By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Nov 27, 2012) US Soccer Players -- In Tuesday’s column, Tony gets the answer for how much MLS spends on development, wonders why you can’t buy an MLS cap at most airports and looks forward to First Kick 2013.
During his State of the League conference call, how much did Commissioner Don Garber claim the League spends, each year, on youth development?
Twenty million dollars. The next sentence out of his mouth was the equivalent of “we haven’t recouped that investment.” Garber said in some cases, the problem is non-US clubs taking youth players MLS clubs have developed. “Dallas has lost six [youth] players to Mexico,” according to Garber.
Later in the call, Garber responded to a question about the League possibly mandating that players younger than a certain age, say U-22s, must play so many minutes during each game, as has been done in Mexico. While not totally blowing off the idea, Garber didn’t seem to think telling coaches who to play was the answer either.
Why aren’t there more MLS products in retail establishments?
According to Stu Crystal, MLS vice-president of Consumer Products, the League has “hired someone” to focus on retail development and is “working closely” with Dick’s Sporting Goods to make more MLS merchandise available “in our markets.”
The short but illuminating interview with Mr. Crystal on Footiebusiness.com highlights all the problems with the League’s centralized operating philosophy. Instead of letting teams make their own deals for online stores, the League is currently “not encouraging teams to operate their own shops online,” but might in the near future. The League is also working to create more high-end branded products, like foosball tables.
Honestly, foosball tables? How about getting MLS shirts in airport stores and MLS caps at the mall. Clubs ought to be encouraged to create their own team shops and make the best deal they can. Let the teams, you know, try to make money. This isn’t the NBA or NFL, where it makes sense for each team to share in the money from the LeBron James and Peyton Manning shirts.
When is the 2013 regular season kicking off?
March 2nd, according to Commissioner Garber on his State of the League conference call. Good thing Montreal will play their first couple of games indoors.
What might be the most underrated factor in Clint Dempsey’s development?
To a greater or lesser extent, the view is that ‘player development’ is part of a head coach’s dossier when he or she is hired. What that really means is the coach trying to keep his job while the players work to fit his system and stay in the squad. That might sound defeatist, but it’s the reality of the job at the professional level. Players have to develop on their own and adjust to wildly different styles, philosophies, and situations.
One underappreciated factor in Dempsey’s development is that while he’s only been with three clubs professionally (remember he was chosen in the 2004 Super Draft), he’s played under seven permanent head coaches (Steve Nicol, Chris Coleman, Lawrie Sanchez, Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes, Martin Jol, and Andre Villas-Boas). In other words, he makes those adjustments and expects to have to make them all over again when his situation changes.
Which team in MLS history scored the most goals at home during one season?
The 2012 Earthquakes, right? No. The 1998 Galaxy? Again, no.
According to the MLS Cup Playoff Guide, it was the 1998 Columbus Crew, who scored 49 goals in 16 home games that season. San Jose’s 43 goals in 17 games is second all time. The Crew finished 15-17 that season (no ties, remember), good enough for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.