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A brief listing of the problems with MLS, by a former season ticket holder

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-Owners still invested in multiple clubs/Why are we still exapnding?

Over 15 years in, this is absolutely ridiculous and screams of a league that is too concerned with expansion than finding owners for clubs that already exist. AEG and Hunt still have control of two clubs while the league continues to shell out new franchises to the highest bidder.

-Failure to follow the FIFA calendar

While it doesn't effect the competition in a great way because the vast majority of players are not regular internationals, it does bring the legitimacy of the league into question, and MLS continues to dodge it saying that they're looking at the problem, which is obviously a euphemism for, "We just don't give a ****."

-Teams from one conference can win the other conference's "Championship"

That's probably enough said in itself. Either do a split-league playoff system properly or do a single table system with a separate cup competition. Case in point:

-Failure to enhance the US Open Cup

MLS simply does not give a toss about the history and potential importance of this competition, mainly because they can't stick their name in front of it. This could easily be used to appease the typical American sports fan who only cares about knockout round playoff structures and allow MLS to have a true table position champion, instead of the MLS Cup and Supporter's Shield, because who remembers who won the most games during the 1997 MLB season? No one, because it doesn't matter when you have a playoff structure. Also, would allow for better understanding of the sport at large, since the rest of the world has such a competition coinciding with their league calendar.

-Continued expansion dilutes an already weak talent pool

Keep adding teams to a league that doesn't have enough quality in the first, keep filling rosters with less and less talented players from four-year universities. Pretty simple, especially when the top talent keeps escaping the continent.

-Took 15 years to figure out that youth development is important

Holy ****! You mean we should concentrate on developing our own talent instead of relying on college programs with zero-budgets to do it?!?!?!?! See: What happens when you get a bunch of Am. football men in the room used to having a free development system (NCAA football) at their disposal and can't imagine for a second they would have to pay for it themselves. This is systemic throughout the entire US Soccer structure.

-This is a sport with successful blueprints to follow from every corner of the world, and you're still f*cking it up

Seriously, how hard would it have been to look at EVERY OTHER TOP FLIGHT IN THE WORLD to get this right a long time ago? The scapegoat is that you have to reach a broader audience, or one that doesn't care as much about football as the rest of the world. Not true, because unlike the rest of the footballing world (Europe in particular) the population of this country is massive and you only have to capture a small part of the audience to still have massive numbers. Get 10% of this country to care and you've won: that's 33 million people. Double that and you've got a base that's 1.5 times larger the population of Spain, same size as France, Italy, and the UK. You don't need to appeal to the masses, you need to target a group that ALREADY EXISTS.

The way you alienate a fanbase is by providing substandard competition, and with the growth of FSC and ESPN's coverage of the sport at large, plus any number of fine websites that allow to stream games from around the world, MLS is still relying on being "the only game in town" when, in fact, it is most definitely not. Americans will pay a premium to watch top-flight sport, but they will continue to feign interest in a league that is marginalizing itself by its own hand.
 
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MLS + Becks = failure, and IO

Just as a follow up to a statement (or statements) I made that most other people involved in the discussion seemed to disagree with (including a mod with apparently god-like powers of observation), despite loads of evidence to the contrary, here's an article by Dave Hirshey highlighting the obvious failures of Lord Becks of Manchester (House of Ferguson) in his quest to better football in America: Thanks for nothing Becks

Great news, everybody: David Beckham is back!

Remember when those words meant something? When the thought of Becks stepping onto an American soccer field made your heart soar because he was going to transform the Los Angeles Galaxy into the second coming of the Cosmos? When it was presumed he would spread the gospel of MLS around the world, just as Pelé did with the NASL back in the day?

Yeah, I remember those 20 minutes too.

But here's what actually has happened in the four years since Becks descended from the soccer heavens, Goldenballs ex machina, onto L.A.'s field of dreams:

1. The Galaxy sold a lot of tickets and jerseys.
2. The gospel that Becks spread was his own.

So, for most people -- at least those not employed by the Galaxy's merchandising department -- the news that Beckham is finally returning from his headline-grabbing, middle-finger-to-MLS sojourn with Spurs is not exactly a reason to pop the Cristal.


*******************

Much like I said, he came here to pat his own back and pad his own wallet. To claim anything else is complete nonsense.

My other favorite part:

Alas, the BLQ (Beckham Love Quotient) is not quite as high on this side of the pond. In America, Beckham was supposed to be the MLS Moses, the prophet who would rescue the league from the scorn and derision of the rest of the world. But injuries and a wanderlust for pseudo-England appearances (he is so obsessed with his place in the hierarchy of most-capped English players that he has been willing to fly 3,000 miles to make a 15-minute cameo), have conspired to keep Beckham from having the same impact on the field as he has had off it, where he has sold more tickets and jerseys than all other MLS players combined.

