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American Soccer Notes: Orlando Stadium bill passes in Florida Senate; U.S. Open Cup field set; and more

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The city of Orlando and Orlando City SC inched closer on Monday to building a stadium of their own, a precursor for a future expansion franchise in Major League Soccer.

At 5:50pm on Monday, the Florida State Senate passed SB-306, a bill that will help Orlando be able to afford the price of a new stadium in the downtown area. The bill, which now moves to the Florida House of Representatives, would allow professional franchises to compete against one another for tax rebates. Orlando is asking for up to $1M a year in rebates to pay for a potential new stadium, which is set to cost a total of $105 million.

Orlando City Soccer are currently playing in USL-Pro, and are averaging a reported 8,360 fans per game so far in the 2013 season.

Here are some more stories to get you caught up around American soccer:


With the qualifying matches over, the 68-team field for the 2013 U.S. Open Cup is set to begin, starting with a play-in round on May 7.

Teams such as the Brooklyn Italians of the NPSL and North Texas Rayados of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association qualified into the tournament, and will start play on May 14 in the first round. The draw will take place later this week.

The 16 Major League Soccer teams based in the U.S. will begin play in the third round of the competition, set to take place on May 28. Last year’s tournament saw Sporting Kansas City win their first U.S. Open Cup over the defending champion Seattle Sounders in penalty kicks.

The oldest soccer tournament in the United States is celebrating it’s centennial with a larger field of teams and more prize money available to the winners, as 34 professional teams join 34 semi-pro and amateur sides in the competition.


On Monday, the MLS officials who work matches voted to certify the Professional Soccer Referees Association in an attempt to unionize and collectively bargain for future rights.

According to a report from the AP, some referees have a contract for the 2013 season, but many of the assistants and other match officials do not. The PSRA will bargain with the Professional Referee Organization, the group that sets match official assignments for MLS, MLS Reserve League, NASL, and USL-Pro matches.


What do you think of this news? Do you see the bill passing in the Florida House? Which teams do you think can make a run in the U.S. Open Cup? Do you agree with the referee’s decision to unionize?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. US is so much bigger than Europe, needs to be at least 24, maybe 30 eventually. If England, can sustain 20 teams, I think the US can handle 30.

  2. I’m still not a fan of expanding Div 1 as big as Garber is planning.

    1. Limit Div 1 to 18 teams. 34 game season, home and away against every opponent.

    2. See which NASL/USLPRO teams want to step up and help make MLS Division 2. Keep it under the same financial and collective bargaining agreement to reduce financial risk. Will eventually get to 18 teams as well (I don’t see us getting to more than 36 professional teams in the next 30 years).

    3. Change MLS Cup to a ‘within the season’ competition involving both MLS1 and MLS2 teams. Allows for a separate TV contract and more revenue while also providing consistent way for MLS1 and MLS2 teams to face each other, to help market them as 2 divisions of the same league.

    4. Replace the (MLS Cup) Playoffs of today with promotion/relegation playoffs. The top MLS2 teams compete in playoffs to determine who moves up to MLS1 while the bottom MLS1 teams compete to see who avoids dropping to MLS2. These are games that will REALLY matter and will bring out the best in both players and fans, making for great TV.

    Note: I’m not proposing breaking up the MLS ‘single entity’ model, though probably MLS1 would have a higher salary cap than MLS2 (along with slightly smaller share of revenue); I’m merely proposing that instead of going with the regional division model of other major US sports, that we move to a variation on the vertical model used elsewhere. Soccer is not like other sports in the US: the draft is not the key method for getting fresh blood and our league is not the richest in the world for the sport. We need to combine sound US business practices with an adapted approach to expansion that takes these keys differences into account.

  3. MLS has a very bright future, hopefully nasl and usl can communicate with MLS in order to make a proper second division and third. by the way wvhooligan is reporting beckham is after miami expansion!!! like I said before MLS can feed of foreign owners since american billionaires dont like soccer. on the other hand MLS can easily have 24-28 teams, each conference with same number of teams and with interconference play.

    • American billionaires don’t like soccer?

      man u, roma, liverpool, revolution, timbers, sporting kc, aston villa, la galaxy, dynamo, rapids, arsenal, crew…

      im not positive on if all of the owners of these teams are “billionaires” but they are American and are heavily invested in soccer.

      • god, your so delusional. The American billionaires who own soccer teams in europe do it for the money and some love, but most of the time is just money business and even money laundry to clean their hands. As for MLS American owners, you see the difference NOW since the league has grown to MLS 2.0. Galaxy, SKC Timbers, Sounders have the top four American soccer owners, besides the ‘Hunts” or ????

