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CONCACAF Champions League

CONCACAF Champions League: The Triumph of American Football


It was a great night for Americans in the CONCACAF Champions League. Two teams from American leagues, that play in the United States or associated territories triumphed in Continental play.

DC United’s penalty shootout victory over Firpo demonstrated the resilience of the American player- new Red and Black signing; Danny Szetela played a key role in the extra time and shootout. United’s victory gave Major League Soccer one of its greatest recent triumphs- a victory (although officially a draw) in knock-out match on Central American soil.

It was also, from my personal sentimental standpoint, it is  good to see Benny Olsen, one of the titans of American soccer score a penalty kick goal in the shootout.

But it was the earlier match of the night which created the buzz around the blogosphere. USL-1 side Puerto Rico Islanders who boast more Americans playing key roles than their MLS opposition,  Toronto FC has on their entire roster held on for a 1-0 aggregate victory.

Despite the obvious fact that Puerto Rico has more Americans on its team, and far more home grown players (ie., players that went to college or played youth soccer in the US), a large percentage of the US Soccer supporting public appeared to be cheering for the team with fewer Americans, claiming in some way rooting for TFC, was a pro American soccer statement.

This is a triumph of MLS’ propaganda under Commissioner Don Garber. Garber’s success in marketing MLS has made many who support the league, consistently defensive about the league’s quality and virtues: Garber and Co. have made it such that if you attack MLS you are attacking American Soccer, even if the team representing MLS is Canadian and has few Americans playing important roles on it.

Some fans take this to the extreme, consistently claiming in the past few weeks on various message boards that Serie A side, Catania and EPL side, Hull City would finish in last place in MLS. The truth is, a strong likelihood exists that both would run away with MLS Cup. Furthermore, many fans equate support of MLS to blind loyalty to the league: touting the league’s success and ignoring its shortcomings, while also glossing over any contrary arguments as being made by “haters,” and “euro snobs” (I will admit, I often use the “euro snob” term myself).

Ironically, just hours before kickoff last night in Bayoman, Don Garber mocked USL as a “minor league” to Reuters’ Simon Evans, and referred to MLS as a “major league.” Of course, MLS is a “major league” because they call themselves Major League Soccer. But the record of the league in competitions not held entirely on US soil is spotty- An MLS team has only once reached the final of a competition off of US soil, and has never once won a two leg tie against a Mexican club.

At the same time, describing USL as a “minor league,” is insulting and shows that Garber still tries to equate American sporting terms to the world of football. The truth is, USL is much more than USL-1, the league we must assume Garber is mocking with in his “minor league” comments. A USL-1 club, however now has defeated an MLS club, in the first ever two leg home and home tie between representatives of the two leagues.

MLS is a professional sports league built on the American model. But USL is a league built on the structure of world football, even though it has some peculiarities like relegation/promotion based on economic factors and not performance, as well as a strange desire to accept and promote artificial turf (or rubber as we will from here forth refer to it on this site) in some of its stadiums.

USL is far bigger than USL-1. In fact, USL-1 may be the least critical component in the USL umbrella.

MLS has disbanded its reserve league and does not have a youth league, leaving MLS clubs interested in developing players or fielding reserve sides to do so within the USL umbrella. My colleague, Daniel Feuerstein penned an excellent report earlier this week on Red Bull’s triumph in the USL Super 20 league finals. This weekend the Chicago Fire will see their PDL team play in the finals of that league against Ventura County Fusion, a club that produced a player so outstanding in Anton Peterlin that he was signed by EPL club Everton earlier this summer.

The Super Y league helps to develop the future of American Soccer. Clubs across North America compete in the USL run Super Y league, and produce the type of young talent that MLS isn’t even monitoring. Some MLS clubs have now joined the USSF Youth Development Academy System (as have USL clubs in Miami and Richmond), but again this is being done outside the MLS structure, despite being undertaken by MLS clubs.

USL is undergoing a transition right now. Don Garber is correct in stating that. However, I am not at liberty to divulge the details of some of what I know currently, but discussions are in the works to make the USL structure stronger and more vibrant than ever: and perhaps more important to the American game than it already is.

In MLS’ struggle to marginalize the importance of USL at all levels, Garber and others have found an ally in some of the American soccer press. Often times, USL events, including final matches go unreported, and the previous PDL history of European club signings or national team players mysteriously disappears from bios that appear on soccer websites. In many cases, it is not the fault of the reporters but simply because they are being fed partial information or even in some cases, mis-information.

Yet, some MLS fans seem to constantly point out USL’s insignificance. The fact that we even enter discussion as to the quality of a FIFA sanctioned first division versus that of the USSF sanctioned 2nd/3rd/4th and youth divisions is troubling. This is more a sign of MLS’ weakness and its fans insecurity with the league’s success and alleged improvement than it is a  sign of USL’s strength.  The apt term to describe these fans is either “ignorant” of the levels of American soccer beyond just MLS, or even worse, “MLS-snobs”.

Supporting MLS is important for the continued growth of the game in this country. But MLS, as I am often reminded is a business- it is not a soccer charity. So in fact, it is in no way representative of the welfare of the game in the United States. Keeping a viable and healthy first division is important no doubt, but the rest of our soccer pyramid cannot be sacrificed, ridiculed, or marginalized because of the hubris of one league or the ego of one man.

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  1. peter osgood

    August 6, 2009 at 11:43 am

    excellent take J. and great translation of the narrative flow of Mexican broadcasters. Why does anyone get hung up on not being able to understand every word? Short of the excellent match game radio broadcasts Kartik’s national incubator CSRN did for Chivas USA, english language match broadcasts are shit. Anyone listening to Univision’s broadcasts can hear the inflection of announcers and match it with the action, if one sits back and listens and watches with that in mind they will settle into the flow of a proper match, akin to what watching and listening to European match broadcasts are like.

  2. J

    August 6, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Finally more and more people are getting the initial KK points. Futbol is a system NOT just one private league and if MLS wants to survive and even serve as the US top tier, to finish what lower tiers started which is to develop high-caliber US players, it needs to feed off the USL orgs not solely from foreign leagues.

    USSF and MLS need to see USL as a real 2nd/3rd/4th…Zth tiers (even without promo/relegation) and not think of it as a competitor (not ABA vs NBA)

    The only problem is that’s a culture change because you guys are not used to that type of relationship. Even if the MLS create some type of MLS2/ MLS3, it can be hard to understand for the US mainstream.

    That said… now I’m bordering greedy capitalism heresy, but if the MLS investors were to think of their teams as LONG term investments (slow ROI), not only a show-league and see the greater good, a strong USMNT that will help the league’s reputation and will generate more and more futbol fans and a better revenue stream.
    What is easier to start from scratch a 2nd and 3rd tiers or embrace the stable USL structure?

