MLS Stadia Update: Compromise and Progress?

As you may recall, I’ve written for VICE Sports about that tangled world of sports and politics. Namely, I’ve looked at the efforts of new MLS franchises to get stadiums built and stick a hand in the taxpayer’s pot of cash. As you’d expect, I didn’t pull punches when looking at both MLS franchisees and local politicians. Using open record requests, I was able to shed some light on how and why the situations had seemingly stalled.

Now, I’m happy to report, things have changed. Here’s where and how. Continue reading “MLS Stadia Update: Compromise and Progress?” »

The Quintessential MLS CBA “Smoke has Cleared” and “One Side Won” Post

Hello there, reader. In case you missed it, the MLS season started on time last weekend. Crowds flocked to games. Young men (and Clint Dempsey) kicked balls. Some scored goals. Others were less fortunate. However, last week the major story was this: less than acrimonious CBA negotiations between the owners of MLS franchises and the members of the MLS Players Union. They scheduled a two-day mediation before the season started, primarily swapped offers on a form of free agency, and reached a deal late at night on the second day.

But you shouldn’t be happy. Continue reading “The Quintessential MLS CBA “Smoke has Cleared” and “One Side Won” Post” »

The Astroturfery Behind the Failed Beckham Stadium Plan

In case you don’t follow me on twitter or already read Vice Sports, here’s a link to my up close look at how and why Beckham has failed to get a stadium deal done in Miami (so far). For the record, it was edited by the excellent Eric Nusbaum and the elucidating Patrick Hruby. Like all kinda long stories that require original research, there’s little snippets and footnotes along the way.

One of the footnotes that I want to share is the story of the “Downtown Neighbors Alliance.” ‘Tis a class tale of astroturfery, snobby rich people problems, and a Mayor’s flooded inbox. Continue reading “The Astroturfery Behind the Failed Beckham Stadium Plan” »

The Two Most Misunderstood Words of MLS CBA Talks

“Work stoppage.” As a fan who enjoys watching live soccer, these words strike terror into my heart. Thus far, the current MLS labor talks have followed the same pattern: MLS owners, happy with increasing revenue and a one-sided owner/labor balance, complain they are “still losing money” and profess to not be worried by the talk’s slow progress. Meanwhile, the MLS Players’ Union makes vague threats about “strikes” and says “free agency” over and and over.

I don’t know who has the upper hand in negotiations. I also don’t know what will happen. I know there are some creative quasi-free agency solutions. I know that MLS salaries also lag behind North American counterparts (and way behind England). However, here’s one thing I don’t know: would a work stoppage really be that bad? In that vain, I looked at recent work stoppages in other North American sports leagues. Things didn’t always end up so bad once the dust settled. Continue reading “The Two Most Misunderstood Words of MLS CBA Talks” »

Hungover Dispatches from America: MLS Combine Edition

Futfanatico regrets to inform you that, with out modest budget, we were only able to send a single correspondent to the MLS combine. He wrote for us at the World Cup, and, after heavy editing, one of his three filed articles was publishable. This particular post turned out…..well, judge for yourself. Enjoy as best you can. Continue reading “Hungover Dispatches from America: MLS Combine Edition” »

Affable Alexi Lalas Refuses to Badmouth US Soccer Group Whose Aim is His Imminent Destruction

Alexi Lalas has long been the “big tent” pundit of soccer in the United States. Whether it’s getting in a twitter spat with a US national team player or defending a less-than-popular idealist reformer, Alexi has taken the ACLU First Amendment position that “all speech is good speech.” At least if that speech is about soccer. For Alexi, the tent of US soccer is big enough for different opinions and stronger for encouraging robust debate and dissent.

However, one new US soccer group just may have tested his resolve. Continue reading “Affable Alexi Lalas Refuses to Badmouth US Soccer Group Whose Aim is His Imminent Destruction” »

The Klinsmann and MLS Row: Draining a Fountain of Youth?

Jeff Carlisle at ESPNFC got some juicy nuggets from MLS executives: apparently, many are pretty angry that Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff have nudged MLS academy players to sign for European Clubs instead of MLS teams. At issue is pride, but also money: many MLS academies waive fees for players, and thus cost around $600,000 a year to maintain. When you factor in that MLS is a closed system where players rarely transfer within MLS for transfer fees (sometimes allocation money, admittedly), you can understand the MLS owners’ gripes. They invest heavily to groom a garden of players, many of whom won’t reach the highest level, and some bird swoops down when they turn 18 and takes away the ripest fruit.

However, Christian Hambleton and Michael Wheeler at the Vanderbilt “JetLaw” site point out that MLS owners may be themselves to blame: they are leaving money on the table. Continue reading “The Klinsmann and MLS Row: Draining a Fountain of Youth?” »

Some Ferocious Soccer Lynx

You know the drill. Contrary to some rumors, I am not the only person who writes about soccer. While you love my writing and would love to see three epic, full length features at this site each and every week, I’ve been pretty prolific at SoccerGods and Paste Magazine. Thus, for today at least, you’ll just have to content yourself with fine writing by other folks and links to said writing. Which is fine. I do declare. Continue reading “Some Ferocious Soccer Lynx” »

The MLS Live Blackout Black Eye

Blackouts, don’t you hate them? Look at the above image of the MLS Live playoff schedule. Blackouts pepper the screen. I’ve been trying to figure out the MLS algorithm for them. As a longtime NFL fan, most local games were (and are) blacked out on TV if the stadium failed to sell out for home games. For MLS, the formula seems to be: if a local cable network shows the game, then it gets blacked out on DirecTV and MLS Live. If NBC Sports Network shows the game, then an entire country gets the shaft. If ESPN shows a game, then there’s no MLS Live option.

Why? Well, in short, because MLS wants to get on the Cable TV gravy train while it can. However, there are a few problems. Continue reading “The MLS Live Blackout Black Eye” »