Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
In one regard, MLS sets the pace
by Ridge Mahoney, April 30th, 2013 7:12PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls


By Ridge Mahoney

One can debate, and perhaps even ridicule, a listing that puts MLS as seventh-best league in the world, but there's no question it is at or near the top in one critical category.

A report by World Soccer that listed MLS at No. 7 among the league’s top soccer leagues, one place below its Mexican rival, sparked discussion of the league’s merits or lack thereof. The track record of a league’s teams meeting its financial obligations to players didn’t noticeably impact the ranking process.

Critics lambaste MLS for its standard of play, single-entity system, tight budgets, refereeing, a bizarre array of player designations, etc., and in some cases the criticism is deserved. Its failure to beat Liga MX teams head-to-head sparks passionate cries for change and reform, which translates to much bigger payrolls that are anathema to its financial strictures.

Yet the league’s record is nearly unsurpassed, even by leagues much richer and more famous, when it comes to paychecks. What players in MLS take for granted -- payment on time and for the full amount -- is the exception in many parts of the world.

Unlike their foreign counterparts, MLS teams don’t miss paydays. Many foreign players in MLS arrived in the wake of a former club, or clubs, reneging on a contract. It has taken some time for this message to disseminate, but it’s common knowledge around the world that the league that signed David Beckham to a monster contract in 2007 has a nearly unblemished record, before and since, of paying its players on time no matter how famous or how unheralded.

After a few months of playing in MLS, former D.C. United attacker Christian Gomez remarked how much he appreciated getting his paycheck on time and for the specified amount. The reaction spoke vividly of what is the norm for players in many parts of the world.

“He played at Independiente, which is a pretty big club,” said Toronto FC president Kevin Payne, who during his long tenure at D.C. United helped seal the Argentine’s signing in 2004. “Everybody on our team laughed, but they don't realize how big a problem it is in Central and South America, or even in Europe.

“A lot of times when a player moves it’s because the club has a younger player who can do the same job almost as well for a lot less money, but there’s also times when the club can’t or won’t pay the player what it owes him. I think our league can benefit from that. The word is getting around.

“You might not get paid a lot, but you will get paid on time.”

The MLS Players Union threatened to strike during the tense final days of negotiations in 2010; in many countries, players leave their clubs en masse because they haven’t been paid for months. Three years ago, players threatened to go on strike in Spain, claiming 85 percent of players in the top three divisions aren’t paid on time and/or in full.

Another Argentine, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, commented along the same lines during his stint with the Columbus Crew (2007-10). Barros Schelotto came to MLS as a Boca Juniors legend, and also as the father of three children. Money issues didn’t drive him to MLS but he acknowledged how widespread the problems were for other players.

“It is different when you have a wife and children, you can’t just worry about yourself,” he said at the time. “On your own, you can always pack your things and leave and find another team. When you have a family, you don’t want to worry about the money.”

When agents complain about the byzantine, complex methods of MLS -- which they do all the time, by the way -- they seldom mention the financial factor perhaps most appreciated by the people they represent. Like the rest of us, players seldom believe they’re overpaid, but they do expect the money to be there when it’s supposed to be there.

The single-entity system, by which the league absorbs most salary costs, greatly lessens the risk a team won’t fulfill its obligations. In this category at least, MLS passes the test.



3 comments
  1. Nate Nelson
    commented on: May 1, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.
    Ridge, gotta think its more marketing of the sport than playing the sport...a sitcom more than sport...one might venture to say MLS is like communism not capitalism and democracy...everyone gets paid..so do all the civil servants in Greece...Look at the MLS salaries..the haves..and the have nots

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: May 1, 2013 at 12:37 p.m.
    Actually, this is a very real "positive" for MLS's long term survival and should be recognized as such. However it does highlight the fact that MLS is run by "bean counters". The issue now is how to inject some soccer knowledge and appreciation into this environment.

  1. John Soares
    commented on: May 1, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.
    There is... and perhaps always will be room for improvement. BUT, the last thing we, the MLS needs is an European type system of 2 or 3 haves and 17, 18 have nots. Imagine starting the season with 17 of 20 teams knowing they did not have a chance to win the championship. No hope, not even a "Wait til next year". Americans would never support it.


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Donovan plays out third act of an amazing saga    
The career of Landon Donovan is winding down yet there are myriad possibilities of what the ...
It's much too soon to bring up the R-word    
The growing contingent of MLS players in the national-team pool has prompted fears they will regress ...
Soccer America's 20+3: our editors' World Cup selections    
That sound you heard across the country late last Wednesday night and early Thursday morning was ...
Wondo puts past disappointments behind him     
He may not make it to Brazil, but his goal against Mexico has erased a little ...
U.S. Player Ratings: Mexico rally taints superb first half for USA    
A disallowed goal, a two-goal lead that evaporated, Rafael Marquez on the scoresheet, a frenzied crowd ...
Midfield mates Bradley and Beckerman tune up with intriguing MLS battle    
A strong contingent of domestic players is likely headed to Brazil for the World Cup, with ...
Toronto FC rides into Real Salt Lake sleek and shiny    
The Toronto FC Watch moves to Utah, where nearly two years ago two very different teams ...
Consistency is the creed in 'Porterland'    
Fans may be concerned that the Timbers have yet to win in three games so far ...
Well, now what for MLS in the Concacaf Champions League?    
Another round of MLS-Liga MX matchups in the Concacaf Champions League has ended in disappointment for ...
Just how special is Julian Green?     
I suppose one has to recall Giuseppe Rossi to comprehend the excitement surrounding the decision of ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives