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Gazidis: Foreign Talent, Player Development Key to MLS Expansion

During a press conference earlier this week, MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis touched on a multitude of topics facing MLS as the league expands, including international competition, stadiums, schedules, designated players and the expected influx of foreigners in MLS. Overall, Gazidis said the league was in "very healthy condition" with new investors, partnerships and franchises, although "nothing will be more important than how the game progresses on the field."

Indeed, quality control will be one of the league's main focuses as it expands from 14 teams to as many as 18 by 2013. Should that happen, and if rosters remain at 28 players per team, then the league will have added 112 new players, mostly from foreign countries.

"We're not going to be able to develop overnight new domestic players in the domestic market and so the international player pool is where we look," Gazidis said, adding that MLS would follow the standard set by the English Premier League in attracting foreign talent. "We've accompanied that with an increase and a simplification in our international player limits so that we're now going into 2008 with eight international players per team." In the medium to long-term, Gazidis said MLS teams would focus on player development, per the mandate that all teams develop youth academies, which will eventually be free to participants.

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