Commentary

Don Garber is right -- MLS deserves more respect. But it doesn't help its own cause.

By Paul Gardner

Commissioner Don Garber sounded off recently on the subject of respect, and how he feels that MLS doesn’t get enough of it. Maybe “sounded off” is exaggerating Garber’s position. He wasn’t exactly ranting. It was more of a gentle nudge, suggesting to the American media that MLS “deserves more attention than we get.”

I suppose a resounding “ho hum” would be in order, because that very complaint has been one of soccer’s discontents for as long as I can remember -- and my involvement with this country’s soccer began over 50 years ago.

Back then, in the early 1960s, there was a standard response from the newspapers and their sports editors: We’ll give soccer its due according to its popularity -- in other words once it starts drawing big crowds.

Things got somewhat better when the pro NASL arrived in 1968. They got a lot better -- explosively and briefly -- during the Cosmos years of the late 1970s.

Then NASL bit the dust in 1984 and it looked like the media had a point -- there was no widespread support for the game. Hence, only sporadic coverage.

But a lot has changed since then. The sport has surely proved one thing that deserves to be noticed: It is not going to go away. It is now firmly anchored in high schools and colleges and in more than 8,000 thousand youth clubs. Over 3 million boys and girls are registered with U.S. Youth Soccer, and the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) adds another 500,000. Those are not statistics that can be easily ignored.

As for the adults, and in particular the pros, the glamour events -- specifically the men’s and women’s World Cups -- do get pretty extensive coverage these days. But that only makes matters worse for Garber. Because it is a reversal of what happens with the USA’s other pro sports. MLB and the NFL and the NBA can all claim to represent the very best that their sports have. The international side of those sports is very much overshadowed by what goes on inside the USA.

Whereas MLS seems fated to exist in the shadow of the global game. I think Garber is right to register his protest, mild as it is. Fact is that the American sports media have simply not kept up with the growth of the domestic game. MLS is busy establishing itself as a credible, viable pro league. OK, the caliber of play often leaves something to be desired, but at its best it is worth watching, competitive, lively and skillful. And an average attendance of over 20,000 per game ain’t bad either.

Garber feels, rightly, that such a setup indicates a serious pro league that deserves serious attention from the media. I agree with him.

But my support for Garber and MLS is somewhat undermined because I think they are often too apologetic in presenting and not energetic enough in defending what is a pretty strong case.

In particular: Making sure that MLS gets respect from the Designated Players whom it pays so well. It would be good to see MLS make a stand against the way that celebrity foreign players, brought in to add glamour and credibility to the league, can end up doing exactly the opposite.

The celebrity DPs are mostly aging stars near the end of their careers. That itself -- the signing of such players -- is already something that invites criticism -- certainly it does nothing to diffuse it. Things look a lot worse when it appears that the DPs can play fast and loose with their MLS contracts.

One of the worst offenders in this sense was David Beckham. For sure, MLS owes him a lot because it was his name and personality that allowed the league to step up to the Designated Player era. But Beckham’s behavior while under contract to the league was noticeably disrespectful, with his loan deals to foreign clubs, and his trips back to England. All of which were permitted by MLS and/or the Galaxy.

Ex-players from the EPL seem prone to this sort of thing. Thierry Henry, during his four and a half years with the Red Bulls, became something of a bore by repeatedly telling us about Arsenal and how he wanted to return to that club -- apparently in any role at all.

More recently we’ve seen Steven Gerrard, even while performing poorly for the Galaxy, appearing on British TV as a panel pundit for EPL games.

In the case of Frank Lampard’s badly botched move from Manchester City to NYCFC, the disrespect of MLS was so blatant that one was left with the feeling that MLS was being treated as a joke, that it was there for the taking.

Now we have Didier Drogba, after an excellent season with Montreal, suddenly telling us that he wants to return -- possibly on loan -- to his old club Chelsea.

MLS happens to be uniquely susceptible to the loan moves because it plays a different season from the European leagues, leaving a period of some three inactive months when an MLS player could play for another team.