As for his contributions actually playing for the Galaxy, the numbers tell the story, and it isn't pretty:

Two MLS games (no goals) in 2007, thanks to a sprained MCL; 25 games (five goals) in 2008-09 despite the never-been-done-but-we'll-make-an-exception-for-Becks "timeshare" deal with Milan; 15 games (two goals) in 2009, and then the shredded Achilles that kept him out of all but the Galaxy's last eight matches. That adds up to 50 games -- or barely 40 percent of the total minutes -- he could have played since joining the club.

Of course, there's still time for Beckham to show his true talent on the American stage and produce one final season of set-piece excellence. But he'll need to stay both fully fit and focused on playing for the team that signs his checks. And what are the odds of that happening, especially with Prince William's wedding coming up in late April?


************************

Hmmm...... sounds similar to something that someone around here said just a bit ago. But then that can't possibly be true, because that person supposedly "knew nothing" about MLS.

Becks is a joke, has been, continues to be. But hey, at least he claimed the caps record with a series of 10 minute cleanup jobs and sold some shirts.
 
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I think MLS has the potential, but, the American mentality towards football isn't exactly the best, heck, they don't even call it football .
 
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I think MLS has the potential, but, the American mentality towards football isn't exactly the best, heck, they don't even call it football .
Nah, I think you're absolutely right. But, like I said, they need to not focus on trying to get everyone to care because it's never going to happen. It's not like there aren't people who don't give a toss about football in the UK, or France, or Germany, or Spain, or...

You need to maintain the target market that already exists and growing that, because it is a HUGE number already. More people in this country identify football as their favorite sport than do baseball or basketball. That should be a sign that there's enough people here that already love it and you don't need to pander to Johnny-NFL fan anymore.
 
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I've had enough of this witch-hunt of David Beckham. Enough is enough. He is not at fault here: what is at fault is the ridiculous delusions and selfishness of the common American football fan.

Beckham never moved to increase the popularity of the MLS. At most, that was a secondary aim. Beckham moved there for whatever reason you want to bring up: new challenge, new life in the States, or just plain greed and money. But that's fine, that's what any person would do. His express wish was never to spread the word of the MLS - sure, he may have been forced into answering the question by an interviewer. If you're asked "so are you going to spread the repute of the MLS?" you're hardly going to say "No." are you? That's an impossible, and unfair situation. Either he is downright rude or he has to break his word, and unfortunately for Beckham it had to be the latter.

The American media and fans were projecting onto Beckham what they wanted HIM to be like, not what HE wanted to be like. They hailed him as a football god, a transformer of the MLS. He didn't ask for this. He wanted to play football, collect his paycheque, and most importantly get a spot in the national team, which brings me neatly onto my next point.

Don't you dare criticise his desire to play for England. Playing for your country is the greatest honour a footballer can recieve (which some would do well to remember) and Beckham has never forgotten this. Americans are very big on the whole national pride thing (call it a blanket statement, but it's true), so they should understand this rather than criticise. Beckham wants to play for England, whether it be 9 minutes or 90. If Landon Donovan moved to England in the twilight of his career, with one of his wishes being to continue playing for the US national team, he'd be hailed as a hero. Doubtless, some of his supporters in Ontario, California where he was born would shed a tear at the dedication shown by their hero. So maybe, just maybe, you can understand why Beckham is still so revered here.

I don't deny Beckham's record in the MLS is chequered: despite being a class above most of the other players on the field he has played semi-regularly, as well as being disrupted by injury. However, the stick he is getting is unwarranted and unfair, as well as some of the more ridiculous accusations. What the **** does Prince William's wedding have to do with it, for example? Sorry if your views of quaint Olde Englande require all functions to grind to a halt for a whole two months in the event of a royal wedding, but it just doesn't happen. One day of celebrating, then back to normal, particularly for sportsmen like Beckham.
 
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You make some good points, a good read.

One thing I think may contribute to the failure of the MLS is the issue concerning advertising and the commercialisation of football.

American TV channels love their adverts, there were so many advert breaks during the Superbowl that I lost count, and could the TV channels desires to cram in as many advert breaks as possible hinder the success of football (soccer) in the US?

Because of the flowing nature of football and the fact that there are very rarely breaks in play of longer than a few seconds this could bring up issues as it would make it nigh-on impossible for the TV channels to have regular commercial breaks, and less commercial breaks = less revenue for the channel. Because of this the TV channels may be less willing to pay a large amount for the rights to show MLS games as they will be unable to recoup their investment through advertising to the same extent as they do with American Football etc.

