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Garber makes Payne pay
October 30th, 2009 6:45AM
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[MLS] Don Garber, the MLS Commissioner, fined D.C. United President Kevin Payne $5,000 for "public comments deemed detrimental to the public image of the League." Payne's costly comments appeared in Steven Goff's Washington Post Soccer Insider, which also published Payne's apology.

After D.C. United failed to reach the 2009 playoffs, Payne told Goff:

"We don't want to play like Colorado or New England, which most of the season sat with eight or nine guys behind the ball. How many people go to watch Colorado or New England play? That's a problem for our league. We can't play like we're a team desperately trying to remain in 14th place in the Premiership. Our market isn't there yet.

"They want to see something that is entertaining, and D.C. United has always had a way of playing. Given a choice, we would rather attack than cynically defend."

Payne then went on to assess another playoff qualifier:

"You look at the way Real Salt Lake played when they came here [a 0-0 tie in May] and sat 10 guys behind the ball. You don't have to do that. Sometimes that is the best way to get a result -- if you don't care about the product, if you don't care about advertising your league. Long term, who wants to watch that?"

And what probably really got Garber's goat:

"There are a lot of games in our league that I can't watch. The problem in our league isn't who is or isn't in the playoffs; it's that not enough people want to watch our league yet, and we have to convince them that our league is worth watching. I don't think [playing conservatively] is the way to do it. I recognize there is more than one way to skin a cat. I'm not saying that everyone has to play an attacking style, but that is our style and identity, and we have to be honest with ourselves and say there are sometimes liabilities [such as missing the playoffs] that come with it."

And here's Payne's apology:

"I deeply regret some of the comments I made in an interview published earlier this week. In trying to explain the sometimes unfair expectations on the head coach of D.C. United, I made critical comments of Colorado, New England, Real Salt Lake and the league. Those comments were unprofessional. I have great personal regards and professional respect for my colleagues at those organizations and for their ownership and fans. I have apologized to those teams and individuals privately and now do so publicly."


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