These extra-curricular activities do not look good. The feeling is that an important league, a strong league, would not permit them.

But MLS does. The almost sycophantic attitude of an MLS club comes through quite clearly in Montreal’s official statement about Drogba: “We understand his attachment to his former club and his desire to help them. We are willing to accommodate him. But our objective is to have him back for another season, as agreed in his contract. This situation is out of our control. We would like to thank our supporters for their understanding and their patience."

So, Montreal fans, there you have it. Just be patient and try to understand. The club has a contract with Drogba. But whether he plays for them or not -- that’s out of the club’s control.

mls
29 comments about "Don Garber is right -- MLS deserves more respect. But it doesn't help its own cause. ".
  1. Ric Fonseca, December 24, 2015 at 3:02 a.m.

    Ho hum! Darned if you do and danged if you don't!!! Must be another slow day for PG. Oh, and 50 years of PG seeing our sport grow, that takes him back to 1965.... historically he is correct about the media ignoring soccer, but then again, the country was going through the post JFK assassination, Civil Rights movement, Viet Nam, Richard Nixon, and I quite well remember that most attention was focused on those very significant events, and quite frankly folks didn't quite gave a damn about soccer but were focused on the US sport-trilogy of football, baseball, and the beginning of the NBA, and then there was the Olympics in 68 in Mexico - and civil unrest there, later the Olympics in West Germany, so socially speaking our attention was somewhere else. So where does PG think and come up with the mere historical fact that the media would focus on kickball, or soccer? PG coulda mentioned something about those events.

  2. Randy Vogt, December 24, 2015 at 6:43 a.m.

    Although Paul makes some very good points above, I would like to add that the media will give a great deal of coverage to what it perceives to be the major sports--football, baseball, basketball and hockey. Other sports, including soccer unfortunately, not so much. Unless forced to by superb TV ratings for the World Cup or soccer fans calling up or e-mailing sports editors seeking more coverage. Even outside of soccer fields, you will see lots of Americans wearing jerseys of soccer teams from around the world. What hurts in the perception of soccer in the US and Canada is the fan base is very disjointed as there are a lot of fans of foreign clubs--whether they were born in the USA or not--who much prefer to watch the EPL, La Liga, etc. over MLS. And with so many games on TV nowadays, they can do exactly that. It is very frustrating to me as there are so many soccer fans in the US and Canada today and soccer coverage is still often relegated to just a paragraph or two in the sports section of newspapers. Yet with the Internet, soccer fans can go there for more coverage instead.

  3. Brent Crossland, December 24, 2015 at 9:41 a.m.

    If Garber wants to gain traction with those "disjointed" US soccer fans (good description, Randy!) his challenge is the same as it has ever been. IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF ON-THE-FIELD PLAY. On any given weekend I can pick matches to record from four of Europes top leagues. A few MLS teams might avoid relegation in those leagues but the median level of play is still second tier. I really do try to 'attach' myself to an MLS team, but when it's time to make a decision of what to watch? Chicago v Kansas City? Or Bayern v Dortmund? Let me think.

