Archive for the ‘Red Bulls’ Category
Garber’s mention at the draft of the $75-$100 million annual losses incurred by the league was arguably the first shot across the bow of the players’ union, as it gears up to shape its demands for that new CBA. – Graham Parker via Grantland
If you’ve been following American soccer for the past few months you’ve heard some pretty bizarre rumors and even stranger realities. Not only is Michael Bradley leaving Europe to play for Toronto, but somehow an English national player has decided to go along with him. This news follows the previous transfer saga of Clint Dempsey who dropped into the middle of Seattle’s season and issued a new period of MLS I call ‘Money Losing Soccer’. No matter how many times Sporting Kansas City wins future cups back-to-back, the owners of MLS have now grouped together and banded into a Lord-of-the-Flies entity pushing some groups against others and forcing the weak into a small market jungle to face rising salaries and the wild boars of new business groups expansion teams. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Don Garber, despite his claims that MLS is drowning in red ink, has different cities calling his cell phone every day that try to feed him another sixty million for a new team. People living in Sacramento somehow think that if they’re rewarded an MLS team then out of the blue people will compare that city to San Francisco, or even San Jose (which already has a team!). There’s no going back this year: Money Losing Soccer will continue to sign expensive names despite only a weak correlation with winning anything.
Let’s look closer at some recent DP’s that have came into the league and are munching on the fruits of Don Garber’s labor from last year (all dollar amounts are annual):
Thierry Henry - $4.35 million
Robbie Keane – $4.3 million
Tim Cahill – $3.6 million
Landon Donovan – $2.5 million
Marco Di Vaio – $1.9 million
The above players were all huge news at those times, but then a few more came up, distorted player pay scales and they all occured within half a year:
Obafemi Martins – 1.6 million per year.
Clint Dempsey – Projected $8 million per year.
Michael Bradley – 6.5 million per year
Jermain Defoe – 8.3 million
(Note: All pay numbers were from various press releases that were released. If you need to check their numbers then please use Google, they won’t be hard to find.)
This pay is unbelievable and it’s no surprise that the business executive that landed his highness David Beckham went all out trying to raise Toronto FC from the dead for his new boss. That Tim Leiweke, flush with revenue from Toronto’s hidden gold-mine, must’ve tried to land a single impossible Moby Dick signing and then must’ve ‘settled’ to land Bradley and Defoe. Keep in mind that the combined 14.8 million, per year, is nothing to sneeze at and I have to doubt that the millions of new Toronto FC t-shirts on sale can even start to balance that checkbook. Within a span of a few years MLS went from a ‘slow but steady’ league that many people preferred, into a league that is letting a couple Yankee-style evil empires develop. Literally, there is a new MLS team that is working with the Yankees to field a 2015 team. NYCFC isn’t batting an eye at the 3 Designated Player rule. In fact, their new coach sounded like they would rather just go to 5 designated players and get it over with.
So no matter how much Garber whines about player salaries or ‘money losing teams’, everyone should realize that a few owners are doing this to themselves. You think the Red Bulls and the Galaxy will go into 2015 and then all of a sudden decide to play cheap? Get real. There’s no going back to the old days. Even if your team will continue to get bounced from the play-offs with your new star (Seattle), play in the tri-state area almost invisible to your true big city potential (NYRB) or watch as your blue chip signings get closer and closer to retiring in a two year span (L.A.). MLS isn’t going to get cheaper, they’re only going to have more owners drive up the price of players. Which could be a good thing if you’re a fan, but if you’re a fan of a small market team it’s getting easier and easier to think that you’ll have no shot of success. Of course SKC and RSL went to the final last year with great teams built on a balanced check book. But in a few years I’m sure they might not have that chance when they have to match up against Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Cahill or the new NYCFC 3DP All-Star squad.
On the final note, I used to be a Padre fan. What that means is that I used to root for Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman and a hobbled aging Rickey Henderson closing out his career. I deluded myself into thinking every year we had a chance, but we continued to come up short. In hind sight for a few years we celebrated our star player, a closer who came out to pitch maybe two innings under giant banners celebrating his pitching (Hoffman). Then I moved to New York and saw how baseball really worked. The Padres were pretty much a small market team who generated money by signing their players off to the richer teams. Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez come to mind and there should be a few other examples that I would check, if it didn’t hurt my inner fan that much. After a year in New York I started following the Yankees more because not only have they won championships, but they have the money to keep the players they want. It’s cold hearted and sad, but it’s true.
It might happen to MLS if the weaker teams decide to pinch budgets and wait for their team to sell to a new investment firm. Money Losing Soccer will reward the teams who can stomach revenue swings and turn the smaller budgeted teams into people waiting on the sidelines. Enjoy MLS 3.0 America, because in ten years MLS 5.0 will be unrecognizable and might create their own top four similar to Europe. It might be Glory Glory Seattle Sounders* or L.A. Ceeeelery Ceeeelery*.