I remember reading somewhere that at some point (might have been in the NASL) that they tried to implement prolonged stoppages during normal time when the ball went out of play so that they could fit in commercial breaks but I feel that this would ruin the spectacle for fans in the stadium and isn't really in footballing nature.

I'm not sure how adverts work for basket ball and ice hockey but I know that these sports have their games divided into quarters rather than halves like football (soccer), so if they don't have adverts during play they can still fit in 3 sets of commercial breaks between the quarters whereas they could only have one set of commercial breaks in a football (soccer) match - at half time.

This has a knock on effect, as we all know (somewhat unfortunately), in Europe, most teams are highly dependant on income from TV revenue, so if american TV stations aren't willing to fork out big bucks for the rights to MLS games, then there will be less TV revenue for the MLS or clubs to invest in youth training or big-money transfers.
 
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I completely agree with Godcubed here. You cant lampoon Becks for the failings of the MLS. Sure he probably moved for the money but would you do any different in his position?
One player cant make a league great,it takes a lot more than that. And the reason that he hasnt been that successful over there is because hes playing in the twilight of his career. Hes not likely to set the world alight. I dont particularly like Beckham but i think he doesnt deserve the criticism that he gets.
But this is just my opinion and i know others will differ.

The MLS has obvious flaws and i believe if the Draft was abolished it may help improve the standard of the game but i dont see it developing much in the next 5 years.
 
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He came here and blatantly stated over and over that his desire was to enhance the stature of MLS, that was his self-imposed challenge, to enhance the league and football in general in this country. And apparently that included taking half the season off to go play for another club in a different league halfway around the world that doesn't hold his contract. How about you go check out the website for his academy, something that was a crucial part of his program in the states.

You know what's worse than the "delusional" American football fan (neither of which I am) having a go at Beckham? It's the ballwashing he still gets by the bulk of the English media, and delusional England fans lauding him for showing out for nine minutes in friendlies to chase down records. He cares about his personal IMAGE, not his football career, above everything else.

"With me, it's about football. I'm coming there to make a difference. I'm coming there to play football."

Kind of tough to make a difference and play football in this league when you try to escape back to Europe every chance you can.

"I'm not saying me coming over to the States is going to make soccer the biggest sport in America. That would be difficult to achieve," Beckham said. "Baseball, basketball, American football, they've been around.

"But I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make a difference."


His words.
 
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I've had enough of this witch-hunt of David Beckham. Enough is enough. He is not at fault here: what is at fault is the ridiculous delusions and selfishness of the common American football fan.
To be fair i can understand them being annoyed with Beckham. He did make a big song and dance about how he was moving there to improve football in America and the captaincy was taken from donovan so he could have it. He's hardly played a game and he doesn't seem to really care.
If something similar happened to United i would be ****** off.
 
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@Niall: Very true about the adverts. It's a struggle for American networks to figure out, but I think they're getting the audiences are there, and there are a lot of different ways to get advertising into a live sporting event besides 30-sec commercials.

(edit) Also, basketball and hockey have a lot of natural breaks in the matches besides the intervals between quarters and periods.

@Steve: The draft is one of the many jokes perpetrated by MLS on the American football fan. Like I said, there's a clear blueprint laid out by every other league in the world, and MLS has laughed in the face of it and football fans in this country long enough.
 
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Yeah the squad contracts are a joke aswell. Im not 100% on how it goes but i dont like the idea of the small salary cap either. Any promising american players end up playing in europe because they can earn more there. If the people in charge of MLS got rid of these stupid rules and followed the european leagues foundations i believe that the standard would improve quickly. I have quite a few mates from the states that like football but only follow the european leagues.

The major pitfall is trying to implement the same ideas as other american mainstream sports. The fanbase would be there if the structure of the league was followed. Also if the structure was good i could see more european players moving to the states to play football for economic,lifestyle and monetary gain. An influx of players would make the league more appealing and in turn generate more revenue.
 
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@Steve: There's a reason it says "former season ticket holder" in the title of this. You've got "first team" players making under $40,000. That is crazy for the top flight of a professional sport in this country.

Square peg >>> round hole, all that.
 
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I think the talent level of the MLS is its biggest problem at this point. The casual soccer/football fan here wants to see guys they know from international competitions like the World Cup or even Confederations Cup, but the vast majority of those guys (save Donovan) play in Europe. The Premier League gets a surprising amount of airtime on shows Sportscenter on ESPN because people know a lot of the names there. Rooney's bicycle kick was on the highlights for a week.

I don't think the MLS can thrive until they can develop and attract top-flight level talent. People in the US like to be the best when it comes to sports. No one would care about the Tour de France if Lance Armstrong hadn't won 7. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with the fact that we produce so little soccer talent and that there are probably 20-25 countries above us in the soccer/football world.

