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MLS Ticker: D.C. United partners with Sunderland; Arena hits out at league; and more



Count D.C. United as the latest MLS side to find a European counterpart.

D.C. United announced Friday that they have partnered with Premier League side Sunderland in an effort to expand the two sides’ global fan base. Sunderland, which features U.S. Men’s National Team striker Jozy Altidore, finished 14th in the Premier League last season.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to partner with Sunderland AFC and its global fan base,” said D.C. United chief operating officer Tom Hunt. “Through this partnership we look to share best practices on both the technical and commercial side, while also helping Sunderland increase its brand recognition in the nation’s capital and throughout the U.S.”

“Interest in football is growing massively in the USA, and our partnership with D.C. United will provide both clubs with an excellent opportunity to grow and evolve in each other’s market,” added Sunderland commercial director Gary Hutchinson. “This is a major step forward for Sunderland and a really exciting development for us in the U.S. marketplace. We are continually looking at new ways to develop our international profile and our partnership with D.C. United will help us to build closer links with this key territory.”

Here are some more news and notes from around MLS:


After being heavily linked to Sacha Kljestan for the past few weeks, the LA Galaxy remained relatively quiet at the MLS transfer deadline.

Head coach Bruce Arena did not say who the team was pursuing, but he did reveal that the Galaxy nearly made a move prior to the deadline’s expiration.

“We came close,” Arena told reporters after practice on Wednesday. “There were just forces in the league that prevented us from doing it. I won’t go into the details, but that’s the reason. Our organization did everything possible to secure a player and unfortunately there were forces fighting really hard to not allow that to happen. Subsequently it didn’t.

“We did everything possible to acquire a player and probably should have been able to do that.”


After a highly successful 2014 World Cup with Costa Rica, Columbus Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez has become the subject of plenty of transfer speculation.

Despite interest from English side Fulham, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter that the team is in no rush to sell the Costa Rican star.

“We had dealings with Fulham and there was an offer and we didn’t accept the offer,” Berhalter said following training on Thursday. “I think they’ve moved on and got another player and it’s done. So I wouldn’t expect that we’d be dealing with them again. Other clubs, I’m sure they’d put offers in.

“When offers come in, we’ll take a look at them,” Berhalter added. “We want to do what’s best for the club. We see a certain value for Giancarlo. And we like him here. So I think our value has to be met before we move further.”

As for the player, Berhalter has insisted that Gonzalez has been easy to work with throughout the always stressful transfer process.

“The thing is, Giancarlo’s been great with this,” Berhalter said. “He’s been level-headed, he’s been focused, and that’s not easy as a player. With all the attention he’s garnered after the World Cup, he’s come back here and just does his work and does his job. He’s a real pro.”


The New York Red Bulls have put Bobby Convey on the trading block but the left back’s high salary is leaving demand for the 31-year-old low. (REPORT)

Chivas USA have signed forward Luis Bolaños on loan from Ecuadorian club LDU Quito. (REPORT)

FC Dallas have signed Paraguayan defender Walter Cabrera on loan for the rest of the season from club General Diaz. (REPORT)

The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed Costa Rican centerback Kendall Watson in a full transfer from Deportivo Saprissa. (REPORT)

The MLS All-Star Game reportedly had 862,000 viewers on ESPN2, more than the last two All-Star Games combined. (REPORT)


What do you think of these notes? Like the partnership between D.C. United and Sunderland? Do you agree with Arena’s comments? Do you see Gonzalez leaving the Crew by the end of the month?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Arena in order to be successful needs to be allowed every advantage possible from the league. Anything short of this will expose his incompetence.

  2. MLS reminds me my dad during christmas, not letting pick what i wanted 🙂
    by the way, chivas usa mls did zero moves, how sad. could have gotten robinho, jones, ronaldinho, sasha, chicharrito, mix.
    I guess rihanna will get chris brown, jay z, drake as her dps and name the team, hollywood stars 🙂

    • No wait. You brought up Ronaldinho again!! I take back my earlier comment.