Asi, Asi, Asi Gana El Salt Lake might not be uttered*.
*These are all European chants for Man U, Chelsea and Madrid respectively.
Over the past couple of weeks MLS was hit by two major news stories. Not only did Michael Bradley decide to leave Roma for the treasure trove waiting for him in Toronto, but Don Garber put together a new T.V. contract to provide MLS with enough cash to move forward again. These issues are important, game-changing and I’m not going to even begin studying their implications as every major American soccer news outlet is beating the stories to death. To me, it’s not that big of a deal that Bradley is coming back to MLS because no player in Bradley’s position would say no to the avalanche of cash that was being offered. I wish him the best of luck and hope he can back up his decision come Brazil.
Speaking of well-paid players, none other than Xavi Hernandez is being linked to the Red Bulls. As crazy as this trade sounds it doesn’t seem impossible. Thierry Henry and Xavi are good friends from Barcelona and I can imagine Henry advocating for another European DP on the roster. If the story ended there I wouldn’t pay any mind to it, but now NYCFC is being rumored to prepare their own bid because part of their management team worked for Barcelona before.
So without further ado, I write to you Xavi! In the billion to one chance your agent ever reads Suckyball, here are the reasons you should go to Harrison to play for the Red Bulls. Don’t decide NYCFC, it’s not the greatest decision and I’ll tell you why.
- Doesn’t RED sound better than BLUE to you? You’re playing for Spain this summer right? It’s La Roja, not La Azul. Think about it, if you play with Henry then you’ll be with Los Toros Rojos and aren’t bulls part of your culture too? There you have it, it’s a win win. Stay true to the Spanish National team ciento por ciento.
- If you decide to play for NYCFC you’ll be playing on a dirt baseball field!! Say what you will about having an extra commute from Manhattan but at least the Red Bulls have their own soccer field that’s only used for soccer. What kind of message does it send that one of Spain’s current football geniuses is jogging around a baseball field with bizarre sight lines?
- The NYRB have a history! Well, by history I mean they’ve played for a few years before NYCFC but they did win a major trophy last year and there are die-hard fans for life. Nobody in New York is talking about becoming a major NYCFC fan, they’re only going to wait and see how the team comes together. The Red Bulls aren’t a club put together on fast-forward anymore. Mix-ups will happen with a brand new team on a dirt field.
- Just because NYCFC has a ton of cash, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a winning team. RBNY, LA, Seattle and Toronto FC would love to give this piece of advice to you. An MLS team can buy Messi or Ronaldo and they’ll somehow still get bounced in the play-offs.
- Just because you would play in New Jersey doesn’t mean you’d have to live there. Thierry Henry can take you to Knicks games, the best French restaurants and where to get your new New York tattoos. Who would help you out if you sign with NYCFC? Old Barcelona managers that’s who, and chances are you might not like them that much. Stay with Henry, he’s a champ just like you.
Sign with Red Bull Mr. Hernandez, the choice is easy.
Also if some of you readers aren’t familiar with Xavi’s work, even after a World Cup victory and complete ownership of Spain’s mid-field, you can check out this video and catch-up on it. Then e-mail his agent and him to choose Red.
There. I did it. The above picture of Bill Clinton sitting next to Mick Jagger represents not only America’s sense of the World Cup but the confusion of foreigners making new sense of Yankees and our footie sensibilities. Notice Bill’s outfit: a Red, White and Blue track jacket ensemble not only freeing his patriotism but also highlighting the absurdity of why he would wear a track jacket. Does anyone think that Clinton was noted for being health conscious? He’s America’s sentiment of soccer: oblivious (because I doubt Clinton knew more than five players on that squad, I’m sure I didn’t!), optimistic (because if America could put a man on the moon, shouldn’t we beat a team like Ghana?!!) and scheming (as much as Bill was admired for being a laid back and warm president, does anyone doubt the intelligence, ambition and cunning it took to become the most powerful man in America from his modest and humble origins? We all trusted and liked Bill even though we also agreed he was a natural and artful liar; maybe that says something about America).
On the right side of the photo is Europe’s typical power fan, via England. To start with, Mick Jagger and European soccer is old. Clinton is a few years younger but somehow Mick Jagger maintains his youthfulness by dying his hair darker and still running around on stage in long winded performances. The world must be amazed Mick Jagger didn’t have three or four hip surgeries by now after so much wear and tear on his body, I know I am. Also Mick is experienced with the game. Whereas Bill attempts to fit in with the patriotic track suit, Mick wears nothing symbolizing his attachment with England. He doesn’t have to, England had been to this party for multiple decades and have won their own World Cup, should he wear a James Bond tie with his suit? Whereas Mick is professional, Bill is winging it with aplomb. Mick’s even wearing a scarf (and a good percentage of American men, even if it’s cold, will probably be afraid to make that fashion statement). Mick and Europe’s connection to soccer is respected, innate and inherent.
