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Increased risk of market saturation worries Garber
by Ridge Mahoney, June 29th, 2013 3:09PM

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TAGS:  mexico, mls, soccer business

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By Ridge Mahoney

MLS commissioner Don Garber stated a couple of years ago that the American market was “nearly insatiable” for international soccer, but in a recent interview he expressed concerns with how saturated the market will be this summer.

"Without doubt, this market, this soccer market is exploding and I'm curious to see how it all plays out this year because there's more content this summer than ever before,” said Garber in a recent interview with Soccer America editors in San Jose. “From an MLS perspective, we need to continue to focus on building a rabid fan following in our local markets for our clubs who now have a larger potential fan base to be able capture on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis, as opposed to these exhibitions which come and go.”

A crowded calendar next week in Southern California that includes the Gold Cup openers and club exhibitions as well as a USA friendly indicates just how varied and plentiful is the soccer on offer.

Galaxy home games against Columbus on the Fourth of July and FC Dallas three days later won’t be the only options for fans to be offered a menu as diverse as it is crowded. MLS games at the StubHub Center (formerly known as Home Depot Center) will be surrounded by competing events.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi will front an international all-star match, “Battle of the Stars: Messi and 'Friends vs. The Rest of the World,” to be played at the Los Angeles Coliseum Wednesday. Fabio Capello and Zico will serve as honorary head coaches and the list of players includes Alex Song, Sergio Busquets, Javier Mascherano, Cesc Fabregas, Robert Lewandowski, Giovani Dos Santos and Robinho.

After the Galaxy’s Fourth of July game, San Diego takes center stage. In its final Gold Cup tune-up, the USA plays Guatemala in a friendly at Qualcomm Stadium Friday. The following day, Liga MX rivals Club Tijuana and Club America face off at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.

(A doubleheader involving four Mexican teams will be played in San Jose the same day that Xolos plays Club America. Cruz Azul plays Morelia and Guadalajara faces UNAM Pumas at the Quakes’ former home, Spartan Stadium. Elsewhere, Tigres and Puebla will face NASL clubs, meaning almost half the Liga MX will be in preseason action on the same day across the United States.)

The scene shifts back to the Los Angeles area on July 7, with the Galaxy-FC Dallas game (kickoff 7:30 p.m. local time) to be played right on the heels of the opening Gold Cup doubleheader at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Canada plays Martinique at 2:30 p.m., followed by Mexico-Panama at 5 p.m.

Garber and MLS are in a tricky position. The league’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM), is in the match promotion business and carefully avoids conflicts with its league matches. But it doesn’t control the market and any proposed match that is approved by U.S. Soccer is out of its purview.

At last count, 25 foreign clubs -- ranging from Chelsea and Real Madrid to Luis Angel Firpo of El Salvador and Xelaju of Guatemala -- are scheduled to play one or more exhibitions in the United States over the summer.

Touring Clubs
(Summer 2013):

9 Mexico
5 England
4 Italy
2 Brazil
2 Spain
1 El Salvador
1 France
1 Guatemala

Nobody knows how much soccer is too much but the trend towards more and more is unmistakable.

“What the short-term impact of that is I don't know,” said Garber. “I think the market will determine that. I am not sure if the market is going to support everything that that is happening this summer. We have been at this a long time, and we'll be here when all the dust settles.”
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9 comments
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 29, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.
    Any knowledgeable soccer fan will place MLS in the back seat when it comes to international play.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: June 29, 2013 at 5:14 p.m.
    Even though the MLS games are the only ones of consequence, look for weak turnout for all these imported matches and weaker MLS attendance year over year.