      If the league isn’t going to allow for Klejstan to La or Dallas what makes you think they’re going to buy a DP for a team with no owner!? I take it you are not a business owner or they’res a a bunch of wax in your ears.

  3. Athena’s a chronic whiner, but his most recent whine highlights a legitimate issue. Too often, “forces within the league” – or in the words if the roster rules, “the judgment of the league” – determine where players end up. It is a ridiculous system. The league should get out of the business of player allocation. Set the cap and the DP rules, and get out of the way.

    • To me, whining is carrying on about minor details/annoyances that no one can do anything about. The majority of Arena’s complaints are regarding pretty legitimate issues that affect the league and which many knowledgeable soccer fans/pundits gripe about as well. That being the case- you could just as easily call it him defending his position as you could “whining”.

      • Mr. whoop

        If you do it, it is defending your legitimate position.

        If the other guy does it, it is whining.

      • Arena is a whiner and represents either the MLS “invisible hand” or the success of collusion. The big market clubs are recipients of the the star power draw, with the exception of Chicago?
        Hoping eventually the grassroots success of team building through fiscal responsibility, player development, and a team system like RSL, KC, and the Timbers become the norm and strength of the league. The strategic star planting in big market eventually goes away with smart growth and quality play on the field and in the front offices.

      • “Strategic star planting in big markets” sounds good from a business perspective, I guess, but it’s the essence of collusion and unfairness. It has no place in a serious sports league. When rules can be ignored when “in the judgment of the league” it’s necessary, what does that say about the legitimacy of the competition? The single-entity model, and especially its opaque allocation “rules,” have got to go. Growth built on such shenanigans is an illusion.

      • ” When rules can be ignored when “in the judgment of the league” it’s necessary, what does that say about the legitimacy of the competition?”

        Study the history of the NFL and then tell me that MLS does not need to be “flexible”.

        Remember that Garber used to work for the NFL.

        The pro sports scene in America is violently competitive. If MLS wants a piece of that pie they will need to be very flexible and very competitive.

        In this market you are either advancing or you are getting left behind. There is no middle ground anymore.

        MLS is not in a situation where they can afford to let thing happen “naturally”.

      • I’m open to being better informed, so provide some examples where the NFL, as a league, took steps to ensure that a given player was directed to a specific team in contravention of explicit rules.

      • I believe the NBA used to have a regional/hometown draft when they were a growing entity. Likewise, the NFL did not have a draft for the first 16 years. Are these good examples? Not entirely, but they show that growing entities need to develop their model for competition. The NFL draft was instituted to make the league more even and take away power from the larger teams. Well, sounds like we already have that. And look at all of the players that MLS has “given” to LA over other teams throughout their history. Didn’t work well for a long period of time. If this system was scrapped, then there needs to be a viable alternative proposed that doesn’t ignore the unique place MLS plays in the US sports landscape and the leagues necessity to actively and aggressively pursue growth, stability and strength both for individual teams and the league as a whole.

      • Let’s say MLS in fact, rigged it so that Beckham , for example, went to LA and Henry went to NJ.

        Presumably, the idea was to establish that great American sports tradition, a competitive, attractive East coast – West coast rivalry, notably in two of the largest media markets in the US.

        If MLS broke every one of their rules to achieve that, I have zero problem with it.

        After all it is their rules or maybe they are just guidelines. They can change them as they need to benefit the league. And having a strong team in a major media market is important to the league.

        Your rules should benefit your league not hamper it from producing a more attractive marketable product. Especially when you are fighting for recognition in the vicious American sports scene.

        This is something the NFL has never been shy about. The competition committee meets every year and change rules all the time, for a number of reasons, but mostly to make a better product.

        And while I can’t cite a specific NFL version of putting McBride in Chicago or Clint in Seattle that is partly because in the NFL, other than a franchise QB, no single player is that much of a difference maker because there are so many more players involved in the action during the course of the game.

        Besides the NFL achieves the same result as the MLS so called shady moves in a slightly different way.