  4. If Orlando City puts together a strong bid for a franchise then I’d love to see a team in Florida. AND a 2nd NYC team. I understand 21 teams is is getting kind of big, but it doesn’t really feel too big. It’s the nature of sports in America. Major League Baseball has 30 teams because there are a lot of big rich markets in the US. The more markets involved in the league the better when it comes to national television. The primary concern should be each individual franchise’s financial stability. If the owners have that, then bring them in.

      • I too agree. Who Cares what the norm is. Most Countries arent as big as the US. MLS should go past 24 teams if other cities step up and are ready.

      • I truly believe the MLS could expand in the US/Can to the point where they’d have 2 conferences (East/West) where teams during the regular season only play
        in-conference …than a playoff format that pits East Vs. West for the championship.
        Say 16 teams per conference… home & away
        Top 4-6 teams from each play home & away.

  5. In Houston the stadia are “paid for” (the Sports Authority was actually struggling with debt service last I heard) by (a) hotel and rental car taxes, (b) property tax increment financing, and (c) lease payments by the stadium operator. What Florida is doing sounds like the first. Our experience during the turndown was that the tourist-type taxes weren’t coming in as much; people travel less. You suddenly have to worry about your bond payments, because the reality is that these things are ultimately financed with a bank via bonds and other debt. You tell the naive people it’s tourist tax-funded but it’s really bond-funded with taxes brought in over time used to make the bond payments.

    However, if anyone’s going to be an exception it would be resort type towns like Orlando and Vegas.

    There’s a political issue over whether the best use of tourist tax dollars is a soccer stadium, but that’s for Florida and the local county to decide. I will say I’m sceptical that it’s an actual tourist magnet.

    • I go to Orlando every few years… and we never go anywhere but the theme parks. As much as I’d love to take in an Orland City game there’s just not enough time for us to get in all the Disney/Legoland/Universal we want so adding an evening at a soccer game, MLS or not, isn’t going to happen. The local fans will have to carry the team, if those attendance figures we hear are real then it should be enough, but I’m not sure I really want to put all my faith in those numbers nor do I think out of town fans will flock in to see games.

      • I’ve gone to a number of games this season and past seasons in Orlando… the numbers are correct and this season there’s been strong momentum both in marketing and on field. Orlando has the benefit of only having the Magic to compete with locally for pro sports making it a good fit compared to Tampa and Miami.

        The fans are there plus with the new Brazilian owner they can market international matches so having tied it to tourist tax is viable. The Brazilian tourist rate in Orlando has really boom recently by the way, they have a friendly with Fluminense in the summer should be a good indicator.

      • The numbers are real. We have a game tonight at 7:30 and I’ll be there. We currently have over 4,000 season ticket holders. We would have an average closer to 10,000 this season so far if there was not for a thunderstorm with a 2 hour delay on the season opener 🙁

        Also, According to the Orlando City President Phil Rawlins There will be a MLS assistant Comm.coming to the game today. Yay

      • I know, I was there 🙁 If anyone else was there remember to keep your ticket stub for the rescheduled game.

      • well, there is no doubt Orlando is going to have to keep this team afloat, but i think Orlando could have a successful marriage of Brazilian tourists and Orlando City games. start packaging games into Disney get-a-ways, have a high profile Brazilian player, and have a nice stadium. the distance between the resorts and downtown is a concern though. they’ll have to think long and hard about how they can work that part out. because the last thing they want are tourists buying these packages (because they’re a good deal) which include tickets and then the tourists decide not to go to the game anyway because of the distance. and since a packaged deal is likely to be cheaper than buying separate, these tickets essentially go wasted. and we have the whole “tickets sold” vs. “actual attendance” situation.

        either way, i bet they can figure it out. but i will agree the local fans are still going to have to drive this team. and they seem to be more than capable.

  6. Anyone else fear going over 20 teams could hurt the league? It may start to thin out the talent, might start to effect attendance it they start awarding franchises who haven’t proven they can draw the crowds, etc. I just hope we don’t have another contraction. But based on everything I read and hear, Garber & Co. have really don’t an excellent job and they obviously know what they are doing.

    • I have a serious concern about it, rapid expansion can lead to some serious mediocrity. The level of play in an average MLS game is just now becoming acceptable for me to watch as a neutral, would hate to see it watered down with quick expansion.

    • The “watered down talent” argument has been made consistently since the 2005 expansion push started. However, the general consensus seems to be that the level of play has been steadily increasing during that time. Why? There is an enormous pool of talent to draw from and many of the new teams have upped the ante on foreign and domestic recruiting. The quality of the new organizations will have much more to do with the quality of play more than the quantity of new organizations.

