Thursday’s MLS/US Soccer/USL News


  • By now everyone know about Cuauhtemoc Blanco’s decision to leave the Fire. Should Blanco stay in MLS? Of course the league would love to have him, but wouldn’t a farewell tour with America, leading the Mexico City based giants to a rare title (at least in recent terms) be more appropriate? The Mexican League is less physically demanding than MLS but is also much more technical and skillful. The league fits an aging Blanco better than MLS.
  • UMBRO has decided to pick up the tab for USL Live this season making the service free after the league charged $49.99 last season for USL-1 matches. Even more impressive is the partnership with NeuLion whose video quality is typically outstanding. With MLS Live TV substantially upgraded from a year ago, the two top US leagues offer a remarkable Broadband  product for only $19.99 a season. That’s a steal when you consider FSC charges $4.99 for a single on demand Premier League match long after the the result has shown up online. Then again the demand for the Premier League far outweighs the demand for the MLS or USL-1 product.
  • MLS may keep selling to the football loving public that things have never been better for the league but as readers of this site know, I tend to strongly disagree believing the league is way off course from its original intent and in time its hubris will trickle down to affect the entire football landscape in the US. Yesterday Don Garber was peppered with the sort of questions I’d like to ask him if I ever got the opportunity, by multiple reporters according to our friend, Jamie Trecker.
  • The DC Stadium situation is a mess. I’m frustrated because the league continues to promote new markets and expansion while not working hard enough on securing the future of the franchise that really made this league watchable in the first place. Without DC, I believe MLS may have died in short order, maybe even before Don Garber became the commissioner. I find it insulting that the Commissioner lauds Toronto’s fans when United had supporters groups and passionate followers showed how its done, eleven years before TFC began play. And now with the PGs County deal in doubt, the league would be well advised to use some of the exorbident expansion fee they are collecting to help the league’s signature franchise. But of course, they won’t.
  • Brad Friedel’s red being overturned means Brad Guzan’s first Premier League start will have to wait. That’s probably a good thing because I seriously doubt Guzan wants to make his debut at Old Trafford.
  • The World Football Challenge has been finalized for this summer on American shores. Four international giants will play in the US, but the absence of a La Liga side makes the event less compelling for many. The selection of America will swell crowds, but perhaps  Toluca, Pachuca, or even Pumas will show better from a competitive standpoint. But who are we kidding? These are friendlies which are about crowd building.
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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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26 Responses to Thursday’s MLS/US Soccer/USL News

  1. Joey Clams says:

    Garber really is asking for a dressing-down. Some of his public statements have been offensive and he’s idiotic to think that the league will increase its appeal among Americans by cultivating the worst kinds of rivalry.

    Let’s assume that Toronto’s form of soccer passion is desirable. What brings the passion out is the fact that every match for them is the equivalent of US-Mexico. You’re not going to find that angst in a conventional US match because there’s little in the way of cultural and political rub between teams here. Garber is encouraging political nastiness and Americans don’t like that; sports to us is a refuge and we enjoy cool observation of them. We shouldn’t have to apologize for our professional sports culture.

    He may get his short term buzz but he has pretty much guaranteed that MLS will be forever a curiosity best avoided.

  2. eplnfl says:

    Blanco and the Fire are not done yet in my opinion. In his full comments before a public audience he spoke of his desire to maybe play with a another MLS team. Frankly, no other MLS team will pay him what the Fire will and Chicago is the town in the US with it’s large Mexican-American population and media that he can haul in a ton on the endorsement end of things. Yes, the Mexican league is appealing to him but not if the Fire comes calling with more $$$$$$$. Also Blanco noted his dislike over the current Fire roster with 8 defenders. He wants more mid-fielders. INMO, expect protracted new contract talk much of it in the press where Blanco seems to want to play it out.

    Isn’t there always a stadium mess in DC! Why should MLS be any better then the NFL or MLB on that count!

    World Football Challenge will also be covered on ESPN! Who said if the CL goes to FSC ESPN will lose it’s interest in soccer?

  3. Cavan says:

    The league won’t step in to help DC United with the stadium. They don’t want to set a bad precedent. However, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for us. Many DC fans are starting to get worried about losing our team to another city. This has ugly local political posturing written all over it. In Maryland, stadiums are done at the state level. Therefore issuing a bond requires something from Annapolis, not from the county. However, it would be hard to pass a bill in the House of Delegates if the county government is opposed. The county council has some members who are looking at the county executive’s seat since his term limit is up in the next election. They want to be able to grandstand to the NIMBY faction how they stood up to that evil stadium. Like I said, lots of local political grandstanding. Lots more to go in this one.

    As for Blanco, he’s just talking because he can. I wouldn’t read too much into it. All it’ll take is a few wins and some starts and he’ll forget he ever said anything. He’s just carping that he didn’t start against FC Dallas.

