The Brave New World of MLS 3.0

Sigh. I can’t be bothered to start a “MLS Does Not Suck” column to respond to Deadspin’s coverage. The first article reeked of somebody who didn’t actually watch the league, but the second column made a lot more solid points about the Atlanta expansion situation. Take a deep breath and realize that, big picture, media coverage is a good thing. Deadspin prides itself on dumping in all major sports leagues from the NFL to the NBA – MLS is now on the radar. That’s a good thing. Deadspin will not coddle MLS. It’s your baby, not Deadpin’s.

The bottom line is that the truth hurts. While MLS is not quite two decades old, the league’s history can be categorized into three phases. And the 3.0 version looks suspiciously familiar. Continue reading “The Brave New World of MLS 3.0” »

MLS Salaries: Starting at the Rock-Bottom

One of the key things for any employee entering the workforce is starting salary: it normally sets the baseline for future earnings and possible raises. That’s why it’s so sad that management has played professional sports player unions for fools, pitting veterans against rookies in negotiations (at least in North America). Owners hand veterans with a bigger role in the union larger salaries today, in exchange for keeping the salaries for rookies nice and low. Here’s the problem: if rookies started off at a higher salary, then they’d be able to get even more in free agency. It’s common sense: starting higher up the ladder earlier is better.

MLS is no different from any other sports league in that regards. Yes, NFL players have a higher salary for rookies (entry-level employees), but it’s still well below the median and what a veteran earns. Yes, MLS salaries have gone up. DPs also make made bank. However, I took a survey of the Top 10 picks from the MLS Super Draft and then looked at their starting salaries. Then I found some other professions with equivalent salaries. The results were forehead-slapping.  Continue reading “MLS Salaries: Starting at the Rock-Bottom” »

The Number One Reason Why MLS Should Expand to Topeka, KS

So, MLS is expanding all over the place. Sometimes, they occupy and share an NFL stadium. Other times, expansion cities scurry to build lovely soccer-specific stadiums. In their haste, though, they sometimes, ahem, have to clear out still-in-use churches. In Orlando City, the municipality balked at a local church’s initial asking price (tens of millions) and jumped straight to eminent-domain and litigation. Now, in Atlanta, rumors swirl that a stadium proposal will lead to the demolition of the City’s first black Baptist Church (and super-gentrification of the neighborhood Martin Luther King Jr. called home).

As someone who went to college in A-town (The term “ATL” is sooooooo 2004), I can understand why Arthur Blank wants to leave the aging (built in 1992) Georgia Dome, all tucked away down there (a mere 3-5 miles from downtown Atlanta). But, in all seriousness, if MLS teams are going to be destroying churches to build homes, I have a sweet idea for a location. Continue reading “The Number One Reason Why MLS Should Expand to Topeka, KS” »

US Players: The Winding Path Backwards & Ahead

Remember all the buzz when Jozy Altidore first signed for Sunderland? He’d just scored a plethora of goals in the Eredivisie and was ready to return to the EPL and take it by storm! Yes, the manager at the time was a bit crazy, but the team had survived relegation. Surely Jozy could knock in ten goals and guide the Black Cats to mid-table security? Right?

Then, this season happened. Continue reading “US Players: The Winding Path Backwards & Ahead” »

A Guardian Defends MLS and US Soccer

Just before MLS “first kick,” Deadspin dumped on the league. I then responded in kind. Here’s the odd part: I’d already filed a piece with the Guardian on the state of US soccer. The big problem with the league as per Deadspin was not the financial state, but the quality of play as compared to Europe. Admittedly, there are still clubs and leagues with better players. Continue reading “A Guardian Defends MLS and US Soccer” »

Important MLS Scab Update!

MLS had millions to spend to sign star players from abroad this summer, but when it comes to refs? Nope. Sadly, the MLS and the referee union are at loggerheads, a dangerous sign giving the looming player/management CBA session. From the owner’s perspective, they want to keep costs down and hope the league can turn a corner towards profitability. From their point of view, expansion alone is enough for the players and refs: each new team creates new jobs for players and more games for refs to work. A lot of the owners have eaten a lot of money for decades, and would like to see a return on their investment.

From the refs and players’ perspectives, all pro sports leagues are only profitable to a degree. As MLS revenue expands with TV deals, they want a similar if not bigger share of the expanding pie. After all, the players are the ones kicking the ball and the refs are blowing the whistle. Why should management get all the perks? I wrote in 2009 about the very real prospect of a player’s strike and the possibility of scabs. This year, the regular refs aren’t reffing and……their union has released info on the scabs.

Here’s my take on the dirt (and the Union). Continue reading “Important MLS Scab Update!” »

The MLS Deadspin Takedown Letdown

I was pretty excited to see Deadspin take a break from pictures of athletes’ penises to dedicate 2,000 plus words to MLS’s upcoming season. Just the fact Deadspin knew the MLS season was starting is a pretty big step in the growth of the league’s media profile. However, after reading and re-reading (and re-reading) Bill Haisley’s analysis, three general things stick out: (1) He did some decent research on league happenings, but doesn’t really follow it, (2) The critiques are not very illuminating, and (3) Deadspin has tied their wagon to the Eurosnob corner of soccer in the US, a regrettable decision.

Now, for fun, let’s analyze paragraph by paragraph the take-down and assess each claim. I’m going to just ignore Bill’s over-the-top tone and word choice because, like, I’m sure he wouldn’t stoop so low to go trolling for pageviews. That’s what slideshows are for! Continue reading “The MLS Deadspin Takedown Letdown” »

What Possibly Could Hold Back David Beckham FC in Miami? The Public.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece for The Guardian about David Beckham’s interest in (re) starting an MLS franchise in Miami, Florida. I took a close look at Miami’s tortured history with pro soccer (from the Strikers to the Fusion). I also surveyed Miami’s attendance in other pro sports, such as the NHL, NFL, and MLB. I expressed some doubts despite the media buzz, and, since then, little has happened. Why?

Well, Beckham has a reduced MLS franchise fee that sweetens the deal but, a very serious “but”, MLS insists on a soccer-specific stadium. If Orlando can pull off a stadium, then why can’t Miami? The excellent blog “Field of Schemes” gives us a hint. Continue reading “What Possibly Could Hold Back David Beckham FC in Miami? The Public.” »

Soccer Lynx: Open the Soccer Pod(Cast) Doors, Hal

Ahh, nothing is more relaxing than aural pleasure, no? Now that I have relocated to a major metropolitan area, each morning and evening I look forward to gridlock, accidents, folks changing lanes without turning on their signals, overturned cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and folks turning on signals and not changing lanes. What could be more blissful?

Luckily, my iPhone is regularly loaded with some lovely podcasts.Here they are: Continue reading “Soccer Lynx: Open the Soccer Pod(Cast) Doors, Hal” »