      • +1
        If the league ups the salary cap they can up the level of play while expanding to new teams. There’s literally a world of players out there you can bring in, just loosen the cap and add a few more international spots if you are worried about the level of play. Not to mention the academies and home grown players are adding to the talent pool that used to be too dependent on college alone.

      • Agreed. And as MLS increases in exposure, more foreign players are coming here — and we need more opportunities for Americans to play.

    • I don’t think enough people would notice roster dilution for it to be economically impactful. I’m not sure ticket buying fans would care, and the sort of snob who might, may not be the prototypical MLS fan anyway.

      In practice, I think that if they keep the cap and international numbers up, and allow DPs, you can fill in any dilution by buying on the market.

      What I see as potentially more problematic is the reserve/loan situation. I think you can see the dilution in MLS more in the reserves. And now with them encouraging loans, a lot of the subs the depleted Dynamo could have used last weekend were off somewhere on loan. It might be better for development but there could be some strain on rosters if you have 25 teams plus reserves plus loanees and you have some injuries. What little reserve talent you have after it’s sliced 25 ways might be shipped off to the minors. MLS might want to slow down on expansion while it shores up the development side……if they were thinking in soccer terms rather than money. But the intangible of working on development will probably be overwhelmed by the tangible dangling of a $100 milion check in front of the league.

      I do think that now that we’ve cleaned out the low-hanging fruit from the old A-League, the expansion risk goes up.

    • Not at all! The level of play is so much better now (after adding 6 teams since 2007) than it was before. As long as mls keeps expansion smart (good ownerships, stadiums, youth/long term focus) i say more the merrier.

    • It just seems that leagues with 20+ teams just aren’t taken that seriously. I suppose the U.S. does have the size differential over every European country, which means that a different model can be considered. But overall, and just my opinion, it will take time for others to take the league seriously if MLS just looks like a bloated league with no relegation (yeah, I know that’s another can of worms) and the playoff system that doesn’t reward performance over a regular season with such a large number of games played if there were to be 24 or more teams.
      And just in case someone comes up with the argument that MLS shouldn’t look to Europe since those leagues are usually dominated by two or three teams, there is an argument to be made that MLS is currently dominated by the Galaxy, Houston and the Red Bulls (the Arsenal of MLS, if you take overall finishes and financial resources into consideration). Granted, the time frame is much more limited to make that kind of judgement.
      Just as an exercise in wishful thinking, shouldn’t this be an opportunity for the MLS to consider working with the NASL to build up the second tier of U.S. soccer and having these new expansion teams enter this league. In that way the league would add the relegation threat that adds to the excitement for supporters of the lower or mid table teams, the U.S. soccer development pipeline would gain another league that would have some added competitiveness, and the league as a whole would cease to have the perception of being kind of a kick-around league where teams who underperform aren’t penalized. In addition, smaller market teams would be able to participate in a more legitimized league if they happen to be part of the second tier league and their fans can savor the opportunity of playing up to the “big league”. With so many resources, why not create this type of healthy competition?

  7. F**** Gar ba ge and his ny2 give…… to orlando. No arab money in MLS. This F****s are gonna end up killing our league. Dont they have soccer leagues in the middle east?

    • I have no problem with Arab owners giving the Austrian owners a run for their money in New York. I do have a problem with two teams in NY metro area while a fourth of the nation has none. However, I think it would be nice to see New York CITY wearing all light blue kits and playing under the name “City.” Oh, or what about Manhattan City? Our own Man City… Of course that then is basically alienating all the non-City fans in New York like Chivas does so maybe it’s a horrible idea altogether.

      I for one will NEVER support New York Red Bulls as I am a FC Wacker Tirol fan! I can’t believe they split the Austrian-American fanbase like that! Outrage!

  8. this is off topic but did anybody notice how Obama calls an NBA player to show his support and congratulate his bravery but he gave absolutely no mind or car when Robbie Rogers did the same months ago. What an absolute joke of a publicity play, he only mentions the higher profile athlete

    • Well the difference is that Collins plans to keep playing pro ball while Rogers said he was quitting. For me, the real annoying thing is that very little notice was made when Megan Rapinoe came out. Where was Obama, or Clinton, or major media then? Why was she not hailed as courageous? Just because she’s a woman. She kept playing professionall after she came out and she happens to play on the best national team in the world.

      • Cause that’s not national news. A kid who went to Stanford and is an NBA vet, and comes out on the cover of SI is news. Sorry to burst your bubble.