  4. jean-guy pepper says:

    Your anger at the Don over his statements re: TFC support are misguided.

    He was talking up the support in Toronto by explaining that if it wasn’t for them, the Nordecke in Columbus wouldn’t exist. The fact is, TFC’s invasion to Columbus sent an unrivaled precedent for travelling support in the league (DCU, which has incredible fan support, has never sent that many fans to an away match, ever) and helped to galvanise the Columbus supporters clubs in to the much better organized group they are now.

  5. FireFan says:

    Personally the Blanco thing sounds like a ploy to get Hamlett to play him. He was on the bench last week and feeling unwanted. So he does the professional thing and rants to the press about how bad the manager is and how he’s leaving at the end of the year.

    I’m not sure the Fire were expecting him beyond this year, or even want him if they can find a younger DP, but to get his way Blanco made some headlines.

    Watch for Hamlett to start him this weekend.

  6. Joey Clams says:


    No, they’re not. There has been a barrage of comments from MLS HQ, none more offensive than those that practically congrutualed Toronto’s fans for throwing things on the pitch.

    Beyond that, the deference shown to Toronto has been mind-boggling. If I ever through a seat cushion on the field at Foxboro, I’d be arrested and barred from the stadium.

    If MLS can fine teams for not wearing white socks, they can fine teams for failing to control its fans.

  7. jean-guy pepper says:

    Joey Clams,

    TFC fans are relatively behaved. We didn’t start a punch up with west ham fans like KKKrew fans did last year, nor did we toss bottles and coins at Revs players like they did either. BTW It aint my fault security acts like they run a police state at foxborough (and the Meadowlands too for that matter) and kills the atmosphere.

  8. Cavan says:

    “It aint my fault security acts like they run a police state at foxborough (and the Meadowlands too for that matter) and kills the atmosphere.”

    … one of the few advantages of having your team play in a stadium that is about to be condemned. Our security gives latitude and just keeps things from being thrown/violence/etc.

  9. Joey Clams says:


    I have to tell you, pal, that the KKK shit is getting a little old. OK? Seriously. No one wants to deny the act of one bonehead but no one wants to put up with accustations and even playful epithets that are so repulsive. That is a perfect example of the sneering that will turn people against MLS.

    Punch up or no punch ups, I just want to know that Steve Ralston can take a corner kick without being impeded.

    I also want to know that our Federation will have a leg on which to stand when it has to complain about the behavior of fans in Central American, particularly Costa Rica. Think about it: Concacaf will do little if the commish of MLS is on record as APPLAUDING that little expression of passion. That is the main reason behind MLS’ recent statement. It looks the USSF finally had a word or two with MLS.

  10. eplnfl says:

    Firefan: Glad to have another Fire supporter here. Are you going to the opener?

  11. Gazza says:

    Joey Clams:

    You and Kartik and Trecker have to let the expansion to Toronto die. It was 3 years ago for crying out loud. TFC is here to stay. They are and will be one of the most successful franchises in MLS. Why don’t you give Garber and the Board credit for picking Toronto, Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland instead of nitpicking every little thing you don’t like.

    As for “sports to us is a refuge and we enjoy cool observation of them” you should go to see the Sounders play or go to almost any NFL game. Cool observation indeed.

  12. Lars says:

    If Joey had his way, we’d all be humming Catholic hymns at games, instead of cheering. This way, we’d all fall asleep and save his precious little ear drums.

  13. FireFan says:

    Oh, I’ll be there. Can’t wait to see Osorio squirm.

  14. Les says:

    A few points here:

    – As long as MLS continues to schedule through the international breaks it will be difficult to take the league as a whole seriously. Why? So many key results which affect the season are skewed by the absence of key players. Kartik has with great pride pointed out how few US national team guys come from MLS, but as the league has expanded more and more top players from other countries have come so the large number of call ups is still hurtful. Do players reject the call ups and sacrifice their international future for clubs and a league that are under paying them? Of course not, but then again they are letting down their clubs by leaving especially for friendlies.

    Secondly, we need some real passion at MLS matches. The atmospheres in general are lame. They are American sports esque which isn’t soccer. With Portland joining the league we’ll have some real passionate fans. In USL they were amazing. Toronto is great. Hooliganism is a bad word in the US but what Toronto brings and Portland will bring is needed. People who love the sport are more likely to turn out I hate to say with a few fights and incidents of real fan passion than if soccer moms and youth teams show up at the game and keep chanting “let’s go Rapids” in a lame Americanized way.

    Toronto was the best thing that ever happened to MLS. Portland will be next. Vancouver will be good also.

  15. Cavan says:

    … because DC United and Fire and Crew and Dynamo fans aren’t passionate enough? Heve you even been to one of those stadiums? I’ll bet you that you’ll see a huge difference in atmosphere once the Red Bulls are in their new stadium. I’ve seen some pretty passionate Red Bulls and Revs fans at RFK. As for Denver, I can’t say. But don’t think that all fans are the same as what you see in Denver.

    I’m sure that the fans in Portland and Vancouver will be great. However, they won’t be the first to be great. Toronto has been good but I wouldn’t get into too much hyperbole on them.

  16. eplnfl says:

    Firefan; I’m sort of happy now that Osorio is gone. It’s really his style of play that bothers me, but it is the openner and hopefully the Fire can score early and then break the game open. Otherwise it could be a long slow 90 minutes.

    Cavan; your right on the feeling at a Fire game, the best in Chicago sports and that includes the Bears and Cubs! Lars come to Chicago and see the Fire on a Saturday night and you will have a great time.

    I know our friends in South Florida are still hurting but guys lets once and for all accept Canada as part of MLS! The fans love the game and really desire MLS as Canada’s second sport after hockey, which will mean the league will be a summer hit in Canada. The US and Canada have a special relationship going back to the founding of the NHL and have shared sports with America. Love the CFL btw! So, lets get on to more important issues like MLS not playing at least during WC qualification games. Friendlies who cares! An extra game on a warm summer night to make up for an open night in March sounds like a good idea to me. BTW, were getting snow in Chicago this weekend, so glad the Fire are in DC.

  17. FireFan says:

    eplnfl: I agree. Osorio bunkered down hoping for a 1-0 victory no matter if we played at home or on the road. I’m happy he’s gone, but it is nice to have a villain to focus our energy on. Otherwise thoroughly beating the Red Bull would not be as satisfying.

  18. Ian says:

    So I guess Turner Sports is done with Soccer after failing to make the WUSA and now USL work?

    NeuLion is an upgrade in some ways though over Turner.

  19. Lars says:

    Epl, travelling to Chicago is not out of the question, getting tickets would be like 100 times easier than getting tickets to a home Toronto game. I would love to go see TFC beat the Fire on a Saturday evening. 😛

    Petty jokes aside…

    I don’t doubt the passion of Chicago fans at all. I think there are some great examples of how to put on a game, and they’re found in markets like Toronto, DC, Chicago, Seattle and heck, even LA. When some of these other teams get SSS, atmosphere will probably improve dramatically there too.

  20. Lars says:

    The Whitecaps owners are trying to force the MLS to put in place new rules for player development as they feel a strong academy system will help them play in the MLS, and they would prefer fielding Canadians over internationals. As part of their development plan, they’re talking about putting a USL team in Edmonton, Alberta as well as building training facilities for the youth and national Canadian teams in Vancouver.

  21. eplnfl says:


    I was at the TFC game in Chicago last season and a good sized group came now. They were good fans but one or two incidents did take place that were out of bounds. Plan on getting your tickets early since word is that the Fire pre-season sales have been strong. I have my tickets already and will see TFC again. Love when they play O’Canada, seems like a bonus! Love to show you around Toyota Park if you come to town.

    Great idea by the Whitecaps. Having a “minor league” USL side close to the MLS team could be an excellent model for the MLS to adopt. Really, whats wrong with taking a player development model from MLB. Except that if MLB is doing it something must be wrong with it ! lol!

  22. Keep in mind MLS and USL used to have an affiliate system. For example the Miami Fusion were affiliated with the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Metrostars were affiliated with the Long Island Rough Riders. In those days you could call up a player for a few games just like Baseball: The Metros called John Wolyneic up in 1999 and he stuck with the team.

  23. Lars says:

    The model that the Whitecaps are actually using is based off the WHL/OHL/QMJHL hockey model. In the past twenty years, it has produced the best hockey players in the world.

    The system (if it works exactly like the Canadian hockey model) would ensure that for every year spent in the program, the player would receive 1 year of university education free if they failed at the professional level.

    It would allow the players access to professional, MLS coaching, training facilities and playing time against other similar organizations.

    Owning a USL team would do wonders for the flagging USL-1. This would essentially allow it to become a strong second division, as the Whitecaps FC owner is a billionaire soccer fanatic.

  24. Lars says:

    Oh and the WHL/OHL/QMJHL model also produces games that are highly entertaining and watchable, moreso than the NHL if you ask me. The teams are routinely very profitable and give back a lot to the cities. I can’t remember the last time one of them folded, but I can remember the last hockey game I went to, and it was great. Personally, I think this will be great for the league if they implement it.

  25. Lars says:

    The atmosphere at RFK Stadium is great.

  26. eplnfl says:

    Fire did well to get a draw after such a poor first half. DC has a problem so far keeping leads. Fire undefeated with no home games yet, Blanco limited, and two starts lost to national team call ups. Not bad really.

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