    To the ones that don’t understand Spanish and want to watch FMF: don’t worry, 90% of the time one of the guys is narrating exactly what it’s happening on the field. What you are missing is the Spanish futbol terms with some flourish as used by the Mexicans/Central and South Americans narrators and audience, which make the broadcast JUST A LITTLE more enjoyable. The other 10% is the commentator saying some useless knowledge stuff peppered with internal jokes. So do not worry too much.

    I’m not bashing the commentators just encouraging people to watch the FMF/Central and South American leagues games even though are in Spanish.

  3. Soccerrules

    August 6, 2009 at 12:19 am

    So I took it upon myself to finally watch an FMF game after hearing you state several times that FMF is much better than MLS and I’ve got to admit…you were right. Granted I only watched two games, two of which I could not understand what the narrators were saying but that’s the beauty of the sport even if you can’t understand a word they’re saying you can still appreciate the beauty of the game…man that Toluca-Chivas game blew me away…and it was the first game of the league? Watching them play you’d think those guys were playing a final or something…FMF has my repspect now and seeing how Cruz Azul and Pachuca trumped over Jalapa and Heredario…and with Pumas (the actual champion) and the Toluca I watched on TV all I’ve got to say is I can see in what country the finals would definetely be played!

  4. Kristian

    August 5, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Love the discussion going on here. As I said before, fantastic article – even more props because of the discussion it has fomented. I think the day when USL (in general) is stronger and more established, as well as having a better relation with MLS is the day we all win – in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and even Bermuda.

  5. football

    August 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Nice post. i learned many more about the football from this post.
    thanks for posting.

  6. Yankeehooligan

    August 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Did any of you read Garber’s statement about USL and I believe he was talking about USL-1 since it was during a USL-1 club’s match with an MLS club. He said something that I think everyone hear has missed in the rush to label him anti-USL:

    He said,” I am not sure what the future holds for that league or our relationship with it. I do believe that we can only all benefit from a strong minor league and a strong connection between it and the major league in this country.”

    Now, maybe calling it a “minor league” was the wrong nomenclature to use, but isn’t a relationship between USL and MLS something that we should be moving toward? Wouldn’t that create the system that Kartik is longing for in his article? I don’t think MLS bashes USL, but they aren’t going to promote the competition. MLS has the money and the marketing power and USL has the developmental system. Can’t we all just get along? (I can’t believe I’m the one suggesting it).

    • Ted Westervelt

      August 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      Classic, in fact stereotypical, example of the infighting that has gone on within American club soccer since 1894. When every other country of note opened their leagues, these arguments were settled on the field. Here in the USA – it’s more of the same – for over a century now. Leagues battling other leagues hastened the demise of the ASL – widely regarded as the second best league on the planet in the 1920s.

      Garber ought to study his American soccer history for clues.

  7. Sean Mills

    August 5, 2009 at 9:40 pm


    Good piece. I’m rather new to the soccer scene, so I’m not quite as well-versed in the whole MLS/USL soccer scene thing yet. I’ve always been a football/baseball guy, but after the 94 World Cup I would watch the U.S. National team whenever they were on. That was about the extent of my soccer following until I went to the U.S./Mexico WC Qualifier in February in Columbus. That was, hands down, the coolest sporting event I had ever attended (I’ve never been to an American football where the entire crowd stood the entire game), and got me hooked on following soccer. So I decided to give following professional soccer a try. I was trying to figure out what MLS team I would start supporting, but then the USL sucked me in with both PR and Montreal’s run in the Concacaf champions league, combined with the fact that I can watch all of their games for free on the internet. So I guess I would consider myself in the USL camp, since I’ve follow the USL side I selected (Austin Aztex since I’m a Texas guy, although I’ve also somewhat adopted the Islanders) more than the MLS side I selected. Interestingly enough, I think I like Mexican League football better than MLS as well. I can watch more Mexican League games on TV (even though I can’t understand the announcing, which probably isn’t all that bad a thing) and Indios Juarez sucked me in with one of the greatest one month turnarounds I’ve ever seen in sports (going from possible relegation with three weeks to go in the season to winning three straight and backing into the playoffs and making a run to the semis). Anyway, that’s my perspective as a newby to following soccer in America.

  8. peter osgood

    August 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Jesus H Ted that’s brilliant stuff. Well done.

  9. Derek

    August 5, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Good stuff Kartik!

    I make no apologies for my desire to see MLS in South Florida again, but USL is a great product and I’d be perfectly happy to have a strong Miami FC organization long term(this is the key), even without any chance of promotion to MLS. USL is a little rough around the edges, but it should be fully embraced by all US/Canadian soccer fans. With a bit of an image overhaul and some streamlining, USL can rise above the hardcore fans and small town image and become more mainstream. If USL-1 can have all it’s teams playing in nice little SSS facilities(like Charleston or Rochester) in the future, and restock with new teams in the right markets, that added stability will seriously help the league.

    Also in response to Ted, MLS, I agree on some of your points, the MLS single entity system has it’s negatives, but the prudent moves of the league have mostly been a good thing. The NASL burned bright, but died as a result of poor league leadership and control. The only real bonehead move on the part of MLS so far, in my humble opinion, has been pulling out of Florida while saving KC and Dallas. The slow steady growth has kept things in check so far, and as time goes on things will loosen up and we’ll see MLS fall more in line with international standards.

    • Ted Westervelt

      August 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

      Derek –

      MLS propagates the NASL “failures” for their own ends. Look, NASL did an unbelievable job considering the last most significant clubs before the Cosmos included Bethlehem Steel FC and the Fall River Marksmen – two of the coolest American clubs ever. The ASL had been dead for 45 years, half of all kids playing soccer in this country in the late sixties were in Kearny NJ.

      They did the franchise as well as anyone has in soccer – but the league still fell prey to its shortcomings. When overfranchising hit – that killed their closed bottled up league.

      I’m sure you’ll agree that soccer is one of the most accessible games in the world – all you need is a ball, or even a reasonable facsimile of a ball. The open league mirrors that accessability – all you need is 11 players, and you are a club with an unlimited future.

      Except here, where we’ve let a buncha NFL guys call the shots, bottle it, and sell it as a stunted stepcousin of their league. Look, I respect the efforts that the Hunts, Krafts, Bidwells, et al, but at some point you have to acknowledge that it’s a Faustian bargain. If they had to choose sports – well it wouldn’t be dramatic.

      Their logic has always been – If soccer does hit here, we want to be in the position to profit from it. If it doesn’t hit (which some still argue) that’s OK too because we’re running it on a tightly controlled shoestring anyway, and we’d prefer less competition for our real endeavor – American Football.

      Well it has hit. Chelsea Inter and the popularity of the international game prove it.

      The Krafts, Hunts and other NFL owners should be welcome to operate clubs, but not hold the sport hostage!

