RSL Cup blog taking a long much needed break

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.

However, over the past couple of years, and especially the last several months, I've began to see the ugly underbelly of this sport. Most likely it has always been there and I was just too naïve to see it, but I cannot not see it anymore.

I'm taking a much needed break from the sport of soccer. I may or may not be back. I may or may not update this blog, I don't know. It would be a shame since I've had it up and running for almost 10 years, but the fun I once had just isn't there any more.

Hopefully you fare better.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dave Checketts' son posts video of parents opening assignment to serve as mission president and companion

(by Morgan Jones 12-29-17)

Dave Checketts’ name is easily recognizable in several communities, including among Mormons and in the world of professional sports. The former president and general manager of the Utah Jazz, former president of the New York Knicks and original owner of Real Salt Lake is also a former LDS stake president, and now, Checketts has been called to serve as a mission president, according to a video published to his son’s Instagram account on Friday.

The video shows Dave Checketts and his wife, Deb, opening their assignment to serve as mission president and companion in the England London Mission.

The Deseret News has previously reported two stories about Checketts’ efforts to minister as a stake president. In a story about Tom Christofferson earlier this year, the Deseret News reported that Checketts was influential in Christofferson’s return to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Together the two studied the scriptures and discussed gospel topics.

As Christofferson increased his church activity, Checketts invited him to his home periodically on Saturday mornings to study the scriptures and discuss gospel topics. Christofferson's genuine search for understanding the doctrine not only touched Checketts' heart, but inspired him as a church leader to incorporate some of the ideas they discovered into his vision for the stake, Checketts said.

Another example of Checketts’ service to members of his stake took place in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 when Checketts cleared his business calendar to serve two new members of his stake, Robbie and Alyssa Parker, whose daughter Emilie was among those killed. While Checketts said that when he first learned of the news he didn’t know what to say, he later said of the tragedy, "What happened in Newtown is unthinkable, but little children are alive in Christ. Though the nature of the crime is the essence of evil, our faith tells us that these children burst into the presence of God and are safe in his arms."

Checketts was also featured in Jeff Benedict’s 2007 book, “The Mormon Way of Doing Business,” and on Friday, Benedict expressed his confidence that missionaries serving under Checketts will be in good hands.

“Dave’s exceptional character has been tested and seasoned by the rough-and-tumble world of professional sports and entertainment,” Benedict told the Deseret News. “Missionaries under his care will learn from a leader whose first instinct is compassion and whose broad shoulders have cleared many paths for the underdog.”

In “The Mormon Way of Doing Business,” Checketts explained how he balanced 15- to 18-hour workdays, six days a week, with being a husband and father.

“If my children call me during the day and leave a message, I return those calls first, not last,” Checketts said in the book.

Checketts will now devote 24 hours a day, seven days a week to serving the Lord and his missionaries for three years.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

Ohio's best chance to save the Crew is seizing the club via eminent domain

The government taking ownership of a sports team might sound weird, but it’s perfectly legal.

(by Gabe Lezra 12-21-17)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New York Cosmos stadium

From several years ago when the Cosmos thought they were going to take American soccer by storm and build a stadium at Belmont Park.

Sadly that did not happen, nor will this stadium.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Keeping tabs on Crew move? Logic simply doesn’t apply

(by Michael Arace 12-17-17)
For the past two months — or since Crew “investor-operator” Anthony Precourt announced he was thinking about taking his talents to Austin — this particular patch of newsprint has been used to document the many, um, oddities of the situation. A few days ago, J.D. Smith did the week’s work in the span of a few tweets.
“T-Bone” Smith co-hosts a sports-talk show at 97.1 The Fan. He is an ardent #SaveTheCrew supporter and a solid follow at @DegenerateTBone. His little tweetstorm focused on the four finalists for Major League Soccer expansion:

(Commissioner) Don Garber says, “Maybe Columbus should look at what Detroit and Nashville and Cincinnati and Sacramento are doing.” Let’s do just that …

First Detroit — They recently tabled their idea of building a soccer-specific stadium in favor of playing in the already built cavernous football stadium. So, the Crew should move back to Ohio Stadium. Got it.
Next, Nashville — They recently approved a stadium to be built on their fairgrounds, outside of their downtown. Columbus has already done that, but maybe he wants us to do it again?
Then, Cincinnati. They are currently selling season tickets for the 2018 season, the most expensive of which is $340 dollars. As the cheapest tickets Crew SC sells are $342 for a full season, that would indicate a drastic reduction in season ticket prices.
Finally, Sacramento, who recently announced they had secured deposits for 10k season tickets for next season. Seeing as how the Crew did this back in 1996, I would say job done there as well.
So to sum up, (Garber) wants Columbus to play in a cavernous football stadium, build a stadium at the fairgrounds, reduce ticket prices drastically, and secure 10k season ticket deposits. Do all of these things, Columbus, and maybe we can keep our team!
Crew supporters are at wit’s end trying to make sense of the senseless.
Columbus is second in national television ratings for ESPN’s MLS Cup playoff games. (Seattle, which won the title, is first.) The #SaveTheCrew movement snowballs with thousands of fans and hundreds of local businesses. It becomes clear that, as a 22-year-old soccer market, Columbus has held up extraordinarily well, and, with a new stadium, it will, indubitably, explode.
It also becomes clear that there is no such thing as “parallel paths.” Only one road has been marked, and it leads to Austin. Precourt has a legion of lobbyists and lawyers working back rooms in the Texas capital. There is none of that in Columbus, there is only a civic bashing (Garber calls the birthplace of American professional soccer “inconsequential”).
Can’t Precourt can sell the Crew to locals — eminently doable — with the promise that he’ll get an expansion team in Austin? There is no brooking of any such alternatives. Precourt and Garber want out, and they’re sprinting for the exit.
Those who hope their children and grandchildren will have an MLS team to root for in Columbus and who perceive the moral turpitude and calumny of what is being perpetuated on our city, try their best to bar the exit. They will have to stand with locked arms right through the holidays. It’s about to get real.
This week, the league is expected to announce which two cities will be awarded expansion franchises. If Cincinnati gets one, among the takeaways will be that the league is appeasing the state (goodbye lawsuit?) and greasing the tracks out of Columbus. Precourt is on record as saying he wants to choose an Austin site by Jan. 1, and he has eight plats for a stadium and/ or a practice facility from which to choose. Things may be well-settled by the time the Austin City Council votes on the matter in February.
#SaveTheCrew has done Columbus proud. Now is the time for that group, and for the mayor and other interested parties, to redouble their efforts. Is there a sugar daddy out there? Once MLS leaves, it’s not coming back. The departure is nigh. @MichaelArace1

A couple of photoshops of the Save the Crew Facebook page

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Relocate an original franchise? Expand the league? MLS mulls doing both at once

(by Geoff Baker 12-10-17)

TORONTO – It was a scene typically not seen in professional sports.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber stood at the podium of a hotel ballroom giving his annual “State of the League’’ address Friday in which he simultaneously talked up an aggressive expansion path while defending the right to relocate a flagship franchise. Usually in pro sports, a league either busies itself trying to rectify weakness by relocating an existing team or it plays up its strengths by adding expansion franchises.

