Welcome to the RSL Cup blog

I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996. Lately however I've started to worry about the path MLS is taking and the poor decisions they are making that in my mind threaten the growth of soccer as a whole in the US. (see "Columbus conspiracy" section) Soccer in America will grow only when we have a vibrant and diverse minor league system, something that MLS seems to be smothering at the moment. (see "American soccer wars" section) Let's keep our eyes on the situation and hope for the best, a future where grass-roots soccer and the minor leagues can not only exist but flourish, as well as where the contributions and history of the league's early clubs are appreciated and preserved.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MLS, Players Union stage marathon negotiations

(by Ridge Mahoney si.com 1-27-10)

Representatives from Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union met for eight hours Tuesday at league headquarters, and discussions over a new collective bargaining agreement are scheduled to resume Wednesday.

On hand for MLS were commissioner Don Garber, president Mark Abbott, executive vice president Todd Durbin, and others, including members of the league's legal firm, Proskauer & Rose. Jon Newman, general counsel to the MLSPU, was among those on the players' side of the table.

Progress, or lack of same, has been hard to track, yet eight hours is a long time for two opposing sides, regardless of the issues, to tolerate each other. Some incentive to cut a deal is certainly being provided by an expiration date of Jan. 31, this Sunday, for the current CBA, yet other forces are wielding influence as well.

FIFA reiterated two weeks ago it wouldn't intervene in negotiations after the international players' union, FIFPro, issued proclamations that league policies violate FIFA statues regarding the transfer of players and administration of player contracts.

This move, a dubious one at best, failed to strengthen the players' leverage, and their occasional public ripostes at what they perceive to be the league's onerous policies regarding freedom of movement hasn't seemed to sway league officials.

On the management side, while Garber and Abbott present a united front, there's some sentiment among certain ownership groups to get a deal done while retaining the league's structure and philosophies.

A low-paying league can't really throw down the greedy-players card to gain public sympathy, and they can point to the recent rapid rate of expansion, which opens opportunities for players to get jobs, even if most of them don't pay very much.

Time lost with players on strike and/or locked out can't be recaptured, and the league took severe enough hits last year in season-ticket sales and other revenue streams to fear any more disruptions. If the economy is recovering, it is doing so very slowly, which both management and labor are acutely aware of.

Rebuffed by FIFA, the players may have to give up on any form of free agency for the time being, even for players who re-enter the league after leaving it to play overseas. Its onerous policies of one-way options and impairment of player movement aren't likely to change.

Adding a second fully guaranteed year to contracts would give the players some added security -- most contracts are guaranteed only for the first year and semi-guaranteed for the second -- and so would a retirement plan.

A viable retirement plan along with incremental increases in the minimum salary and salary cap might be the best they can achieve this time around. Yet a week or two of impasse and pickets outside training grounds might be needed to achieve such modest gains, and neither side can really tolerate anything longer or more vitriolic than that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2005 end of year Streamer Salute

At the end of the 2005 season the Loyalists organized a streamer salute to the team which took place at the end of the last game of the season. It became quite impressive once the Front Office got involved and included the whole north end of the stadium.



RSL inaugural game flag

The day after RSL's inagural game I was pleasantly surprised to find myself, or at least my flag, on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune. Thanks to mom and grandma for the sewing skills, good stuff.

Loyalists, 2005

A shot of the Loyalists' section E-32 at Rice Eccles Stadium back in 2005. My Big Bertha flag having a hard time finding space but still getting the job done.





Unusual MLS uniforms

LA Galaxy in yellow and blue? They wore it for only one game to compare it to the yellow and green the year before they switched to the current uniform.


This orange Metrostars jersey was a one-timer also, the jerseys were auctioned off after the game and the money went to Hurricane Katrina charities.


Finally a MLS team with a purple jersey? Unfortunatly no, this was just how the Rapids' blue and black jersey looked when the light hit it just right.

Helping out the mascot

So back in 2006 the team came up with a mascot by the name of Leonardo, but the poor guy didn't have much to use when it came to firing up the crowd so he asked if he could use one of my flags. I game him Big Bertha to use and I think it worked out for him, it also worked out for me as well, every game he would give me a voucher for a free drink and hot dog. Not a bad deal.





Is new K.C. plan more wizardry?