  1. John Soares
    commented on: June 29, 2013 at 5:26 p.m.
    I really doubt these "shows" will have any impact on MLS games. The real fans will continue to support their teams and view these shows as an extra to be enjoyed or ignored. Much more important is the improvement/growth of the MLS. AND BY GROWTH; I mean better quality on the field NOT more teams.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: June 29, 2013 at 9 p.m.
    "We need to continue to focus on building a rabid fan following in our local markets for our clubs who now have a larger potential fan base to be able capture on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis, as opposed to these exhibitions which come and go.” From what has been discussed and for the good of the game in the United States is that FIFA will require US Soccer to mandate a "Promotion-Relegation" with the NASL and USL thus Divisions 1-2-3 and to be in compliance with the "rest of the worlds" professional leagues. Thank goodness...Professional Soccer in the United States will then take a "massive" step forward in all departments and we will be able to witness a more dynamic "brand" of Soccer not only on the field but as Garber stated within local markets.

  1. Paul Estrada
    commented on: June 30, 2013 at 8:26 p.m.
    Relegation will almost certainly never happen in this country. No one would invest in an MLS team franchise if there were the risk that the team could be relegated with subsequent loss if revenue. It's completely foreign to the American sports culture

  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: July 1, 2013 at 2:32 a.m.
    ADD VALUE TO THE FOOTBALL EXPERIENCE - and then SATURATION DOES NOT MATTER! INNOVATE - and then SATURATION DOES NOT MATTER! Your League will always be AHEAD of those in the cesspool. English Football Added Value and Innovated - The English Premier League (EPL). Others copied - AND NATURALLY THAT DID NOT WORK! Be orginal - START THE TREND and that is all it takes.

  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: July 1, 2013 at 2:35 a.m.
    ADD VALUE? O.5 Points EXTRA for the Club SCORING THE FIRST GOAL / The FIRST GOAL RULE which AUTOMATICALLY changes THE COMPLETE DYNAMIC of ALL FOOTBALL IN A COUNTRY! Attacking / NON-STOP ACTION FOOTBALL BECOMES THE GAME AND FOR THOSE MATCH-FIXED 'LEAGUES', YOU WILL BE SPOTTED WITHIN THE FIRST 30 SECONDS IF YOU TRY AND MANIPULATE YOUR FOOTBALL. Amazing HOW SIMPLE SOME THINGS ARE!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: July 1, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.
    Hey Paul...I hear you regarding American Sports Culture...totally! However, I try to stay away from the "absolute" or "never" phrases because I've seen amazing things happen in life to people, places and things they one would think, "will never happen!" I'll tell you this...if we don't combine the leagues and create a Promotion/Relegation which will be bring an "incredible" diversity to our soccer, clubs...ect., WE ARE PRETTY MUCH FINISHED! IT'S BORING NOW! Fans go to the stadiums to "watch" Soccer because they "love the game!" That's so "cool!" "Yeah, let's go watch Landon Donovan!" But Paul, there's a CHAMPIONSHIP going on!!! Half of them don't even know this...believe me, I'm in LA, sit in the crowd, Seattle is playing SJ, points are at stake and it's not important what other clubs are doing. Now, if you believe that it "also" not important, I really don't know what else to say. It would be if the Galaxy were at the bottom of the table getting ready to "drop" to the NASL...DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS CREATES? TAKE A TRIP TO MEXICO AND SPEND 6 MONTHS IN THE SOCCER CULTURE WITH PROMO/RELEG...THEN LET US KNOW!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: July 1, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
    PAUL...PETER AGAIN...LISTEN BUDDY...YOU AGAIN MENTION THE AMERICAN SPORTING CULTURE...AS YOU CAN SEE, SOCCER IS HAVING A HARD TIME JOINING THE BIG FOUR, BASKETBALL, FOOTBALL, BASEBALL AND HOCKEY. NOW, HOW DO THE NASL, USL AND AMATEUR TEAMS GET THE CHANCE TO MAKE IT INTO THE MLS? HOW DO TEAMS IN THE WORLDS FOREIGN LOWER DIVISIONS MAKE IT INTO THE TOP FLIGHT? IT'S NOT WITH FRANCHISE FEES MY FRIEND! WE ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!


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