The soccer news starts with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber doing his job during his annual state of the league press conference. Garber told anyone interested in listening that MLS isn't "a league on the rise, but a league that's arrived." Mixing that with his favored "league of choice" description for where he wants MLS to be, it's a message that doesn't cost the league much of anything to make.
Of course, the quick responses are a series of less than flattering comparisons to the major North American sports leagues and the top tier soccer leagues. Where you place MLS in the region or the global hierarchy is an interesting question, but it's doubtful that anybody is going to try to slot them in at first or second.
Back in the summer of 2011, MLS executives made their own statement of intent. "We're operating now with a clear vision in mind. the vision that has been articulated by our board is that by 2022 soccer is to be a pre-eminent sport in North America and MLS is to be among the best leagues." While once again there are multiple ways to parse that, it's a different mission statement than announcing that MLS has somehow arrived. The TV ratings would certainly dispute that. The interest compared to other professional sports in this country would only help in a few markets.
It's tough to argue that MLS hasn't arrived in Seattle and Atlanta. It's more difficult to make the case for some of the markets with long-term issues including four out of the five biggest metro areas in this country. Even giving MLS credit for LA requires the caveat that both teams play in soccer-specific stadiums. It's probably worth the reminder that the Galaxy had a higher average attendance than LAFC because they play in a slightly bigger stadium. The combined average attendance of those two teams this season is less than Atlanta's.
Again, if it's possible to define an entire league by Atlanta and Seattle it's tough to argue with any positive statement coming from a league executive. Add in the next tier of teams regularly at or near their soccer-specific capacities and it shows a willingness from fans to pay for tickets. Once the TV ratings and the mainstream appeal follow, maybe people that don't have a stake in the league will agree.
Also in the soccer news, City Football Group will need a new coach for NYCFC. The club announced that Dome Torrent and his staff assistant coaches Albert Puig and Jordi Gris, director of performance Francesc Cos, and head of performance Ismael Camenforte have left by mutual agreement. Torrent joined NYCFC from Manchester City in 2018. After winning the Eastern Conference, NYCFC exited the playoffs in the semifinal round to Toronto. Rumors began circulating that Torrent wouldn't be back in 2020.
"While I’ve greatly enjoyed coaching NYCFC and the incredible life experience of living in New York, in mutual discussion with the club, I feel this is the right time for myself and my family to look for other opportunities as I develop my career as a head coach," Torrent said. "I’d like to thank NYCFC for giving me this opportunity. I’ve learned a lot during my time at the club after working with a fantastic Sporting Department and a great group of coaches."
SI.com's Grant Wahl with three takeaways from Seattle's MLS Cup win. Yahoo Sports' Joey Gulin looks at Toronto's MLS Cup losses. The Toronto Globe and Mail's Cathal Kelly with how Toronto FC lost the 2019 MLS Cup. The Guardian's Graham Ruthven explains what Seattle is getting right.
The Charlotte Observer's Hannah Smoot has Garber putting that city in front for the 30th MLS team. USNSTPA acting executive director Mark Levinstein talked to The Athletic's Daniel Kaplan about the US Women's lawsuit over equal pay. AP's Joe Reedy reports that CBS Sports will have the US rights to the Champions League from the 2021-22 season.
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