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” »

Every World Cup Article Ever Written: Stupid Price Hikes!

It’s simple math. A major sports tournament at an exotic locale looms. A journalist gets on an online travel website, looks at the price for a hotel in a city during a regular summer month, then they look at the price for that same hotel during said sporting tournament. The numbers don’t add up! One is bigger! Outrage! Anger! Businesses then get slammed for trying to “profit” from the influx of tourists. It happened in South Africa. Should we be surprised that Brazilian hotels will be more expensive this summer?

Never fear, though, because Dilma is here! The Brazilian government has stepped in and investigated whether the price surge reflects a “cartel-like” situation. A special committee has been created to monitor said price surges. So, everything’s fine, right? The state will solve all our problems? Can’t Brazil just follow the Latin American trend and amend its Constitution another time to include a universal right for fair hotel rates during World Cups?

A closer look shows that the problem-solver is actually the cause, not the savior, for the problem. Continue reading “Every World Cup Article Ever Written: Stupid Price Hikes!” »

The Neymar Transfer Third Party Party

I’ve already written about third party ownership. In the best light, it’s a way for poorer countries and clubs to pool risk and invest in players. Regardless of your opinion, it’s a product of the transfer system: as long as clubs exchange lots of money to get players, folks will try to get a slice of that pie. Sometimes it’s shady agents. Sometimes it’s shady family members. Sometimes, with creative contracts, it’s the players themselves.

The English FA banned third party ownership, even though Chelsea has recently been investigated by the Guardian for alleged links with a Portuguese agent and suspicious tax-haven shell companies. That situation, though, is still developing and opaque. Today, I’d rather look at the juicy details from the Neymar transfer, which have come to light thanks to a soci lawsuit (and led to the resignation of an FC Barcelona President). Continue reading “The Neymar Transfer Third Party Party” »

Tactics Talk: Roster and Roles in the 4-2-2-2

Millions spent on players. A new successful South American coach. A club not far removed from trophy-filled seasons. In 2004, Real Madrid believed they’d found perfect mix and hired the right man, Brazilian Vanderlei Luxemburgo. He arrived with fresh ideas for a talented but aging roster. Among them, the “magical boxes.” After the team’s strong finish to 2004, the team collapsed in the first half of 2005. The tactical revolution was a retrogression. Vanderlei got fired.

Flash forward a decade. A petro-dollar team in the EPL hires a South American coach famous for….magical boxes. In many ways, Pellegrini’s tactical ideas eerily mirror Vanderlei’s tactics at Madrid. Why did one collapse, while the other is thriving?

A close look shows that players can be shifted to fit tactics, but it’s not always for the best. Continue reading “Tactics Talk: Roster and Roles in the 4-2-2-2” »

Financial Fair Play: Blogger Predicted Easily Predictable Outcome

Recently, Manchester City played Chelsea in a battle to top the Premier League and best characterized as a catfight involving Louie V handbags filled with diamonds. Ironically, Jose Mourinho complained that Manchester City were spending loads of money, and then stated that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play just may not dole out severe enough punishments. Two years ago, a handsome young chap who pens posts at unheralded (but award winning) soccer blog Futfanatico said about Financial Fair Play:

There [is one] simple fact: FFP needs teeth.

As FFP begins to take effect, we’ll see just how sharp those teeth can be. I, for one, am cynical. I see three possible outcomes from Financial Fair Play. None of them are pleasant. Continue reading “Financial Fair Play: Blogger Predicted Easily Predictable Outcome” »

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.” »

The US Soccer Men’s National Team and the Group of Destiny

The soccersphere in the US is a pretty depressed (and depressing) place. Why? Well, the US got a pretty tough draw in the World Cup: Ghana, Germany, and Portugal. It’s been dubbed a Group of Death even though ESPN stats guru Nate Silver gives the US a 39% chance of advancing, about even with Portugal.

Why all the pessimism? Why are glasses so half-empty? Here are the practical and metaphysical reasons: Continue reading “The US Soccer Men’s National Team and the Group of Destiny” »