But there’s nothing typical about MLS, its business model or the outcomes of its decisions to this point. It’s a league where television ratings have struggled to surpass even the WNBA’s, yet where stadium crowds rival the NFL in places. A league where franchise values continue to soar, despite the fact more Americans watch English Premier League television broadcasts than they do the domestic circuit.
By that standard, it was business as usual for MLS when, ahead of its showpiece championship, the assembled media wasn’t asking much about the finalist Sounders or Toronto FC squads. Instead, their questions to Garber were mostly about whether the Columbus Crew would be relocated to Austin, Texas, before the 2019 season.

“It’s not the league’s decision,’’ Garber told reporters. “It’s the league’s approval of an owner decision to determine whether or not moving out of Columbus is something that makes sense.’’

Crew owner Anthony Precourt bought the team from the Hunt family in 2013 and negotiated the right to relocate. After claiming losses of $40 million since, he began exploring relocation to Austin this year and talked openly about moving if a downtown-stadium solution in Columbus, Ohio, failed to materialize.
The whole thing has become a public-relations nightmare for the league. The Crew went on a playoff run and nearly upset Toronto to reach the final against Seattle before a late Jozy Altidore goal spared the league from further embarrassment ahead of its championship match.

It hasn’t helped that the mayor of Columbus has stated MLS is hampering talks in that city by allowing Precourt to conduct simultaneous negotiations with a rival location.

And yet, the league continues to condone the situation despite the Crew being one of its 10 original franchises from 1996. It was also the first MLS team to have a soccer-specific stadium built for it and won an MLS Cup title in 2008 with a squad that included current Sounders Chad Marshall and Brad Evans.

Garber didn’t mince words when spelling out how the Columbus marketplace isn’t keeping up with the aggressive pace of MLS growth. Garber barely stopped short of calling Columbus a hick town.

“You need to be in a situation where you can be viable,’’ Garber said. “As we have new teams coming in that are deeply connected within the community, with dramatically more commercial revenue, higher fan bases, all the measures that matter, what we’ve been experiencing in Columbus for many years is … it is among the lowest teams — 20 out of 22 — in every measure that matters in pro sports.’’

Those measures, he added, include average ticket price, average attendance, average revenue, local-television numbers and TV revenue.

“So there’s a lot that needs to happen to address those situations,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the league continues to expand. It added Atlanta and Minnesota this past season, will put a second Los Angeles squad in next year and possibly one in Miami at some point if legal entanglements over a stadium project get resolved.

But even as lawyers muddle through that one, the league recently interviewed four finalist groups for two expansion cities to be added in 2019.

And as wacky and careless as this expansion-relocation approach might seem on the surface, the bankers seem to agree it works.

The average MLS squad, according to Forbes, jumped 20 percent in value this year to $223 million. That’s a 275 percent growth rate from five years ago. The Sounders were bought for a $30 million expansion fee in 2007 and now are worth $295 million — nearly 10 times their original price.

And the league, which owns a piece of every franchise, is pouring gains back in to the product. Garber announced Friday that each MLS team can use more Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) beyond the salary cap in 2018 and 2019 to attract the above-average — but not superstar — players to bolster rosters.

The maximum a player can earn under MLS rules is $480,625. But teams receive an additional $1.2 million of TAM annually to lure top import and domestic players — as long as no more than $1 million is spent on each.

Starting next year, teams will have up to $2.8 million in additional “discretional” TAM money that can be spent annually out of their own funds. And the limit that can be spent on any one player will jump from $1 million to $1.5 million.

Raising those TAM limits betters the players brought in and improves the league’s overall quality. The Sounders, for instance, have used TAM in recent years to add Roman Torres, Kelvin Leerdam and Victor Rodriguez.

So, while a league that discusses relocating an original franchise in the same breath it keeps expanding might seem unorthodox, the MLS path seems to be working.

For years, folks complained the league was too rinky-dink. Now, it’s doing something about it by aiming higher, at bigger markets with bigger money. And it will keep on doing it — even if means some casualties along the way.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Power Ranking after 22 seasons

(adjustments coming soon to take the Canadian Cup into consideration)

LA Galaxy * 11 total points
International titles + 1
Supporters Shield + 4
MLS Cup + 5
US Open Cup + 2
Relegation boot - 1

DC United * 9 total points
International titles + 2
Supporters Shield + 4
MLS Cup + 4
US Open Cup + 3
Relegation boot - 4

Kansas City * 7 total points
Supporters Shield + 1
MLS Cup + 2
US Open Cup + 4

Seattle Sounders * 6 total points
Supporters Shield + 1
MLS Cup + 1
US Open Cup + 4

Columbus Crew * 4 total points
Supporters Shield + 3
MLS Cup + 1
US Open Cup + 1
Relegation boot - 1

Chicago Fire * 3 total points
Supporters Shield + 1
MLS Cup + 1
US Open Cup + 4
Relegation boot - 3

San Jose Earthquakes * 2 total points
Supporters Shield + 2
MLS Cup + 2
Relegation boot - 2

Dallas * 2 points
Supporters Shield + 1
US Open Cup + 2
Relegation boot - 1

Houston Dynamo * 2 total points
MLS Cup + 2

New England Revolution * 1 point
International titles + 1
US Open Cup + 1
Relegation boot - 1

Miami Fusion * 1 point
Supporters Shield + 1

Real Salt Lake * 1 point
MLS Cup + 1

Portland Timbers * 1 point
MLS Cup + 1

Tampa Bay Mutiny * 0 points
Supporters Shield + 1
Relegation boot - 1

New York/New Jersey * 0 points
Supporters Shield + 2
Relegation boot - 2

Colorado Rapids * 0 points
MLS Cup + 1
Relegation boot - 1

Toronto FC * 0 points
Supporters Shield + 1
MLS Cup + 1
Relegation boot -2

NYC FC * 0 points

Orlando * 0 points

Minnesota United *0 points

Atlanta United *0 points

Chivas USA * - 1 point
Relegation boot - 1

Montreal Impact * - 1 point
Relegation boot - 1

Vancouver Whitecaps * - 1 point
Relegation boot - 1

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

(by Bill Archer 12-7-17)

In a plot twist worthy of the the worst of novels, the 1996 theft of the Cleveland Browns by the universally detested Art Modell may end up making it impossible for Don Garber to steal the Columbus Crew.

Irony, thy name is SoccerDon.

There Garber was yesterday in his ultra-luxe suite high above fifth avenue in New York, whistling a happy tune, deciding between the scampi and the scallops for lunch and getting ready for the MLS Board of Governors meeting where he's going to give the increasingly impotent owners their marching orders on which two cities they will grant the high privilege of handing over, collectively, a $300 million payday.
Plus, with Columbus finally out of the playoffs he was finalizing his trip to Toronto to attend the MLS Cup game without having to decide between a) lying about being stuck in traffic and b) trying to pretend that he doesn't hear 22,000 people loudly suggesting he perform anatomically impossible acts on himself.

Then an obscure state legislator from Central Ohio named Mike Duffey (R - BiteMeDon) rolled a stink bomb into the Don's perfect day.

It seems that Duffey discovered an obscure law dating from the 1996 outrage over Modell's craven betrayal which may wreck Don and Tony's plans for being named Kings of the SXSW parade next year. It's a very short, concise law so I'll quote it in full:

Restrictions on owner of professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility.

