Friday, January 29, 2016

A read, a listen and a "say what"?

As many of you know some Louisville City supporters have a great podcast that we've linked to before... recently Louisville City supporter Joe Vala wrote a wonderful piece on McSoccer in the United States that covers some very interesting topics.

And why?  Well, I have my thoughts. Basically they revolve around the need for promotion/relegation to grow EVERY ASPECT of soccer here in the country, and that includes MLS.


A) The contradictions I see with MLS fans and their “love” for their teams.
B) How the Franchise/Profit model and its lust for large TV markets hurts not just everyone, but MLS specifically.
C) How to make it all better, and the need for patience in the process.
D) How it is all dangling on a thread and what can snap it (you’ll love that part!!).


One of my favorite podcasts, Two Daft Yanks, recently had Ted Westervelt on as a guest to talk about the recent rise in popularity of the Promotion and Relegation/Open Pyramid subject (which we have also covered) and some common misconceptions on the topic. It is a great listen that I highly recommend.


and finally....

The manager of El Tri, the Mexican National Team has told his players to stay away from MLS.

J├╝rgen Klinsmann has gotten shit over the years for failing to cheerlead for MLS. He has called for the league to get better, and for his players to challenge themselves at the highest levels of the sport. To some, this is evidence not of Klinsmann’s ability to recognize the obvious, but of some sort of shortcoming. But would any other manager worth his salt behave any differently in similar circumstances?

The answer is of course not. Proof of this is Juan Carlos Osorio, the manager of the Mexican national team. Like Klinsmann, he has had to face the prospect of a number of his potential charges being tempted to trade in the stress and uncertainty of Europe’s leagues for a fat check and inferior competition in MLS. Like Klinsmann, he does not want to see his players slumming it in a retirement league, not when they’re still in their prime.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Supporters Groups for Promotion and Relegation podcast w/ Flakoglost

This is a real solid listen from the Supporters Groups for Promotion and Relegation (FACEBOOK and TWITTER) on the Flakoglost Podcast discussing the history, future and idea behind the SG's for Pro Rel movement.


Monday, January 18, 2016

The "average" American soccer fan...

I think I can speak on what the "average soccer fan" in America is... I was one for years.

Played the game from early childhood through adulthood... watch MLS when I caught it on TV... when I was not doing something with the kids watched EPL on TV... coached some kids.... watched every World Cup game and all the USM/WNT games I could possibly watch. There are millions of Americans just like me.

Just speaking from my experience and speaking to so many other "average" fans... 

1. The average American soccer fan doesn't know what "Single entity" means.
2. The average American soccer fan doesn't know USSF sets Division designations.
3. The average American soccer fan doesn't know what a top level youth player looks like on the field.
4. The average American soccer fan doesn't know FIFA or USSF's role in managing the club soccer game in the world.
5. The average American soccer fan can't tell you why MLS, NASL and USL are D1/2/3.
6. The average American soccer fan doesn't know when the most important stage of a players development is in age. (Hint its not college)
7. The average American soccer fan doesn't understand why ending Pay to Play for youth players is important.
8. The average American soccer fan doesn't know what Generation Adidas, Allocation Order etc are and how they affect young American soccer players league/club choices.
9. The average American soccer fan doesn't understand the sheer scope of the world game.
10. You can LOVE the game but be trapped in the American soccer bubble very easily as an average American soccer fan. I know I was...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Does NASL need MLS's USSF subsidy?

As most readers of this blog I'm sure already know the Atlanta Silverbacks folded up shop this week when the NASL suspended operations of the club that had existed since 1998.

Kartik Krishnaiyer did a great job covering the contentious history of pro soccer leagues in the United States and the predatory practices they use to raid each other... and how the United States Soccer Federation has done nothing about it in this GREAT PIECE.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has sat by while the three professional leagues in the US and Canada have engaged in predatory practices for their own survival. While some critics of the North American soccer market claim it is the most tightly controlled and regulated on the planet, the opposite is in fact true. With no vertical integration in the pyramid and divisional designations largely meaningless, the leagues have engaged in a war against each other. 

There is a question that I can't get out of my mind since this happened...

Would the Atlanta Silverbacks still exist if the USSF paired its USMNT, USWNT and Youth National Team broadcasting rights with NASL instead of with MLS's subsidiary Soccer United Marketing (SUM)?

Looking back through the history of SUM we can see that it was founded in 2002. The same year that MLS dropped to 10 teams. Via its partnership with USSF and the marketing of the largest domestic soccer rights property in the country it was able to leverage the NTs to help grow MLS's footprint (and make some seriously needed coin!). This subsidy from USSF likely saved MLS in the short term and MLS's growth since has directly mirrored the growth of SUM. (Read more on SUM/MLS and their ties to Chuck Blazer here)

With MLS now bringing in 100+ million dollar expansion fees and on solid footing is it now time for the USSF to pair these National Team broadcasting rights with lower division soccer in the United States (especially since they are actually separate competing leagues and not a truly unified pyramid structure) to help them grow these leagues media footprint (and infuse cash!) and result in growth of game in the United States? Can we as a soccer nation afford to continue to have our Federation pick and choose winning leagues and clubs?

Billy Haisley of Deadspin recently wrote an article talking about how USSF policy is holding back the NASL's Ft Lauderdale Strikers as well.

This is the real shame of America's lack of promotion and relegation. That system allows ambitious owners to buy up lower division clubs for not too much money, invest in them in ways they believe will bring sporting success, and potentially, reach the pinnacle of the pyramid. It allows for innovation, like the Strikers' plans for international fame or the New York Cosmos' announced strategy of bringing in good players from abroad but mainly focusing on finding and developing the best youth talent. But without the possibility of promotion, there's a ceiling on the return on these clubs' investments, and in turn the number of clubs with the ability to improve the game as a whole.

Just think about these facts... The USSF has chosen to subsidize MLS. The USSF has also chosen to not give a subsidy to any other professional league in the US. The USSF has set policies that limit competitors to MLS's potential growth. The USSF has also set policy that stifles innovation and investment in hundreds or thousands of clubs as well.

We then wonder why lower division (read that actually as MLS's competition for the soccer marketplace since we already know the USSF Divisional structure is arbitrary) struggles so much in this country.