One of the problems with doing this blogging thing is trying to separate the grain from the chaff (for San Jose fans: the good stuff from the junk).
With that in mind, I've been sitting around trying to decide whether to pass along THIS ITEM FROM AMERICAN SOCCER NEWS which repeats some pressbox comments from Don Garber which, if true, sheds considerable light on the thinking over at 420 5th Avenue.
If indeed Garber said this stuff in the pressbox, it's odd that only one guy is reporting it. Most of the soccer writers I know - myself included - would have broken a leg in their rush to get to a keyboard and bang out a recap.
It's possible, I suppose, that this was meant as some kind of off-the-record "background" which the writer either didn't catch or chose to ignore. But that's really speculative, and I'd rather not go that far out on a limb.
(*EDIT: I now have solid reason to believe that this is an entirely legit piece and that other reporters were present. I cannot explain why no one else has written about it, but this is unquestionably the genuine article. So to speak.)
With that in mind, here are some high points:
"MLS 2.0 will be rolled out in 2010"
The writer doesn't put quotation marks on this one, so we can't definitively attribute the phrase to Garber, but if we could it would be tres intriguing, indicating as it does an almost total revamping of the business model.
"...the league would prefer another Midwest team such as St. Louis to provide more balance geographically. Interest in a Miami franchise has resurfaced and Garber reiterated the demand in the Pacific Northwest is strong as well."
Is no mention of Canada or New York indicative of something? We've been led to believe that the league doesn't have faith in the financial viability of the St. Louis group, although there are reports that the situation has changed for the better.
Miami is, of course, a dream location for every reason imaginable, not least of which is the massive Hispanic population over which the league has been drooling lo these many years.
"Pacific Northwest" could of course mean either Vancouver or Portland, with the former morre likely. Ottawa is highly unlikely due to not only the small population but also the number of local politicians who are lining up against the stadium.
As for Montreal, the bloom is off the roase as the league is known to doubt that frat boy Joey Saputo has either the cash or the staying power to run with the big dogs and George Gillette's involvement is more and more seen as a negative rather than a positive. Too, as more people actually get a look at Stade Saputo they realize that it's hopelessly minor league, regardless of how many more seats they can install.
."..the likelihood of starting the season in February or ending in early December are out of the question.."
Most of us agree. Nice to see it in writing again.
"In regards to the CONCACAF Champions League, Garber said “Our credibility is being attacked but we want our clubs to focus on MLS…In reality, we are a business developing and to reconfigure our business model is not in our best interest.”
Or, more plainly, "Of course we wish we weren't getting our asses handed to us in the CONCACAF CL but at the moment we just can't worry about it"
"....in 2009, there may be a possibility that teams will be more carefully selected to avoid fixture congestion so there may be more balance and variety in the Superliga, CONCACAF, and US Open Cup competitions."
Again, no quotation marks, but this to me is the high point; I've felt for a long time that they needed to spread the load around. Mexican and other Spanish language TV audiences (which is where the money is on this) don't much care if MLS sends Houston or the Fire. MLS is MLS.
So if we say one competition gets the MLS Cup winner and the other gets the Supporter's Shield winner and the rest of the lineup is spread around amongst the teams that made the playoffs the previous year, everybody wins and we don't see, for eaxmple, New England playing 50 games a season.
If this is what he's talking about, I'm on the table applauding here.
"Garber also expressed that the Superliga is a priority for the league based off of attendance and television ratings."
Unfortunately, this is an SUM property from start to finish, and so the income all stays at home, so even though it's the one most fans would like to see dumped altogether it's also the one most likely to survive.
Altogether, fascinating stuff.