      • Agreed Rapinoe deserves some props. But as we know there are groups that have been actively recruiting a gay NFL player to come out for months so Collins’ decision was just more timely. Also, I don’t think a lesbian professional athlete is a surprise to anyone as there already is a stereotype that says there’s lots of those in golf or softball or whatever. And frankly, most people would say that nobody cares about women’s sports or even soccer in terms of the regular ratings.
        What really remains to be seen is if Collins will even play next season, which sounds like was a bit of a doubt as he is a free agent and 34 or whatever. Although I do fear it might be a cheap publicity ploy for a team to sign him and play him, kind of like the WNBA team that played the 50 year old that one game.

      • But Collins is terrible and is only around for the six fouls per game he brings as a warm body, whereas Rogers is at least a fringe national team player.

      • Martina Navratilova beat Rapinoe by like thirty years. 3x WNBA MVP player Sheryl Swoopes, beat Rapinoe by almost a decade. Reality is, people like Rapinoe and Brittney Griner won’t get too many headlines for coming out. Maybe because a lot of people just assumed they were prior to them finally coming out. Plus there’s a stigma between female athletes and male athletes.

      • Or Bush Sr., Bush, or Reagan? Don’t turn this into a political issue for the love of god. until soccer is held in the same light as other major professional sports, don’t expect the media to catch on. this story was and continues to be driven by ESPN. we all know ESPN doesn’t really care much for MLS.

    • Oh lordy, a politician did something to promote an idea.

      The reality is that the President’s life is scripted to within a nanosecond and frankly, to the country as a whole, Robbie Rogers coming out means nothing because he’s a soccer player. It isn’t a major sport yet.

      A long-time NBA center with a degree from Stanford coming out and still playing is monumentally larger in the grand scheme of things and the President gave it a leg up further with the call.

      That’s how politics works. His agenda is to promote equal rights and he chose Collins as his sports avenue for doing so because it would get the biggest impact.

      Why you’re calling it a joke is beyond me given that his intent is to promote equal rights and found a larger platform to do so with.

    • Remember which events Michelle Obama attended at the London Olympics? Only the high profile ones where she could be seen greeting and hugging multimillionaire superstars like Lebron James and Serena Williams. Just like Barack Obama went to the US men’s basketball team final pre-Olympic game. He certainly wouldn’t go to a USMNT qualifier. The Obamas know whom to hang out with.

      • That’s an incredibly simplistic and frankly wrong way of looking at high profile politicians and where they go.

        A member of the first family is at all times surrounded by dozens of secret service’s finest. A trip requires advanced teams weeks in advance to run risk assessment and profiles on local trouble.

        There are very few places they can actually go because of security concerns for not only themselves, but furthermore what strain their security will put on the event itself.

        There’s a reason Presidents do their best to not attend any personal events like weddings and such. Their very presence derails even the most advanced security plans.

        He might go to a USMNT qualifier if he actually attended sports events not involving his Bulls.

        You even said it yourself–he went to a pre-Olympic game. Presidents, PMs, etc cause logistical nightmares.

        Also, he loves basketball. I doubt he cares much for soccer. That’s cool. I love soccer and I don’t care much for basketball.

      • I know from some fellow Western Kentucky University fans that when Obama and PM Cameron attended the NCAA tourney play-in game last year there was about an extra hour delay to get into the stadium at times from the deeper security check.

      • President Ford’s house is a block away from mine. After he left us, the funeral and procession arrangements for his burial resulted in me not being able to leave my house for 24 hours and I live in a nice suburb.

        Every road for a mile was blocked.

        I’m surprised your friends only had to wait an extra hour.

      • Why do you want the President to attend a USMNT WC qualifier? Doesn’t he have more important things to do?

      • Love people like this. Reality is meaningless to them.

        The black guy played Golf! GET HIM!

        Given that the President has spent less time doing personal things than any previous President in modern history–your hatred is disgusting.

    • I just hate how they keep saying “first from the four major sports leagues” whatever i stopped caring about what espn/mainstream news has to say a while ago..

      • Agreed… and why is Hockey a part of the big 4? Because it is big in Boston and New York where the media are located.

      • i don’t hear them say that. ESPN has made it a point to say “active male athlete”. almost like they don’t want to even discuss Rogers being an active player who is only inactive because he thought the news would ruin his career.

        of course, now we hear he is talking to LA. and good for him.

  9. Orlando should be the the 20th team in MLS.

    MLS should add 4 more teams by 2025. Choose 4 of the following. All we need is a league of 24 teams

    St. Louis, 2nd NYC, Atlanta, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Ottawa,

      • to be fair, they have a good plan in place. According to nextSTL, Lodging Hospitality Management, which just so happens to be owned by Colorado Rapids and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, is in the final stages of purchasing, for $20 million, the historic 1894 St. Louis Union Station. Further, the article states that the plan is to build a $100 million stadium on this property. Specifically, nextSTL reports that the land is wanted for an MLS stadium.

        read about it here. haven’t heard much more since the article came out though.