(Community America Ballpark)

(by Ridge Mahoney si.com 1-26-10)

More than once, Kansas City has been written off the MLS map. As of last Thursday, with men and machines moving dirt on a site destined to house a soccer stadium as part of a vast commercial development, it gets a real shot at success.

Or does it? Teams have fallen into this hole before. Colorado and FC Dallas, to name two examples, have justified a cautionary tone invoked by commissioner Don Garber while lauding such new projects: A stadium by itself doesn't guarantee a glittering record nor a flush bottom line.

Yet OnGoal LLC president Robb Heineman, whose stadium efforts began long before his consortium bought the team from Lamar Hunt and Hunt Sports Group, believes this move is essential.

"I spent some time with Mr. Hunt, talking about the future of soccer in this country and the opportunity," said Heineman. "Lamar was always a visionary, talking about the appropriate steps for the sport to evolve. The development of soccer-specific assets was always a key mantra for him. He built the first stadium in Columbus and was always convinced the same could be done for Kansas City."

Six years ago, Heineman researched a site across the state line in Johnson County, Kan., but despite some political backing, the project collapsed. After OnGoal bought the team in August 2006, a plan arose to revitalize an abandoned shopping center, Bannister Mall, in the southeast corner of Kansas City.

Cleanup of that site began early last year, but an impasse arose in the aftermath of the financial-market collapse. The city refused to pledge its commitment to back up the sale of STAR (sales tax-revenue) bonds, which were to fund about one-quarter of the entire development.

Blocked in Kansas City, Mo., OnGoal was lured back across the state line by officials of Wyandotte County and a large piece of land for which development was being sought by Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Wizards stadium, estimated cost of $202.7 million, will be located in Kansas City, Kan., on a site near the Kansas Speedway as part of a $414 million development that will include offices of Cerner Corp., whose co-founders Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig are the majority partners in OnGoal.

"It was always something he thought he could get done," said Heineman of the late Hunt's vision. "I didn't think it would take as long as this to get it done, however. I was probably pretty naïve. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take six years before we'd dig our first shovel. If I had known, I probably wouldn't have gotten involved in it. But we're here today and that's all that matters, and it's because I have committed partners who believe in it and are willing to put in the capital.

Kansas City has consistently lagged near the bottom of team attendance figures. During the past two seasons, it has failed several times to sell out Community America Ballpark (capacity for soccer 10,385), the minor-league baseball stadium it's using while Arrowhead Stadium is being renovated.

Blame has been levied on the market; the city's relatively small population of approximately 500,000 (about 2 million in the metropolitan area) is well-steeped in baseball, football and car racing, but not perceived as soccer-friendly. It doesn't have the cosmopolitan makeup of many MLS cities, in particular successful additions Toronto and Seattle, nor the track record of NASL tradition as does 2010 expansion city Philadelphia.

"We're not like those cities, and we do have a lot of tough competition with the Chiefs, Royals and University of Kansas, which is almost like another pro team," says Heineman. "But we think this team will become part of the sports community and one that fans in the area will be proud to support.

At least the stadium will be near a well-traveled, familiar area, not off in the barren boonies like a few MLS facilities. It will seat 18,500 fans, include a roof to hold in sound and shield fans from rain and snow, and feature a grass field.

There may be a flaw in Heineman's marketing: He believes college students -- the University of Kansas in Lawrence is about 25 miles east -- can help form a viable fan base. How many of them -- adorned with a "K" on one cheekbone, a "U" on the other and devoted to "Rock chalk, Jayhawk!" -- can be converted into Wizards fans remains to be seen.

Last Thursday, Heineman donned a hard hat, jumped into the cab of a towering John Deere, dug and dumped the first load of dirt. He dismounted, obviously exhilarated.

Yet later that day he was back on the office, with a trip to New York that evening on his agenda. "This is a great step, and it's been a long time coming," he said. "But yes, we know there's much more work to do."

Monday, January 25, 2010

2005 MetroStars home uniform

History of the RSL Loyalists

Made up of mostly BigSoccer posters and former supporters of the Utah Blitzz, the Loyalists were RSL's first supporters group.

Founded in 2004, shortly after the announcement that a MLS expansion team would call Salt Lake City home, the Loyalists mobilized to provide the team with stellar support and create a soccer atmosphere inside Rice Eccles Stadium with flags, streamers, drums and chants. An atmosphere that many soccer fans in Utah might not have been used to at the time.