I absolutely agree that the MLS hurts itself by ignoring what works for dozens of other leagues and trying too hard to mirror the NFL, NBA, etc.
 
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You have to wonder how many great American footballers there could have been over the years had the USA have had the culture and structure of more traditional footballing nations.
 
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You have to wonder how many great American footballers there could have been over the years had the USA have had the culture and structure of more traditional footballing nations.
It's just embracing the portion of the culture that's already in place, and MLS refuses to do so for its own selfish and ill-founded reasons.
 
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You have to wonder how many great American footballers there could have been over the years had the USA have had the culture and structure of more traditional footballing nations.
If things went accordingly to favour popularity of football in the USA in the dawn of the sport, a European structure and development style, I think they'd run rampant.
 
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I think one just has to look at the talent of some of the African nations and wonder what the **** happened to keep America down for so long? A lot of it still comes back to a disjointed and horribly mismanaged youth system.
 
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Another thing is that kids here rarely focus on one sport. It's soccer/football in the spring, baseball in the summer, American football in the fall. I can't help but think that hurts development.
 
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He came here and blatantly stated over and over that his desire was to enhance the stature of MLS, that was his self-imposed challenge, to enhance the league and football in general in this country. And apparently that included taking half the season off to go play for another club in a different league halfway around the world that doesn't hold his contract. How about you go check out the website for his academy, something that was a crucial part of his program in the states.
Right, but as I stated he was most likely asked that by an interviewer, and was responding with the only possible answer.

Who are you to say he hasn't improved the stature of the MLS? Only people abroad can say whether he has or hasn't, and I'm inclined to say he has. I know, for example, who Los Angeles Galaxy are and a couple of their players. I didn't know this before. It's through this incremental gaining of knowledge that your league will grow. I'm sorry if you were expecting it all to magically change as soon as he arrived, but it doesn't work that way.

And pointing out his Academy to support your argument is rather self-defeating, seeing as it brings only good to American football.

You know what's worse than the "delusional" American football fan (neither of which I am) having a go at Beckham? It's the ballwashing he still gets by the bulk of the English media, and delusional England fans lauding him for showing out for nine minutes in friendlies to chase down records. He cares about his personal IMAGE, not his football career, above everything else.
Oh shut up about chasing down records. Personally, I'm inclined to believe that he's dedicated to England. He knows he can't reach the record, so why would he even attempt it? He just wants to play for his country. The fact that you think England fans laud him for getting 9 minutes rather shows your lack of knowledge regarding the subject. We're skeptical, frankly. All we do is savour each minute he plays for us, because he's an England legend. We don't laud him for PLAYING, we laud him for his efforts to REMAIN playing. The media laud him because the media are idiots, and we don't listen to them as much as we can.

And to say he cares about his image over his football career is laughable. If that were true, why would he be moving to Milan in the MLS off-season and training with Spurs? The former doesn't enhance his image in the States one bit as you yourself have shown, and the latter doesn't really effect his image anywhere.

"With me, it's about football. I'm coming there to make a difference. I'm coming there to play football."

Kind of tough to make a difference and play football in this league when you try to escape back to Europe every chance you can.

"I'm not saying me coming over to the States is going to make soccer the biggest sport in America. That would be difficult to achieve," Beckham said. "Baseball, basketball, American football, they've been around.

"But I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make a difference."


His words.
AGAIN, I repeat. How many of those things he said were straight out in open conversation? For the first question, an interviewer would've asked him what his aim was. What does he say apart from what he did? He can't say "Oh I've come to collect a fat paycheque" or the like.

And maybe he did think he could make a difference. Perhaps he has. Indeed, the example of the David Beckham academy would indicate he has.
 
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The Beckham Academies are no more (CLOSED, if that helps), which had you clicked on the link I provided (here, I gave it again) you would've seen, but your not clicking on said link (just in case you missed it again) that I did the leg work for and then trying to claim their non-existent success is pretty self-defeating on your end. So thanks for that. (Once more, for posterity.)

And if he gave a **** about the league that pays his bill he wouldn't miss a third of the season playing for Milan, nor would he have been in London all winter trying to force MLS's hand in giving him yet another loan deal abroad so he could show up to work in June having missed two months of the season. If all he cared about was playing football to the best of his abilities he wouldn't look like a 30-something washup by the time the business end of the MLS season comes around because he spent two extra months padding his ego by playing in Europe. His duties and obligations are to his club that pays that fat paycheque, not to Arry or the fine folks at the San Siro.

By the way, those quotes were from the prepared statement he read upon joining LA Galaxy, not responses to questions. That presser was lorded over by a AEG/Team Becks appointed moderator and no reporters were allowed to ask questions. Not to let a quick google search or empirical evidence cloud your obviously skeptical view of the man and his body of work.
 
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