[MLS SPOTLIGHT] MLS Commissioner Don Garber canceled plans to attend the annual FIFA gala for the FIFA Ballon d'Or in Zurich on Monday and will instead attend "Soccer Night in Newtown," the event MLS is participating in the same evening along with other soccer organizations to support those affected by last month's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The decision comes on the heels of FIFA President Sepp Blatter's remarks critical of MLS's lack of progress.
Garber told SI.com's Grant Wahl MLS had a good relationship with FIFA and Blatter and he looked forward to inviting Blatter to attend an MLS game.
Garber acknowledged MLS owed a debt to FIFA for organizing the 1994 World Cup, but he said MLS's progress -- especially in the face of competition from other American sports -- was underappreciated by those outside North America.
"Even against that backdrop, we have made tremendous progress over the last 17 years," Garber said. "Interestingly, we're probably recognized as being more significant in many ways here in the U.S. than we are in other parts of the football world because of some of those developments: three broadcast partners, every game televised in HD, amazingly strong corporate support, lots of new stadiums and a great fan base that has us now in the U.S. and Canada ranked third [in average attendance] among all of the major leagues after the NFL and Major League Baseball. Those are pretty remarkable developments and ones that we're very proud of."