  10. Ted Westervelt

    August 5, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Congrats to DC United (Who Garber is threatening to MOVE if they don’t abandon soccer mecca RFK). I hate to break into this MLS love fest, but you all have got to be smoking something strong. I do have genuine feeling here. I attended a match in the DC United Vasco De Gama Interamerican Cup series in which DC was crowned best club in our hemisphere in 1998. A sweet moment that MLS moves further from every year.

    Let’s hit the statistics:

    MLS average attendance down 8% as of June, even with the quasi-promotion of the Sounders.

    USA – Mexico Gold Cup final, in which MLSers were demolished 5-0, drew 7 million households. That’s SEVEN TIMES the audience that any MLS Cup has ever drawn.

    ABC drew an average of TEN TIMES more viewers in 1980 for NASL regular season matches than ESPN did for regular season MLS matches last year.

    No, when you all sober up, you’ll see that MLS is still an exhibition league. Virtually every major decision for every club is made in MLS Manhattan HQ. It remains a closed league, whose business model has no room whatsoever for independent clubs and promotion/relegation that made soccer the hugest sport on the planet, and the wide gap between international match and MLS match statistics reveals how MLS isn’t reaching most of an audience that yearns for real club football here.

    The closed franchise model has failed scores of American club league attempts before. In fact, it hasn’t succeeded yet. Yet we’re on the same path.

    Kartik, there are a lot of true blue American fans who could care less about MLS. That’s the failure of the MLS. Yes, they may have sucked in NFL investors with their closed league cocoon. But just like their role models, GM, Chrysler and Ford, their inability to operate in the free market of Global football makes watching our league like watching Buick v. Oldsmobile. Same chassis, different plastic trim.

    Be a real American, and pry our football out of the franchise in which it festers…..

    Kartik, supporting American soccer, for me, does not entail blind support for the NFL laden ownership group that represents this league, continues to jam it into a franchise model suited for our other, dominant, and insulated from international competition, leagues.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm

      Wow, all these great points Ted will get you labeled a hater and liar like me. In fact they are better points than I have made! Were you at the Vasco game at Lockhart or at RFK? I was at the Lockhart one- Arena’s last game with DCU!

      • Ted Westervelt

        August 6, 2009 at 1:08 pm

        RFK – I only wish I would have grasped it at the time. Better than Boca, River Plate, Corinthians, America et al. Talk about bragging rights.

        Give Bruce the liberty to make personnel choices, my friend. Free of the meddling franchise, that man could pick a squad.

        Memories of Tony Sanneh…. a good VH1 “where is he now”…..

  11. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 5, 2009 at 7:18 pm


    No one in this piece has argued USL-1 is in on par with MLS as an overall product. No one. The point is Garber mis-characterized USL, ridicules and marginalizes the league in fans eyes which does no good for American soccer and player development and the fact is a USL-1 side overcame an MLS side by using superior tactics.

    You can claim TFC was better over two legs but that is simply based on the fact that they play more “attractive” football than the Islanders do. Even within USL-1 the Islanders often look the weaker side because of their style- like Stoke City did last year in the Premier League.

    USL-1 is NOT USL for the last time. Part of the point of this piece was to remind MLS snobs as we have to call them for no other reason that many of these people say “eurosnobs” give their country no chance while these same people ignore the level of football other than MLS, that we have other leagues in this country that all come under USL umbrella.

    MLS is not doing Super Y. MLS is not doing Super 20. MLS is not doing PDL. These leagues are critical for the development of the American player- you can say USL has no US pool players, but how many have spent time in USL programs? Yet we have soccer writers in this country who miss the USL umbrella completely. They pretend it does not exist. Why? Either laziness or misinformation.

    Additionally, it is ridiculous that we have fans in the US who root for a foreign team with 3-4 Americans playing key roles in a Champions League match over a team from a US territory that has many many more American players. Again, MLS has convinced many short sighted fans that the success of MLS is the success of the US Soccer, which in this case is irritating and flat our offensive.

    And again this piece is not about USL-1. It is about USL which is something much bigger and more important. USL-1 could disappear tomorrow and it would make little difference except hurting some fans. (Although again that may change in the near future based on some of the buzz I am hearing from inside) But if the PDL or Super Y folded, well then the development of the US game and ultimately the USMNT would be severally affected.

    • Ted Westervelt

      August 6, 2009 at 1:48 pm

      I’d say MLS could disappear without causing too much of a ripple. Seattle and Portland would join whatever league will take them, that’s for sure. That, in part, is why we should disenfranchise them.

      Imagine the rapid development in PDL on up to USL-1 if the leagues opened. Buy a PDL club, and in three years, you could own a top division club.

      You don’t need to read Keynes to figure this one out – but our franchise friends need you to believe that the world doesn’t work that way….

  12. Kerlon

    August 5, 2009 at 7:14 pm


  13. Nick from Big Soccer

    August 5, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    What a mis characterization of MLS and USL.

    I am a fan of MLS but I am also very aware of the league’s shortcomings as are many folks who follow the league. But to somehow equate the USL-1 with MLS is an exaggeration of the quality within the USL.

    I watch both TFC v PRI games and as a neutral fan, I thought TFC was clearly the better team player by player and in how they played the game. A number of players on PRI were/are MLS castoffs that did not make or were dropped from MLS teams. They are clearly a step down in quality.

    However, it is true that the USL pays its primary players more than what a reserve or developmental player in MLS would make. Therefore its not unusual to see a mid MLS squad player make the jump to the USL for 50k plus expense verses say 36k or less in MLS.

    But it is another entirely to claim that an MLS team’s starters are not as good or even just comparable to a USL’s squad. That’s pure bunk. I certainly don’t see members of the US national team pool playing for USL team for example.

    At the end of the day MLS is the US’s first division league as sanctioned by US Soccer. Does MLS have a way to go to make the lower squad player be paid a decent salary absolutely. But don’t say the USL-1 is any more on par with MLS than MLS is with the major European Leagues.

  14. Enrique

    August 5, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I think Kartik wrote a really good piece but I also believe Phil makes a good point when he says a lot of criticism is misplaced. I’ve worked on Gol TV, Telefefutura and Televisa, a lot of my work has to do with the live transmissions of soccer, i’m a tech. My point is that I try to bring up the growth of MLS to the experts to see what an outsider(especially from Mexico) thinks of the state of soccer here, they all agree that MLS is the one that is going to take soccer to acceptance, especially to the level of the major sports in this country .

    Although USL has almost no exposure it’s plays just as an important role as does MLS for soccer, the problem is that these two leagues cannot find a way to work together and the one in trouble and for the future is USL because of it’s instability. There are so many things that need to be fixed with MLS but these things cannot be resolved unless the league does financially well. Unfortunately it’s a business that has to take baby steps and right now we have to suffer for measures that are going to benefit a stronger league later on.