No owner of a professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility for most of its home games and receives financial assistance from the state or a political subdivision thereof shall cease playing most of its home games at the facility and begin playing most of its home games elsewhere unless the owner either:

(A) Enters into an agreement with the political subdivision permitting the team to play most of its home games elsewhere;

(B) Gives the political subdivision in which the facility is located not less than six months' advance notice of the owner's intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the political subdivision or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.

Effective Date: 06-20-1996 .

(emphasis mine)

MAPFRE stadium sits on fully tax-abated land with well-below market rate rent and gleans considerable income from the state built and maintained paved parking lots surrounding the place. There's no question they're "tax-supported".

Since MLS has already turned down a very legitimate $150 million offer for the Crew, there's no question that Columbus is fully prepared to pony up the cash tomorrow and shortly thereafter build the downtown stadium which Garber and Precourt claim the Crew needs to meet whatever ethereal "business metrics" they demand.

However, as we all know, that's not what TheSoccerDon wants; he wants out of Columbus. Period.

Now in point of fact this law - which nobody knew about until just yesterday but which, in another signal achievement of Don Garber's tenure at the helm of MLS, if it sticks could quickly sweep the land from sea to shining taxpayer-funded stadium - has not, we're told by the legal types, been through the courts yet and nobody can say for sure how it will play out.

We can be fairly certain though that one of two things will happen here:

1) Various Ohio courts - tough luck on that one, eh? - will decide that the Crew will stay right where it is, thanks

2) An ugly, protracted legal battle which could take years to adjudicate will make a bunch of lawyers very rich and Don very unemployed.

Of course, as per usual, MLS has no comment whatsoever. Their media office has spent the last couple months refusing to answer the phone and that's likely to continue. They ought to let them spend the Winter in Florida.

However, from whatever bunker Fratass Tony is cowering in came this dispatch, without a header or a signature:

“Precourt Sports Ventures has seen the public remarks made by State Rep. Mike Duffey and PSV will not have further comment at this time."
Now in truth it would be hard to match Garber's craven public act of cowardice from last week's Eastern Conference semi-final match in Toronto when, after promising FoxSports that he would appear for a pregame interview with Alexi Lalas and "extensively" deal with questions surrounding the Crew, he then had his people tell them that he was "stuck in traffic" and wouldn't be appearing.

(Their eyerolls were, however, well worth tuning in for)

Apparently he was still "stuck in traffic" at halftime and during the postgame as well. Hell, Lalas would have gladly met him in the parking lot or the hotel bar or the SkyLounge at Toronto Pearson. Say what you want but Roger Goodell or Adam Silver or Rob Manfred, as arrogant as they are wouldn't dare pull a stunt like that.

The problem may have been that, earlier that day, the Mayor of the City of Columbus sent Garber and Precourt a very nice letter offering various routes to a stadium solution and inviting them to talk with him. MLS/PSV sent an insulting one sentence response - without header or signature - basically inviting His Honor to F*ck himself and possibly that didn't fit DonnyG's carefully vetted "extensively" prepared comments.

Who knows.

One other result of Rep. Duffey's letter to the Ohio AG will almost certainly be the torpedoing of Cincinnati's shot at being named one of the two expansion teams to be announced next week.

It looked very much like they were a front-runner, but a big part of that was always going to be a tacit statement about replacing Columbus with another Ohio team, thus proving that it's not about flyover country but "business metrics". However, with the Columbus legal issues up in the air it says here they're not going to give Cincy a damned thing.

In addition, they're going to want to take a serious look at locating a team in a state where it appears the law says they can never be removed. That takes away a big chunk of the league's (read: Garber's) power over a team, something they're not likely to cede without serious thought.

So unless the league is going to change their minds about not wanting to play at cavernous Ford Field in Detroit, this likely means "Welcome to MLS, Sacramento".

We'll look forward to seeing you play the Crew for many years to come.

Over the past few weeks I've heard the same question from a number of people which, to summarize, goes something like: "Archer, you ignorant slut, why do you keep blaming Garber for this mess? Isn't it really Precourt doing all of this?"

By way of an answer:

In Austin Texas there's a lawyer named Richard Suttle and I'll let the Austin Chronicle describe who he is in a 2010 article entitled "Suttle as a kick in the head":

Better count your chickens, Austinites, because Richard Suttle is loose in the henhouse again. Everyone's favorite developers' attorney is at City Council today ...

Now, the very fact that Richard Suttle is involved in this project should give everyone pause. He's the developers' equivalent of criminal attorney Roy Minton: the guy you go to when you're guilty, when you want to get something approved or subsidized that you really don't deserve."

This is the guy who appeared before Austin City Council last month getting them to agree to do an "inventory" of city parks to see which ones might have enough space for a soccer stadium.

Now in most places, if City officials want to know something like this, they call up the Parks Commissioner and ask him to fax over a list. Maybe 20 minutes, tops.

But apparently not in Austin. In Austin they need to send scout cars up and down the streets, tracking down signs that say "City Park" on them because, apparently, the Parks Department doesn't have a sheet of paper which lists, you know, City Parks.

The question is, who does Suttle work for down there? Well, here's a letter from Don:

Garber himself says that Suttle works for him. Precourt, PSV and the Crew are not mentioned.

And here, via the Austin City Clerk's office, and the indispensable Massive Report, is a list of registered lobbyists working in that city, all of whom are employed by Suttle's law firm - Armbrust & Brown - and all of whom report that they are working on behalf of "Major League Soccer, 450 Fifth Ave. New York:
There's lots more, like the PR firm Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, which has been retained to represent this whole charade down there - they admit to having hosted a series of "get acquainted meetings" for city officials and soccer reps, although the real question, as posed by Massive report is:

Does MLS have similar operations in any of the 12 expansion candidate cities?

And the answer of course is no. None at all. 12 other cities are knocking themselves out, spending significant amounts of money and time and other resources in an effort to land an MLS team. Meanwhile, Austin Texas is doing nothing, asking for nothing and contributing nothing: Don Garber is spending large amounts of league money and time trying to force the Columbus Crew down their throats.

It's insane.

However, the really instructive point is the date on Garber's letter: August 7.

Note that the MLS Board of Governors met at the All Star Game on August 2, and within a week MLS, in addition to giving Suttle what amounts to MLS credentials also registered two proposed team names including the monumentally unique and exciting "Austin FC". Meanwhile, PSV started the "MLS2ATX" website ("a community of supporters working together to bring Major League Soccer to Austin, TX.") and at least two astroturf twitter accounts purporting to be run by grassroots supporters.

(Deadspin called these astroturfing efforts "oafish" and I can't top that so I won't try, except to note that, since the people running them apparently didn't know how to turn "location" off on a Twitter, everyone saw that they were all being run out of Columbus Ohio, unquestionably by Crew employees working at MAPFRE Stadium offices.)

As I said, all this and much more happened immediately after the August 2 BoG meeting, making it appear very much like something was decided then that gave Precourt the green light.

So today as the suddenly gutless, suspiciously silent owners gather in Toronto - I hope someone makes sure Don gets there in time - they're going to get to review the fruits of that decision.

Now there's a wall well-worth being a fly on.

