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First-Rate Fans, Fourth-Rate Football Culture


powerof11

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...You can't put out press releases one week saying your league is now topping the NHL and NBA for average game attendance, then expect fans to be happy when their club can't even get a proper broadcast together for an exhibition game, and instead you have to rely on a volunteer webcam display.

You can't advertise that you're bringing in world-class players when the coaching is strictly average and in some cases appears outright incompetent.

And you can't allow teams with support bases like Toronto's — and lately, it must be said, DC United's — to let their front offices behave like it's the same MLS it was 10 years ago, hiring and firing their buddies because they seem like good guys or because they were technically adept at the game once upon a time.

As much as teams like Dallas and Columbus need their entire approach dragged into the supporter era, teams like Toronto need to understand that the supporter era won't last unless fans get consistent improvement. You can't hire wunderkinds in the business office but dolts on the football side. You can't wait to react to fans' growing displeasure over obvious shortcomings. You can't "take the good with the bad" or argue that corporately it's "not a hill to die on." Those phrases mean absolutely jack to the average football fan.

People want GMs with a track record of finding strikers who can create, defenders who can dominate; they want broadcasters who know enough about soccer culture that they can pronounce "Jaguares" and "Gillingham"; they want smooth websites with proper xhtml to minimize plugin use (Silverlight? Really? Are they just stupid?); They want televised pre-season games, or at the very least proper camera work for webstreaming; They want coaches who have their international certificates and, God willing, some experience prior to coaching in the MLS with something other than ... MLS; they want grass throughout the league.

It's not "eurosnobbery", it's common sense. It's quality control. It's the future, if MLS wants to become what its fans expect it to be.

Jeremy Loome breaks down MLS and MLSE:

http://www.rednationonline.ca/first-rate_fans_fourth-rate_football_culture_apr_20_10_column.shtml

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Exaggerated negativity about the league to gain attention and showering the core readership with ego boosting compliments is the recipe for a well read blog but people would be better off reading what an ex-pro like Paul James has to say (especially when they have no indirect links to the team they are writing about unlike Jason Devos) if they are looking for a genuinely informed opinion.

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Paul James is not completely impartial either. His response to the recent Ali Gerba interview is certainly coloured by his experiences coaching Gerba. However, you are correct that given his experiences at GolTV that he likely holds no love for MLSE.

Exaggerated negativity about the league to gain attention and showering the core readership with ego boosting compliments is the recipe for a well read blog but people would be better off reading what an ex-pro like Paul James has to say (especially when they have no indirect links to the team they are writing about unlike Jason Devos) if they are looking for a genuinely informed opinion.
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great article. We as fans get treated by the mls like we have never seen a good game in our lives. As far as im concerned the mls with its little salary cap and its north american way of doing things can go piss up a rope.

There are some very good points in the article, however I (and thankfully many others) couldn't disagree more with your comment of the "North American way of doing things".

Yes, the MLS has more than its fair share of problems, however I like the idea of a salary capped league. I like the idea of profit sharing. I like equality. Could the MLS use a major boost in the cap? Yes, we all want that, but anyone who pays any attention to the league at all knows that at this point it's impossible.

I'll always prefer the idea of trophies and leagues being won as opposed to purchased, which is exactly what happens in leagues around the world without "North American" style restrictions.

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^

It's a bit of a tricky balance though ... because it seems like the business (or profit) comes at the expense of football. The league is healthy in terms of dollars, but not in terms of quality.

I think the N.American comment speaks to the notion of our model of capitalism where it's biggest profit margin with the lowest cost incurred.

Now isn't the time necessarily to make huge jumps in spending BUT there is alot that can be done outside the salary cap to get the wheels in motion for increasing the quality of the league.

Sending coaches overseas to get mentored, bringing in some referees from abroad, investing in the academies to develop the future at a higher level etc ... are all things that should probably be done, require money, have nothing to do with a salary cap and could ultimately increase the quality of the league.

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The league isn't all that healthy, even if you factor in loose accounting techniques most teams are just scraping by under the current salary structure. TFC and Seattle are the exception, not the rule. There might be a small group of clubs trying to pull the cap upwards, but there's a bigger group holding it down like a heavy anchor.

If people try to change the league structure too quickly it will break down and then we'll all be left with nothing.

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There are some very good points in the article, however I (and thankfully many others) couldn't disagree more with your comment of the "North American way of doing things".

Yes, the MLS has more than its fair share of problems, however I like the idea of a salary capped league. I like the idea of profit sharing. I like equality. Could the MLS use a major boost in the cap? Yes, we all want that, but anyone who pays any attention to the league at all knows that at this point it's impossible.

If one were to compare the rules of N.American soccer from the old NASL to MLS today, I think we would find that through the years, MLS has done everything it can to make the sport LESS N.American and more international (ie: clock counts up, injury time, proper off-sides, less gridieon football lines, more SSS).

I think the league should continuing doing everything it can to make the sport more in-line with International customs. However, the salary cap is an issue I think MLS has gotten right. Even in 20 years, when the league is competitive with leagues in Europe, the salary cap should continue to increase, but their should always be some sort of salary cap to maintain some level of parity.

I don't ever want to see a "big 4" in MLS, in the same way the EPL has its Big 4, where its virtually impossible for any other team to win the league championship. I think parity is important and its only a matter of time before European leagues realize it as well.

The salary cap issue and the issue with the Calendar (as in, not following the calender of top 5 UEFA leagues) are issues MLS has right.

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