  4. Ginger Peeler, December 24, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

    When we moved from San Diego to Arkansas in the 1991, my daughter, who was on a traveling team in San Diego, was picked up from her junior high school everyday and taken to practice with the high school varsity girls' team and the junior varsity boys. Her first year on her Arkansas girls traveling team, we played same age boys...there were NO other girls traveling teams her age or older in Arkansas. NONE! Her first year, reporters would come cover the high school games for the local newspaper. Then the paper hired a new sports editor. He declared soccer a "communist" sport, refusing to cover the boys and girls high school games, and we had no more reporters until after she had graduated high school. She was the first female in Arkansas to receive a soccer scholarship to an out-of-state school and the papers weren't interested. Nobody cared. At this point in time, today, in the SEC, football is king, basketball is really big in a few of the league schools, but not so much in others, baseball is no longer our nation's favorite pastime although I think all of the schools field a men's team, and very few of the member universities field men's soccer teams. MLS, EPL? Not on the radar. And, Ric, before 1965 we had the Korean War and the ongoing Cold War with Russia and Joe McCarthy (with a communist behind every tree). We lived with the very real possibility of nuclear war! We have always had scary stuff going on in the world and scary stuff concerning the USA. And we've always had sports fans. Sports are not ignored during all this nasty stuff going on, rather, they are a natural outlet for relieving stress. Just as Vietnam did not deter Americans from watching their favorite sports, we keep watching even as Paris, Colorado Springs or San Bernardino events unfold. Baseball was THE sport at least thru the 60s. Football was gaining fans. The pro basketball teams were getting the same kind of love and attention that MLS is getting now. Actually, less. It's a process. But there are those of us who have loved soccer since the 50s (when I played in CA in junior high). It's coming along. I like to watch the European games with American players (if the American is not on the field, I watch something else) just as I follow pro football and basketball teams that have players from my alma mater. I cut back on watching baseball pretty much when the Dodgers left Brooklyn. I stopped watching altogether after Sandy Koufax retired.

  5. Ric Fonseca replied, December 25, 2015 at 4:13 p.m.

    To Ginger, first thank you VERY MUCH for your historical items, most if not all are spot on, however, in my comment I did not want to go too much into detail, and so yours triggered some more history especially for the period from the 50's and thereafter, to wit: I was brought to this country in early 1950 at the age of 9, some few months before the Korean Conflict started, and remained in the country until I went to the Army 59-62. I too lived through the Red Scare, the KAW, post war, Joseph P. McArthy era, prepared to be recalled to active duty during the Cuban missile crisis, and even experienced some very ugly racist moments during the 50's. Sports were limited to me to track and field, and some kickball (not soccer)on the schools dirt athletic field, no youth soccer programs but local Mexican leagues, and local soccer clubs such as, yes, Chivas AC de Guadalajara in Oakland, so-called ethnic leagues in San Francisco that played out of Kezar Stadium and Balboa fields; while in the military I played on local teams with fellow GIs draftees from Europe, Latin America, and some brave "American", then in Korea played on local Korean Army teams assigned to our Infantry Division. In my post-military days, still no soccer, even in the junior colleges, so back to weekend leagues, and some pick up games in PE classes, up to and including my years in Cal State Hayward that was fielding an intercollegiate team (I was declared ineligible by the AD 'cause I'd been going to college "too long" - one of three Mexican American trying out all declared ineligible. BY that time the Oakland Coliseum (home of the old Oakland Clippers of the old NAPSL) played in the Oakland Coliseum, Univ SF, San Jose State, UC Berkeley, Chico State had intercollegiate teams, and I even recall attending a final NCAA game played at SJ State Univ, I believe St Luois Univ played either Univ SF or San Jose St. And true, regular media, tv, radio paid little attention to local games or even collegiate games and the only source for information were the local foreign language newspapers, as other mainstream papers would not even mention anything of substance. Lastly I even remember going to see a WC game not on tv, but at a local movie theater that was filled to the rafters, in the early 1970's! So the bottom line to all of this that PG does make a few good points here and there, but I'd seriously challenge the numerical fact that ayso has a mere 500,000 registered kids while US Youth Soccer boast over 3 million boys and girls, the major difference is that ayso is stuck on a very deep recreational gap, while US Youth Soccer leans more to the competitive side. Still, the principal question is how do we make our sport be more attractive not to the players, but to the mainstream media? One answer to this is that MLS must stop shooting itself on the foot and focus in getting home-grown players, see to their development.

  6. Tim Schum, December 24, 2015 at 11:32 a.m.

    Re Mr. Garner: Sometimes a league has to evaluate who it is that is "the face" of the organization. His reputation is that of a very fine administrator. He has executed a very fiscally sound MLS plan that places the league amongst the best in the world in terms of its fiscal stability.

    However he is far from being what one might label as charismatic. His interviews are deadly, hardly memorable to say the least.

    Suggestion: Retitle Don and bring in a new face in hopes that that individual can generate the type of media attention MLS clearly has earned and deserves.