* BigSoccer Commandatore @Smithsoccer1721 informs me that an unknown local citizen was the one who told Rep, Duffey about the law.

(*UPDATE* Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says that after a review of the applicable law,
"should ownership of the Columbus Crew initiate a move of the team without complying with Ohio law, I am prepared to take the necessary legal action under this law to protect the interests of the state of Ohio..")

BigSoccer comments after Garber's halftime comments

jayd8888 - Dons halftime comments made me sick.

Blong - What was it?

jayd8888 - Something other than, "We are doing our best to ensure that the Crew will stay in Columbus."

Yoshou - Garber pretty much threw Columbus’s business community under the bus.

He said that the league has reached a stage in its growth that it can’t really stay in markets whose business communities don’t embrace the team and that if Columbus’s business community had embraced the Crew before the potential move was announced like they are now, then the Crew wouldn’t be moving... He basically absolved the Crew’s ownership groups of any of the blame for failing to engage the business community..

MelbaToast - He's also blatantly lying. The business community has been trying to get involved with the Crew for a few years.

This is personal for Garber. I dont5know why he's made it his mission to get the Crew out of Columbus but it's clear to me this is vindictive.

kgilbert78 - I have a funny feeling someone (and perhaps more than one) in Columbus didn't "kiss his ring" at some point--perhaps when the ALL Star game was here or in 2008. He's ex-NFL and I wonder if some expectations came with that. But we may never know.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Supporters Shield winner

League Best

1996: Tampa Bay Mutiny
1997: D.C. United
1998: Los Angeles Galaxy
1999: D.C. United
2000: Kansas City Wizards
2001: Miami Fusion FC
2002: Los Angeles Galaxy
2003: Chicago Fire
2004: Columbus Crew
2005: San Jose Earthquakes
2006: D.C. United
2007: D.C. United
2008: Columbus Crew
2009: Columbus Crew
2010: Los Angeles Galaxy
2011: Los Angeles Galaxy
2012: San Jose Earthquakes
2013: New York Red Bulls
2014: Seattle Sounders FC
2015: New York Red Bulls
2016: FC Dallas
2017: Toronto FC

MLS Cup winners

1996: D.C. United
1997: D.C. United
1998: Chicago Fire
1999: DC United
2000: Kansas City Wizards
2001: San Jose Earthquakes
2002: Los Angeles Galaxy
2003: San Jose Earthquakes
2004: D.C. United
2005: Los Angeles Galaxy
2006: Houston Dynamo
2007: Houston Dynamo
2008: Columbus Crew
2009: Real Salt Lake
2010: Colorado Rapids
2011: Los Angeles Galaxy
2012: Los Angeles Galaxy
2013: Sporting Kansas City
2014: Los Angeles Galaxy
2015: Portland Timbers
2016: Seattle Sounders FC
2017: Toronto FC

US Open cup winners

1996: D.C. United
1997: Dallas Burn
1998: Chicago Fire
1999: Rochester Raging Rhinos
2000: Chicago Fire
2001: Los Angeles Galaxy
2002: Columbus Crew
2003: Chicago Fire
2004: Kansas City Wizards
2005: Los Angeles Galaxy
2006: Chicago Fire
2007: New England Revolution
2008: D.C. United
2009: Seattle Sounders FC
2010: Seattle Sounders FC
2011: Seattle Sounders FC
2012: Sporting Kansas City
2013: D.C. United
2014: Seattle Sounders FC
2015: Sporting Kansas City
2016: FC Dallas
2017: Sporting Kansas City

International Titles

1998 Concacaf Champions' Cup: D.C.United

1998 Inter-American Cup: D.C.United

2000 Concacaf Champions' Cup: Los Angeles Galaxy

2008 SuperLiga Champions: New England Revolution

2011 Emirates Cup: New York Red Bulls

MLS Relegation Boot

League worst

1996: Colorado Rapids
1997: San Jose Clash
1998: New England Revolution
1999: MetroStars
2000: San Jose Earthquakes
2001: Tampa Bay Mutiny
2002: D.C. United
2003: Dallas Burn
2004: Chicago Fire
2005: CD Chivas USA
2006: Columbus Crew
2007: Toronto FC
2008: Los Angles Galaxy
2009: New York Red Bulls
2010: D.C. United
2011: Vancouver Whitecaps
2012: Toronto FC
2013: D.C. United
2014: Montreal Impact
2015: Chicago Fire
2016: Chicago Fire
2017: DC United

MLS Super Cup

Supporter Shield winner vs. MLS Cup winner from previous year

1997: DC United
1998: DC United *
1999: Chicago Fire
2000: DC United *
2001: Kansas City Wizards *
2002: -not contested-
2003: Los Angeles Galaxy *
2004: Chicago Fire
2005: DC United
2006: -not contested-
2007: DC United
2008: Houston Dynamo
2009: Columbus Crew *
2010: Columbus Crew
2011: Los Angeles Galaxy
2012: Los Angeles Galaxy *
2013: San Jose Earthquakes
2014: New York Red Bulls
2015: Los Angeles Galaxy
2016: -no winner-
2017: Seattle Sounders FC
2018: Toronto FC*

(* title was undisputed)

Supporters supporting supporters

whereiend - So where is it that you are finding all the assholes from Austin? I think there has been like maybe 2 or 3 posters from Austin on this entire thread, and all we've done is take shit for saying anything not in alignment with #savethecrew. This isn't even a story in Austin until something that is actually concrete comes out. It seems like the people most interested in moving the Crew are Atlanta fans.

Crewmudgeon - My impression too. Seems like the new cool kids in burnt atlanta and bleeding kansas bring the most shade.

The true Crew haters in DC and Chicago want the Crew to contunue so they can keep hating. I respect that.

There once was a time when supporters supported supporters.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Built Not Bought

Crew tifo I'm assuming on the team's 20th anniversary.

"Built Not Bought" is being thrown around a lot lately in US soccer.

Monday, December 4, 2017

What the


I used to like Rob Stone back in the day when he did his World Wide Soccer show.

Now I want to punch him in the face.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

RSL's women's pro team to be named Utah Royals FC

(by Josh Furlong 12-1-17)

Utah’s newest professional soccer team, Real Salt Lake’s National Women’s Soccer League, has a new name: Utah Royals FC.

The name, which was announced early Friday morning by RSL, is the final piece to the puzzle for the new women’s team, who earlier in the week named their head coach Laura Harvey. The name and its logo hints to several aspects of the RSL identity.  The logo, which continues with the club’s Claret Red, Cobalt Blue and Victory Gold colors, features the lioness with a crown and Utah’s Delicate Arch.  The club said its inaugural home and away NIKE jerseys will be released in the coming weeks, prior to the Jan. 18 NWSL college draft. The names of front office personnel will also be released at this time. T-shirts with the new logo will be available at both RSL team stores Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. The Utah Royals FC will open up its season on Saturday, April 14 at Rio Tinto Stadium in the NWSL’s sixth season. The NWSL is a ten-team women’s professional soccer league, including teams Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit.


1994 World Cup squad

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

We are all Columbus

Sending good chi Columbus' way

Good luck tonight in your battle for most precious metal where sun and grass meet.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


ElJefe - Oh yeah, the Hunts, Kroenke, and Hauptman have really distinguished themselves over the years with their brilliant marketing and outreach efforts, so it must be the suburban stadium, right?