    Garber at this point still is the best man for the job because his plan is not where the league will be in 5 years, but in 20; the owners wouldn’t invest unless they knew they have a good plan in place. I know a lot of people are not happy how slow change is being made, I’m one of them, but it’s important for our league to become major and not lose it and have to start all over again. By the way, to this day Telefutura has trouble finding a good marketing campaign for MLS because there is so much competition that it’s hard to take the fan away from the traditional leagues.

  15. Brian-Indy

    August 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Damn, you people need to cool off…I just wanted to say great post and that I am an “American” soccer fan and an “MLS” soccer fan but I was definitely rooting for Puerto Rico last night. As far as I am concerned Marvell Wynne, Sam Cronin, Chad Barrett, and the rest of the Americans should get on another team be it in the MLS or USL.

  16. Bobby

    August 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    The Richmond Kickers and Atlanta Silverbacks things that were mentioned earlier, neither folded. Richmond fields four USL teams: A professional USL Second Division side, the Richmond Kickers Future PDL side, a W-League side, and a Y-League side. The Silverbacks field two: Atlanta Silverbacks Women in the W-League, and Atlanta Silverbacks Juniors in the Y-League.

    This is what Kartik was hitting on, the USL is much more than it’s First Division. The USL is a pyramid and the First Division is only the capstone, not the cornerstone.

  17. Florida Goal

    August 5, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    While Kartik’s points are all well taken, I think the anger at Garber is misplaced. He’s just representing his league and its investors.

    The anger should be directed at MLS apologist fans. Merely calling them ignorant Kartik is letting them off way too easily. For the most part they are petty and defensive. Some of the above comments illustrates that. Any attempt to critique MLS’ performance or point out that USL has a vital role to play is met with resistance. It is not Garber that fosters this but MLS oriented bloggers, supporters groups and some in the soccer press who have been named above.

    These “fans” claim to know American soccer but most of them no little or anything about the youth and rec level. Many never played or coached the game. Many do not realize it is USL and its associated programs who have done more for youth and to develop the game at a grassroots level in a single year than MLS has done in 14.

    Your points are valid- in fact they are dead on. Where you miss the boat is that Garber and the MLS ownership is not what fosters this- in reality alot of them place their youth and reserve teams in USL leagues and work out relationships with USL clubs.

    The issue is with ignorant MLS fans and lazy journalists who are used to covering traditional American sports which do not have a structure like soccer and thus simply assume the 15 MLS teams are the only ones that exist and the lower leagues are like triple A or double A baseball. This is both wrong and illogical as the Islanders have pointed out in the last two CONCACAF tournaments.

  18. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Eric, Kartik was backing up his assertions and venting. Good for him.

  19. Eric

    August 5, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    As always, Kartik is long winded and if you can manage to siphon through all the words, he actually has a valid point to make.

    I think the points here are simple and plainly obvious to anyone who comes to this without biases:

    1- MLS fans and management want us to be uncritical of MLS while ignoring other good things that may take place outside the MLS or USSF structure in the country. PASS

    2- Don Garber is condescending. PASS

    3- USL has a valuable soccer setup that goes beyond simply a professional league meant to entertain or hook fans. PASS

    4- MLS driven bloggers and press tend to pretend USL does not exist and even go to great lengths to buy any USL related content. PASS

    5- MLS fans interpret any praise of USL as criticism of MLS further showing their ignorance and insecurity. PASS

    Kartik has made five good points here. It would have however, simply been easier to read my post than his long and winding novel above.

  20. Marc

    August 5, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Kartik- this is your best piece ever, especially the media portion, MLS depends on a complicit soccer press that is told by Garber, Gulati, et al. that you lose access if you criticize and this also could mean the ultimate failure of the sport meaning you’ll have to find other work.

    As I said on the Cooper thread, agents are complicit also misleading their clients about the 10% fee entitled to the player in some cases as I have been subsequently told, telling their clients that it is done that way everywhere. Good for Brad Guzan, who stood up to this corrupt system.

  21. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Here’s what I like: Canadian teams will help strenghten the US national team because they will contribute to a Canadian talent pool that will strenghten the Canadian national team that will push the US.


    As if we’re not pushed already, pero bueno.

    The Americans who make that argument seem to prefer the wildly indirect road to improvement to good old fashioned investment in one’s own.

    The Canadians who use tha argument are completely clueless because if they DO manage to spur the US to greater competitive heights, what good would it have done THEM? They’ll just end up having to get through a stronger US. That assumes, of course, that Canada has any real ambition other than being our designated sparring partner.

    ERT, my opposition to Canada is one thing. Another matter all together is the insulting rhetoric and aruments from MLS that support it. The role of our Federation, regardless of where you stand, can only be worrisome.

  22. W A

    August 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Truth is Garber was a good commissioner initially who stabilized the league but he now has made several gaffes in the last few years and needs to step aside.

  23. ERT 145

    August 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    ” I mean if someone is objective would they really say the Dutch League top to bottom is stronger than MLS?”

    OMG, here we go again! This is borderline insanity.

    “MLS is the most competitive league in the world.”

    Now we hit total insanity. Why is it that in the last 10 years more Mexican teams have won titles than MLS teams? Why is it that Houston and DC have both been MLS reps in the last 4 CONCACAF events while the FMF reps keep changing?

    And Mexico is not nearly as competitive as Brazil or Argentina. And we have not yet even hit Asia with the hyper competitive J-League built on a traditional Brazilian model, let alone Europe!

    “Exposure to more foreign players and playing styles as well as the melting pots of Seattle, Toronto and Montreal will do more to build American soccer character than USL’s poorly funded grassroots U-17 and U-20 leagues could do in a million years.”

    I agree. Some neat logic there. Let us shut down USL’s youth development programs and sub contract them to very elites in Canada that Joey keeps hammering about.

    Joey Clams, I used to think was over the top in his rhetoric and fears but the more I read comments here, on Big Soccer and MLS Rumors, I realize this whole Canada thing has changed the face of MLS and we really need teams like the Islanders who take “journeymen” American players and mold them into a unit more than we need so-called top division clubs in our league that play outside the US and only field 2-3 Americans in a match.

  24. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Timothy, all due respect, but you’re dreaming.

  25. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Larry, even those in favor of expansion to Canada should raise their hands at the conflicts of interest and intimidation at USSF. I’ve heard that the Toronto voting process dripped with muscling and threats. “You want a job in soccer? Vote yes.” The soccer press says nothing, of course, because they don’t want to risk access. Garber, even yesterday, skirted a question from Reuters. The incest is such that MLS now announces teams in Canada before USSF votes on them. The approval, of course, is merely promised by Gulati and when the vote comes up, he and Garber hope that those who aren’t already intimidated will not embarrass MLS by voting no. Expect nothing from Ridge Mahoney, Mike Woitalla, Greg Lalas or Glenn Davis because they’ve already been compromised.

  26. Timothy H.

    August 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I think Kartik bags on MLSentirely too much personally. BUT…..

