Saturday, November 14, 2009

11/14/09: Garber, MLS, Heck Even Yours Truly Is Looking For A LA Vs. Chicago Final, Work Stoppage, And Etc.



To be a big time league, it helps to have your stars playing in the games that matter. Shockingly, in regards to MLS parity, MLS and Garber are one Chicago win away from having just that with a Beckham vs. Blanco final. And, press from around the world is noticing: here, here, and here. This is huge for Garber and co. as well as for the league; as MLS would have their two stars, the most recognizable names and faces in the most important fixture of the year. In addition, a Beckham vs. Blanco showdown, in terms of neutral interest, clearly beats Real Salt Lake vs. Houston. So, I'm okay with hoping Chicago makes it to the final as long as they lose; because once Columbus is out of the running I'm basically just looking for the best final. And, Los Angeles vs. Chicago is clearly it.

Another plus is that Los Angeles with Beckham and Donovan vs. Chicago with Blanco and McBride, in front of 60,000 fans at Qwest, just screams Major League for MLS (which could stand for, at times, Minor League Soccer); At least it does a hell of a lot more than playing a final in a 20,000 seat, soccer specific stadium where Ching squares off against Movsisyan. Additionally, this is impeccable timing for MLS as Blanco is headed back to Mexico, and Beckham is likely headed back to Europe for good as well. So, I can bet that Garber and co. will be praying for a Chicago win tonight. And, really I don't blame them.

Other interesting side stories:
**If Blanco's Fire make it to the final, a Beckham vs. Blanco showdown shows that, given time, the DP rule does make a difference with a team.
**Also, Beckham once again overcomes the doubters, seems like he has a little bit of history of that.

**I think Mitchell might be a little premature to be too worried about a strike to devote three articles to it months in advance. Article one, and blog entries two and three. Sure, it's a little worrisome. But, the fact is that MLS isn't Major League Baseball in terms of popularity. Thus, there is no way in hell that MLS can survive a work stoppage. Even if it is a month or two. A stoppage will just make the league look more Minor League than American football lines do. The season has to continue as planned, otherwise only the hardcores will give the sport any legitmacy when it returns.

I think that the players know that Garber has to concede to their demands eventually. Because Garber and the league cannot afford the alternative. The league I would think can give the concessions as well, the league gets like $40 million for each new franchise alone. So, hell, if MLS devoted just one franchise fee to the salary cap we would be a world respected league.

Yet, on both sides, I don't get how money can get in the way of soccer. I know MLS is a business, but they stand to lose more if they stick to the current deal. And, for the players... I somehow lived in Columbus off of $14,000 a year in loan money while paying $712 dollars in rent a month. Sure, if I would of known about a family tradegy, I would have signed with a cheaper place. But, point is, with a roommate, you could rent a decent place in Columbus for $200 to $300 bucks a month. Sure, it's not the ritz, but that leaves you with $14,000 to live off of in a year with a $16,600 salary. I could live off of $14,000 a year and be happy playing soccer. However, maybe I'm just not a future thinking person.

Even if that is the case, I would be smitten to make $16,000 a year playing soccer. Especially since I don't have to pay the money back. So, I'm sorry, I don't feel much sympathy for the MLS soccer player because they get paid normal salaries, instead of ridicoulous salaries in other sports.

And, sure, I get that a few are paid minimal wage salaries. But, seriously, those players are only a few that never see the field. How long is practice? If you ask me, it's a pretty good gig to just show up at practice for two hours for half of a year and pull in a $16,000 dollar salary. Easiest $16,000 dollars ever made (I mean seriously what has Cory Elenio done this year to earn more? Not picking on him, just saying). And, hell two hours a day doesn't take up a full day, get a job bartending or doing something else at night. And, there is a offseason where you can work full time and pull in extra money. Lol, I don't really get the tradegy, especially since most of the people making the $16,000 are 22-24 year olds. Dude, nearly no one in that age group is making bank at that time in their life. Further, if you do well in MLS you'll make more or you'll drop out of MLS and use your degree. Nearly all MLS players have one of those as well, unlike other leagues.

I would kill to be in there stituation. Kind of ridicoulous if you ask me.

** Remember the ridicoulous-ness of Houston's Robertson Field when the Crew played their in last year's season opener? Well, here's an interesting blog piece by Freddie Ljeunberg on the horrible Houston field. Great to get an outsiders perspective on this and I can't agree more with these lines:

You have so many talented young U.S. players in the league, but if you don't give them a chance to show how good they are, they won't get the credit they deserve.

It's a show. It's a theater.


And, I'm not too sure sometimes if MLS gets that "it's a show and it's a theater," and if they do than they directed either Jennifer's Body or Paranormal Activity. Ala they suck at it at times. As commercial sports, to be popular, have to be just as much dramatic spectacle as sporting activity, if not more so, to capture great spectator interest. For example, the Super Bowl is great at being a dramatic spectacle. On the other hand, MLS, not so much, when they have a half full 25,000 seat Home Depot Center for a final and they have as half time entertainment C listers such as Adele, Lupe Fiasco, and Bowling For Soup. Garber needs to get some Little Wayne or something, even though I know MLS is watching their pennies, mise well spend $500,000 on an entertainer instead of $250,000 and make it an event.

Further, each MLS final should be in a larger stadium than a SSS, because you need the dramatic spectacle factor. Further, I would look to put games, in the future, even in cities without teams. I would love to see a MLS Final at University of Phoenix Stadium or the new Cowboys Stadium. Further, when it isn't the home team in the final, most of the crowd at the MLS Cup encompass fans that have traveled all across the country. So, I don't think it would hurt or have an affect in attendance at the final.

Nevertheless, MLS got it right this year with Qwest Field. Especially if they luck out with LA vs. Chicago.

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