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Garber on Scheduling, Donovan, MLS Cup ...
New York Times, November 19th, 2008 1:15PM



Jack Bell's wide-ranging interview with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber should be read in full, but below are some tasters on issues of scheduling, expansion, the recession and the possible transfer of Landon Donovan.

Garber on scheduling: "The issues are being addressed. We're trying to schedule away from as many international dates as we can, but it's an impossibility to schedule away from them all. And I know some fans and the media are up in arms over certain things we have no control over. Our SuperLiga has been a wild success. So along comes the Concacaf Champions League, which we have no control over. The fans scream and yell and the media looks at our teams not performing well, but what are we supposed to do? Our teams have to decide what's more important to them."

"When we added SuperLiga it was a necessary tournament to give our teams more international competition. We never anticipated the Concacaf Champions League. We still continue to struggle with the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Now we have to look at all three of those tournaments. We have to do something. Maybe changing the formula on which teams participate, how the rosters are put together for those tournaments. We're looking at all of those things. We acknowledge that there were challenges this year"

On the playoffs: "When the Giants get to the Super Bowl as a wild card or with a .500 record, it's heralded as an incredible sports story. But when the Red Bulls do it people think it's a joke. It's a great story, and we need great stories. We need our fans to believe that the playoffs matter, that you can be an underdog and have a great series against Houston, against Real Salt Lake and get into the championship game so fans stay interested during the most competitive part of the sports season in the U.S. Why is that bad?"

On Landon Donovan: "Landon is practicing with Bayern [Munich] now and we expect him back for the start of the season. He's a contracted player for the Galaxy, a candidate for MVP. We see him having value to MLS for many years. We had a 20-year-old, Jozy Altidore, who has only played in a handful of games for the national team who we sold for $10 million. It's hard to imagine that perhaps our most valuable player isn't worth at least that much, if not much more."

On MLS Cup: "MLS Cup [could be played] at the site of the team with best record remaining in the playoffs. That would be a major change to our competitive format. Years ago that might not have been something I would have supported. But today I'm not sure that's true. This would not be for next year, but it's not inconceivable."

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