    I do agree that Americans fans rooting for a team full of Canadians and Europeans to beat a team which is made up largely of Americans is at least somewhat hypocritical.

    But MLS as has been noted in over the top fashion on this site lives in a vacuum. It’s fans, myself included are often times defensive of the league because eurosnobs don’t even care to give us the time of day.

    Now we have American fans of a lower league, and yes it is a lower league pissing all over MLS. Some USL teams clearly can play well at a high level- this very same team proved it last year, but USL cannot live off of Colin Clarke’s tactical mastery for ever. For in my mind USL is a one team league much like the leagues in Europe and South America which are all top to bottom worse than MLS. I mean if someone is objective would they really say the Dutch League top to bottom is stronger than MLS?

    MLS is the most competitive league in the world. USL on the other hand is built along traditional European models with youth and reserve teams which truly are a waste of time in this sporting culture. America is different and we’re also vibrant, cosmopolitan and multi ethnic. Exposure to more foreign players and playing styles as well as the melting pots of Seattle, Toronto and Montreal will do more to build American soccer character than USL’s poorly funded grassroots U-17 and U-20 leagues could do in a million years.

  27. soccer goals

    August 5, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Great post. I really enjoy watching the USL, though I primarily watch MLS. For example, the Islanders have fared well against foreign clubs on foreign soil. A feat that most MLS teams have yet to do on a consistent basis.

    • Rex

      August 5, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      @soccer goals. Islanders have not fared that much better than anyone else on foreign soil.

      They got a lot of pub. for advancing to the Semifinals of CONCACAF, but the fact is, they were the only team in the semis who didnt play a Mexican team. I like my chances against anybody not from Mexico. Nobody can hang with Mexico on a consistent basis because no league in this region has their depth of players on each team.

  28. Larry

    August 5, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Joey- Are you sure? If so, then we have a BIG problem.

    The by laws of FIFA explicitly state that MLS is sanctioned under the USSF. They further state that any cross border teams must thus be approved by the said federation in this case the USSF.

    MLS legally cannot start play in Vancouver without USSF approval.

    USL was a merger of several leagues, which is part of the reason they have the infrastructure to do many things well. But now too, if they want to add a Canadian team they must get approval. They needed approval for the Bermuda team according to the BOG minutes and got it.

    But Bermuda only has room for one team. Canada has room for 6, 8 maybe 10 teams. Why is it that FIFA will not force Canada to create its own league?

  29. Phil

    August 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Peter, you are a sad little man (that is if you are a man) with anger management issues. I can direct you to a professional if you would like. And you are right about one thing, I should have stopped responding to your pseudo-intellectual bs a while ago. You have no clue about anything I have said. I never once said I viewed the situation as MLS vs. USL. I want to see all leagues in this country thrive. Apparently you do not. What is even sadder is that this seems to be the most important thing in your life. What a pity.

    By the way, I talk pretty goodly for a cretin.

  30. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Larry – That’s exactly it. They don’t even BOTHER to get approval anymore. You’re a xenophobe, though, for bringing it up. Welcome to the club.

  31. Larry

    August 5, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Joey, six teams in Canada? The USSF has still not approved even a second team according to the BOG minutes. So theoretically, Vancouver could still be rejected though Gulati as a paid MLS employee would never let that happen of course.

  32. Larry

    August 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Savannah, pick on Ives but at least he reported the result. Goff did not even report the result! He and his buddy Kevin Payne are jerking off about DCU’s win while ignoring the disgraceful league structure which for years has favored DCU that they are part of. TFC, also a favorite of the MLS allocation and soft cap system has been exposed as a fraud first by Montreal last year, then by Vancouver this year and now finally by an American team in Puerto Rico. Poetic justice we call it!

  33. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    You want some, Peter? Come and have a go, then. (Joking, of course).

  34. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Savannah – They haven’t a clue. Those who make leaps of logic and equate enlightenment with self-hatred will never understand folks like you and me who relate to the Ben Olsens of the world. There’s even talk now of SIX Canadian teams in MLS. It’s a money-grab, of course, but Garber will shame us into accepting it because if we don’t we’ll be xenophobes and rejecting cosmopolitanism and globalization.

    Peter, Latin fans are set in their ways. Their loyalties are defined. MLS’ real problem is its artificiality which is obvious to anyone who stumbles upon one of the games. The fanfare, the BS from the commentators, even the supporters sections reek of geekish emulation. No one wants to sit through that.

  35. Savannah Silverbacks Fan

    August 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    MLS wants us to root for a team full of Canadian and British players over a guy like Gaudette- crusty, working class PA kid that went to St Johns, played PDL and gets the most out of his ability. MLS claims rooting for Gaudette and other American kids like Scott Jones, Josh Hansen, and Kyle Veris is rooting AGAINST American soccer, while rooting for Danny Dichio, DeRO and Amado Guevara is for American soccer. Please someone explain this to me?

  36. Savannah Silverbacks Fan

    August 5, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Joey Clams hits something on the head with the term journeyman………….

    MLS wants international “stars” to pack stadiums, selling out American, university and youth team bred players for some sort of elitist or ESPN wet dream. The journeymen American players end up in Charleston or San Juan and then teach the elite MLS kids who never went to university or got proper tactical training from american coaches a thing or two about the game. I love it! Go Islanders! Go USL!

  37. peter osgood

    August 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    you are the dictionary defintion of a cretin phil, when kartik explained extensively in more than just this piece what his counterpoints to Garber pointelss assertions are, as I have. MLS USL 1 is not about us vs. them. That is what Garber and you are arguing, and it’s fascile. Garber believes taking the best clubs from USL 1 is a victory for MLS. As if they are a rival. That’s not the point. Especially when MLS eliminates their reserve league. The competitive younger divisions along with the USSF club league are where players are developing in a professional environment in this country.

    Is Garber attempting to pick USL apart to later aquire it a lesser cost? Not on their radar. Would be a good idea.

    Your quote ” If it goes, and the best we have is the USL, we are in big trouble. ” Who is arguing for it to go?

    Limelight in this country? what does that mean? That it occupies the same amount of time on sportscenter and main pages of US papers? The entire thesis of the point being made is that football is a completely different beast than original American sport. Or Canadien for that matter.

    As for what MLS is, MLS is going to lose the only decent TV contract they have because MLS and Garber are incapable of marketing their league, or adjusting rules and practises of the league that would register with real football fans. In this case the Latino marketplace. ESPN’s ratings for MLS are now down again this year, below WNBA, and Univision has had it. Don’t blame them. Big problem for MLS. Nor can you expect to continue to run a business using the league’s prime assets – it’s players – as undocumented workers only capable of menial pay.

    The issues are endless and you are informed of none of them.

    As ever, the Lady does protest to much and announced she was leaving the site for better football news and debate I suppose and yet she finds herself continuing the thread.

    Namecalling with a point is a proper American tradition. Making erroneous or vague assertions as you seem to be addicted to or only capable of is, is loathesome and at times dangerous. Hence you need to be cut down to size. Philthy little cunt that you are.