        They rig their rules so that there is massive and frequent player movement. The bottom line is other than through sheer incompetence there is no reason for any NFL team to stay crappy for long at least in terms of the player pool. If an NFL team has a GM they can assemble a competitive team every year.

        And of course in 2002 the NFL took the opportunity with the introduction of the expansion Texans, to realign all the conferences to make for a more competitive playoff picture. Seattle used to be in the AFC for example. So rather than move players around, the NFL just moves teams around,

        And I notice that even with all this underhanded, unfair bias towards teams like LA and New Jersey, that smaller market, lesser money teams like RSL, SKC, Portland, Seattle and so on seem to do quite well. I don’t know who their front office people and their owners are but these teams seem to know how to build a good team and a good franchise.

        And yet you talk as if MLS is going the way of women’s pro soccer.

  4. why is everyone harping on Arena? FC Dallas basically said the same thing:

    “We went through the proper protocol and processes with the league to bring Sacha Kljestan to FC Dallas,” Hunt said. “We had the space to add him but the league was not able to come to a long-term contract agreement with him. I know that the guys at the league office worked extremely hard to make this happen in conjunction with Sacha and his agent Richard Motzkin. Unfortunately it didn’t work out this time, but there is always the January window.”

    so we know that three MLS teams tried to sign Kljestan yet not one of them did due to the league. what does that tell you? it tells me that we had clubs all willing to pay what Kljestan was asking for yet MLS decided they didn’t think it was worth it and so no one got him. this exact thing happened with Edu so instead he is on a loan with Sunderland paying a large chunk of Edu’s contract and Philly will deal with the rest later.

    • the league negotiating contracts for players, and the whole single entity thing, is straight up stupid!

      So the league decides that Michael Bradley, David Beckham, Clint Dempsey, etc are worth anything, because of marketing reasons, and does everything possible to get them into the league & to the teams they think they should be on. But when a team tries to make a less marketing based team improvement like Kljestan or Edu the league blocks it. Teams should have to scout, recruit, sign and pay their own players under consistent league rules … none of this top down management crap.

      • yeah absolutely, i think MLS needs to start moving away from this ASAP. not saying to give up all control, but these clubs should have more freedom to control their player contracts and player targets. this strict single entity system was important for awhile, but now, like many other dated MLS rules, it’s really starting to have a more negative impact than positive.

      • Obviously, you guys never heard of the NASL.

        MLS is overly conservative and somewhat Byzantine. They still have some franchises whose long term future still seems questionable to me. Which is probably why they hang on to the single entity thing .

        On the other hand, they seem to be financially sound overall, are growing and earning respect around the world.

        Most important of all they will very likely still be operating at a high level 5 – 10 years down the road.

        If you think that is not a real big deal then you really know nothing about soccer in the US, the country where soccer leagues go to fail and die, over the years.

      • of course i’ve heard of NASL, lets cut the dramatics.

        i think we are no longer in 1996 and MLS can easily re-consider how much they control without collapsing the league.

        nowhere did i say drop the cap and let everyone go nuts. i think letting clubs have a bit more control over the players on their team is more than fair and not going to shock the system.

      • bryan,


        Professional soccer in the US is not as solid as we all might like.

        From what I’ve seen of a number of the individual club owners they hardly inspire confidence.

      • “Obviously, you guys never heard of the NASL.”

        seems dramatic to me.

        look, i’m not saying give everyone free reign, but i think the model is mature enough to handle a bit more control from the owners when it comes to player contracts.

      • “i think the model is mature enough to handle a bit more control from the owners when it comes to player contracts”

        What makes you think the owners are not okay with things, more or less as they are?

        Arena is paid to literally look down his nose at you and huff and puff and make ominous sounds but the people with the real money behind the Galaxy, if they are unhappy, will do what they do best behind the scenes.

        The “local owners” are not a “single entity” either.
        It’s clear that some ownership groups (RSL, SKC, LA, Portland,NYFC,Seattle,etc.) have got a lot more on the ball than others (Chivas, Chicago, etc.)…

        In they end those guys will probably be the ones who will take this league to its ultimate fate.

