MLS- Expansion

Garber addresses MLS schedule, playoff system, expansion and more

Don Garber (Getty Images)


HARRISON, N.J. — MLS Commissioner Don Garber held an informal press conference at halftime of the U.S. men's national team friendly with Ecuador Tuesday night, and he discussed a bevy of topics, including MLS scheduling and expansion.

The first thing Garber touched on were the comments made recently by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The German-born coach believes the MLS season is not long enough to compete with nations around the world, and that it needs to be prolonged in order to help American players be competitive at the sport's top level.

"Listen, Jurgen's right, season's too short," said Garber. "I'd love to able to have global warming to take its effect and have the weather in our country change and be able to have a longer season. But I think our fan base is developing and we will have Saturday night 56,000 people in Seattle. That's not something we would've dreamed of two years ago.

"I think the time will come (when) we'll be able to spread our season out a little bit. I appreciate Jurgen's support, I know that Dan (Flynn, CEO/Secretary General of U.S. Soccer) and Sunil (Gulati, president of USSF) have been really engaged with Jurgen to have him supportive of the league. He's coming into the office tomorrow to meet with me and (MLS executives) Nelson (Rodriguez) and Todd Durbin and we're going to sit down and talk about how we can grow the game together."

With MLS ending in two weeks, Garber also addressed the league's current playoffs system, which has drawn heavy scrutiny ever since it was announced.

"I think it's what, seven teams that are still in the hunt. I think our playoff format has been very exciting," said Garber. "I know we got a lot of criticism for adding our play-in games, but at the end of the day, pro sports in America are driven by the excitement of their playoffs leading into a championship game. Having that, experiencing that with MLS this season, I'm very excited for it. i know our fans are; our television ratings are going up, so I think that speaks for itself."

Garber was also asked at length about MLS expansion, and how the search for a 20th team in New York City is going. The commissioner responded by saying strides have been made.

"The city has been supportive. We really appreciate the support of the Mayor's office," said Garber. "I've got two or three investors prospects in my box tonight. If we can build a stadium, we're going to have a 20th team in New York City. But we've got a lot of work before we get that stadium built."

One team that's been heavily linked with that coveted 20th spot is the New York Cosmos. But Garber said that the Cosmos have some wrinkles to iron out before being taken more seriously.

"We talk to them. I don't know that they're involved. They've got some things that they're trying to work out within their ownership group, but I've said many times I applaud what they've been doing," said Garber. "They're doing a great job building their brand, and when we're ready to get that team launched, if they want to be a part of it, we'll be happy to talk to them."

Garber also emphasized the importance of getting a stadium (preferably soccer-specific) in place for the potential second New York team.

"At the end of the day, we've got to get a stadium built. I believe that we'll be able to get that done," said Garber. "I feel better about it now than I have at any other point, but we've got a lot of work to do. It's a difficult market to get projects developed, as evidenced by how long it took to get Red Bull Arena built."

Garber later added: "We get a stadium built, we'll have no problem getting an ownership group for that team, so whether it's one group or it's a combination of groups, the stadium is the key to a second team in New York."

As for a location of a newly-constructed stadium? Queens seems to be a primary candidate in the commissioner's eyes.

"Queens would be great. It'd (be) great to have a stadium in Flushing Meadows (Corona) Park or to have it somewhere around Citi Field, but Randall's Island is a prospect that we've been spending a little more time looking at, so I think it will ultimately come to fruition," said Garber. "The question to me is, 'How long is it going to take and how much patience do we have?'"

Asked what other options there are for the league in terms of expansions, Garber responded by saying that the league could just sit and wait until the perfect fit comes along.

"Things are going well with the league, so we're not in a rush," said Garber. "We don't need to do it, I've said that many times before. I think in the past, starting in '05, we needed to expand. We don't need to expand now, we want to with the right owner, the right facility and the right market, so we'll do it when the time is right."

As much as the league wants a second team in the New York market, Garbed admitted that isn't the be-all, end-all in terms of expansion.