      • Bryan, you have overstated things a bit. Lodging and Hospitality Management (the company that bought Union Station) is NOT owned by Stan Kroenke. Stan Kroenke’s company is called THF. The two companies have done some business together…partnered on some developments. But no more than that. I would not get your hopes up regarding Kroenke bringing us an MLS team here in St. Louis.

      • A failed pro team? Are you talking about that fiasco involving Anelka’s brother ? The Athletica? The Steamers/Storm/Ambush/Steamers again? NASL? Please elaborate.

        They made a good decision going with Portland last time out, but I don’t think failed pro team is the best argument against St. Louis. There are plenty of positives for that city. Negatives, too, to be fair. Just curious about your thoughts on a failed pro team being one of them.

    • The majority of revenue for MLS teams is through the television deals. Expansion should be all about adding new television markets to the MLS (either local or expanding national interest in certain market shares).

      Top Television Markets:
      #1 New York
      #8 Atlanta
      #11 Detroit
      #12 Phoenix
      #15 Minneapolis
      #19 Orlando
      #24 Charlotte
      #21 St. Louis

      • Do you have the expertise to say that the top television markets will translate into the top markets for MLS viewership? Otherwise I’m not convinced it’s that simple. For instance Portland is 22 on that list. Kansas City is 31 but both have successful franchises.

      • Not to mention “media markets” represent a fairly small combination of counties, Baseball’s Cardinals for example are in the St. Louis media market but have tv partners throughout the midwest, places like Evansville Indiana, Memphis TN, etc that wouldn’t actually be in the “media market.”

      • It’s already there……at which point we get into the tug of war argument, will people watch both, will there be a more partisan approach, how will it divide relative to cable provider territories. Your #1 pot of gold is not still that if the fan base splinters into 2 and won’t watch the other guy’s games. It’s really two #10s or #20s.

        And that’s all buying the assumption that generalized TV markets equates to TV deals presuming those fans watch soccer. I’d assume that would be dictated by eyeballs and ratings and such and not general TV population.

        And then there’s the Dynamo Issue, ie, what happens if you decide to do a forward-leaning deal with a channel that most of the local cable providers don’t actually have. This is mitigated somewhat by all our national TV games but even if you have the eyeballs you have to have the right outlet, or you might get the $ but you might not have the right exposure.

      • As approach the soft limit of 20 or whatever number we want to have, anyone else bothered that we have three teams in Canada? I’m sorry, I’d rather have teams in Atlanta, St. Louis, and NY2 than Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, and yeah I know that TFC fans think they invented supporter’s groups or whatever, but I just don’t care if those teams ever succeed or not.

      • Yes, I would much rather have teams in any of those cities than the Canadian teams, all they seem to do b*tch about the rules. And they’re a bunch of Eurosnobs. Let them form their own league if MLS is so screwed up.

      • You can go ahead and take Detroit off that list and insert Indianapolis and San Antonio. Act like a professional for once.

    • – NYC2
      – Orlando
      – Atlanta
      – St. Louis

      those four look good to me. for the last one, that’s tough. with only Chicago serving that area of the US, although Columbus isn’t terribly far, it makes sense to have a team in either Minneapolis, Detroit, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Madison, etc.

      Ottawa or Winnipeg would be good Canadian cities.

  10. I still question whether another team in Florida is the answer but cities that have made serious steps towards teams need to be rewarded. MLS needs to be neutral and stop trying to breath life into the NYC2 team. Give it to Orlando who has clearly done everything right thus far. I just think a second NY team will damage the red bulls hugely.

    • I see what you mean and wondered if NYC2 would hurt the Red Bulls too. But I think if the NYRB win, they’ll be fine.

    • I don’t know if you want the tail wagging the dog that much. You don’t want to indulge bad ideas just because they are on their way to implementation, nor do you want to delegate your decisionmaking process to the cities to decide, ie, their decision to build dictates to us.

      Florida actually has some history on this with Tropicana Field, which was a “build it and they’ll come” approach to a baseball stadium in Tampa. It took them several years to get an actual tenant, it needed tens of millions in renovations before it could house a team ($70 million), even though it was purpose built for baseball for $130 million, and now the Rays want a new ballpark after 18 years.

      [Now that I think about this, how did Florida Senate pass this after the whole Marlins debacle?]

      • And because they built the stadium early, they missed the new wave of stadiums led by Camden Yards, and have one of the least-liked stadiums in MLB.

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