  38. Savannah Silverbacks Fan

    August 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Phil………………………………..a decent point. The owners are in fact pissed with Marcos. The Silverbacks will be back- they didn’t play this year because of Marcos. The changes Kartik I believe and again I do not know for sure, but I believe he refers to is about the owners buying the league from Marcos and UMBRO and setting up a structure where they make individual decisions but revenue share to stop teams from folding and the like. It’s not single entity but it is a stable setup for the greater good.

    The Kickers by the way are still around in USL-2 and the PDL. Again, USL’s real impact as Kartik I think agrees is not even on the USL-1 or USL-2 level. It is the PDL and Super Y. I actually in re-reading the article think Kartik is too kind to Garber essentially implying that it is okay to call USL-1 a minor league if it were a stand alone structure but that Garber ignores the actual player development and lower, developmental and youth tiers of USL.

    Actually in re-reading his piece while it offends those who believe any criticism of MLS is an attack on the American game, he actually stops way short of what really should be said which is that USL does more for soccer and gets less attention from the press than it deserves.

  39. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Savannah, the Federation website doesn’t even mention PDL experience of national team players? Oh, God. And that was a great post, ERT. Gulati and Garber are selling out American soccer and the denationalized elite who constitute MLS’ core audience are all for it. There is a socio-political dimension to the game’s trajectory in this country. Following it is more maddening than fascinating. I may be well-read, university-educated, multilingual and at all that but I’m from the working class and I actually played the game. I’m more comfortable with other players and people from places like New Bedford and North Jersey than I am with the nerds who get all wide-eyed when ESPN spews a panoramic of gleaming glass and steel north of the border. I’m glad Toronto lost. Journeymen playing in San Juan have greater appeal to me than stylish head cases like DeRosario.

  40. CIRE 55

    August 5, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I am a long time reader but this is the first time I have ever left a comment on this site.

    I come to this site because in other places criticisms or critiques of MLS are too tepid or non existent. I am a coach with some 20 years experience and have dealt with players and these leagues for years.

    USL is a gem. While MLS has done a good of elevating the overall visibility of the game, I would argue USL and its component leagues and training programs are far more critical to American soccer and its continued ability to produce competent professional players who can excel in Europe than MLS is currently.

    The points in this article are all well taken. USL has been under the leadership of the great Francisco Marcos, the lynchpin and the backbone for American soccer players. MLS is simply a marketing tool, marketed well mind you but that is what it represents.

    A problem exists in the US Soccer Press. People have bought into the notion that any criticisms of MLS may lead to the failure of the league and ultimately the failure of soccer in the USA. This leads to slanted coverage and even worse a complete and utter ignorance of USL.

    Then MLS oriented fans like some who have left comments view any promotion of USL and its assets as shots at MLS. It is MLS’ arrogant and out of place commissioner with no history in the game itself who has fostered this resentment and hatred towards a league whose primary objective is to develop local talent.

    Keep up the good work Kartik. Don’t let the likes of Phil and Rex tell you that being critical means they won’t read your pieces. Many more of us are out here who actually are steeped in the game more than occasionally heading to an MLS stadium or flicking on FOX Soccer Channel and we know what you speak is largely the truth.

  41. Phil

    August 5, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Silverback, how can you possibly say the USL’s sturcture is sound? Where are the Silverbacks? The California Victory? The Richmond Kickers? I would like to see all levels of the game succeed. But how can those of us who love the sport in this country pin their hopes on a league that continuously loses teams? Owners in Seattle, Montreal, and Vancouver either have already jumped ship or are waiting for the first availalbe life preserver. There are also stories, which Kartik will agree with me on, that many other USL owners are very unhappy with the way the league is run. It is a good setup for spreading the game around the country but without radical changes, it is not gonig to help bring the sport into the limelight in this country. If this fact makes me a cretin or indicates that I am what is wrong with soccer int his country, then I plead guilty.

  42. ERT 145

    August 5, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Kartik, I am ashamed of you. How dare you tell the truth about MLS and expose American soccer fans to the fact that we have another professional league, and a development league that has produced two EPL players this summer and countless national team players. How dare you have the nerve to point out what is happening in American soccer outside the USSF structure or MLS structure? How dare you say that American soccer fans should root for an American team over a Canadian team? Don’t you know helping Canada helps us? How dare you be so positive about USL and its structure. As Phil says you are so negative, so be negative. Say we don’t need the USL structure just MLS and its stupid rules, squad limits, franchise model and single entity. Be positive man! Say USL doesn’t exist and the sooner it goes away the better so the USSF and MLS can triumph! How dare you write a piece like this talking about things beyond MLS. I think you need to be exiled from soccer writing permanently so the tools like Alexi Lalas and others can truly educate the public.

  43. Phil

    August 5, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Uh Peter, since you resort to name calling, I will not engage in a debate with you as you are just as guilty of what you are accusing me of. And in fact, I never said Kartik wished for MLS to die. In fact, I never said any of the things you accuse me of. As neither you nor I know what it takes to run a soccer league, neither of us shoud be so arrogant to be able to say who should and who should not run this league. And in fact it has been documented many times that this league has bled money and only recently has begun to turn a corner. And yes it is true that people know this game cold, but withour MLS there is no chance of ever seeing meaningfull footabll in this country live. I enjoy watching games on the “telly” but being there is better than seeing it on tv. Exhibition games involving European teams is just not enough for me. So grow up and learn how to conduct a debate without resorting to childish name calling.

  44. Savannah Silverbacks Fan

    August 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Fans like Phil are what is wrong with American soccer. USL’s structure is sound and the truth is many who love MLS ignore all level of the american soccer pyramid below it. They are arrogant and condescending towards all other levels of the sport and ignorant also.

    And Peter Osgood, fat Ives as you refer to him is horrible. He never ever gives USL news and showed his complete and total ignorance of the league last year when the Islanders began making their CCL run. This year he irresponsibly broke the Arnoux story without mentioning the PDL club Arnoux was playing for at the time simply calling him a former Wake Forest player. This came despite the British press continually pointing out he played for the Carolina Dynamo. He did the same exact thing earlier this year with Marcus Tracy who TWICE played for the Dynamo.

    Kartik may say it is because of a lack of information, but those of us who are truly honest and aren’t covering for their friends (Kartik, I don’t know if you are friendly with Ives but you are covering for him excusing his and others blatant attempts to ignore any USL connections)realize this is done deliberately.

    The USSF in fact is the one who prints the bios that cleverly omit PDL experience for Pearce, DeMerit, Robles, Davies and others. After all, as we learn regularly Gulati is in Garber’s pocket.

    Kartik, a good start but at some point you need to uncover these conflicts of interest and the smoke and mirrors that creates the myth of MLS.

