/Rel to speed up a possible death sentence to the lower leagues and then what’s going to happen.

          More needs to be done before the lower levels and MLS decide to have Pro/Rel. Right now MLS can survive, but the NASL needs to have a strong start & the front office of the USL has to stop fighting against the NASL and stay as a Third Division and Semi-Pro leagues. No one is looking at the lower leagues with an open mind and seeing the problems right now.

          But let’s get back to the topic in hand. I feel bad for those in South Florida that had their hopes dashed. I also have to say that it was good to have that meeting but now it’s time for all South Floridians who support the game to come together. I understand there are those ex-pats from South America that lives in South Beach and follows their leagues, but it doesn’t hurt to support the one that is located within the South Florida area.

          It’s too easy to follow Boca Juniors, River Plate, Sao Paulo FC, Palmeiras, Vasco da Gama, Santos of Brazil, Nacional of Uruguay, Once Caldas, Medellin, Millonarios of Colombia and so on & so on. I understand the quality is better outside North America, but still if you have a professional club in your backyard you should go and support it and make room for them within your heart.

      • Dave C says:

        I think aiming the discussion purely at the Ultras is a mistake. It’s like trying to gauge the popularity of Star Trek by talking to the guys who dress in official replica Kirk uniforms and taught themselves Klingon. Sure, they’re fans of Star Trek, but they don’t show the whole picture – the millions of casual fans who watch the show without being hard-core. So it’s like going to my home town and saying “Well there isn’t even an annual Star Trek Comic-Con Convention, so Star Trek obviously isn’t popular here…”

        And I think judging the viability of an MLS franchise on the attendance figures of a semi-pro team is totally flawed. Even as a pretty hard-core soccer fan, I have ZERO interest in devoting myself to a team that has no route “up the laddder” like Miami FC (although, FWIW, I agree that pro/rel is not feasible in the US). Likewise, I imagine a lot of casual fans have no interest in going to see a team that they know is not “top level”. So I’m sure there are a lot of potential MLS fans who just have no interest in going to see Miami FC. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – just as a lot of people might like to see Lady Gaga or U2 at Madison Sq Garden, but have no interest in going to see some unsigned garage band play in someone’s basement.

        • Lysander says:

          Miami FC does have a route up the ladder. Garber just laid it out for you… build attendance and prove to the league there is adequate interest. If you are not interested in seeing a team that you know is not top level, then it sounds like Garber is right in not awarding a team to Miami because MLS is not top level.

          • Dave C says:

            Obviously I meant “top level” domestically. eg I don’t want to pay to watch a team unless I can at least dream that one day they could get closer to being called national champions.

      • Lysander says:

        Just go to the game and have fun. while you are at bring some freinds and family. Eventually more people go. I am not sure how any of that requires marketing money from the team.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Lysander, ask the average soccer fan or player in South Florida about Miami FC or the Strikers and they don’t even know that the team exists. I do bring friends and family to games, but in order to have substantial increases in attendances, it’s going to take more than word of mouth to ensure the soccer community knows that the team exists and when they play, etc.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Lysander says:

            Chicken, egg. They can not spend if no one shows up. and less people show up if there is no advertising. So you can complain about the cycle or do something.

            No USL team that I know has big advertising budgets. Seattle and Portland had none as far as I knew but living in both towns, people at least knew of them and most sports fans had been to a least a game or two at some point.

            The point is south florida for whatever reason does not go where other cities have. you can blame the local team management but they are no different from other cities with far different results.

            • The Gaffer says:

              Lysander, between 1,000 and 1,500 fans show up to Miami FC games now. To grow it to 3,000-5,000 or 10,000, the only way to do that is through marketing and spending dollars along with the hard work of the Miami Ultras. We’re not asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

              I find it very hard to believe that the Timbers and Sounders, when they were in USL, had zero marketing/advertising budgets.

              Cheers,
              The Gaffer

              • Lysander says:

                Maybe they had a marketing budget but I never saw any advertisements anywhere. So I would say that there is a way to grow to 3-5 or 10K without team marketing dollars. Well there is a way in a city that is willing to support non top tier teams (which is what the MLS is looking for).

                Also, I think you are asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars. anything less is not going to make much of a dent in attendance numbers.

              • BTW says:

                No USL team had marketing back in the day, yet Portland and
                Montreal were the top draws. Miami FC DID have a billboard up on
                the interstate where thousands drive, but nobody cared, Gaffer what
                about the shaved heads campaign.? So stop this NO advertising
                bullshit. I can post a link to the billboard.

  19. Carlos says:

    Maybe Garber should bite his tongue and return structure to the purity of this great sport, perhaps re-emphasize the importance of tournaments such as US Open Cup to help motivate fans and smaller market (lower division) teams to develop pride and validity there….Garber was utterly stupid to downplay the importance of international play such as CONCACAF Champions league and for being on the forefront to eliminate entrance into this tournament via US Open Cup. If I was a second division team supporter I would be so pumped and expect what Puerto Rico Islanders have achieved in the last few seasons in the CONCACAF Champions League, furthermore I would be ecstatic to triumph over MLS teams in US Open Cup play to prove worthiness to become an MLS team since there is not promotion/relegation format here in North America…

  20. BTW says:

    No USL team had marketing back in the day, yet Portland and Montreal were the top draws.

    Miami FC DID have a billboard up on the interstate where thousands drive, but nobody cared, Gaffer what about the shaved heads campaign.? So stop this NO advertising bullshit:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9lPDJL6aP3E/SoOujc3kA1I/AAAAAAAAAt0/G6eG6aLW0_Q/s400/billboard.jpg

  21. jspec says:

    you people with pro/reg are delusional. why don’t you move to Europe. Who’s going to invest 100′s mill $$$ to watch team reg. TV is were sport team makes money in the USA. What tv exec. is going to sign up a team that can fall to a lesser league. Stop the crap.

  22. jspec says:

    And you South Fla. junkies, 60 people. Really!! DEs Moines Iowa would have rep. better. And I’ve never been to that state.

  23. Rabble Rouser says:

    So they say they deserve an MLS team, yet they complain that no one tells them about soccer events?

    How about this? GET OFF YOUR ASS AND FIND OUT ABOUT THEM YOURSELF. What a pathetic excuse for a group of “supporters.” It’s sad that Garber had to go placate them when they aren’t interested in anything other than getting publicity. They aren’t soccer fans. They’re attention whores.

  24. Charles R says:

    The sad thing is that this is also a big lie that Garber is saying. Did Salt Lake’s fans have to do all this? Toronto? Vancouver? No. It comes down to finding an owner who will pay the expansion fee and initiate a stadium plan. That’s it. Of course we must all still remain fans, but to put all that on just the fans is ridiculous and not being truthful. If an owner comes forward for Miami, its a done deal. How in the world can MLS pretened to be a North American league without the most fervent & knowledgeable soccer city in that region?!? Get us an owner MLS and we will do our part!

  25. junior says:

    South florida definitely need a soccer team in the MLS. Miami Fc’s attendance is not improving untill some changes are made. 1 change the name to Fort lauderdale Strikers 2 built a stadium in Fort lauderdale in this case it will easy for the palm beach, fort lauderdale and miami fans to travel.

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