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Eleven Big Issues Facing MLS
US Soccer Players, September 25th, 2008 12:30PM
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The Web site for the U.S. national team players' association sets out 11 issues that Major League Soccer needs to tackle in an editorial well worth reading in full.

The list starts with player relations and pay, the league not having done "even the little things that a front office worker would expect" for its players. Then there's the time-line for future expansion, a move that could be "as much of a negative as a positive. How is the League prepared to deal with the basic issues around expansion that everybody remotely interested in the League is already discussing?"

Issue three is the calendar, with the current fixture burden of D.C. United and Houston in the Concacaf Champions League proof that "the League failed to act before this became such an obvious issue." There's the overall problem of poor officiating, and then the vagaries of the player development system, pointed up recently in the U.K. media by departed L.A. coach Ruud Gullit. A team develops a player, only to lose him before he's played a senior game.

There's the inherent conflict of interest in the MLS marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, promoting events that rival MLS. There are the Kansas City Wizards, "playing in an independent league baseball stadium while trying to make a project bigger than just a soccer-specific stadium a reality." And there's the question of Canada. If so many owners are willing to buy into Canadian expansion franchises, "why isn't there a Canadian first division?"

The list is rounded off by Sunil Gulati's dual role as both US Soccer Federation and New England president; player movement to Europe and "a feeling that even marginal American talent should be over there"; and the forthcoming close attention of FIFA to a possible 20-team MLS and the league's disregard of the international calendar. Discuss.

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