  45. peter osgood

    August 5, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    and why is it, endlessly, that cretins like Phil are suggesting that anyone, most poignantly the author of this blog is arguing for the end of MLS? Where has that ever been written?

    The lack of complex understanding and/or argument is and has been an enormous aspect of the cognative disonance that this country has suffered from for some time, why specifically it is has glomed-itself onto the issues of footballin the US/MLS is an interesting subject to disect.

    But trust dear Phil, endlessly frustrating to live through. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. As evidenced by looking around in most major cities I have been in this past 18 months, there is a whole new generation of football supporters who know European football cold. They are not fans of MLS for obvious reasons. Great for the sport in this country, the endless chatter about how many people play the sport in this country vs. who are actually knowledgable fans is dissipating quickly. Not good for MLS, and that wont change until there is leadership change who understands how to take the league as it exists – a teeming piece of shit by any global measure – and overhaul it. Give it proper structure and allow it to grow into what it should be, a proper feeder league like in Holland or Portugal who’s top clubs can compete in regional competition and win trophies.

  46. peter osgood

    August 5, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    The sugggestion that the league would have died ten years ago without Garber is a baseless statement.

    More erroneous theory based on fear. Which is exactly what this leadership has based it’s entire business practise on.

    The coming to light of the pressurizing of underpaid US players signing over there 1O% is nothing less than extortion. If the palyer’s union had the stomach they can win damages in court.

  47. Phil

    August 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Frankly, I am a little bit tired of all the MLS bashing that has taken place on this site. I hate to break it to all of you but without MLS, this sport would be in the wilderness in this country. While far from perfect, it is the best we got and the only legitimate chance the sport has of achieving day to day mainstream status. If it goes, and the best we have is the USL, we are in big trouble. You can not take a league seriosuly that year to year consistently sees multiple teams come and go. This was a huge problem with the NASL and the league’s credibility suffered because of it. MLS has achieved a level of franchise stablilty that is unheard of in this country, not just for a soccer league, but for a startup league for any type of sport. And frankly, without Don Garber, this league would have died 10 years ago. You can all bash him and say he is a “tool” , and he certainly has said and done some strange things, but overall the league is in much better shape financially than it was back in the late 90’s. I would certainly rather have him in charge than Doug Logan who was completely clueless. Kartik, I realize a lot of your bitterness toward the league comes from the contraction of Miami. It is time to get over it. And yes, Toronto losing to Puerto Rico is a black eye for the league. However, whose future is more secure? I think Puerto Rico would rather have the security as a franchise that Toronto has. And I will make a suggestion: as this site rairly discusses the day to day results of MLS, a name change is surely necessary. Major League Soccer Talk? I think US National Team and Major League Soccer Bashing Talk would be more appropriate. The negativity on this site has become extremely tedious and I for one will look for my soccer news elsewhere from now on.

  48. peter osgood

    August 5, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I find it instructive and fascinating that fat Ives hasnt noted last nights result or the behaviour of the self-confessed mafia don of US Soccer.

    Kartik’s blog and show’s title are unfortunate and confounding as they don’t advertise the amount of topics/issues covered or the intelligent debate herein.

    It’s clear that being a part of the EPL structure and conforming to it’s insipid nomenclature is restricting the growth of KartikInc.

  49. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Leeka, save it, would you, please? American has many definitions. One is a person from the United States of America. The term is conventional an not intended within the context of English speakers to preclude other definitions. That name, United States of America, is not a mere formality or something that we change on a whim but the name of what always has been a highly federalized union. That name is not going to change. Within the context of our discussion, “American” is an appropriate term. In fact, the term was introduced by Europeans and it stuck. It may be vague and general but the United States is vague and general. By the way, do Hispanics call themselves Latins when they’re not the only Latins? Why do Hispanics consider Central America a continent? Why do Hispanics get prickly about what they’re called but wrongly refer to all white Americans as Anglos? It works both ways.

  50. Tim

    August 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I must say I went into the night rooting for TFC, but then i realized what is said in the article.

    Why do the leagues not form a business and football agreement to overall improve the game? It only seems logically that all the tiers of american football are connected.

    This is totally unrelated, but Kartik, I understand that you watch the mexican league and i plan to try and get into this year. There are a couple of problems that im running into. All the games are on mexican language channels as is most of the news. And i don’t know how im going to really become knowledgeable without knowing spanish. Any suggestions?

  51. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 5, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Leeka- very good point. I make that mistake as does everyone else often. We are actually US citizens or US residents, but American has become defacto terminology in the English language for the USA. But in actual fact, you are correct.

  52. leeka

    August 5, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Why do you use the term “American” to refer to a U.S. citizen who loves in the U.S. if all of us who live in the “New World” also we are Americans too?

  53. Rex

    August 5, 2009 at 11:05 am

    I was excited to see some coverage of the CONCACAF Champions League, but I quickly figured out that this piece had other angles.

    Does anybody actually talk about soccer in America or does everyone just wanna talk about the state of soccer in America??? If we spent half our effort analyzing the actual games and competitions as we spend talking about the league, we would be much further along.

  54. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 5, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Again, USL is a football (soccer) structure- some of you still attribute the term USL to USL-1 only. That is incorrect. USL includes youth leagues, reserve leagues, development leagues, under 20 leagues, a woman’s league, etc. When Garber calls USL a “minor” league he’s calling the U-17 league, the PDL which has sent more players to the EPL this summer than MLS and the Super 20, “minor leagues.” I get that he meant USL-1, but his naivety and arrogance shows by not clarifying what he meant by saying “USL,” and that he would make this statement shortly before the two leagues clashed in their biggest game ever was also mystifying.

    Is MLS better than USL-1? Yes, and No. From a talent, marketing and crowd building standpoint it is much better but from a tactical and coaching standpoint it is arguably worse.

  55. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Could we please conduct a discussion without lazy application of the noun “hate” and its verb form? These days, disagreement, disapproval and even dismissal are regarded as “hate.” Enough already.

  56. Yankeehooligan

    August 5, 2009 at 10:11 am

    USL is a minor league and I’m sorry that hurts your feelings. You can’t compare MLS clubs performance in away games against CONCACAF clubs to USL’s performance against MLS clubs to argue for league-to-league parity. I’m not a USL hater. I often find myself cheering for them in the Open Cup because as an American soccer fan I am a fan of the underdog, but pilling on Commish Garber for stating the obvious is counterproductive. Plus, you misquoted him, he said:

    USL is going through some transition on their own and clearly our league came on the scene when the USL’s predecessors were already in place. In many markets, Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle and Toronto they have had some success and when they are successful they come into MLS. I am not sure what the future holds for that league or our relationship with it. I do believe that we can only all benefit from a strong minor league and a strong connection between it and the major league in this country. I look forward to seeing how that progresses in the years ahead.

    I hardly call that mocking. I’m curious to what you consider the gulf between MLS and USL-1 to be (if one exists in your mind). Is it England’s Championship to League One or is it Bristol Downs Division Two to Bristol Downs Division Three?