"We could only be committed to if we can get the deal done. We want it to happen," said Garber. "If we can get it done in a reasonable period of time, then we're going to go down a path to really focus on New York as a priority. But if we can't get it done, we'll continue to look at all those other markets that have been noisy about soccer, whether that's all the ones I've mentioned in the past, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Miami."


What do you think of Garber's comments towards the MLS schedule needing to be longer? Agree that the playoffs system has been exciting? Happy/disappointed that the league is so set on making New York the 20th team?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Dan

    Fair enough, I was just going off of the high school soccer scene in the suburbs (as told by family) and how many are now on MLS rosters.


  • gigi

    A second team in New York would for sure be cool and hell they might even get more fans goin to their stadium than the red bulls, but only for a little while. What New York needs is not a second team, what they need is a winning team. Because New York doesn’t follow unsuccessful teams, no they follow winners. And until the red bulls can make it, it is in my dissertation that the franchise wouldn’t be as successful as one would imagine. Thats just my opinion though, I think Atlanta would be a safer bet.


  • Rick

    Why split the small fan base of NY soccer fans? Doesn’t make sense. The 20th team should be in a new city.


  • gigi

    And then Angel will score a hat trick against red bull on the first time the cosmos and red bull meet. Yup i can see it happen


  • f3rgette

    St. Louis can’t seem to find an ownership group with the brains and commitment to make pro soccer work. There is a lot of competition for fans with Rams, Cardinals, Blues and SLU soccer, but I think the potential is there for it to be successful. Just need some owners with a good plan who won’t cut and run when things get challenging (ACSTL, I’m looking at you). And a stadium. Definitely need a stadium. Maybe in that giant empty lot next to Busch…


  • f3rgette

    Exactly. A plan and commitment to make it work. Losing ACSTL and Athletica was just embarrassing and painful.


  • Greg G

    No to Randall’s Island. There is absolutely no transportation there. It would flop.

    Plus, I don’t understand this need to build in Queens. Seems based, in part, on a false premise that, because there are Hispanic communities there, there will be greater attendance. They should focus on Brooklyn. It’s has a very diverse community (including Hispanic, which MLS will love) and tons of white nerdy hipster types (read: Seattle Sounder, Portland Timber – type fans) that will fill the stadium. There is also a LIRR terminal at Atlantic Avenue for Long Island fans. Manhattan is too damn expensive, and Brooklyn seems to be more forward looking. I say build over the Rail Yards at Stillwell Ave near Coney Island, the Waterfront near Williamsburg, Floyd Bennett field, the Navy Yard, or Red Hook.


  • John

    November-January: Winter league of 6 teams in Arizona made up of players 15-26.
    January: Preseason
    Weekend after Superbowl: Start MLS Season
    July: Three Week Summer Break
    November: End Season


  • Madnote

    I don’t get why all you people are going nuts over cold weather. Winter weather isn’t a problem for the teams in the southeast!

    oh wait…

    I forgot that MLS has a huge “Keep Out” sign pasted over us on the map. It’s almost like they’ve been getting drunk and throwing darts at the map.

    What’s next, Honolulu FC?


  • Jayrod1111

    To both of you who replied to my post….

    This was a sarcastic post to point out the fact that NE REVS need a rebranding and a new stadium…

    It has nothing to do with the proposed name of the club or the money required to start a franchise…


  • NBizz5

    I agree that they should look elsewhere. Why do they think having a second team in NY is going to work when the first NY team has a brand new stadium and can barely get it half full for the majority of their games?!


  • Dudinho

    we need to be a bit more established until we move in that direction. were almost at every team owning their stadium. Big reason we haven’t done it already. And if you think attendance in new england is bad Ha! love to see how many folks are going to want to drive out to the boondocks to whatch them play in the winter. the Revs and United ironing out their stadium deals will move us closer to an international calendar. until thats resolved it aint happening

    if they do

    then i see MLS doing it towards the end of this decade assuming we all live past 2012 lol.

