Yesterday was MLS Commissioner Don Garber's big pre-MLS Cup "State of the League", where he talks to reporters and interested parties about where MLS is now and where he expects it to be in the future. Expansion was a big topic, and Garber went unusually specific, picking out a few expansion favorites for the last three spots of the decade. Miami was obviously among those, as were Atlanta and Minneapolis (two locations building multi-purpose NFL-MLS stadiums currently). Somewhat less obvious possibilities included San Antonio, St Louis, and Austin in a big surprise.
Garber also talked about increasing league transparency, bringing up the Dempsey "controversy" by name.
"What I will say is that as an emerging league, there are times when we are figuring out those rules as we go along," said Garber. "I don’t know if the Clint Dempsey case is an example of that, but there could be something that comes up where we say, this is something that we need to figure out now, because we will lose this player or we won’t be able to sign this player, or it will prevent us from being competitive in an international competition, whatever it might be.
Other big topics included TV deals, where Garber may not be content with playing second fiddle to the EPL on NBC, as well as a potential winter schedule shift and flex scheduling.
The league's playoff system has improved over the last five years, but Pro Soccer Talk has an idea about Cup Final hosting, to balance out the easy schedules one conference or another will occasionally get: Alternate between homes in the East and West. But I have a better idea; take a page out of Major League Baseball and stake home field advantage on the winner of an inter-league All-Star Game! Because everyone in MLB LOVES that system!
KC's MLS Cup Final kits will have some funky silver lettering under the crest signifying the occasion. On that note, be sure to join us at the Sounder at Heart MLS Cup Final Watch Party at Naked City Brewing. I'll be giving out limited edition signatures to the first 10,000 readers who bring babies.
The Houston Dynamo expect to find out this week whether the Texas coast will be getting an expansion team in the NWSL. They submitted a bid after receiving positive feedback from area soccer fans on the possibility.
Always the innovators, the city of Portland isn't afraid to try the unconventional. That's why the recently discovered Portland Timbers business practice of not paying their full-time interns shouldn't be any great surprise. I'm not even sure why it's on here: Timbers brass says the story isn't even news-worthy.
The process of qualifying for the Open Cup just changed in a major way for amateur clubs. The qualifying tournament is now held the YEAR BEFORE the Open Cup proper, meaning qualifiers this coming summer will be for the 2015 Open Cup.