BTW, answer me this: If suburban stadiums are "the problem," why does FC Dallas get more people now in their horrible suburban stadium (in one of the fast growing cities in the United States) than they did when they played two miles east of downtown Dallas?

MelbaToast - Yes, they know how to market their teams. We're talking about sports entertainment moguls. Their problems, however, are the product of the MLS 1.5 mindset.

The in vogue thing to do for such moguls in the times of MLS 1.5 was purchase one of ASG's many teams (the Hunts aside), acquire cheap land in a suburb, and place a below-grade, future-expansion-made-easy soccer/concert stadium there. For their desired demographic, they chose suburban Boomer and Gen-X soccer moms and their Millennial kids. The results were sterile, cookie-cutter "family friendly" atmospheres and a group of stadiums that weren't attractive to the less-than-desirables: the urbanites; the rowdy people who drink and swear and make a lot of noise; the people who, if they were too numerous, would surely scare off the precious suburbanites.

It was a marketing strategy that nearly killed the league. MLS 2.0 teams did better to attract the urbanite demographic, and MLS 3.0 teams have seized it.

Learn from history know.

Now, have you asked yourself, 'Why are the business-people in Columbus suddenly so desperate to keep the team?' 5 years ago they couldn't have given less of a shit. The simple answer is: they now use the Crew to attract business and young employees. Likewise, the Crew enable the city to sell itself as progressive: the young demographic in this country is into soccer, thus having a soccer team is cool and attractive. What's cool and attractive to young people, is cool and attractive to businesses.

What would make things even sexier? "We have a downtown soccer stadium." Holy Millennial sploosh!

What would kill the vibe? Suburban shopping center soccer; a total Millennial cock-block.

Believe you me, Hunt, Kroenke, and Hauptman know they messed up by building in Frisco, Commerce City, and Bridgeview. There's nothing they can do now but sell (which they won't do) or wait until their stadiums need replacing. So, they're simply stuck biding their time another decade, at which time you'll see them and the league go into full-on stadium lobby mode. New stadiums in better locations will be built, and with them the whole "rebrand" thing. New crest, new digs, maybe new colors all to disassociate from the epic failures of MLS 1.0-1.5.

Dirty Rats

A fictitious team I think, or maybe a rec league team.

Cool logo nonetheless.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

How the Bundesliga puts the Premier League to shame

Why are we talking about a new soccer stadium and not a new viaduct?

Best US cities for millennials are in the Midwest, South, says new study

Deconstructing the American game and the problems so many thought never existed

Temecula FC

Temecula Football  Club is an American soccer club, based in Temecula, california that plays in the NPSL. Founded as Temecula Football Club August 2nd 2013 and plays it's home matches at Linfield Christian or Temecula Valley High School. Temecula Football Club inaugural season was 2014. Nicknamed the Quails.

Lionsbridge FC Named New PDL Club

Virginia-based announced as expansion team ahead of 2018 season

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Still more good posts on BigSoccer

ManiacalClown - I'm just watching you put words in my mouth and laughing, mostly.

whereiend - Sorry, it's difficult to separate the few reasonable individual opinions from the chorus of blind emotional support for #savethecrew.

PodinCowtown - Our support for #savethecrew isn't blind. It's a combination of anger at being lied to so blatantly by Precourt with his assurances of his commitment to Columbus at the same time he was laying the groundwork for a move to Austin. And the puzzlement of moving to Austin, which isn't obviously a better market and where pro soccer has recently failed at the minor league level.

whiteonrice04 - And the league aiding in the lying to fans

AndyMead - Sports is emotional. Soccer doubly so. It's why any of us are still here on BigSoccer when everyone else has left for Twitter or Snapchat or whatever. We can't let go.

HailtotheKing - Here's my question, and it relates to a "belief" of the SupportersUnion:

They believe that OWNERSHIP GROUPS, not cities, submit expansion bids in order to place a team in a certain market ... to wit:

Why is it believed by Garber and Precourt that ATX is a good market when: NOBODY IN ATX DID?

AndyMead - They're smarter than other people?

There are a lot of reasons that second tier cities may not have a local rich guy interested in owning a professional sports team.

The two most successful soccer businessmen in America over the last 30 years live near me, and not once have they shown any interest in taking an ownership stake in any professional sports club - anywhere.

As much as people talk about ROI and "making money" - most people don't own sports teams to get rich. It's a terrible investment. It's important (as Horowitz and Checketts will attest) not to lose too much money, but it's mostly about ego and being an alpha dog.

The "smart money" doesn't buy sports teams. The idle rich, or the uber-rich with idle money, and an ego to feed buy sports teams.

Bringing pro soccer team to Austin, building stadium may trigger vote

(by Philip Jankowski 11-24-17)

While local soccer enthusiasts might be elated at the news that a Major League Soccer team is serious about making Austin its home, they might have to persuade Austin residents at large to approve bringing the city’s first professional sports franchise.

An election over bringing the Crew SC soccer team — currently based in Columbus, Ohio — to Austin for the 2019 season is becoming a growing possibility as parkland in the core of the city is emerging as a potential location for a stadium that would need to seat at least 20,000 people.

Such a drastic change to parkland would be reminiscent of an effort two years ago to build world-class golf courses in far East Austin, something that the city ultimately said would likely need an election.

While Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt has promised he won’t use taxpayer money to build a facility, the economics would make much more sense if the city were able to provide the land for it free of charge.

To that end, the Austin City Council has ordered the city to research what city-owned land could be used for a MLS stadium, including parkland. Several media reports show that Butler Shores Metropolitan Park has emerged as the most attractive location for Precourt.

The park sits in a choice spot along Lady Bird Lake, just behind the Zach Theatre where Barton Creek empties into the Lady Bird Lake. It also meets Precourt’s goal of having a stadium in the city’s core.

But repurposing the parkland would likely trigger a public election, something Precourt’s lobbyist Richard Suttle said Precourt’s company would prefer to avoid.

Suttle said the company has conducted surveys leading it to believe voters would approve a proposal to bring the team to Austin. But holding an election could threaten Precourt’s desired timeline for a move to Austin for the 2019 MLS season.

Precourt would like to have a site for a stadium picked by Jan. 1 and an agreement with the city in place by the summer. Meetings those deadlines would be difficult if the city held an election in either March or May, and outright impossible if a soccer election were held in November 2018.

“We are not afraid of an election on bringing in MLS to Austin,” Suttle told the American-Statesman. “The only concern I can think of is we have a finite amount of time to take advantage of this opportunity and we would have to evaluate whether an election scenario fits into the scheduling.”

Texas law states that no parkland can be sold at any price without voter approval. Austin’s city charter underlines the law, adding restrictions for leasing parkland as well. A drastic change in purpose for parkland would also trigger an election under state law.

But laws mandating an election are not entirely ironclad. Suttle said a stadium could be considered a parkland use. Concession contracts do permit government land to be used for private business purposes. The city also refused to give a definitive answer to whether an election would be necessary.

Council Member Kathie Tovo, who spearheaded a resolution to search for city-owned land as a possible home for a MLS stadium, said she sees similarities to a previous attempt to build a world-class golf course on parkland in 2015.

