Major League Soccer

MLS, Adidas sign new sponsorship deal with emphasis on player development



The development of youth soccer in the United States is largely seen as one of the areas that has the greatest room for improvement, and Major League Soccer and Adidas have appeared to take a step in attacking that issue.

MLS and Adidas replaced their current sponsorship contract by agreeing on a new, eight-year deal that runs through 2018 and puts an emphasis on resurrecting the reserve league and investing in youth development.

Adidas has been a league partner since the inaugural 1996 season. MLS and Adidas signed a 10-year, $150 million contract in 2004. The new deal, which will begin at the start of next season, is reportedly worth more than $200 million.

Though the current sponsorship deal still had four years remaining, Adidas reportedly approached the league about the new partnership agreement.

"We need to accelerate the model for soccer development in North America to attract and keep elite talent engaged and excited about professional opportunities in the sport," Adidas America president Patrik Nilsson said in a press release. "We share a long-term vision with MLS to develop the game and are excited to foster the next generation of American stars." 

"Our extension with Adidas is a major statement by an internationally respected brand that MLS is increasing in value and that our commitments to stadium construction, strategic expansion, player development and improvement in the overall quality of play are paying dividends," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. 

In addition to sponsoring the league's equipment and uniforms, Adidas also sponsors the Generation Adidas program that encourages pre-college-graduate players to join MLS (without their salaries counting against a team's salary cap) but also provides guaranteed college scholarships for players who don't end up making it in the league.

The extended contract between the two entities figures to foster youth development among soccer players even more by putting money into the reserve league, academy systems and other youth programs.

"The United States is a breeding ground for athletic talent, and we need to ensure our homegrown athletes have viable opportunities to play soccer at the highest level," Nilsson said.


What do you think about the extended deal? Happy to see more of an emphasis put on youth development? Excited for the return of the reserve league?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Hincha Tim

    This is a sham. In 2004 Adidas paid $15 million/year with 10 teams. That’s 1.5 Million/year/team. Now they are paying $25 million/year with 18 teams, soon to be 19. That’s under 1.4 million/team with 18 teams and 1.3 million when Montreal joins. So the MLS is going downhill. And Adidas claims they made 300 million on MLS Adidas products. Garber should have made a better deal. Why didn’t he approach Nike, get a bidding war going? Why didn’t he let teams make their own deals? I bet the combined amount would have been over the league’s Adidas deal.

    (SBI-Tim, have you seen all the details of the deal? You’re making a lot of assumptions here about how the deal breaks down.)


  • speekeasy

    Well said. If you hear Fran Fraschilla announcing the USA games at the World Championships he talks about how in all levels of basketball in the US there should be a 24 second clock. This would make players more accustomed to making quicker decision etc. So even with the flaws in our youth system because basketball is so ingrained in our culture our players overcome that. I hope soccer is on its way too because it is a sport that is easy, like basketball, to play in a pick-up game (not much equipment needed and probably why its the most popular and played sport in the world). I feel like we are making progress culturally and putting more money into improving our youth and developement systems couldn’t hurt.


  • StepheninProv

    I hope this deal addresses getting city kids and children of latin immigrants into the fold.


  • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo

    If true, then how do you explain Kobe Bryant, arguably the best player in the basketall(and certainly the one with the most hardware),who was in Italy & Japan as a youngster until coming back to the HS game in the U.S.? Or Dirk Notwiski, Pau Gasol, Mano Ginobli, Tony Parker, etc. My guess is that they did not find a “game” always around.

    Clearly, its more than that. Developing ‘free-style’ is not as big of a factor as most ‘experts’ say it is.Though, it is an indicator of the ‘sports culture’ and when soccer is played in the alleys, dirt lots, (as it is in the hispanic communities of the U.S.), we can say that it has been ‘inculturated’…nothing more.


  • Hincha Tim


    Ives, based on this article is there anything in my post that you can refute? Why haven’t you, as a reporter or any others asked these type of questions of Garber to clarify whether this is really an improvement or not, and whether there were alternatives? It is your site basically made a lot of assumptions about what a good deal this is (or at least toed the party line without looking into it more). Look at your article above. Is there one thing in it that reads other than an MSL/Adidas press release?


  • Nick

    Hincha Tim, I would rethink that math. In 2004, there were ten teams, so it was 1.5 million/year/team like you say. Problem is, there are no longer 10 teams. In 2011, there will be 18 teams, by 2012 19 or 20, so if the existing deal had continued to 2012 or its expiration in 2014 it would be somewhere in the region of $750,000-$800,000/year/team. Suffice to say, with 20 teams in 2013, this new deal will give $500,000 more per year per team than the previous deal would have.


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