  7. Allan Lindh, December 24, 2015 at 11:41 a.m.

    Stop playing multiple millions for over the hill has-beens. Most have been a waste of money. Spread the money around on talented young players, primarily from the Americas, and bring in more creative play that way. And tell the refs they are working for MLS, not the NHL.

  8. R2 Dad, December 24, 2015 at 4:41 p.m.

    Ironic the strengthening of MLS happens 10 years after the decline of the printed newspaper--too late to feature prominently like it should. RE Garber, as long as marketing yahoos talk about "product" instead of "quality", the league won't feel the necessity of improving play, only stadia and TV contracts. I'm curious how the next recession will impact Garber's grande plans. I guess it's up to individual clubs to implement attractive play. Right now about 1/3 of the MLS cannot claim that. Will the next recession make that 1/2? 3/4? Maybe LAG think that recession is coming in 2016 and are at the head of the line to reduce their wage bill?

  9. Scott Johnson, December 24, 2015 at 11:55 p.m.

    Hallelujah! A Christmas miracle! Gardner has acknowledged--finally--that girls play the game, too... :) As for the topic of the article, I think it may be a good thing that none of the four semifinalists for the MLS cup featured any soon-to-retire European all-stars. (Whether younger English players like Bradley Wright-Phillips or Liam Ridgewell will attract renewed interest from teams in the Prem is an interesting question...)

  10. Gus Keri, December 25, 2015 at 12:31 p.m.

    "designated players" is the best thing happened to MLS. Those "aging" DP's were playing at the highest level in the world of soccer just few weeks before joining MLS. Pirlo played at the UCL final. Drogba almost single-handedly help Chelsea to the EPL title. Gerrard was captain of Liverpool. do you think Orlando and NYCFC would have gotten this many fans of it wasn't for the "aging" Kaka, Lampard and Pirlo? So, please, stop bashing the DP's. On their continued attachment to their clubs, there is nothing strange here either, and this actually helps MLS. MLS is not looked at as some "exile" league like China, Qatar or Australia. The whole of Europe is talking about MLS now like never before. There is more to the DP's than just playing the game. MLS is still in the process of spreading horizontally. The vertical spread will get stronger very soon.

  11. Gus Keri replied, December 25, 2015 at 5:20 p.m.

    All American, there is a huge difference in payment among players because there is a huge difference in the money each player generates. How much money did LA Galaxy and MLS make from Beckham's signing? It's still a business first and for most. It's nice to support the youth academies to build for the future. But until you have the
    American megastars who generate the money these DP's generate, you have to accept this difference. And remember that with the American players alone MLS would have died long time ago.

  12. Gus Keri replied, December 25, 2015 at 8:42 p.m.

    Apparently, you don't like Beckham's style. You are probably fan of Messi and his style. Soccer has all kind of style and just because Beckham doesn't dribble like Messi doesn't mean he was not good. He was better than most of the LA Galaxy players (let alone MLS players) and he helped the Galaxy to 4 titles in 5 years (2 supporter shields and 2 MLS cups). But what Beckham did to the league is immeasurable. The money and the publicity that he helped generating is helping in advancing American soccer overall. Beckham signing helped in all the good things you see now in MLS (upcoming stars, youth academies, improving MLS standards). It's not all about dribbling and superior technic, you know.

  13. Gus Keri replied, December 25, 2015 at 11:45 p.m.

    All American, you are still talking about the on-field aspect of things. I am talking business. How many jerseys did Donovan sell in comparison to Beckham? How many foreign TV companies bought the right for the LA Galaxy games because of Donovan and how many because of Beckham? Blanco got a lot of money in comparison to other players because of the fans he brought in and the jerseys he sold. These are the thing that decide the salary of players. And by the way, with all his skills, Blanco didn't win any title with Chicago. But if you want start calling fans naïve for following their stars, you will have problem with most of sport fans in the world, not only the MLS fans.

  14. don Lamb replied, December 28, 2015 at 10:36 a.m.