So what happens when you sit Mick Jagger and Europe next to Bill Clinton’s American cheekiness? You get the same feeling Mick Jagger is projecting, confusion and questioning. Why do Americans support soccer now when they’ve created the bastard corporate success of the National “Football” League. England, Mexico and a ton of other countries routinely ask themselves ‘Can’t they leave soccer alone?!!! It was ignored it for half a century, why should they get good at it??!!’ And also there’s a good chance Mick Jagger and Europe are looking at the players America is trotting out and asking who are half of these players?
So 2014 sees an upcoming World Cup arriving, another meeting of nations and cultures, and a chance for America to study about 3-5-3′s or Michael Bradley’s time at AS Roma. As a special gift to ‘Welcome America into the Soccer World’ the World Cup will make them play against Germany and Ronaldo, an almost sinister draw where the entire world is rooting for the Americans to get outscored quatro a cero. We will take that test as best we can, but when the cup is over then MLS is back to advertising Dempsey vs Eddie Johnson. The World Cup might draw more viewers to MLS, but it won’t turn it into La Liga overnight (No matter what Don Garber might tell you).
Are you still reading this? You must be interested in American soccer so let’s get to see what’s important about the upcoming year, and why I consider it pivotal.
1. World Cup 2014. It only comes every four years and MLS has to take advantage of that. If Dempsey, Donovan or ANY MLS Regular succeeds in front of a world audience that will bring more respect to their league. But if they go down in flames then MLS’s stock will drop with them. They’re financially tied at the hip, going up or down hinges on that summer in Brazil.
2. Expansion. Although no new team will play in 2014, there are deals being made behind the scenes that will affect not only expansion but the attendance for next couple of years. 2014 is a game changer for Beckham and his Miami franchise and even now Minnesota has cash lined up saying MLS can play in it’s new fancy NFL stadium. Hey, they’re not Seattle but they do have cash. Did I mention they want to give Don Garber cash for expanding?
You can read more of that here:
So even though Orlando, NYCFC, Miami or Orlando won’t be playing in 2014 it should be aware that the decisions they make in their offices as far as sponsors, game plan or PLAYER SIGNINGS will push MLS either ahead or sideways in a short period of time. I thought expansion was a slow but steady process but for 2014 it’s a mess filled with NFL dual use stadiums, converted parking lots and rich celebrities pooling investment money together in Florida.
3. Television Ratings of Death
A new television deal is needed for 2015 and major negotiations will be underway between ESPN, NBC and Univision. Maybe the deals will be hammered out during the upcoming World Cup. Here can be an example of what might be heard at that summer:
NBC & ESPN: We’ll only give you a little bit more cash so your league will have to continue losing money for a few years. No one watched Chivas USA versus Seattle.
Garber & MLS: We’re presenting an opportunity to access the youngest and fastest growing segment of America’s sports fans. All these teenagers are soccer crazy and passionate about their supported teams. Give me double the money before I retire.
NBC & ESPN: They’re watching the Premiere League and buying FIFA video games. We lose money advertising MLS because more people watch fishing, college football, hunting shows, reruns of Everybody -
Garber & MLS: Everybody Loves Dempsey!!! And he signed with Seattle and is doing well…. he’s playing there and WANTS to play there! He’s also playing for the USMNT as well as Seattle, and look … they’re playing Portugal right now! Amazing, so much excitement and passion and commitment for the global game.
NBC & ESPN: When can you sign Ronaldo?
Garber & MLS: Did you know that we’ve had commitments from Frank Lampard to sign with a major television market? That’s right the famous Chelsea player has a good chance of heading to Minnesota United in 2015. Also Kaka still wants to go to Orlando FC for his 15 million dollar per year deal.
NBC & ESPN: We asked about Ronaldo. What about Luis Suarez, Spanish people should like him right? Is there any player close to Beckham’s level of fame that we can work with? Chicharito?
Garber & MLS: Our work with Thierry Henry in New York has grown that br-
NBC & ESPN: We didn’t ask about him. Let’s cut it short because we want to go to the beach and drink. The Americans just tied with Portugal and we’re taking it as a huge victory. We’ll give you one minute Garber, keep in mind NBC is already running with the Premiere League and those ratings speak louder than yours.