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 5, 2009 at 11:35 am

      It’s League One in England to League Two. MLS is of League One caliber. Sorry, but that is the case. It is a move up for MLS players to get to the Championship or League 2, or in some cases even the Mexican second division (Daniel Hernandez).

      Again, USL is not USL-1. That’s the entire point of this article. Garber doesn’t understand Football is not structured like American sports. (which is part of the reason continued Canadian expansion is controversial to true football fans, even though American sports fans have no issue with it) USL-1 as I say in the piece could be the least significant part of the USL structure. MLS , on the other hand is merely a league. USL is as it’s name indicates a umbrella organization that encompasses many leagues and developmental systems. It in fact resembles the structure of football in other countries. To disrespect it, is to disrespect the game. Sorry, but that is the case.

  57. dm

    August 5, 2009 at 10:04 am

    i was watching the PRI-TFC game last night and i thought that USL seems more like a competing league than a minor league… obviously it’s not in direct competition with MLS, but shoot – as an RBNY fan i am willing to bet that there are a fair few USL teams who would beat us this year.

    “the soccer don” is a joke – he and alexi lalas do more to undermine the mainstream success of MLS than any jim rome could ever do. garber may have a good sense of what is necessary to keep the league financially viable both now and in the future, but every time he opens his mouth he gives more fodder to those looking to make a mockery of the league – e.g. the usl minor league comment, and then watching the “minor league” team beat one of your most popular (in terms of attendance) clubs. alexi lalas is the same way.

    garber should shut up and manage the books. lalas should shut up and just do his weekly “sitter” video on mlsnet. 3 minutes is all the time he should be allowed to speak in one week.

  58. Adam Edg

    August 5, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Jon makes an excellent point. Without giving teams the right to protect academy players, the league fails in its mission to develop homegrown talent. Why should Chicago, who has one of the best systems in the US, spend lots of time and energy developing players that the league will allocate elsewhere? Or even worse, sell on the transfer market and keep the fees?
    If MLS wants to truly compete with foreign teams, it can still do so even with a small salary cap (but it still needs to be raised). The key to this is signing and developing young talent. The top European clubs do this all of the time. Beckham signed with Man U’s academy as a youngster and played for the reserve side; MLS needs this kind of development!
    Every MLS team should have a PDL (or NPSL), Super 20, and Super Y program. And they should be able to retain the rights to the players that compete on their squads. Of course there could be some limitations, like a two year signing period following college graduation (or U-23 eligibility) and a minimum number of active years with the development system (like a player has to have at least three years combined to have his rights owned). This would revolutionize the game and provide the fans with some real homegrown talent.
    BTW, Chicago currently has development teams in the PDL, Super 20, Super Y, and NPSL (Rockford). That is committment.

  59. Bobby

    August 5, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Great piece, Kartik.

    I think people really underestimate the importance of the USL to soccer in America. It’s also easy to forget that between the demise of the NASL and the birth of MLS, the USL (as one of it’s forerunners) carried American soccer on it’s back. A strong USL is vital for the game here because it gives other players a chance to go play.

    Also, if you look at a city like Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is a real gem, they have the first “soccer-specific stadium” in the United States and a great soccer community, yet they were never and will never be on MLS’ radar. Losing Charleston would be a massive blow to the game. Similar could be said of Rochester, though MLS teased them like MLB does Charlotte and Portland from time-to-time in order to get cities they see as more valuable to dance with them.

    Lets not forget as well, Real Salt Lake didn’t set off that soccer frenzy in Utah, the USL-2 Blitzz did that. I remember Charlotte playing them in Utah’s final match, the USL-2 final at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

    We do need MLS to do well, and to prosper, but it really rubs me the wrong way when people dismiss USL. I’m glad I’m not alone in that.

  60. Joey Clams

    August 5, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I tell you what, Kartik, I want to play on your team. I’m serious. I’ve always been an MLS fan yet over the last few years I’ve found so much of their rhetoric to be downright insulting. A share your appreciation of Olsen, by the way. It’s not that he’s a great player, he’s a great personality, an American. He’s a tough kid from Eastern PA who doesn’t back down. He dishes it out, takes it but by game’s end – and even during the game – it’s not personal. Good for PR, as well. People can complain all they want about negativity. At the end of the day, it’s all about who has who. PR had Toronto. That makes me want to run naked through the streets of Lawrence or Holyoke.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 5, 2009 at 11:37 am

      Anytime, Joey. Our opinions generally are similar, I have noticed. Again, I find it ironic that many Americans wanted to cheer for the team with far fewer American players or American developed players on the team. I still do not understand that logic. Would these people root for Canada against the US in order bolster US Soccer?

  61. bq

    August 5, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Kartik, you constantly amaze me with your talent and energy. I know how many other pieces you wrote, recored, edited yesterday along with many phone calls. Then you watch two game and still put together an article like this. As I said, amazing!

    • eplnfl

      August 5, 2009 at 7:55 pm

      thats a big me too

  62. Lars

    August 5, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Obvious penalty call missed…

    but TFC played like shit and deserved to lose. It all balances out I guess.

  63. Jon

    August 5, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I really find it hard to celebrate a team winning that played as negatively as any I’ve seen this year. Not that Toronto FC did any positive to break them down, mind you, but these sorts of tactics will win the USL no fans. Toronto was uninspired and lacked ideas, but would have won the tie if they’d managed to get in one of the many, many chances they squandered last night. Tactics like this may win matches in competitions like this, but it was absolutely horrible football to watch.

    I appreciate you being a cheerleader all the time for the USL, but I think you are underestimating just how damaging the loss of Portland, Vancouver, and likely Montreal is going to be to that league. Plus, if MLS raises the salary cap (likely must happen after the most recent collective bargaining in the fall), many of the upper tier USL players will be back in MLS. I do agree that MLS needs to start taking the grassroots more seriously and take the shackles off the developmental teams as far as how many players you can sign, protect, etc. If they don’t, there will be no impetus for the clubs to produce good young talent.

  64. Joe in Indianapolis

    August 5, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Hit the nail on the head. I agree with Julius, keep writing articles after midnight (perhaps after a drink or two). Love the attitude. Also, I’m excited to find out what USL secrets you might be talking about…

  65. "grow the game"

    August 5, 2009 at 6:29 am


  66. football

    August 5, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Nice post. i was looking for such post. i learned many more about the world cup football from this blog. thanks for posting.

  67. peter osgood

    August 5, 2009 at 2:51 am

    You clearly do your best work after midnight.

    Stunning piece.

  68. Julius

    August 5, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Actually, the biggest part of DC United’s victory was an Argentinean named Christian Gomez. But yeah big night for an American club. And yeah, the USL is better than people give it credit for, this wasn’t the Open Cup with the MLS team fielding a B-side.

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