      • “What makes you think the owners are not okay with things, more or less as they are?”

        i’m not trying to make that argument, no one can make that argument one way or the other. we, as fans, are commenting based on what we see/hear/feal.

        “It’s clear that some ownership groups (RSL, SKC, LA, Portland,NYFC,Seattle,etc.) have got a lot more on the ball than others (Chivas, Chicago, etc.)…”

        right, but that has nothing to really do with what i’m talking about. i’m simply asking that clubs have more control over their player contracts. i can’t imagine most owners being vehemently opposed to that.

        like Vermes said, SKC is not a place where Euro-teams can come looking for a discount. years ago? that’s probably the case. but i think MLS is mature enough now where owners/GMs/coaches aren’t going to just let players go for nothing and MLS have to come in and do what they did to Twellman and Dempsey…which was preventing them moving.

        again, in this situation, we can draw the logical conclusion that two teams, LA and Dallas, both were ready to sign Kljestan and pay what he was looking for. i highly doubt either of those teams were throwing outrageous, out of control money, to the extent that MLS needed to come in and nix any deal because the league thought it was too much money. we’re talking $750k, at the MOST, a season. if i had to guess, Kljestan would probably come back on a $500k salary.

        we saw this with Edu too, where MLS didn’t want Philly paying $1.2m for Edu, let alone his $1.38m salary, and was going to prevent the deal until Philly and Stoke were able to agree on $650k loan with Stoke paying the difference. MLS seemed to say Philly’s finances were not in shape to pay the $1.2m.

        i’m not asking for MLS to let go of all control, i think the Edu deal is a good example of when it was probably good for the league to be involved. but Edu’s contract is much larger than Kljestan’s.

        don’t get me wrong, i understand people’s apprehension but i also understand people who are getting annoyed. the conversation has to start at some point.

      • Those guys are right. Don’t play the “you don’t know anything about soccer in the US” card. U do remember the NASL and it did not have a salary cap. A cap, a draft, and the DP rule can avoid the pitfalls of the NASL without the Byzantine centralized planning.

      • +1 the adjustable salary cap is a good way of leveling the playing field.

        Having the league hq micromanage team management is not

      • It is true that this is going to be a frustration for fans going forward. But it’s important to remember why MLS as an entity shows such extreme attention to these moves by its member entitites. Specifically — the league’s rights provide a critical source of competitive differentiation.

        MLS is a late-arriver to the American sports landscape, and later still to the national TV market, where it competes with two kinds of rivals in the primary sense (discretionary time spent consuming):

        (1) Other soccer leagues, most significantly EPL (though not as a direct time-slot competitor)
        2) Established American team sports, chiefly MLB as well as stub portions of the NHL/NBA and NFL seasons,

        The league rightly views its ability to participate actively in the placement of higher profile players as as a potentially invaluable bullet in gaining ground on both fronts Though it may indeed be a blood-relative and childhood classmate of known stooges such such as hockey-style shootouts and countdown clocks, this is a far more sophisticated and potent tool than its dimwit cousins.

        Discretionary transfer management is one of those cracks in the armor, where MLS can pick up (or lose) ground on the both the EPL’s and the NFL’s of the world. Unlike these leagues, MLS can actually expedite the placement of talent to match its strategic goals without killing its credibility as a competition (David Stern dabbled in this with some success but it was not viewed so favorably) … Is it fair to all teams? Depends who you are… Owners and season ticket holders may not give you the same answer.

        But unfair though it sometimes is, MLS has shown some savvy as it has matured, and it is creating a situation where teams like NYRB and LAG have the global starpower they need to compete within their markets…. but without reducing the league to the farcical “rich get richer” exercise such as has infected Europe, which and might perhaps limit the appeal to a casual American sports fan (MLB worries about this for good reason) Championships won by SKC and RSL in the last two years have shown that competitive balance in MLS is far better than in EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, etc…. and if you keep raising the focus on Homegrown talent gradually over the years under these, you might find yourself having to be less hands-on in the future.