Garber & MLS: We own American soccer. Even though no one watches MLS, even less people watch college or NASL games, and that’s including the Cosmos for right now. You can’t even make a supporter chant without MLS lawyers copyrighting it and re-branding it to sell airtime. Not only do we control the U.S.M.N.T. revenue but when the Mexican national team has friendlies on our soil they work through us and make more money. You’re stuck with us, for better or worse because MLS was there when American soccer didn’t even knew it had potential. Right now we’re ignoring the regular draft to pick-up latin American talent for pesos on the dollar. We’re going nowhere and even though no one watches on TV, they watch on internet feeds and show up to international friendlies and All-Star games that we control. We might be losing money but rich and wealthy powers are signing with us as we reach for further milestones and grind out the smallest advantages. We’re not going anywhere because we built this entity from scratch and pyramid scheme support. Like it or not we need more money but it’s the AMERICAN WAY.
NBC & ESPN: OK, Calm down, we’ll give you a little semi-generous pay raise but we need the Mexican National team to play at Dallas stadium again this year. See you in 2018.
The NFL & Roger Goodell: Hahahhaa, ESPN gave us how much money?!!! Wait, what do you mean people stopped watching some of our teams? Don’t we have extra British and Mexican viewers now?
David Stern: 謝謝你中國!!! I’m honored to be back at the Shanghai Dwayne Wade KFC-Taco Bell Arena to sign another important deal between the NBA and Chinese local businesses. Us at the NBA are committed to giving China’s population a priority in our international vision because of your unique and continued support for our causes and players …. And now, to perform a golden lion dance of friendship and Goodwill …. theeeeee Miami Heat!!!!
In Suckyball conclusion, I’d like to find out what type of readers this humble blog attracts. I know there’s a few of you, hopefully you’re supportive and like when I post more. So to get more interactive with you (wherever you may be) in 2014 I’ll put up a poll along with my content to gauge interest. It won’t hurt, but I’m just curious what you think about soccer in America.
So, here’s the first poll and last part of this ridiculous New Years Post. Happy New Year!! I hope American Soccer won’t suck that much now!!!
Let’s get this done shall we? This past week Manchester City’s ownership group decided to make a splash by taking some of their more popular players and using them to hype up the new NYC team. What I’m surprised with is how it might be bigger news in England than it is for typical New Yorkers. Two of my friends who are die hard soccer fans don’t really care about the upcoming team even if it moved into Yankee Stadium this Christmas. So without further ado, let’s look deeper at City’s Pride in
Advertising the Battle of New York!!
0:00 – 0:20 Hey kids in Brooklyn! Do you like these Manchester City stars? Great, because they won’t play for New York City anytime soon! Well, maybe Joe Hart will in five years, but the rest of the squad will be too busy playing in Europe in their best days and for better money. It’s a little ironic to me that there might be more interest about NYCFC in England than New York itself. Brand new soccer fans in the States might know about Manchester City itself, but players? Vincent Kompany who?
:20 – :40 The Highline in Manhattan is a great place on a Saturday afternoon … but not to play soccer. It’s too crowded and the ball will get lost and maybe bounce into a nearby Thai restaurant. The Highline idea was great civil move to reorganize abandoned train tracks, but now you’re just going to get stepped on by thousands of other people crowding in your space and slowing you down. This video doesn’t show the crowds, the car traffic, the ongoing movement of a trendy area in a crowded urban center. Believe it or not the Highline leads north into the Chelsea area, which is New York’s main spot for men who will really enjoy Manchester City players (if you get what I’m saying). Also it’s great that Joe Hart (MCFC’s goal keeper) was featured in this; because at the moment the team might cut him and City fans would just rather he be over and done with. The Premiere League hasn’t been that nice to Manchester City this year. But at least the Highline idea was a good move.
:40 – :53 I have no clue who the mystery business man is but there’s a good chance he’s a player and an inside joke. But why not try to attract New York City business by having an anonymous man in an expensive suit kick a ball into the Bronx! Because all of them can do that with a two second notice, when did Gordon Gecko go Pele on the walk to Wall Street?
:53 – 1:02 Yankee stadium does look pretty nice in the video right? It’s a newish venue, a great symbol for New York sports and there’s a very high chance it will be half empty when the shine of NYCFC starts to fade off. It holds 50,000 people and MLS is hoping beyond hope that a Seattle phenomenon starts to appear, but the catch is that the Sounders had been playing for decades to build up their following. I can’t help but doubt that NYCFC will be happy with 30,000 people for a Wednesday night game against some of the worse MLS teams. AAAAND, did all of you readers notice that viewers flipped watching Sounders and Houston games played on grid-iron lines? Well I expect Yankee stadium to have every single game in some sort of diamond/square baseball hybrid that will lessen the experience a bit. Attention all of international MCFC supporting suckyball fans: NYCFC playing in a baseball field will look very odd when you’re used to regular footie pitches and designs that make sense for the sport.