    All American - If a Spanish basketball team signed Barkley at the end of his career, we would have noticed, right? Maybe some Americans would have become a fan of that team. Maybe more fans in Spain would have jumped on board. Maybe this added interest would add more money to the club. Maybe that money could be used to implement more programs for youth development. Maybe Barkley would have been able to mentor those players and add to the quality of the team's skill level which would help those other players throughout the team and league. Maybe this overall, big picture development would have put Spain in a stronger position than they currently are. This is probably not worth talking about because NBA stars would probably not be willing to go to Europe for the last years of their career. The fact that MLS is enticing enough to attract some of these guys provides an opportunity that MLS would be dumb to completely pass on. You are using hyperbole to make your argument. MLS is not spending "ALL" of its money on aging superstars. That is part of the model and some of them have been more bust than boon. But the fact is that signing aging European superstars is a mean that justifies the end of a stronger league due to their influence over the financials, which in turn affect what can be put into youth development among other things.

  15. Gus Keri, December 25, 2015 at 12:39 p.m.

    As for the media coverage, forget about newspapers and network TV's. These are the ways old people get their information nowadays. Internet and social media are the new age of communication for the young people. And most soccer fans are from this group, the young. They say: "It's hard to teach an old dog a new trick." so, forget about trying to convert old sports' fans to soccer. focus on the young. And most of them use internet as source of news. I believe, soccer gets a lot of coverage in the internet and social media.

  16. Ric Fonseca replied, December 25, 2015 at 3:39 p.m.

    Well, young 'un, take it from this old 'un, I use both media, social network, still read newspapers, magazines, mainstream tv, radio, etc. so I suppose maybe even you could say I am pretty well rounded and informed. Don't know where you live, but there is a very large soccer community here in the Los Angeles area, young, old, men, women, children, boys and girls, and there are even some of us "old dogs, (people)" who can not only learn new tricks, BUT are out there teaching the so-called millenials some old tricks, and lastly, Gus Keri, pray tell which "category" do you fall under, "old dog" or young 'un?
    IF, mind you and I repeat, IF, there were to be a "moral or saying" to this comments, I'd say, don't throw stones in glass houses. Feliz Navidad!

  17. Gus Keri replied, December 25, 2015 at 5:13 p.m.

    Ric, I am 55 years old. Don't take what I said personally. I didn't mean to disrespect any person no matter what age he/she is. It's general observation. There is always exceptions to the rules.

  18. Gus Keri replied, December 25, 2015 at 5:27 p.m.

    Ric, I just read your comment to Ginger above. You are a Latino who came to this country at age 9. so, you don't fit into the group of "old people" who need to be converted. You were already a soccer fan.

  19. Ric Fonseca replied, December 30, 2015 at 3:44 p.m.

    Gustavo, I am a 75 year-old kid, and am not taking what you said personally, just making a point, and besides, I consider myself one of the pioneers in the sport. So I've seen that and done that, so to speak. Lastly, I've been a continuous reader - and a contributor of SA, which was first known as "Soccer West," and I still have fond memories seeing Clay Berling out on the bleachers at some high school or public park, taking photos, have some of the very first issues, and I first met Paul Gardner when he was covering the final four (not called that, way back then) in Miami's Orange Bowl in '71 and '72,(our coach was the late Dennis Storer, an Englishman who was also the rugby coach so PG "sorta" graviatted to our team, then comprised of nothing but a bunch of "furrniers" er, foreigners from Mexico, England, Ethiopia, Colombians and the good ole USofA) when my alma mater UCLA was playing St. Louis Univ, Brown, us and another team; I've thoroughly enjoyed reading it and everyone's comments. Y por ultimo (lastly) the "dialogue" between Al American and you and others are some of the BEST I've read in a long time and, sorry Paul G, but better than some of your pieces. To Ginger, you are also a pioneer in our sport, what with braving a move to Arkansas, and having to treck out to other locales and places to see your daughter play. And so, why can't MLS/Garber and other coaches see this piece of "Soccer Americana" and learn from it? So, yes it IS business and the bottom line rules supreme, yet, when Marc Abbott and I had a long conversation back in 1993 at the WC USA headqaurters about what went wrong with the old NPSL, the local Los Angeles soccer scene, youth recreational and competitive, the Latino leagues, etc., I do vividly remember telling him that the local product must reflect the community and that local talent should take precedence in the league's success. Sadly, this couldn't be further from the truth as far as the LAG goes, - Chivas USA was owned by a wacko so it didn't figure well in the whole scheme of things, on and on ad nauseam, and so here we are 22 years later, and it takes a Brit, PG, to call out the nuances and weakness of Don Garber's attempt to make MLS a viable football soccer league, only to see it regress "somewhat" So one can go on and on, and I wonder if any of the MLS big shots ever read these comments? So in danger of perhaps sounding redundant, I do support the MLS, yet, I hoping I live long enough to see the league support, develop, and sign our very own home-grown talent, keep them home, and then, only then will we not be crying over the young players go away and play in another league, almost and virtually telling the MLS to stick it here the sun don't shine. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  20. beautiful game, December 25, 2015 at 5:11 p.m.