    Were probably going to have a one to two month break in the season something like ending the first half of the season in early December end of November and not returning until after the Superbowl


  • bottlcaps

    How many professional sports play regular season games OUTDOORS in January, February or March? None. Baseball has preseason in Arizona and Florida in March and the Super Bowl in January is a one-off event played indoors or outdoors in a warm sunny climate.

    Yet if FIFA had their way, we would be playing soccer those months…HAH

    Good for Russia!! Germany and Poland and the other eastern European countries should follow their lead.

    If the USSF and the MLS would like to “prolong” the season, they would be butting up against climactic barriers in most of the US.

    My suggestion: Extend the season til November and shoten the playoffs to no more than two weeks. START the season in March, with games in most of the warmer states AND hold the OPEN CUP as a preseason tournament and not extend it like it is now. This would allow more room for the CCL and other international tourneys and give the MLS some flexibility to reschedule games when the but up against WCQ or international events.


  • Rory

    Yeah, I’m gonna have to call BS to that one. How does one measure “most catastrophe’s in history”… and how does one compare that to any year before the internet made every catastrophe a world news event. I’m gonna go with the Nasa folks down in Huntsville that explained that all the UN Models are horribly wrong for not taking into account the actual amount of heat that escapes the atmosphere (Dr. Spencer, U of Alabama-Huntsville–the boss when it comes to climate) and CERN who have demonstrated (not theorized, but actually demonstrated in controlled conditions) that the Sun’s increased activity and how it impacts cloud formations is to blame for the slight temp increases we have seen.
    These aren’t crackpots.. this is CERN (of the superhydron collider) we’re talking about.
    Sadly, Commish Garber, I doubt one tenth of one degrees average over the next decade will help much… might mean one more fat Seattle fan decides to go shirtless and paint his chest at a chilly October game, but that’s about it. Don’t see you playing a game in Denver in December anytime this decade.


  • rory

    Agreed… when the commish can convince fans to show up for midweek game in the summer then maybe he can start thinking about winter games… maybe.


  • cony

    What problems do our players have? Lack Creativity, first touch is weak, not comfortable with the ball under pressure, play too many long balls, weak decision making and I could go on and on. So Garber wants to control the weather and JK wants a longer season. Here is your solution. Start a MLS Futsal Pro league after the season is over. Futsal will help our players to improve 100%. This is a no brainer. But people need to think out of the box. The players will love it. We need a REVOLUTION in America. We need radical thinking. The status quo is keeping us chained to a fence. It is time to cut the chains of mediocrity and unleash the dogs of war. Our players are ready for change. Just ask them. They are not idiots.


  • cony

    US soccer has come along way but still has along way to go. Klinsmann, Arena, Bradley, or whom ever else is out there is not going to make a huge difference. The national team will continue to do fine. They will qualify and do their best at the world cup. Coaches don’t win championships. Players win championships. We don’t have the players to win the big one yet. But we will one day if we start to put certain things in place. Eg., 30,000 futsal courts is a starter. Especially in the inner cities of America. We need Create a playing environment vs coaching environment for kids. Coaching is totally overrated. It is hurting our player’s development. Our players need a lot less of adult involvement. Read The Talent Code. Read the section where the Futsal coach is sitting on his butt while the kids just play. That is what we need from our adults. Be there but you are not there. That has always been a good sign of a great ref. He’s there but he’s not there. The future stars of the US will come from a playing environment and not a coaching environment. Coaches should have a place but later when players have learn the game by playing 7 days a week. It is the environment that needs to be revamped and not the coaching curriculm. I wish JK, his staff and the team the best and they will be fine. Meanwhile what are we going to do for the future stars? That is the question that needs to be resolved. And quickly before the rest of Concacaf catches up to us.


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    ELAC, do you have any idea why Vergara and Cue are holding on to the franchise? They certainly can’t be making money on it. Perhaps they use it as a write-off for both U.S. and Mexican taxes. It wouldn’t surprise me.


  • Chiefs Fan

    The Atlanta Chiefs were in 3 NASL finals. We have the largest broadcast market without a team. There are no teams in the southeast. We want our team back. (Oh yeah, and they beat Manchester City TWICE.) They were awesome.



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