But, hey, this is a nice video and the Manhattan High Line was pretty cool wasn’t it?
1:02 -1:14 A nice attempt by City to connect with Harlem’s famed basketball community and make a connection with potential fans. Because soccer players and basketball players in Harlem get along so great right? When is the last time you saw soccer players dribble around point guards in the middle of a competitive basketball game?
So far we’ve seen featured areas of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Upper Manhattan (Harlem) but no mention of Queens? I don’t feel slighted because I live in Queens, I feel slighted because Garber made such a big mess about them wanting a stadium here and how important soccer is to the Queens community. Soccer fans here kept hearing about the latino population, the international 1st generation immigrants and so on. But fiiine, big mister Manchester City just needs fans from a Manhattan basketball game and the Chelsea area. Don’t mind the city that has fans flooding into Citifield to watch Argentina vs Ecuador and the like.
There’s no Staten Island feature either, but most New Yorkers would also want a world with no Staten Island. I haven’t been there but people tell me to avoid it, so I will.
1:15 – 1:48 Hey kid in Brooklyn, here’s a soccer ball with our autographs. Now don’t go getting crazy ideas about visiting Red Bull arena even though it’s a little closer to you and has more history to it (and a wonder shield). You need to travel maybe an hour and a half to a half-filled stadium featuring players that won’t be us. And don’t worry, NYCFC is just like MCFC, it won’t get demoted!
All in all I’d say this is a successful video and wouldn’t mind seeing more. But NYCFC just had their spotlight taken a bit away from Orlando, and Miami (AND possibly Atlanta or San Antonio). Will their team be big enough to create the rivalry MLS is dreaming of? Or will Yankee stadium provide a half-empty crowd for most of the season?
What is this? Did the author of this blog appear out of nowhere to type again? What gives?
Well, let’s side-step my topic of my long absence and look a bit deeper into the upcoming 2013 MLS Cup play-offs. Remember, MLS keeps telling you that the league is exploding and young viewers can’t get enough of teams like the Galaxy, , NY Redbulls, Sounders and oh, wait …. they’re not in the play-offs anymore are they?!!!
The league is going to have to promote an upcoming final with such stars as maybe Kyle Beckerman (he does play for the USMNT right?), um, Graham Zusi … Darlington Nagbe? OK, even if they’re not gigantic stars at least MLS didn’t overpay for them. So what will follow are the hypothetical scenarios as to whom will play in the the MLS cup championship. Before I list them, let me preface everything by stating who’s out and what they would have brought to the table in case they had made the final.
Henry is out, he would’ve brought in extra ratings from Europe where they are still surprised the Frenchman can still play. It would’ve made a great story about how the always competitive Henry and Cahill led their team despite being hindered by league parity (even when the Red Bulls spend the most on their team this year).
The Sounders are out. It was a story that would’ve played nice for TV. The team that draws in 60,000 fans for a home game AND signed Clint Dempsey would’ve been playing for the league title.
The Galaxy are going home. Donovan and Keane had their magic run out so the last game won’t get to promote them as usual. While on a side note …
Beckham isn’t involved with this final. But he is bringing a new soccer team to Miami as a small consolation.
Which brings us the Final 4. Just to make this more trendy, maybe MLS should name these the Quatro Finale!
Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Portland, Houston.
Here are the possible match-ups and the venue the final will take place in, depending on regular season point totals.
RSL vs SKC: This will be played at SKC’s home field. Garber will be thrilled because SKC’s field is brand-new and their new fans will pack the house. But TV Ratings should drop because no one outside of Salt Lake City or Kansas City really cares. Even I might not watch this game, and I get made fun of for watching early Concacaf Champions League games.
RSL vs HOUSTON: This will be played at RSL and again the league should be happy with the field as it is another soccer specific venue. I doubt the game will have grid-iron lines on it unless BYU’s field somehow disappears and their college football team has nowhere else to play except Rio Tinto. This match-up shouldn’t be that bad ratings wise as Houston has a strong southwest following and this would be their third straight MLS cup.
PORTLAND vs SKC: It will be played in SKC, again another soccer specific stadium. I guess it would be more interesting to watch because Portland is involved, but am I shallow because I like watching the Timbers Army chainsaw a log for every goal?
PORTLAND vs HOUSTON: This will be played in Portland and although ratings should be poor by most standards, Portland’s atmosphere would be a good showcase for the league. And while their home field technically feels like playing on hard concrete, and that concrete causes what seems like five injuries per half, the field is at least green and looks normal on TV. So this match-up, at least for me, might be watchable (if it’s raining outside and I have nothing to do, and if I’ve caught up on books and Netflix)
So which stars will drive the promotions? Beckerman? Zusi? Brad Davis? Dominic Kinnear? Since when is your coaches story more interesting than a lot of their star players?
