Seattle tech site Geekwire is set to host their first ever Sports Tech Summit on Wednesday at Safeco Field in downtown Seattle, with Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer (who brainstormed the event with Geekwire co-founder John Cook) and MLS Commissioner Don Garber set to speak at the event. At the event’s kickoff party at the Sounders’ Pioneer Square event space on Tuesday, Garber chatted with the media about Jordan Morris, turf, and the future of MLS.
Way back at the beginning of 2016, before Morris had made his decision to sign with the Sounders, Garber made clear his desire for the Seattle native to join MLS. Now that we’re halfway through Morris’ first season, Garber seemed very pleased with how things have transpired: "I think it was really, really important for us to sign Jordan. To see him scoring goals and having fun in a market that knows him and loves him and have him represent his city and family, it kind of warms your heart." He said that he expects Morris to be a "big star" and that he and MLS "fought hard against forces that were frustrating."
Another huge point that Garber touched on that relates to Seattle and the Sounders is artificial turf. He admitted that it’s a touchy subject, and said that "there is no player and no fan that wouldn’t rather play on grass than on an artificial surface." But he praised the fact that the Sounders have become "one of the most successful professional sports teams in America" despite playing on turf for the entire time in the league. Garber predicted that turf’s "accessibility" will make it much more ubiquitous in the future, and seemed hopeful that it would improve enough to please even the pickiest of star players.
Since the Sounders are in the midst of a very congested July schedule, Garber was asked to comment on the need for Wednesday night games such as this week’s against FC Dallas. He said that it’s most often in the best interest of the clubs, that the league tries to appease each individual club when possible: "You have some teams that like midweek games and you have some clubs that only want Saturday night games. Some teams only like Sunday afternoon games." Garber also attributed time zones, the league’s three national TV contracts, CONCACAF Champions League, and US Open Cup matches all as things that contribute to what he says is "the most complicated schedule in pro sports."
Garber praised Seattle’s history in MLS despite its troubles in 2016 so far, and believes that "we believe we have the most competitive soccer league in the world." Between the new playoff format and infusion of international talent, Garber believes that anything can happen in MLS and that "every fan should always have the belief that their team could win a championship."