The MLS All-Stars lost to Manchester United 4-0 last night in a scoreline that doesn’t reflect how the game went. The MLS’s stars played well in the first half, sticking with the Red Devils for the full 45 minutes but found themselves down 2-0 at the break. In the second half, United took control and outplayed the MLS, leading to a 4-0 final scoreline.
But my issue isn’t with the final score. Yes, the MLS deserved better, but that’s how soccer – and sports – work. United took their chances very well and the MLS missed a couple of golden opportunities. What is a problem is that this game is seen as a referendum on the state of soccer in America.
The MLS All-Stars get to practice for a couple of days and then are tossed on the field together and expected to compete with the top teams in the world. You can compare individual players at each position around the field and Manchester United will generally have the better players, but the gap is closing.
However, if you just look at the scoreline or even watch the game, you wouldn’t notice that. Many of United’s players have been playing with each other for years and the team has been playing friendlies around the U.S. for the past month. They are in preseason mode, but are finding their form. And they are used to playing with each other.
While the rest of the sports world goes along at full steam, MLS in the midst of one of its most important offseason’s in the League’s history. That’s because the CBA between the owners nad the players expires on January 31. With 22 days before that date, there still isn’t a new agreement.
The players want three main things:
The ability to sign with a team and not the league
Higher Salary Cap
Right now, the League is a single-entity which means that teams do not have the ability to sign players. The player must first sign with the league and the league then assigns a player to a team. The reasons that allocations exist in MLS is to create a system for assigning players that more than one team have interest in. The single-entity effectively limits a player’s ability to gain his market value since teams are not forced to bid against each other for the player’s services. Instead, the player receives one contract offer from the league and is then assigned to one of those interested teams based on allocation order.
The players want this system removed. As a fan, I’m on the players’ side here. The allocation process is confusing and mysterious to outsiders while the “assignment of players” makes the league seem rigged. Now, this isn’t true, but allowing teams to sign their own players will create a more open, fair system. Teams will have more control of their rosters since they control whether a player is actually signed. not the league. However, teams would be forced to bid against each other which would drive contracts up so owners would certainly angered by that. However, nearly every other sports league in the world allows teams to sign their own players. MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL, EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and etc. all have teams sign contracts. For MLS to become an upper echelon league, this single-entity system must go. Continue reading “The MLS Situation”→
I know that 95% of America have no idea what I am talking about when I say “SuperLiga”, but bear with me for a moment. SuperLiga is the annual tournament between Mexican and American teams. Each country is represented by four teams who are then split into two groups. It is a standard Fifa format. The four teams in each group play each other once and the two teams with the highest point total (3 points-win, 1 point-draw, 0 points-loss) move on to the semifinals. The Semifinals feature the winner of one group versus the runner-up from the other group in a one-game match, winner moves on. The winners of the semifinals play in the Finals in a one-game match to crown a champion.
On Tuesday night, the New England Revolution defeated the Houston Dynamo on penalty kicks to capture their first SuperLiga title. Before I get to that game, let’s look at the semifinals. In the first semi, the Dynamo faced off against Pachuca CF from Mexico. The final score, Houston 2 Pachuca 0, does not represent what this game was like. With Houston leading 1-0, Pachuca had a goal taken back on an off-side call. Unfortunately, the linesman blew this call as there was no off-side. Arguments ensued, but the call did not change. A couple of minutes alter, Corey Ashe scored for the Dynamo to put them up 2-0 and ice the game. The game did not end on friendly terms though as Pachuca players stormed after the referees after the final whistle, determined to get payback for what was truly a terrible call. For a game to be lost based on poor officiating is not what SuperLiga wants. However, the awful call allowed for fans to see the passion of Pachuca players. Their anger after the game ended shows how much they wanted to win the tournament. For those people that think that there is no pride or passion in SuperLiga, think again. Continue reading “Revolution Win SuperLiga 2008”→