Tovo said that when the council was considering building the PGA-level golf courses at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park, the contract before the council felt like “a way of skirting a vote.”

The plan had firm support from then-City Manager Marc Ott, but stalled after Ott signaled that having an election would likely be the best course of action. In the end, the council opted to request a new master plan for the entire park.

Voters also narrowly defeated a proposal to turn a portion of the park into a hotel and golf courses in 2000.

Tovo told the Statesman the city might be best served by holding an election if the council attempts a license agreement with Precourt for a stadium. She said her resolution asking the city’s staff to identify city-owned properties that could serve as a possible stadium location was a way for the city to get ahead of the likely large amounts of input it would receive if parkland is chosen.

“It was important to me that we approach any consideration of locating a soccer stadium in a way different from the Walter E. Long discussion several years ago,” she said. “I want to make sure that at the outset we discuss whether community benefits outweigh the loss of a public space.”

But Tovo said she wanted to hear what the city attorney’s office thinks about whether an election would be required.

Austin resident Bill Oakey, a retired accountant who blogs about affordability, has researched the laws and said that using parkland for a stadium would “absolutely” require an election. The scale of the project would move it beyond smaller concession contracts, and Oakey said he would support a large-scale, public-private partnership if it brought in revenue for the city’s parks.

“That would be a win-win, but it would have to come with an election,” he said.

And even with indications that voters might support it, Circuit of the Americas Chair Bobby Epstein, who is working to bring a minor league team from the United Soccer League to the track’s land in 2019, said there is always a risk when voters are involved.

“The more hurdles you have to jump over, certainly the more challenging the goal becomes,” Epstein said.


Baltimore Bohemians and beer

(more to come)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Vancouver logos

Atlanta United FC logo

2017 - present

Minnesota United FC logo

2017 - present

Toronto FC logo

2007 - present

Philadelphia Union logo

2010 - present

Probably how every Crew fan feels

Crew2112 - I’m getting the impression this league doesn’t want me at their party. I’ve been a loyal friend. I’ve spent $1500/year on Tix for 23 years. I have a closet full of shirts and jackets and hats and scarves. I buy their food and I pay for their app. I can’t give any more money to this league. I’m not a “corporate partner”. I don’t know what else I can do.

 If I’m not welcome at the party, you don’t have to ask me to leave. I’ll find the door. I’ll go to the next party. 

 It’s just a shame that your party is the one that is small and weak and begging for friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

MLS attendance up, TV ratings lag as US mulls future

( 11-17-17)

Major League Soccer's attendance is up and fan interest is booming, even if television broadcasts are far less popular and some young Americans would rather play in Europe.

MLS averaged 22,000 in attendance for the first time in its history this season, ranked among the top seven leagues in the world. The league is set to add a second Los Angeles franchise next year, announce two expansion cities next month and at some point finalize David Beckham's long-pending Miami club.
But viewers averaged under 300,000 for nationally televised regular-season matches, fewer than the average for a New York Yankees game on their regional sports network. Several top young Americans, such as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, have chosen to forego the MLS to play in Germany and test their mettle in a more demanding environment.
And worst of all, the United States — whose roster was filled with MLS stars — failed to qualify for next year's World Cup, ending a streak of seven straight appearances in soccer's showcase.

"We need to use this failure as a wakeup call for everyone associated with the sport at all levels to ensure that we have the right processes and mechanisms and development programs and leadership and governance in place to learn from this missed opportunity to ensure that it never happens again," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said this week. "Part of the maturation of becoming a soccer nation is recognizing that qualifying for the World Cup is not a birthright. It's something you need to earn, and we are unfortunately in the company of some great soccer nations, like Italy and Holland and Ghana and Chile — Copa champions — that have also not qualified."

MLS playoffs resume next week after the international break with the first leg of Conference Championships. Columbus — whose owners are threatening to move to Austin, Texas, in 2019 — hosts Toronto, while Houston is home against Seattle.
"MLS and soccer in the United States have made great advances in many areas. But its promoters have found that the abundance of existing legacy sports leagues that have the highest quality of athletes on the planet creates a ceiling on professional soccer in the United States," said Marc Ganis, president of the consulting firm SportsCorp. "It has not, and perhaps never, will supplant any of the major legacy sports unless and until the quality of play and players increases significantly and the U.S. men's team in particular is more competitive and, in fact, wins some of the major international tournaments."
Momentum of playoff runs was interrupted because of World Cup qualifying, and the culmination of the league's season competes for attention with the NFL and college football among the wider American sports audience.

"Long-term demographic things like CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and stuff with the NFL says maybe there is a long slow decline around some of that, but when you're starting from where they're starting, that's going to take a generation," Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said. "We'll grow because most of the immigration to the U.S. is from soccer-playing countries and the country is going to grow."

Launched with 10 teams in 1996, two years after the U.S. hosted the World Cup, MLS expanded to 12 but cut back to 10 after the 2001 season. There has been steady growth since expansion started in 2004. Next year's total will be 23, already well over the norm for a first division, and the league is planning to settle at 28.
Infrastructure could not be more different than in the early days. The league has 14 soccer specific stadiums, two more renovated for the sport and one built with both the NFL and soccer in mind. Three more soccer stadiums are under construction.
Average attendance is up 60 percent from 13,756 in 2000, boosted this year by 48,200 for Atlanta in its opening season. MLS trails only the Germany's Bundesliga, England's Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Mexico's Liga MX, the Chinese Super League and Serie A, with Italy's first division ahead by only 22,177 to 22,106.
But that has not translated yet into big television ratings.

ESPN averaged 272,000 for 30 telecasts this regular season on ESPN and ESPN2, and Fox averaged 236,000 for 33 broadcasts on FS1 and Fox. In addition, Univision is averaging 250,000 viewers for its Spanish-language MLS telecasts.

But the Premier League attracts a larger audience, averaging 422,000 on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC, even though many matches are on weekend mornings.
"We're not the Premier League," Garber said, pointing out last year's MLS Cup drew 1.4 million viewers on Fox. "The fact that we're able to generate ratings growth across all of our partners here and in Canada, and dramatic growth in Canada, is a positive. So we actually, we and our partners, feel pretty darn good."
Player payroll has increased as MLS keeps adding what it calls Targeted Allocation Money. While several older American players have returned to MLS from Europe, many of the teens viewed as the future of the U.S. national team have gone abroad as they emerge from the MLS youth academies, which have been mandated by the league since 2007 and produced more than 250 players with first-team MLS contracts.
Pulisic, at 19 already the leading American star, left Hershey, Pennsylvania, to sign with Borussia Dortmund at age 16, able because of his grandfather's Croatian citizenship to play in Europe before he turned 18. McKennie left FC Dallas' academy when he turned 18, signed with Schalke and scored in his U.S. debut this week.

"I didn't want to become one of those guys that started in MLS and said, man, I wonder if I could have made it to Europe," McKennie said. "I wanted to spread my wings and see what I could do over here."

