MLS fans' never-ending war against our arch-enemy, Major League Soccer, suffered yet another setback yesterday. This time, it was at the hands of former Barcelona Dragons marketing guru Don Garber, whom Luis Arroyave interviewed from the deck of his pleasure yacht, the Freaking Obvious.
My research assistant, Mr. Google, informs me that in the past couple of years or so the many critics of MLS have called out for/cried out for/screamed out for the league to align with the FIFA calendar. Not just idiots, either. Grant Wahl, Ridge Mahoney, Nick Green, Chris Klein, John Carver....okay, one idiot.
MLS fans and pundits demanding alignment with the FIFA calendar (file photo)
Garber has been trying polite variations of "tell it to the finger" for a while now - maybe this latest version will stick:
MLS player demanding alignment with the FIFA calendar (file photo)
It's worse than this, actually. The Saturday game where Toronto had to suit up Rick Titus? 19,863 announced attendance. That Beckham-Blanco game ESPN advertised that had neither?
And the premise, once again, is that Major League Soccer should leave money - a LOT of money - on the table, so that quality of play doesn't suffer. But until the money the league makes is linked to quality of play, that premise is going to be met with...well, read what Garber said. Polite dismissal.
I'm sure MLS is more than willing to meet us halfway, and not schedule games Wednesday nights on FIFA weeks, unless they need to make up a game. Oh, that's not halfway? Gosh, you're right. That's not real fair. Maybe you should get forty million bucks or so, buy an MLS team, and then your opinion will matter. Can we please stop being children about this?
The business model fails on the field once in a while, but it hasn't actually failed as a business model. It would be interesting to see how many New England season ticket holders fail to renew as a result of the Joe Public debacle. As a rough estimate, I'd say mid-to-high single digits.
Now, I cried a salty tear when the Commissioner said this:
The thought of watering down the US Open Cup makes me a sad panda. But let's face it, MLS teams enter the USOC pretty much out of the goodness of their hearts. It's up to the USSF to make that wonderful competition a little bit less of a pain in the ass. Yes, winning is something that DC United should justifiably be proud of. But if it's going to be used as an excuse for poor results, or missing the playoffs*, then the thrill of USOC victory better burn a lot more brightly than it has. Pride in the Consolation Cup only goes so far.
And sending only bad MLS teams into the tournament only benefits the USL. It would be wonderfully ironic to try to solve embarrassment in the Champions Cup by ensuring embarrassment in the Open Cup, though. We wouldn't even have to change any columns or posts, just global search & replace "Joe Public" for "Cleveland City Stars." Oh, we're doing that already? I'm now in favor of this move. Comedy > tradition, every time.
All things being equal, I'm in favor of not having our teams bounced around by Caribbean part-timers. All things are not equal. When you suggest things to people that will cost them money, especially professional capitalists, you must put forward an incentive for them to do so. It's not going to do any good to say that MLS will lose respect (from who?) if said loss can't be quantified.
Yes, when Garber says this:
- he's setting up a straw man. No one is saying that MLS should reconfigure its entire business model. I don't believe roster expansion falls under the heading of a total reconfiguration.
Excuse me, I have just been informed that hundreds of people are saying that MLS should reconfigure its entire business model. Okay, well, that's not going to happen - not until there are serious consequences for being Joe Publicked.
Funny, he's never written me back, the scraggly-faced beagle-molester.
*Which, to be fair, DC fans have resisted doing up to this point, a trend I hope continues