MLS has already lost the collective bargaining talks

Deal or no deal? At this point, it hardly matters. A players strike, which would surely be brief given the limited resources the union can bring to bear, will harm Major League Soccer less in the long term than the league’s failure to seize the moment. MLS has been at the crossroads before, and the league has usually gone the right away. From near-death in 2001, the league rebuilt itself with surprising speed and strength. This country is never going to be easy for a soccer league — it competes domestically with four better-established team sports, and it competes globally … Continue reading MLS has already lost the collective bargaining talks

U.S. Soccer Players union weighs in on MLS labor situation

And they’re totally pro-management! No, no — longtime union rep Mark Levinstein is absolutely behind the players’ push for free agency and oddly insistent that the minimum salary needs to jump to $100,000. The arguments: Unlike the history in Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, or the NHL, in this case MLS has protection from any serious adverse financial consequences from the first introduction of free agency because of the existence of an MLS salary cap. The dire predictions from the MLS about free agency causing dramatically escalating team salaries make no sense when owners remain protected by the salary cap – … Continue reading U.S. Soccer Players union weighs in on MLS labor situation

U.S. women vs. England: The game in Tweets

In the soccer equivalent of watching an aging heavyweight champion win a split decision over an outclassed journeyman, the U.S. women beat England 1-0 thanks to a Lauren Holiday cross, an Alex Morgan goal, and an errant flag. The general themes were: Why is Jill Ellis persisting in the experiment of Lauren Holiday and Morgan Brian as the central midfield? It didn’t work against France. The only reason it may have worked here was because the Lionesses attacked like shy kittens. Can everyone please stop talking about Hope Solo? Maybe the Hope Solo of the 2008, 2011 and 2012 finals would’ve knocked … Continue reading U.S. women vs. England: The game in Tweets

MLS, the NASL, USL, Armageddon and fuzzy memories

My post today at SoccerWire asks a provocative question: Is North American pro soccer headed toward Armageddon? “No, probably not” is a reasonable answer, but I humbly suggest the post is worth reading anyway. Pro soccer (and I’ll clarify: in this case, I’m just talking about men) has a lot of moving parts at the moment. The lower divisions are in their usual state of upheaval, this time with two entities going head-to-head with contrasting visions, and MLS is clinging to the remnants of its 1996 business model in a way that might leave it weaker. And I didn’t even … Continue reading MLS, the NASL, USL, Armageddon and fuzzy memories

Single-Digit Soccer: Making our own “Miracle”

In the new ESPN “30 for 30” documentary Of Miracles and Men, we see footage of Anatoli Tarasov, the man given the unlikely job of starting Soviet ice hockey from scratch. In a 1992 interview, he says he was told he would have little to see of other countries’ games and would need to “work on his own hockey.” “They were right!” he exclaims. More footage from his coaching days shows him imploring players to smile, have fun, and love each other. He borrowed more from ballet than Canadian hockey. His daughter, Tatiana Tarasova, picks up the thread in the present … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Making our own “Miracle”

Promotion/relegation in England: The big drop

England’s vaunted soccer pyramid is a relatively recent phenomenon, at least in expanded form. “League football” — the professional tiers, back in the days in which the FA maintained a clear distinction between “amateur” and “professional” — expanded to four tiers in the early 1920s. The League continued the practice of making its bottom clubs stand for re-election, while clubs from the “Non-League” ranks could apply to take their places. After World War II, the door was nearly deadbolted. Four teams joined the League in a small expansion in 1950, then only seven more teams joined in the next 36 … Continue reading Promotion/relegation in England: The big drop