    The real DPs will perform, but the biggest problem is the supporting cast. I.E., if Giovinco had a better supporting cast Toronto would have run away with the league and championship trophy. Problem is that the supporting cast in most cases is unable to respond to the DP's movement. IMHO, the MLS player's movement off the ball is ridiculously low. That's where things happen.

  21. Ginger Peeler, December 26, 2015 at 8:05 p.m.

    Both East and West coasts have very strong soccer followings. It's the southern states, for the most part, that are so resistant. After living in Arkansas for over 20 years, I can tell you that you gain no fans by televising a game with announcers with "foreign" accents. ESPN continues this practice, at least NBCSP and Fox Sports 1 seem to have gotten the message. While a southern accent is not necessary, a British-type accent is seen as a threat...it inspires the "they think they're better than us" reaction. Goodby new soccer fan. Children of all ages are beginning to play, but they're years behind both coasts in soccer development. There are some kids with amazing skills, but they may live out in the country and their families may not be able to afford for them to play competitively. When my daughter began playing competitively in Arkansas, she spent her first season playing same-age boys (in CA, girls played down with boys since the boys were considered bigger, stronger and faster). From then on, we drove 1-1/2 hour each way each weekend to play in an Oklahoma league. And it was an extra half hour for us because we lived out in the country. The logistics can make it very difficult.

  22. Footballer Forever replied, December 28, 2015 at 2:59 a.m.

    @ Ginger

    You stated: " I can tell you that you gain no fans by televising a game with announcers with "foreign" accents".

    I hope you were kidding about that considering this is a nation of foreigners. If you are going to go that route though, you may want to pin point the deficiencies of the "non-foreign" football ("soccer" to you) announcers.

    First, I am not British or of British descent either. Although it does not enhance it any better for me to see and/or hear a football game by British accented narrators, i can appreciate they stay on point to mostly narrate/analyze the game as it is intended.

    The same can't be said about "non-foreign" narrators or whatever that may be in your mind. Just to name a few, John Harkes, Taylor Twellman, Alexis Lalas rely too much on using "charm", blabbling and even having conversations while the freaking football game is going on as if they were announcing baseball, basketball and freaking eggball which is a common thing to do. I can name a "non foreign" announcer which is apoealing/knowledgeable and helps me to not only enjoy, but learn more from it and he is John Strong (i hope i did not messed up his name). Stays true to the name of narrating the game to viewers abd does away pretty nicely from using "fill in" BS talk. Leave that to the stop and play, stop and play sport announcers who have an agenda to be a media darling announcer.