I know that the quality of play is increasing, and I know that a few more people are watching but this year the MLS’s supposed best game might fall flat. Is it possible that the MLS can find itself mirroring play in Europe, where the regular season point total could be more entertaining than the cup games?
To begin with, congratulations to the U.S.M.N.T for their Gold Cup victory. I would usually point out that Panama isn’t the strongest team in the world, or that Mexico’s first team was nowhere near the competition … but you can only play against the team you’re scheduled against. So in that case, Team USA received the Gold Cup in front of over 1.7 million viewers. That doesn’t suck that much, I hope they can stay on track.
Now for something a bit different:
A couple of years ago the L.A. Galaxy made a bit of extra change by scheduling friendlies in places like Hong Kong and the Phillipines. Now it’s a bit harder to sell tickets with just Donovan and Keane involved, so the MLS Asian friendlies pretty much stopped. Which is a shame because it looks like big European teams can’t wait to schedule flights East. For example, Manchester United just had fun visiting Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan (for three games) and Australia. In somewhat related news David Beckham stepped out of his car in Shanghai and a mob appeared that caused more than a few security guards to get trampled. I can’t imagine Clint Dempsey drawing that kind of fan fare but the future’s not written yet. But it’s not just Manchester United fans …
Chelsea went to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Liverpool decided to visit Australia, Thailand and Jakarta. Don’t forger that Manchester City went to Hong Kong to play against Tottenham and Sunderland. And not to be forgotten Barcelona will take their team to Thailand and Malaysia for a few summer games too. It looks like an important part of being a major global team is sending your second team out on a field thousands of miles away and not taking the match too serious. [Full disclosure: I am seeing AC Milan play this Sunday at Giant's stadium, I want to start a WHY ALWAYS ME chant very much]
If we look deeper, we find that not only are these games profitable but they’re part of a major push closer to the world’s largest growing economy. Sure, there’s only a finite amount of Manchester United scarves you can sell at a single game, those fans that attend and hear about the game are future viewers. Friendlies breed audiences for global ratings which is a big reason the Premiere League and Champions League are reaping windfall profits from television stations. Although Japan is already a soccer hotbed, all eyes are to China where the most people could be future soccer fans. Right now they’re watching Manchester United, Real Madrid and a few other superclubs. They’re not watching their Chinese teams that much, and MLS by comparison is just invisible. If Don Garber is serious about being a major league he has to get the attention of ANYBODY IN CHINA … because right now I think NOBODY IN CHINA is even aware of the Seattle Sounders.
Which brings us to MLS ………… I can only think of two MLS teams that might have a shot of putting together a tour of ANY KIND. Henry and the Redbulls might draw a stadium or two in France (maybe). The Galaxy lost David Beckham but might be a superstar away from setting up more games in the Philippines or Indonesia. Also as a side-note Beckham actually did go to Hong Kong with the Galaxy many years ago but the locals were disappointed. If the Galaxy sign KaKa or I don’t know, Gareth Bale, whoever, then they can put together a few games. The Galaxy is always the team trying to be a dynasty but right now it’s not going to the Yue Dynasty or Han Dynasty anytime soon because they just aren’t signing big enough names.
All this is a shame because I can see MLS growing little by little. The issue now is that the BPL keeps growing bigger and bigger, and it’s already a HUGE league. Can New York City FC buy Luis Suarez and Chicharito already?? Please, please?? ……… Then we can schedule a friendly in Dubai.
I’m starting off this post because of Jay-Z’s hat, because in a sense the Yankees logo is an ambassador for New York from Hong Kong to Tijuana. And of course by now you’ve heard of the Yankees putting in a guestimated $25 million to bring a soccer team to New York. I get that Manchester City is a big deal but if the Yankees are involved that much they’re going to try and make sure everyone knows about it. Which brings me to some questions that I think the Yankees organization would LOVE to answer.
1. Where will NYCFC play?
Answer: Yankee stadium of course! How can you not see this coming? The Yankees make good money by inviting Chelsea and the like to run around for 90 minutes so they might as well invite MLS teams. This begs the question, can they market a game against Chivas USA? Will people pay money to watch NYCFC against any basement dwelling MLS squad? Everyone makes a big deal out of using NFL facilities or college fields, but wouldn’t it look weird to have NYCFC (from here-on out City FC) only bring in 15,000 people in a stadium that can bring in at least 50,000?
Everyone is up in arms because the Red Bulls only take in 25,000 people tops, but the Red Bulls at least have a smaller stadium!! Yankee stadium will not be a great stadium if no one shows up!!! To me it’s certain for Yankee stadium to open their doors because the Flushing stadium push isn’t that relevant now. I live in Queens and the posters near the subways go ignored, and even if Don Garber tries shoving $100 million dollars to corrupt city politicians the stash will be divided so fast there wouldn’t be enough money to buy a shovel. The bottom line is that Yankees stadium will be in play for three or four years, and that’s if anything’s workable for a new stadium.
