State of Officiating in MLS

As usual, For the Integrity of Soccer has a sobering, insightful, and depressing review of the quality of officiating in Major League Soccer.  As an avid fan, the lack of improvement in this area has been stark in comparison to the progress the league has made on other fronts over the last decade.

The reason I have been mulling over the
article is simply its age—it is now eight years old.  I thought it
might be useful to look at where we are now.  In other words:  In those
eight years, how have we improved things?  Here are the improvements;
bite them, bullet-by-bullet:

MLS Draft Observation

My friend Chris and I discussing DC’s Draft of Jeff Carroll:

Chris vS.: Jaff Carrol
Chris vS.: jeff
Oscar: yeah, just saw
Chris vS.: what is up with the brother connection in this draft
Oscar: lol
Oscar: mls figures they can survive better on a developmental salary if they can live with their brothers
Chris vS.: good point
Chris vS.: probably has a lot of truth

A primer on Major League Soccer.

At the annual retreat for work, one of the sessions involved presenting about organizations we found interesting or good models. Finally, all my knowledge and time spent on BigSoccer and MLSNet paid off. Not all of us were tagged to present, and I felt really bad for eveyone else who actually spent some time researching and preparing for their presentations. I just came in ready to wing it, with some main points I’d thought of on the drive in, and somehow managed to impress the judges enoough to come in first. Here are some of the points I made, as best as I can remember.

I chose Major League Soccer (MLS) as the organization I presented on, not because they are doing very important work or working on some great cause. But they are trying to succeed at something – selling soccer to Americans – in the face of many challenges. First off, the team sports marketplace in the US is crowded with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and – until the lockout – the NHL commanding most sport’s fans attention. Second, they are trying to sell a sport which is seen as foreign, unexciting, unmanly by many sports fans and sports reporters. And finally, a number of sports leagues, some better backed and marketed have failed recently. The XFL, backed by Vince McMahon, failed after only one season. Even the WUSA, founded on the heels and hubris of the USA Women’s World Cup soccer team, was forced to fold after 3 seasons.


Its decided: SJ is better than LA

Staci and I were suffering through the DC United playoff fiasco this weekend. Luckily, we’d TIVO’d the game which let us fast forward through most of the game which made it somewhat bearable. So DC crashed out of the playoff without a goal to the best team in the league. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a loss but this was a DC team that didn’t even show up to play.

Meanwhile, our Califriends were at Spartan Stadium watching what some are already calling the best MLS match ever. They’re also trying to make to the Western Conference Semifinal this weekend. I’d hate to be Kansas City and have to go up against a Quakes team with so much momentum.

Calling it the Cl�sico de California won’t do it justice. Understand: To continue their season, the Quakes had to score five unanswered goals after going down 4-0 (aggregate) in the 13th minute on Sunday.

MLS future looking brighter

As a DC United and MLS fan, I was pretty worried about the league two years ago when it decided to contract its 2 Florida based teams. It’s incredible how things have changed since then!

The year we had another soccer-specific stadium openened in LA, another breaking ground in Dallas, and plans for the same in NY, Chicago, and Colorado, and now we’re hearing that new investors are coming on board. This off season should have a lot more good news concerning expansion as read in this interview of AEG president Tim Leiweke.

AEG, which currently owns half of the teams in MLS, played a major role in deciding the way forward when the league folding Miami and Tampa at the end of the 2001 season, as MLS’ investors gave a guarantee of investment for at least five more years.

That agreement now appears to have been extended into the 10-year plan.

WWC to help USSF, MLS more than WUSA

In a telling sign that Major League Soccer has a little more business acumen than the WUSA is this article in USA Today.

The USSF staff and MLS’ central office and teams are providing virtually all of the tournament’s organizational and business-side structure.

The league’s investors also took considerable risks when they built soccer-specific stadiums in Columbus, Ohio, and Carson, Calif., and when they assembled a production and marketing entity that paid a reported $40 million for the U.S. English-language TV rights to the 2002 and 2006 men’s World Cups, as well as this Women’s World Cup.

Now they stand to reap a reward in the form of TV ad sales, corporate sponsorship deals and stadium fees.

New Jeff Bradley column

Jeff Bradley’s regular column is up on MLSNet

10. I’m not one to rail on MLS officials. Really, they have a difficult job and I hate that so many of the MLS team-level (not national) announcers drone on endlessly about the refs. But, the Ali Curtis goal that was disallowed on Saturday night was one of the most puzzling calls I’ve ever seen in my life. Taking a short corner, Hristo Stoitchkov served a perfect cross into the box. Curtis went up in traffic and headed the ball into the goal. On the replays I saw there was not a single angle that showed anything resembling a foul. With goals on the decline (last time I did the math), you hate to see goals taken off the board when there’s not a foul on the play.

Q&A With MLS Comissioner Don Garber

  • …people have stopped wondering if the league will pull an XFL exit,

    "We now are treated like other leagues where we get the business questions about our attendance and about our [television] ratings and about our investors. It’s no longer about will we be here tomorrow."

  • …new investors are about to come in,

    "The economy is improving and we think our structural changes are making us a more viable investment. We now have more investors looking at getting involved in the league than ever before, mostly in the form of expansion."

  • …two new teams will be in the leauge in 2005,

    "We’ve got many cities that have expressed interest. In Cleveland, the potential investor there is close to finalizing a deal to purchase property for a potential stadium. We’ve made progress in Houston. We’ve made lots of progress in Tulsa and Oklahoma City."