        As such, don’t expect a free market anytime soon. Maybe not ever. Remember, European soccer might be better in on-field quality, but the business model is far from sound and Financial Fair Play is an aspirin for an anyeurism. Likewise, it doesn’t suprise that the league losing US market engagement fastest (MLB) is the league with the fewest limitations on individual club player spending, and which affords maximum discretion to team ownership in influencing the league’s brand.

      • Spot on. Basically, there will be growth and a relaxation of player salary regulations and transfer control in the future. However, the future of the league trumps that of individual teams, especially because those teams most likely to suffer from any relaxation of these rules don’t have decades of a fan base to rely on. Then again, we could all go to the Spanish model and have 2 top teams dominate the league, be completely leveraged with potentially illegal financial moves being covered up because of their importance, and all but the top 5 teams being of the quality of a lower league. MLS will grow, but that growth takes time and patience and understanding from all.

      • i think you put it nicely as to why MLS cannot afford to go all out free market. that said, you did base the last piece of your post on:

        “but without reducing the league to the farcical “rich get richer” exercise”

        i don’t think anyone wants to see that. i think MLS fans love the parity, even if that means our teams won’t ever be hoarding all the talent. no one wants that. but giving a bit more freedom to negotiate and control contracts will not do that. they still have to work the contracts within the salary cap and under the other roster rules.

        in this situation we have both LA and Dallas both losing out on a player they wanted because the league couldn’t come to an agreement on a long-term salary. so Kljestan says “F it” and stays in Beligum. is that really benefiting anyone?

      • I don’t disagree, bryan… actually my comment had really no connection to the Kljiestan situation… pehaps I should’ve clarified that.

        I think the league is doing pretty well with this– certainly I think they want to avoid the “rich get richer” model that has become so entrenched in the game abroad. Americans don’t like it in the domestic leagues… when it comes to keeping the regular season interesting in the final weeks, MLS clearly prefers an American-friendly approach involving a maximum of teams involved in late-season playoff races, to anything like pro-rel, which does create excitement for a few weeks, but at the cost of introducing a significant incentive program which has been all but proven to increase and entrench wealth disparity in the big money TV era.

      • ah ok, for some reason i read that with the Kljestan situation being the context.

        totally agree then with each post.

      • i highly doubt “anyone.” Arena is not a guy who is going to just throw money at someone. sounds like he wanted Kljestan and whatever salary was being offered was fair in his book. otherwise, why complain?

        based on what Hunt said, it is MLS who disagreed about contract value. you could be right, maybe LA was willing to pay more than what MLS was comfortable with over the long term. but if he is making $750,000 now, i don’t see LA offering him more than that. is that really that excessive?

      • The MLS players ownership that prevented Mix from signing with the Timbers two winters ago. Mix’s Dad still wanted mobility for his son to go back to Europe and not have MLS dictate the terms. This is an issue for mid level youthful talent in Euro leagues to get over here and play. Although MLS motivation is to sell players not buy them.
        Team business models are interesting. Especially a team like Bayern Munich, think about how much they have cashed in selling players to the “rich guys” of the EPL and LaLiga. Yet still developed players and pay well for players that are productive on the field.

      • yup, Mix did not want to have the same thing that happened to Twellman, and to an extent Dempsey, to happen to him.

  5. I see galaxy breaking down next season since Donovan retires, keane is getting older and looks angry all the time, plus Gonzalez is leaving sooner than later and academy boys take time to grow up.
    However, MLS needs to change their AYSO rules, add 2 more dps, double the cap and we know the rest……..:( free agency, bla bla bla and let those cheap owners wink because they deserve it, not the fans but owners.
    As for chivas USA, wtf is going on. So they will be sold and keep playing at the stub, really.
    So they will get a new name, new colors, new owner but keep paying rent to galaxy?
    This is what MLS needs to do, come back to LA in 3 or4 years with the new owner as a new franchise.
    Therefore, bring LA and Miami as teams 25 and 26 so they can fix their issues.
    Meanwhile, MLS can have 3 open expansion slots, as in Sacramento, Vegas, Minnesota, then Miami and LA2. What’s so hard about that garber?
    By the way, when in the world will MLS do an MLS 2.