2. What do the Yankees get for 25 million?
Besides an MLS team playing at Yankee stadium for five or six years that will bring them close to even …. what other revenue can they generate? Do you think the people of Manchester will start watching baseball all of a sudden? Is there a huge demand worldwide for the Yankees? I doubt it, they get the majority of their cash through MLB broadcasting and millions of fans all worshiping the statues of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. The Yankees are the top dog in American baseball, but I can’t see any crossover unless you count the people watching from the Dominican Republic or other smaller island nations. They like baseball, and soccer, so they might buy a $25.00 hat (like I did).
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a couple of catches along the way after the start of the team. For example: The new logo might look close to the Yankees logo. Why not? You put the NY and the FC together and people can’t help but think about the Yankees. Also the team has to be on TV somewhere right? Well instead of showing Arsenal games over and over, the Yankees can broadcast City FC against San Jose or whomever.
3. Will they spend a lot on players?
In MLS this year you have the Galaxy and the Red Bulls as the big spenders, and of course their teams are ranked well ahead of the rest. But even if an ownership group decides to open up their pocket a little it’s no guarantee for a team to succeed (Seattle’s having a tough time this year and they had claimed to sign a major player from Spain). My answer to this question is … maybe?? Both the Yankees and Manchester City like to solve problems by overspending, but in MLS not only will they have a salary cap but there’s no guarantee the team will jump to first place. We saw this with David Beckham and Henry. Let’s say City FC make a huge deal and sign Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney (why not?). Is that a guarantee they’ll have an undefeated season? MLS has shown that their teams aren’t the pushovers they used to be and to build a supersquad the sheik’s family will once again get used to watching his money fly into the wind. Manchester City has shown they don’t have a problem losing money, but they’re going to double that by pouring their savings into MLS?? MLS teams are famous for never having a profitable year! I know the oil family is rich, but they’re trying to stay that way right?
4. Is Manchester City using this team to skirt around BPL league rules?
You can read the link below to brush up on the new financial regulations starting next year:
I can’t help but think this new MLS link is very fortunate for our friends from Manchester. For next season and beyond, every team in the BPL has limits on how to spend their money. For example, under the new rules you can’t just go and lose $150 million for the fun of it after three or four years (Manchester City, we’re looking at you). You also can’t raise player salaries too high from year to year, there’s a certain percentage that has to be maintained (Manchester City, hey, yes, you, pay attention). The BPL is doing this because of what’s going on with Spain’s money, or at least the lack of Spain’s money. Everyone knows about Barca and Real Madrid, but the rest of the teams are bleeding cash cows and have no chance or survival. It’s the exact type of league that Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City would LOVE to emulate. Nothing would make some teams in Britain happier than buying the title and having the red ink splashed on the papers. But now there are new rules to limit the spending, or at least slow down the phasing out of some of England’s most known teams (Everton, Newcastle, West Ham, may heaven be with you in the next ten years).
And enter MLS and City FC, based in New York. Manchester will have a chance to offload some of their first team players to New York and when convenient they can fly them back across the pond. For example, three players will cost Manchester City 90 million a year but then the English side will have to put down that they lost 90 million for the year, which is what financial fair play is fighting against. But if the players are signed with City FC in Manhattan then those wages are billed to MLS and City FC and NOT the team in Manchester. When the players are then loaned out to play in England they’ll have the chance to play in important premiere league games, therefore cheating the salary cap in a way and pushing out the the smaller teams yet again. And if a player gets a raise, say from 20-30 million, MLS and City FC will foot the bill (pun intended) and not Manchester City even thought that player might go back again and try winning the title in England at the start of the season.
It’s also worth noting that the FFP rules state that the “cap does not cover extra money coming in from increases in
commercial or matchday income”. This means that t-shirt sales, merchandising, cross-over deals will help a team go against the cap. This could be another angle Manchester City will try to play. Imagine Yankee stadium turning into a mini-Manchester City fan fest selling sky-blue hats and making the uniform look so close to Manchester City’s kit that Manchester United fans will take offense. And then further down the line you’ll see billboards with Carlos Tevez (or whomever) hawking AT&T wireless because of the new branding deal. So in a sense, City FC will be American, but don’t doubt for a second that you’ll always be reminded of what team will be more important.
As long as the TV ratings are stable and more than 15,000 people go to the Bronx for a game, everything should be okay right Mr. Garber?
