Running Out of September

I don't know who wrote THIS EDITORIAL ON USSOCCERPLAYERS (I'm guessing J Hucherson, but I really don't know) but whoever it is I'd like to shake their hand.

It's not just that the piece touches on a number of themes that I myself have commented on, including the blatant conflict of interest at the top of American soccer, the player relations bomb or the reckless pace of expansion, all of which get a loud "Hear, hear" from this corner of the table. .

Nor is it the comments on the increasing demand for Canadian teams in a league which was intended - and originally presented - as a vehicle for the promotion and expansion of soccer in the US, a theme which some of you may have heard me mention occasionally.

The thing which, to me, makes this piece critical reading for every American soccer fan is the willingness to tackle the elephant in the room:

Soccer United Marketing.

As MLS fans who have spent over a decade listening to sordid tales of how much red ink the league bleeds every year and who recall the "we promise we'll keep the thing afloat for five years" pledge the owners issued not so very long ago, we have all been happy to hear that S.U.M. is lining the owners pockets, figuring that the money earned is another incentive for the them to stick with it.

But if we accept that soccer in the US is indeed a limited market, then to what extent is S.U.M. merely robbing Peter to pay Phil?

Read the whole thing. Well worth your time.

While you're at it, don't miss TIM LEIWEKE'S LATEST IDEA for getting the galaxy out of the salary bind they find themselves in.

No, it's not "Stop overpaying for bad players".

Rather, Leiweke thinks MLS should take DP's off the books entirely.

Now of course this would instantly give some teams, say, for example, the Galaxy, an immediate $400,000.-- salary boost for however many DP's they have (grandfathered or otherwise) while doing nothing for most other teams, but most other teams aren't Tim's problem.

On top of that, the owners are sure to raise the "salary budget" (AKA "cap") this Winter, thus handing the Gals a helluva pile of money to spend before next season.

Combined with the Donovan allocation money, he'll be swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck.

Now in theory I'm not opposed to eliminating the $400,000 cap hit per DP, although of the top teams in the league at the moment exactly none of them have one, making the entire deal something of a curiosity.

Rather, the problem I have is that it massively alters the equation by giving teams with DP's an even bigger advantage over teams wthout them.

And it's not just that teams who don't have a DP d are too cheap to shell out the money; several teams have tried mightily to sign guys and come up empty.

Those MLS teams who have David Beckham - raise your hands so we can all see who you are - need at least some reflection of that fact in their cap.