The following is a transcript of today's teleconference with MLS Commissioner Doug Logan and deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati
Logan on MLS officiating
"We wholeheartedly support our referees. They are enforcing the rules and achieving their objectives."
Gulati on MLS officiating
"We have had no direct communication with FIFA regarding our referees. FIFA did not ask us to become the testing ground. They may be watching, but they haven't asked us."
Gulati on the Miami Fusion acquiring a fifth international player
"We have had lengthy discussions with the Fusion. We want to make sure they get the right player. They are only one game under .500 and no one is hitting the panic button yet."
Gulati on the New England Revolution's interest in Portuguese First Division midfielder Amaral
"He is currently under suspension by the Portuguese federation, but there is no FIFA involvement. The suspension has been appealed. Thomas (Rongen) is interested, but at this time we have no agreement. He is a possibility, but there is less than a 50 percent chance MLS will sign him."
Logan on MLS television ratings on ABC
"We thought we would be in the 1.0 to 1.1 range and we are close to that. We were hopeful for exciting games, and that has happened. We have weekly production meetings to review everything. We are miles ahead of where we were in the past."
Gulati on the Miami Fusion acquiring another international player
"We have not accepted Miami's recommendations on what I like to phrase as one and one-half occasions. One time we rejected the player and one time the coach liked the player but the general manager was not as positive. Brazil is an expensive market and we are taking a hard look at each player's ability and age ... across the board we reject and offer recommendations daily."
Gulati on Mauricio Ramos joining the Tampa Bay Mutiny
"Bolivian midfielder Mauricio Ramos has been signed by the league and will be allocated to the Tampa Bay Mutiny under our 'marquee player' rule. Prior to the start of the season, each team must submit three 'marquee players' and one of Tampa Bay's three players was Jacek Ziober. Tampa Bay will be given relief because Ziober will miss a significant number of games. Ramos is an attacking midfielder, the type of player who controls the tempo of the game. With our internationals this year we looked for players who could control the game, players lie Etcheverry and Valderrama. (Peter) Nowak is that type of player as is (Edwin) Gorter. We expect Ramos to be that type of player."
Logan on the status of Tampa Bay hosting MLS Cup '99
"Tampa Bay has submitted an application to host MLS Cup '99. We are reviewing other applications, but I will not publicly surmise if there is a competition (to host the event) or not."
Logan on MLS's impact on the U.S. national team, especially developing young talent
"We see ourselves as an important component of the long-range plans of the national team. The team that goes to France will be better off for us having been around for two plus years. (Frankie) Hejduk is playing well with the national team and Brian Maisonneuve has really impressed Steve Sampson and his staff. Cobi Jones is playing the best soccer of his career and Eddie Pope is a son of MLS. We're very very pleased and delighted to play a role in the development of the team. It is a real team effort from the youth to the amateurs to the USISL ranks. The formation of a pro league since the last World Cup should bear significant fruit, both short term and long term for the national team."
Logan on the future plans for New York City and the impact on the MetroStars
"We've made no secret of what our long-term plans are ... to have a team in New Jersey and another team east of the East River would be our preference. We need to make agreements that make sense for us, where we can play in stadiums where we control our destiny. That includes playing on the same surface for the entire year and controlling marketing rights."
"A second team located near mass transit could enhance what we do in the metropolitan New York area and not damage the MetroStars (fan base). We've had discussions with Shea Stadium and that could be a good solution. Shea has portions of the stands that roll and would allow for very good soccer dimensions."
Gulati on selling players to clubs outside MLS
"It always hurts the league to sell an important player, but sometimes we have to take a close look at formal offers from top clubs around the world. We didn't want to lose (Leonel) Alvarez and (Brad) Friedel, but both deals were driven by what was an extraordinary deal for the player. We have athletes with short career spans and have to take a look at any serious offer. Every situation will be different, but all decisions are made in conjunction with the player and the teams."
"We've had non-stop interest in Marco (Etcheverry) for a year and a half. If we had a serious offer in writing, we would discuss that with Marco and D.C. United. Marco will be playing for D.C. United for as far as the eye can see. Marco absolutely wants to stay with MLS, but if he received an offer that was four times his current salary then he might change his mind. We want him to play until he retires in MLS."
Gulati on Project-40 players counting against an MLS team's 20-man roster
"When a player plays in his 20th MLS game -- prior to July 1 -- then he will count against the 20-player roster. If after July 1, the player will not be required to take a regular roster spot until the next season."
Logan on MLS expansion
"(MetroStars investor-operators) John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick have another year and a half before they must exercise their right to operate an expansion team in Long Island. Any discussions we have regarding putting another team in the metropolitan New York area are with Kluge and Subotnick."
"It started when I had a brief conversation with the Mayor Giuliani a year ago. We have always been receptive to stadium issues. I then had a phone call with the mayor one week ago and a meeting with him earlier this week. We discussed financing plans in the five boroughs with a focus on Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island -- the mayor was clear and enthusiastic in bringing MLS to New York City."
Logan more on MLS expansion
"We currently have teams in seven of the top eight media markets. We have been impressed with the television numbers in Houston on a consistent basis ... also Seattle and Portland are high on our hit parade and another team in Southern California is part of our future."
"Regarding Southern California, there are some interesting things happening in the sports business in the region. We have had discussions for six months with the people at Disney. We've talked and at the appropriate time and place, we'll be a part of the smorgasbord out there."
Gulati on the Los Angeles Galaxy's efforts to sign a Mexican player
"We're currently waiting on a list from the Galaxy. Things have changed due to on-field issues. Earlier they were looking at defenders due to injuries, but now they are more inclined for a front-runner. We expect that their list of three players will be within our economic rationale."
Logan On Alan Rothenberg becoming the investor-operator of the San Jose Clash
"We are still in a dialogue with Alan Rothenberg. We expect to sort everything out by the end of May. We're looking forward to Sunday when the Clash will play its first game at the renovated Spartan Stadium on a wide field."
1998 MLS TV RATINGS
ABC Date Teams Rating
Sunday, March 15 D.C. United at Miami 1.00
Saturday, April 11 Los Angeles at MetroStars 0.84
Saturday, April 18 D.C. United at New England 1.00
Saturday, April 25 San Jose at MetroStars 0.80
ESPN Date Teams Rating
Sunday, March 29 New England at D.C. United 0.90
Saturday, April 1 Colorado at D.C. United 0.55
Friday, April 17 MetroStars at Chicago 0.50
ESPN2 Date Teams Rating
Saturday, March 21 Kansas City at D.C. United 0.38
Thursday, March 26 Miami at Tampa Bay 0.35
Saturday, April 4 MetroStars at Kansas City 0.21
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