      • He’s got my vote for commissioner. He’s asking the hard hitting questions and is all for expansion. This is MLS 2.0 X a million + xfinity

    • Keane’s fitness is a worry no doubt, but I think Landon and Gonzo could be replaced on short order. All it takes is money and the LAG have that.

      I actually think the January transfer window is the place to get DP’s because there are always a good number of quality players that are in the coach’s dog house that might want to transfer to the USA, as David Beckham was in Madrid prior to coming over. I’m not saying that it is going to happen but I can imagine, say, Pep and Arjen Robben having a blow up and the LAG swooping in and making a big money offer. This type of thing happens all the time and the LAG can take advantage of it.

      • Pep does have a history of freezing players out…without explanation. Zlatan is a world-class @sshole but he’s also an amazing soccer player, and Pep managed to reduce him from a guy who got 16 goals in the first half of the season to a benchwarmer…whereupon Barca had to dump The Zlatan for the square root of what they had paid for him. And then he turned around and won Serie A for AC Milan. He did the same thing to Thierry Henry and David Villa, among others. One can safely presume, if he continues in this vein, there will be some Bayern players available at cut-rate prices in the near future. I guess that approach works, if you’ve got a superclub with a nearly infinite budget, but most clubs do not have the luxury of being that profligate…

      • You make it sound like Pep screwed up with Zlatan.

        This does not seem fair. It seems to me Barca did not suffer too much without Zlatan playing for them.

        Most of the big managers like Pep have a list of players who have who left them for any number of reasons and then gone on to star elsewhere. Big clubs can only play so many players and with squads as big as they are there will always be a number of top players who will be unhappy about being “frozen out”.

    • Having a Pro Team playing in Las Vegas in summer makes as much sense as playing the World Cup in Qatar. Don’t be silly

    • You forgot the part about quadrupling ticket prices to pay for the changes and the league collapses because it is not economically feasible to maintain the spending with decrease in attendance and revenue.

    • It’s ok….Gonzalez will be back just as quickly as he is gone. Sure to be the next US defender to to overseas and then quickly return. Don’t let a few good appearances at the WC cloud an honest perspective on his level of play. Heck, he is a tall central defender who isn’t even above average with his head and who loves to clear the ball back up through the middle on crosses, then fall down for some reason.

  6. Global fan base for Sunderland? You mean all the expats who have fled Sunderland as fast as their legs would carry them?

    • Yeah, I chuckled when I saw that. Yes fans all over the globe are crazy over a team from the Detroit of England that battles relegation every year.

    • Uhhh, Detroit and Buffalo and Pittsburg have teams with huge fan bases. Just because the definition of success is being able to leave your home, doesn’t mean they don’t have supporters. Now, if Sunderland won a few more matches and got serious about their personnel, it might not hurt.

  7. Dynamo reportedly trialing Ivory Coast defender Marco Zoro. We could use a strong CB — if he is one — and you can always use a strong name on the roster. Zoro is Coming to Town. The PR practically writes itself.

    Ah, the paradox of a team from a land called Ivory Coast nicknaming their team les elephantes. Would you want to be the elephants in a country named for the ivory trade?

    • The irony being that the first three DPs are themselves an exception from the basic salary cap, created so LA didn’t hjave to play by the same rules for Beckham, etc. Everyone else is permitted their three DPs on a false universal (the French theory that rich and poor alike prohibited from sleeping under bridges). Reality is most teams don’t fill their spots and maybe 3 teams fill them with millionaire level players. Heck, LA, TFC, NY, and Seattle have some players who earn as much as whole teams.

      Arena is pretty slick about finessing the rules but may have finally been unable to slip by this one.

      Personally, Kljestan ain’t so great this matters.

      • To be fair, although Beckham was the first, the DP also was created to allow MLS teams to bring in more high profile players than they otherwise could.

      • They should let the Galaxy do whatever they want. If they wanna spend more money let them. We need a real super club in the US to beat some of these Mexican clubs in CCL

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