Forward Josh Sargent decided against Sporting Kansas City and is waiting until he turns 18 in February to sign with Werder Bremen.
"I think I've just always wanted since I was a little kid to play in Europe," he said.
Tyler Adams, who also made his U.S. debut this week, played his first MLS game with the New York Red Bulls last year at age 17 and became a regular this season. Garber says "Tyler Adams probably is playing more minutes today for the Red Bulls than he would if he was not in Major League Soccer."
Adams is happy but thinking ahead.
"Obviously a goal of mine is to play Champions League one day, and obviously the MLS is working its way to becoming one of the top leagues in the world," he said. "Maybe one day I find myself in Europe. You never know."
Sometimes big contracts only stall a career. Matt Miazga left the Red Bulls to sign with Chelsea in January 2016, saw little playing time and didn't get in games regularly until late that autumn during a loan to the Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.
"If your only desire is to go to Europe, there are flights leaving every hour on the hour from JFK and LAX and everywhere in between," said retired American defender Alexi Lalas, now a Fox analyst. "But getting to a place in Europe where you are making good money, where you are playing consistently, where you are learning, where you are valued as a player and as an American player, where you are able to adapt and adjust and live in the other 22 1/2 hours that we often don't talk about, that's whole 'nother story, and there's not a lot of flights leaving that have that on the other end."

With the U.S. soccer community in turmoil following the World Cup failure, some have called for MLS to guarantee playing time for young Americans.

"Our coaches universally believed that that was not the best way to ensure we had the highest-possible product quality to be able to have competitive games and to drive the growth of our fan base," Garber said.


More good BigSoccer posts

GoCrew1996 - You guys have already heard through various releases what happened at the meeting. Alex thought that Don/AP would let them know what they could do to keep the team, AP/Don asked Alex what they were going to do to keep the team.
Alex/CP was offended that Don/AP were acting like Columbus owed them something. Meeting lasted 20 minutes.

This Crew team as we know it, is leaving Columbus. Even if Austin rejects the team (unlikely), AP is not keeping it here.

Next step for CP is going to be to try to find potential ownership for a new team. Even then, they still have to convince Garber that it is worth giving us a new franchise (unlikely imo based on how Garber has treated us through the process).

CrewV Man - Oh if that was all it was I would play all day. But it also boosts their "buzz" or "Q rating" social media metrics. And you know they love the metrics.

kgilbert78 - I'm not surprised. Especially given it was in NYC. Amazing they even had a meeting, frankly

Placid Casual - Surprised it lasted that long.

TRUJDUB - Hopefully that’s not what she said

Psycho_Derek - Ok you’ve got 10 mins.
Come on we are one of the original charter teams cities
Ok you’ve got 20 mins but make it a quick 20

Minnman - A few thoughts:

- Retaining this team with Precourt as owner is untenable.

- I never had the impression he would seriously consider selling to local ownership; this seems to have been a scam all along to get a team in Austin.

- I know that MLS seems intent on killing off any kind of a Columbus franchise. If so, we're dead in the water, no matter what local ownership may emerge. We'd also be dead if the team isn't allowed to re-launch w/o needing to pay a $150 million expansion fee. I'd be cool with retaining the club's history, name, colors, and re-launching in a couple of years.

- That said... there's just a whole level of corruption about this, a stink, that we're each going to have to address on personal terms. Is there a way of being in this league, being fans of an MLS team, and feeling proud of that fact? Bill's mantra of 'committed local ownership' seems to be a necessary step toward achieving that. But, even so, the crap we've heard seep out about KC helping to engineer this, the way in which the league, as a hole, is buying into this Austin bullshit. I mean, damn, is this a place where I want to spend my money?

coachchris - Without Garber, this might be possible, but a fish rots from its head. Garber is willing to be dishonest in his dealings with owners, cities, the media, etc. I doubt this will change, but it will be noticed. I figure the fix is in for this week (Columbus and Houston MUST GO!!!!), and that wouldn't surprise any of us. I think it's a wonder that we were in a fair game with Atlanta, and even more so against NYC. It's pretty clear that they are willing to sacrifice any given (small) city's results if they think it gives a bump to revenue, and TV viewership. This isn't the thinking of a competitive league, but rather of a business disguised as one.

I say "Up Yours, MLS". If we get a USL team, I'll support them, and hope that one day, that community based, grass-roots (for real) league can step up and become the UPL (US Premiere League) one day. I can watch Euro leagues until then.

I would so love to see Garber handing the trophy to Columbus, while boos and beer bottles crash around him. XD

SourCream&OnionUtd - IMV these are the questions that will have been waiting at the end of most of the best case outcomes, and they will need answering, even if only privately.

It seems like a best best-case scenario would be one in which the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, and SS&E do not go away meekly and keep Garber and the league embroiled in scandal. Pair that with hopefully a sustained broad-based backlash to what is being done to us, and, fingers crossed, our lifting the cup, and maybe it could be enough to generate calls for new leadership in MLS.

Hopefully, it wouldn't be a case of better the devil you know, but I know I would be thrilled at being part of an MLS without Garber. I'm just not sure I could stomach it anymore so long as he's in charge of Metrics League Soccer.

Jaybir - I  witnessed something several years back (a number of you may have as well) it struck me as odd, but then I never gave it any more thought until recently -

Immediately after PSV acquired the Crew - AP made a brief appearance on the field. It was evidently one of his few visits to this city.

As he was walking off, there was a boisterous explosion of applause for him. And I swear, this is exactly what I saw and my impression -

He was initially startled. Had a frightened look on his face. Then he seemed to figure out the roar was positive and for him. Then he seemed legitimately puzzled for a moment, before sheepishly waving and walking off the field.

I thought to myself, "How odd. Wouldn't he expect us to welcome our new owner?"

He knew from the beginning. He's thinking, "Oh my gosh, these 'fly over' insects think I'm their friend."

And my apologies for the sheep reference.

coachchris - I dunno, Bill, I was thinking "Columbus Revenge" had a cool ring to it, a USL team dressed all in black (black/charcoal numbers as well), whose main purpose would be to eliminate MLS teams from the Open Cup.

Coupe - "This club, and any sports franchise for that matter, should be a sacred community asset. That is how we're going to treat the Crew," he said. "Our goal will be to take the Crew to be one of the standard bearers in the league." (Anthony Precourt)

TKyle - Technicality: Prec***t didn’t specify *for which* community the club is a sacred asset.

This whole thing makes me want to vomit.

Crew2112 - Precourt has never owned a business. He simply inherited a large trust fund. He has no clue how to sell anything or fill out paperwork, much less make relationships. I’m sure he does see it as personal. He waltzed into Columbus willing to give it a try (if only for a little while). He then realized the local community didn’t like him.
This whole episode seems more like he’s a spoiled kid that is taking the ball home because someone made fun of him. There are no “smart” business decisions being made. That is why so many people are confused about this.

jairadballerina - Do you think Austin is going to be able to meet his demands of a "Urban Core" stadium? Any chance Austin City Council tells him to take a hike or only offers him sites outside what he could call downtown?

crewfan-in-columus - They've already moved those goalposts from "Downtown" to "Urban Core" and now to "Potentially East Austin".

CrewV Man - And did anyone see Austin's most recent idea for a stadium site, Roy Guerrero Park. It is out of the downtown area and would destroy a lovely park. So much for downtown stadiums.