The Loyalists gave it a valiant effort.

Yet half-way thru RSL's first season head-butting with a new supporter group, which had set up shop in the section right next to the Loyalists at Rice Eccles Stadium, began to weigh on some of it's members. Coupled with at times a "clique-ish" feel the Loyalists began a slow decline.

The final blow to the Loyalists came when RSL moved into Rio Tinto Stadium at the end of the 2008 season. The team's popularity had grown so much by that point that even more supporters groups began to pop up and with three or four times the number of supporters than the Loyalists.

Basically, the Loyalists were gobbled up by the bigger supporter groups and faded away into RSL lore.

However, I will always have a smile on my face when I think back and remember the excitement that I felt those first couple of seasons. Never will be forgotten the times RSL would score a goal and the Loyalists would wave the flags and let the streamers fly.

1996 New England Revolution home and away uniform




(Alexi Lalas)

Got Chalk?

http://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/chalk.284600/

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bizarre DC United photo


I don't want to even begin to try and explain this picture that made the rounds on Bigsoccer. From the guy groping the player, the little kid getting smashed by the fat guy, a chick in a mask, and the X-files guy trying to give Freddy Adu his sweatshirt, it is just all too bizarre.

Red Bull fan jubilation

I believe it was at the end of the 2006 season but the faithful Red Bulls fan finally had a chance to celebrate when their team scored a goal in the final moments of the final game of the season and finally made the playoffs after a few ugly years. If you look closely some of the expressions on their faces are priceless.


1996 LA home and DC away uniforms

Robin Fraser and Jaime Moreno battle it out in MLS Cup 96.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Council vote gives KC new stadium



(by Alexander Abnos mlsnet.com 1-20-10)

A lot can happen in six years. Since 2004, when Kansas City Wizards president Robb Heineman first started efforts to bring a soccer stadium to Kansas City, the team has gone through two owners, two home fields, three potential stadium sites, and countless renderings depicting the possible layout of the Wizards' new home. By the end, the process had involved financial negotiations, political disputes, false starts, and a fair share of dead ends.
But on Tuesday, at long last, the process became a success.

In a special session that evening, the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan. approved the Wizards' plan for a soccer-specific stadium and fields complex, finally bringing an end to the club's search for a permanent home.

"It's a bit surreal," said Heineman, also the CEO of the Wizards ownership group, OnGoal, LLC. "Honestly, I want to see steel coming out of the ground before I exhale, but I'll raise a glass of champagne tonight and celebrate a bit. This is a massive day for soccer in Kansas City."

Heineman won't be the only one celebrating. Also present at the event were hundreds of spectators, members of the local media, and Wizards fans dressed in team jerseys and apparel. When Kansas City, Kan. Mayor Joe Reardon officially approved the measure and closed the meeting, his actions were met with thunderous applause.

Among those clapping was second year Wizards defender Matt Besler, a native of Kansas City who grew up attending games at Arrowhead Stadium. The new arena, according to him, will be a game-changer.

"Having grown up here, it's obviously very exciting," he said. "But from a player's perspective, it's great to have a home that's only for us. The past couple of years we've shared locker rooms and facilities with football and baseball teams. Now when we walk into the locker room it'll be a soccer player's locker room. It'll create a certain comfort level, and that's very exciting for us."

The home-field advantage Besler spoke of applies outside the white lines as well. The yet-to-be-named stadium is planned to seat approximately 18,000 people, a vast majority of which will be covered by a distinctive ascending roof, inspired by stadiums in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. The roof will function not only as a guard against the elements, but also as a crowd noise amplifier.

The arena's design will also include three in-stadium clubs, including one just for the Cauldron supporters group, and a field-side club through which players will pass on their way to the field. At its closest, the front row of seats will be only 16 feet away from the touchline.

"I love the design; it really seems like the input of fans has been included," said Kevin Shook, a Wizards fan who attended Tuesday's meeting. "I also love the community aspect of the whole thing. Obviously the soccer is a big deal, but the jobs created are what will really help grow this city and this sport."

The economic impact of the development was the most talked-about issue during the course of the board's meeting. Every speaking member praised the impact the project would have on Wyandotte County, in terms of both money and job creation.