  23. Ric Fonseca replied, December 30, 2015 at 3:58 p.m.

    Ginger, re: your comment on foreign-accented commentators, I share your concern, as I also sort of cringe when I tune in to a Liga MX game, then hear a couple of commentators preach their knowledge of the sport simply and because they're from Argentina, Uruguay, (Andres Cantor excepted) or tune in to to ESPN's Jorge Ramos y su Banda (Jorge Ramos and his gang" schpiel as if they're the sole experts of the sport (which in and of itself, it sound like a fox got in the chicken coop, what with their yammering over each other, it is absolutely craaazy!) in the same way as when I tune in and watch the EPL on NBC, and just about doze off while listening to the English commentators, and the same happens with broadcast of La Liga games. Best thing I do is put the tv on mute and watch the game. Twellman and Lalas do yammer on and on, but Harkes is OK, while Friedel does comport himself sometwhat, then again having Twellman pair off with that imported Brit (don't remember his name) is maddening. So, in addition of developing and signing our own home-grown players, MLS should also train, develop, and send to a local broadcasting school, our very own in addition to Lalas, Twellman, and yes even Marcelo Balboa to learn how to call a game, but then again, these are but mere suggestions.... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  24. Footballer Forever, December 28, 2015 at 3:23 a.m.

    Paul Gardner. There you go again being the ultimate judging football critic and trying to tell us as to what it is obvious or over analyzing a commissioner's fair statement.

    As anything in life, one can not controll everything in life and more importantly for a young 20 years young football league in the USA who had to overcome survival and still is on an uphill battle to make a permanent mark in the US sporting landscape or US culture.

    Yes, it is easy to criticize or tell others how to run a league with the brush of a pen/typewriter or Word Processing software and sound almighty doing so.

    MLS will only gain respect when it gains enough football fans , who only seem to look across the pond, to watch MLS football games and increase tv ratings without the whinning or inadequate comparisons. Again, people like you seem to always find things to criticize about as that is in your nature.

    I accept, support MLS with all the good and bad things this football league has to endure and only when enough football fans consistently tune in to MLS football matches then respect can be demanded as more $ revenue will be available to avoid footballers from having to be loaned out to European football leagues.

  25. Kent James, December 29, 2015 at 6:06 p.m.

    The MLS is walking a fine line. Big name DP's to get people's attention, miserly pay to avoid bankruptcy. I agree with Gus, some of the DPs have been excellent. On the other hand, there are those who did disrespect the league and flopped (Mattheus comes to mind). Is it good that American fans are now fans of many of the best leagues in the world because they can follow them on TV, or does that take away from the MLS; a more captive audience might be forced to watch more MLS if they wanted to watch soccer. I actually think the MLS has been doing pretty well; gradually getting stronger, building the followings of individual teams, NOT GOING BANKRUPT, building stadiums, expanding into new markets (which dilutes the talent pool but expands the national footprint). While it would be nice to have more homegrown DPs (and some who would be wanted by the EPL but choose to stay here), and higher quality of play, I think we're going in the right direction, and will get there eventually.

  26. Ric Fonseca replied, December 30, 2015 at 10:27 p.m.

    Kent, one old footballer, a local pioneer and league )Greater Los Angeles Soccer League, once said: HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL. Only negative is that I hope it doesn't take the MLS an Eternity T\to right the listing row boat! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  27. Kent James replied, December 31, 2015 at 1:21 a.m.

    Ric, sometimes all we have is hope, and it's hope that keeps us going. Here in SW PA (which is clearly NFL country) we need something to keep us going... Happy New Year to you as well!

  28. Footballer Forever, December 31, 2015 at 2:31 p.m.

    Sometimes i wonder who is worse, the typical and biased known ignorant "soccer-hater" or the so-called football fan who says they like football yet they are blind followers to the few powerful football clubs in the world (Barca/RM/MU/BM just to name a few).

    If at least 20% of those football fans would accept and care for the reality of a young 20 year old MLS football league by tuning in then tv revenue would be strenghted not only to bring in more DP's , but to solidify the league overall.

    It is time to stand up and support our football league/football clubs in our country as much you do other football clubs from other leagues.

  29. Scot Sutherland, January 10, 2016 at 3:58 p.m.

    Bruce Arena seems to have learned the lesson at least. Since the Beckham fiasco (which he inherited) and the Omar Gonzales disaster (which he allowed) there have been no loans.

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