The Backlash on New MLS Spending

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 | View Comments
Briefcase Full of Cash

The dawning of a new era in Major League Soccer, one in which New York can outspend everyone and acquire a trio of high-priced talents, has inevitably created a bit of worry. "Parity" has for so long been the overriding principle of the league that one must wonder how the relaxing of the DP rule might affect the competitive balance. NFL-bred Don Garber is now in charge of a league that is creeping out of its fifteen-year old box; where the league is headed, and if that direction might create a top-heavy competition or an NASL-style downfall, is suddenly the question du jour.

Steve Davis is concerned, Clemente Lisi floated a question, and Tom Dunmore outlined the disparity between the new MLS reality and Don Garber's all-for-one background. Dunmore's piece provides framing and prompts natural questions while Lisi and Davis are more direct in their insinuations that MLS is playing with fire by letting loose the purse strings. For the latter two, perhaps years of observing MLS and watching the league go through pains to get where it is today, combined with the shadow of NASL (which Lisi evokes throughout), makes skepticism natural.

And I'll admit, even as I'm exhilarated that MLS is lurching forward dramatically, I wonder if it might be too much, too fast. Luckily, there are a few facts that make this MLS version (what are we on now, 2.5? 3.0?) a far cry from the NASL. In fact, I laid out some reasons for that belief in a post for Four Four Two just last week. Even the question of competitive imbalance is up in the air, with the second half of the 2010 season giving us our first glimpse at a flashier MLS and what it might mean on the field.

I get it, it's scary. Money is going out the door at an alarming rate in some cities while others sit on the sidelines and might be marginalized because of it. But only time will tell if Red Bull's spree will bear fruit, if LA is destined to dominate the league, or if Chicago's gambles will pay off. Three pricey stars, the maximum any team can assemble, guarantees nothing; this is especially true with the uncertainty of the playoffs looming over everything.

I run hot and cold on the need for parity in MLS. As a practical matter, I believe that LA and New York need to be good for the league to gain more national prominence. That might mean smaller markets suffer competitively, but smart management and good coaching can turn even the league's "poorest" clubs into contenders. Never has success on the field guaranteed success at the box office. Winning matters, but marketing soccer in America is a tricky proposition even when a club is scoring goals and threatening for titles.

I hardly think parity will go out the window with a sudden burst of spending limited to a few players per team. Nevertheless, MLS has moved further away from "Parity Above All" in 2010 than ever before. Will the fears be realized?

Expect more backlash, both of the even-handed Steve Davis-type as well as the more indirectly inflammatory Clemente Lisi-type as the "new" MLS shakes out.

blog comments powered by Disqus
    KKTC Bahis Siteleri, Online Bahis



    Privacy Policy