Between the stadium, offices, and field complex, OnGoal, LLC's development is expected to create over 8,000 new jobs in the Wyandotte County area, with a total economic impact of over $500 million annually. It is estimated that the new development will draw over 2.5 million outside visitors per year -- approximately the same as Arrowhead Stadium (home of the Kansas City Chiefs) and Kauffman Stadium (home of the the Kansas City Royals) combined, according to Heineman.

"The jobs drove this deal, and the soccer field complex is really going to give us the opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of Kansas City kids and drive them towards the game of soccer." he said, pointing out that the stadium would put Kansas City in prime contention to host U.S. national team games, international friendlies, the MLS All-Star Game, and a myriad of other events. "We're going to be come a player now because we're going to have what in my opinion the most special soccer stadium in the country."

Shook smiled.

"[The stadium] has been a long time coming," he said. "Now I hope we get a nice 5-0 win to open it up."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Andrew Shue, Galaxian




Yes, that is Andrew Shue. In 1996 he played a total of 96 minutes in 5 games for the Galaxy, tallying 1 assist, committing 1 foul and suffering 1 foul.

 
 

1998 DC United "Cat in the Hat" 3rd uniform


(Etcheverry, Arena, and Harkes)

DC United uniforms 1996-2005

Note of interest, the 2002-2004 white jersey had a red mesh on the sides with a white background allowing more air to enter and cool off the player. However, the result was with the red mesh against the white background it gave the uniform a pink color and thus opened the door for all kinds of "anti-DC little girl AYSO uniform" chants.



In 1996 DC also would occasionally wear read shorts with their black tops.

(Mario Gori)


(Marco Etcheverry)

1998 Columbus Crew 3rd jersey

Friday, January 15, 2010

Real debut ends in draw

On a windy, rainy evening, weather is the only winner



(by James Edwards desnews.com 4-2-05)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — In the 82nd minute of Real Salt Lake's inaugural game, Clint Mathis lined up for a free kick near midfield. Just prior to running toward the ball, the wind started blowing the ball away.

That about summed up what was supposed to be a historic day for the MLS expansion franchise. Wind gusts approaching 50 mph played tricks with the ball all game as RSL battled the MetroStars to a 0-0 tie Saturday.

"Those kinds of conditions, sometimes you had to laugh at the way the ball would spin and move away from the players," said RSL coach John Ellinger. "We came in with the purpose of trying to win, but we'll definitely take a point right now."

The wind was so strong, Clint Mathis said he felt like he was running in place at times. Jason Kreis said it was like pinball on the field. The wind was so strong at times, players had to hold the ball in place for teammates for free kicks and goal kicks.

"It was one of those nights when strange things happen," RSL keeper D.J. Countess said. "There's going to be fluke plays. There's going to be things that happen that don't normally happen."

Fortunately for Salt Lake, when those things did happen, he was up to the challenge.

The game's craziest sequence occurred in the 18th minute on a harmless goal kick by Zach Wells — which was held in place by a defender. With a steady wind gust behind him, Wells unleashed a mammoth kick that bounced once and then sailed over the head of every Salt Lake defender. The MetroStars' Sergio Galvan Rey slipped in behind that defense, chased the ball down, and had a glorious one-on-one situation with Countess.

Rey tried blasting it past the charging Countess, who turned the poorly struck shot away easily.

"D.J. was awesome. He stepped up," said Ellinger. "That's why we picked him. If he plays like that all season, we'll all be happy."

That one save helped RSL preserve a first-half shutout — not bad, considering the MetroStars had the luxury of gusting winds at their back for the opening 45 minutes.

Having endured the two-on-one advantage the wind provided the MetroStars, Salt Lake was extremely confident about stealing the road victory with a goal in the second half.

It nearly happened just 12 seconds into the half when RSL right midfielder Dipsy Selolwane uncorked a wicked shot near the top of the box, but Wells was able to push it wide. Two minutes later, Kreis pushed another excellent scoring chance wide.

Despite those two quality close-range scoring chances early in the second half, Salt Lake seemed content shooting long-range shots the remainder of the game.

"I thought we could've been a little more patient and got into the box a couple of times to try and put one away," said Ellinger.

With RSL struggling to generate quality second-half chances, the MetroStars had an excellent opportunity to sneak in a second-half goal despite the wind disadvantage in the 60th minute.