Yesterday I was lucky enough to voyage over three hours away to Harrison New Jersey to watch the much-hyped Galaxy vs Red Bulls game. Despite having an immense payroll (by MLS’s standards) and an above-average (by American standards) stadium, I can’t say I’ll be going back anytime soon to watch the Red Bulls again. For starters, the PATH train system is still a mess and multiple stations almost had flooding issues because of the rain. And that was when trains could even move. It’s not Don Garber’s fault, but our train was stuck for over twenty minutes due to track issues, and then kept starting and stopping on the way to the stadium. The PATH is a major connection point to Red Bull Arena and it wasn’t a shock to see less people attend one of the biggest games of the season when trains couldn’t do anything. A good number of fans got there 30 minutes late because the PATH stations are delay-plagued nightmares. It was no wonder MLS fans are pointing fingers at the Red Bulls organization complaining they don’t know how to market the team to such a huge city. Which brings me to ….
NBC decided awhile back to take on the added responsibility of showing Premiere League games. So now average Americans will have the chance to watch more Manchester United, Chelsea etc etc (pretty much bigger teams than the Red Bulls), at the expense of MLS. What happened yesterday at Red Bull is a good example of why ratings will be flat. No matter how successful the Galaxy or NYRB will be in the next five years, they’re NOT English BPL teams. This might be a conflict of interest when NBC will, as promised, show a flood of English soccer on Saturdays and Sundays. I watched a great game yesterday that could’ve been twice as good if actual sunshine made more of an appearance, but ESPN2 ratings for it might suffer because yesterday was also ‘Judgement Day’, the last game of the BPL season and stacked with games with the powerhouse teams. No matter how much NBC says it’s committed to MLS you have to take a step back and look at further implications.
1. If a soccer fan in America doesn’t have an MLS team near-by, why wouldn’t he become a fan of European soccer? Next year they’ll watch BPL games on NBC, they might ignore MLS broadcasts.
2. If NBC executives have time-slots open just for mediocre MLS teams or either a bigger European match, which will they broadcast? It’s not reassuring that sometimes REPLAYS of big European teams draw more viewers than smaller MLS teams.
3. The NBC contract with MLS will be renewed soon and the MLS ratings are flat. Because MLS takes a good amount of money from television contracts it’s not going to help their goal if they take less money from NBC. ESPN2 just overhyped the LA / NYRB game and I’m confident in saying that the ratings might not be groundbreaking. That was ESPN2′s biggest game of the season, devoid of Beckham, and aching for just one more big star. Keane, Donovan, Henry and Cahill are a start but they’re not going to move the needle. How can they get the best players when MLS isn’t getting the fatter television paychecks.
So anyway, you’re still reading this? You must like soccer. I’m not typing this out to be depressing but the next two or three years will be crucial to MLS making the next big jump. I know that it can survive, but look at these factors and how they develop:
A: Commissioner Don Garber, a man who helped the league through some bad rough spots, is set to have his contract renewed next year in 2014 (at least that’s how it was reported a couple of years ago here: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2010/08/20100802/This-Weeks-News/MLS-Extends-Garbers-Deal-Through-2014.aspx)
There’s a chance he might not be around anymore and MLS will have to eke it out with someone that doesn’t have his experience with the league. If you give him credit for bringing new stadiums and better players to the league, if he leaves then is it expected for the growth to continue?
B: Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke don’t run the Galaxy the way they used to. It seems to me that together both of them were sort of a Darth Vader / Emperor combination that weaned Donovan to maturity and brought Beckham stateside. But Tim is now with Toronto trying his best to make them capable by himself and the Galaxy just got a postcard from London that Frank Lampard is staying there. How many more tricks can Anschutz have up his sleeve at this point when the Galaxy are back-to-back defending MLS champions and face an upcoming ‘International Champions Cup’ where they might get blown out of the water?
C: Chris Wondolowski, last year’s MVP, is pretty much invisible when it comes to activity outside of the league. In America we’re used to seeing top athletes sell sneakers or flat-screen TV’s but Wondowloski hasn’t made those roads yet. Maybe advertisers feel that 2013 he couldn’t duplicate the amount of goals scored? They’d be right so far, but I think having an MVP is a two way street. Peyton Manning represents the NFL and can get non-viewers to catch a game or two. If MLS could find some way for Wondolowski or future MVP’s to succeed in other sponsorships and commercial deals, then it should get more partial viewers to tune into a San Jose game to watch him play. In MLS’s defense I know nothing about MLB’s MVP winners and have no clue how successful they are outside of baseball games.
In closing, there’s a chance that MLS can make it through the season with their head held high. They came close to getting a team to the Club World Cup, San Jose is building a new stadium (while Wondolowski is playing there) and even Mexican club coaches are agreeing that MLS is getting better. But these TV ratings and NBC’s deal with the Premiere League might catch the league at a bad time. The American teams are still losing money and hoping on better television contracts, if no one watches games then why would major stars come over?