Some fan made Save the Crew items

Monday, November 20, 2017

Laurel and Hardy

Don Garber and the Beclowning of MLS

(by Bill Archer 11-20-17)

Nothing says "Major, legitimate, world class sports league" like a nationally televised semi-final playoff game where everyone knows that the owner of one of the contenders - along with the commissioner of the league itself - is hoping his team loses. Nothing even remotely like this has happened since Rachel Phelps owned the Cleveland Indians.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Don Garber, who has screwed the pooch so badly in all of this that they're going to start playing soulful Sarah McLaughlin ballads whenever his face appears on screen.

As for Fratboy McTrustfund, the man who, according to the Columbus Dispatch, tried to get the statue of Lamar Hunt removed from the plaza in front of the stadium, his unbelievably creepy hatchet man Dave Greeley emailed someone he thought was MLS communications gerbil Dan Courtemanche just prior to the Halloween game in Mapfre vs. NYCFC that "AP" had told him he would "never set foot in Columbus again".

However, Greeley subsequently told Fratboy that if he didn't show up for his own team's playoff game that his pretense of "even handedness" between CBus and Austin would collapse and everyone would see that the whole "just exploring our options" meme was nothing but a lie.

So "AP" went to the game, heard thousands of people lustily cursing his miserable ass for 90 minutes and, between that and having to watch the team he wanted so badly to see get crushed post a stunning 4-1 victory over a very good NYCFC side, he didn't seem to be having a very good time.

The question now is, will he be back on Tuesday to spend a few more hours in the city he has avoided like genital herpes for the last four years - but which he claims he is "open minded" about - or will he finally admit what everybody knows and he might as well stop lying about.

Either way, Precourt has to take second chair on the Liars Club dais to the man whose lips barely move when Fratboy speaks: "Call Me Soccer Don, That's, Like, So Cool" Garber.

Now I'm sure that you've read that the big problem in Columbus is attendance. It's being pushed behind the scenes every chance they get by the scurrying media peons at MLS as they feed simpleminded stooges like Taylor Twellman his talking points.

As an example, they point out that the Halloween playoff game in CBus only drew 14,000 people. Can you imagine? A playoff game. Just goes to show you.

Well, like they say, you can take your pick who to believe: them or your own lying eyes.

Here, for comparison sake, is the playoff game in Houston the previous night; MLS tells us that there were 15,600 people in attendance:

And here's "14,000" in Mapfre 24 hours later:

Now some people have suggested that they got the number - which not a single player, former player, journalist, fan or anyone who's ever set foot in the place agrees is even close to accurate (one player has said they all thought it looked like "a sellout") - by taking a turnstile count at kickoff since, unbeknownst to anyone, the "management" decided at the last minute that everyone entering the building had to be individually patted down and no, I'm not going to speculate as to why.

As a result, hundreds of fans were still waiting patiently in line to get a farewell crotch squeeze from PSV when the game kicked off.

Now in truth everybody knows that MLS lies about attendance. It's as traditional in The Soccer Don's league as terrible officiating. It's just that normally they OVERstate the turnstile count. In this case, breaking new frontiers of MLS lying, they've clearly UNDERstated it, either by simply making up a low number or by manipulating the timing of the count to suit themselves.

I only mention this because, as far as anyone can tell, Tuesday night's match is sold out. Has been for a week now. Go over to Ticketmaster and see for yourself.

Normally, the league and the team can't wait to issue releases proudly trumpeting a quick sellout, and in fact that's exactly what happened with the evenings' other game, in Houston.

But oddly, even though the game has been sold out for a week now, they've made no announcement at all regarding the game in Columbus. Only a very few people have been cynical enough to wonder out loud whether PSV is holding back a couple blocks of tickets so they can again screw with the narrative but I'd prefer not to think that.

Still, there's something else very puzzling going on:

Those of you who've been to Mapfre/Crew Stadium for big events (Crew Stadium: good enough for 3 national team games and an MLS Cup in the past 2 years but not good enough for "Frat Tony") know that when the regular seats sell out they put bleachers on the stage at the north end and on the patio to the south, letting them sell another 2500 or so seats. They've done it many times in the past.

But for this game they have not done so and refuse to say why, but it's not hard to figure out: setting attendance records at Mapfre does not exactly fit the narrative. You might think that the opportunity to pocket another $250,000 or so from the match would be of interest to a team supposedly struggling to turn a profit, but you'd apparently be wrong.

As long as we're discussing attendance, let's look at something that Andy Loughnane, the Crews's President of Business Operations, told a writer from Business Journal about a year ago:

“We set attendance records, both sellouts and overall season tickets and overall season attendance records, (in) 2014, ‘15 and ‘16."

Wait. What?

But MLS keeps saying that attendance has been cratering, nobody was showing up and the players were getting lonely out there on game day, proving that Columbus "won't support" the team.

Actually, attendance did in fact go down this year, but the primary reason is that MLS and PSV arranged for it to happen that way.

The details are all located here, and it's eye opening to say the least; the team and the league quite clearly conspired to tamp down attendance.

One recent Crew player, who still has numerous front office ties, says that he knows "for a fact" that the team literally "zeroed out" the marketing budget, something any resident of Columbus already knew. No TV, no print, no billboards, no display ads, nothing at all.

It was so bad that a local outdoor advertising company actually created billboards promoting the Crew playoff run on their own because the team wouldn't do it.

Why, if you didn't know better you'd swear that PSV didn't WANT to sell tickets in 2017. Why would that be I wonder.

By now you've probably heard about the meeting in New York last week when the top political and business leaders from Columbus Ohio were finally granted an audience with Don 'Sir Lies A Lot' Garber and his organ grinder's monkey of a BFF, Anthony "Fratboy" Precourt.

Basically, the guys from Columbus had some serious offers to make - downtown stadium sites, millions in corporate sponsorships and an offer to purchase the Crew either in part or in whole among them.

They started the meeting by telling Garber and Precourt that they are committed to doing what it takes to keep the Crew in Columbus and, on that basis, asked them what was necessary to make that happen.

They got no answer.

Instead, displaying an attitude which Grant Wahl rightly characterized as "outrageous", MLS/PSV told them that they should just make an offer. Their view was that Columbus owed them something. This is what Precourt characterized, in a statement which the MLS comm shop released (under a PSV letterhead) before the Columbus contingent cleared the front desk on the way out, as "being willing to listen".

The meeting lasted all of 20 minutes.

Garber and Precourt didn't want this meeting to begin with. They thought they had this whole relocation thing pretty well figured out and when all hell broke loose they didn't know what to do, although one of the options they're NOT considering at the moment is "Not move the Crew to Austin Texas where they average 16 days a year over 100 degrees F.

It's like Qatar without the slaves.

Mostly, Don figures he has the cards, no one can stop him; Seattle majority owner Joe Roth told a supporters meeting that "it's not an owners decision" and "the Sounders have nothing to do with it". In other words, Don and his Monkey have all the authority they need to do whatever they want and what they want is to move MLS' original team to Austin and screw anybody who doesn't like it.

A lot of people are saying the secret here is that if MLS can do this to Columbus they can do it to anyone. It says here that's exactly the lesson Garber wants everyone to take away from this. Do as he says, don't tick him off, or you'll get the same.

Welcome to MLS 4.0: It's Don's league now.