Left midfielder Eddie Gaven's fancy footwork near the edge of the penalty area freed himself up enough to loft a cross into the box. After the ball pinged off a few bodies, the MetroStars' John Wolyniec had the ball land near his feet, six yards from goal. He quickly shot it, but Countess made a fantastic reactionary save to preserve the shutout again.

Countess finished the game with three saves, as did Wells.

"Overall, I think both teams have to be content. I think it was a fair result," said Kreis.

Salt Lake returns to action next Saturday when it travels to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy. Its home opener is April 16 against Colorado.

New Earthquakes stadium design revealed





(espn.go.com 9-19-09)

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff announced the design for the team's new stadium on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation Dinner. The stadium will be located at the intersection of Coleman and Newhall Avenues adjacent to San Jose International Airport.
"These designs show our desire to create an intimate atmosphere that helps every fan connect to the game on the field," said Wolff. "This European-style stadium will have the fans closer to the pitch than any other stadium in Major League Soccer."

The stadium design, which is focused on enhancing the fan experience, features a European-style roof that will keep sound inside the bowl to help create one of the best home-field advantages in Major League Soccer. Every seat in the stadium will also provide fans with great views of the field and a close connection to the action.

The stadium has a horseshoe shape with an open end that features a state-of-the-art high definition video board. The video board has two sides, one that is seen inside the stadium, and one that can be seen from Coleman Avenue. Just below the video board, fans will be able to watch the game from the Scoreboard Club. Just in front of the club, fans will be able to watch the game from a grass berm. The open end of the stadium that features the scoreboard will also have a family picnic area that will be utilized for pre and postgame events and activities.

The proposed location of the stadium is easily accessible from both the 101 and 880 freeways and just minutes from Downtown San Jose.

Friday, January 8, 2010

USSF unveils '10 structure of new 2nd division

(espn.go.com 1-7-10)

CHICAGO -- The U.S. Soccer Federation will oversee a second division league this year, temporarily ending a dispute between the United Soccer League and the North American Soccer League.

The USSF last week refused to sanction either the USL or NASL, saying both were unable to meet the minimum requirement of eight viable teams.

"We want to have stability," USSF president Sunil Gulati said during a telephone conference call.

The second division this year will include two six-team conferences, with Austin, Minnesota, Portland (Ore.), Puerto Rico, Rochester and Tampa Bay in the USL Conference, and Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Montreal, St. Louis and Vancouver in the NASL Conference.

The agreement announced Thursday is for the 2010 season only. The USSF said it will develop new standards for second division leagues.

Plans for second-division teams in Atlanta and New York were pushed back to at least 2011. Portland and Vancouver are slated to move up to Major League Soccer in 2011.

Gulati is interested in long-term investors.

"Any startup is challenged in today's economy. We've obviously had a number of challenges in this sport over time," he said. "What our goal is is that the people that are going to be investing in teams and in leagues understand what those challenges are and are realistic about what it's going to take to make it work financially.

"And that's generally not going to mean a P&L that's in the black in the first or second year. And so if we see projections, from whether it's a team or an applicant, that says, `Listen, I understand I'm gong to have some losses but in the second year I'm going to make money,' we look at that very, very rigorously and challenge those assumptions."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

FIFA won't intervene in dispute

(espn.go.com 1-6-10)

NEW YORK -- FIFA will not intervene in a labor dispute involving Major League Soccer that could be headed for a work stoppage next month.

A day after soccer's international union accused MLS of violating the regulations of the sport's governing body, FIFA said it had no issue with the league's structure.

"FIFA can confirm it has received correspondence regarding a current issue involving the MLS and the MLS Players Union and their ongoing negotiations," Zurich-based FIFA said in a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press.

"FIFA understands that this domestic issue is being resolved in accordance with U.S. labor laws and does not involve the U.S. Soccer Federation. FIFA will not interfere in the process. We have been assured that FIFA's regulations have been and will be respected," the statement said.

FIFPro, the international soccer union based in the Netherlands, said Tuesday that MLS management is threatening to lock out players after the league's five-year labor contract expires Jan. 31.

"It is difficult to understand why the owners would take this course, when all we are asking for are the same rights enjoyed by other players around the world, not just in the biggest leagues but in leagues of all sizes," Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan said in a statement released by FIFPro, which represents more than 50,000 players, including members of the MLS Players Union.

MLS president Mark Abbott disputed much of what FIFPro said.

"Any discussion about a lockout, players' strike or other work stoppage is premature and, frankly, counterproductive to our ongoing mutual commitment to reach an agreement," he said.

FIFPro claims MLS' single-entity structure, in which all players sign with the league rather than individual teams, violates FIFA's regulations. FIFPro said almost 80 percent of MLS players don't have guaranteed contracts, that contracts give the league multiple one-year options, that players can be transferred without their consent and that out-of-contract players lack freedom of movement.

"Despite months of negotiations the two sides have made little progress on a new deal," FIFPro said. "The league is now threatening to lock the players out on Feb. 1 if the players don't agree to a continuation of the status quo."

Before forming a union, MLS players filed a federal antitrust suit against the league. A jury ruled against the players in 2000.

Abbott said the league complied with FIFA's regulations and that "it has been proven in federal court that the MLS business structure is legal and does not operate as a cartel."

"During the last 50 years, there have been multiple failed efforts to launch professional soccer in the United States and Canada," Abbott said. "In order to avoid this fate, the MLS owners created a structure that has provided stability and growth during the last 15 years."

Income for MLS players averaged $147,945 at the start of last season, according to the MLS union, but the median -- the point at which an equal amount make above and below -- was $88,000 for 323 players listed.

"What we are looking for are the same basic rights that players enjoy in other leagues around the world," Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said in a statement issued by FIFPro. "We have made great strides in developing the game in the United States. But we can't truly compete internationally, either for players or fans, with a system that is so radically different than other leagues around the world."

MLS Players Union executive director Bob Foose declined comment, spokesman Neil Hare said.

FIFPro says MLS lockout possible

(espn.go.com 1-5-10)

NEW YORK -- Major League Soccer could be headed for a work stoppage next month.

The sport's international union says management is threatening to lock out MLS players after the league's five-year labor contract expires Jan. 31.

"It is difficult to understand why the owners would take this course, when all we are asking for are the same rights enjoyed by other players around the world, not just in the biggest leagues, but in leagues of all sizes," Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan said in a statement released by FIFPro, which represents more than 50,000 players, including members of the MLS Players Union.

MLS president Mark Abbott disputed much of what FIFPro said.

"Any discussion about a lockout, players' strike or other work stoppage is premature and frankly counterproductive to our ongoing mutual commitment to reach an agreement," he said.

FIFPro claims MLS's single-entity structure, in which all players sign with the league rather than individual teams, violates regulations of FIFA, soccer's governing body. FIFPro said almost 80 percent of MLS players don't have guaranteed contracts, that contracts give the league multiple one-year options, that players can be transferred without their consent and that out-of-contract players lack freedom of movement.

"Despite months of negotiations the two sides have made little progress on a new deal," FIFPro said. "The league is now threatening to lock the players out on Feb. 1 if the players don't agree to a continuation of the status quo."

Before forming a union, MLS players filed a federal antitrust suit against the league. A jury ruled against the players in 2000.

Abbott said the league complied with FIFA's regulations and that "it has been proven in federal court that the MLS business structure is legal and does not operate as a cartel."

"During the last 50 years, there have been multiple failed efforts to launch professional soccer in the United States and Canada," Abbott said. "In order to avoid this fate, the MLS owners created a structure that has provided stability and growth during the last 15 years."

Income for MLS players averaged $147,945 at the start of last season, according to the MLS union, but the median -- the point at which an equal amount make above and below -- was $88,000 for 323 players listed.

"What we are looking for are the same basic rights that players enjoy in other leagues around the world," Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said in a statement issued by FIFPro. "We have made great strides in developing the game in the United States. But we can't truly compete internationally, either for players or fans, with a system that is so radically different than other leagues around the world."

MLS Players Union executive director Bob Foose declined comment, spokesman Neil Hare said.

Monday, January 4, 2010

MLS Cup to remain at a neutral site for now

(espn.go.com 1-4-10)

NEW YORK -- The MLS Cup will remain a neutral-site championship.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Monday the league discussed changing the format to reward the higher-seeded team with the home field.

But MLS decided to keep the neutral venue, saying it provides an "exciting environment" for fans and allows for easier planning.

The league plans to announce the site for the 2010 MLS Cup in the next few months. Garber says the league will continue to consider the idea of a team playing for the title at its home stadium.