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Garber signs deal through 2018, now cancer-free

Don Garber 2014 (USA Today Sports Images)

Photo by Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images



Major League Soccer will remain under the vigilant watch of commissioner Don Garber for the foreseeable future.

Garber signed a five-year deal in January that will keep him on as MLS commissioner through the end of 2018, reported on Thursday afternoon. The 56-year-old Garber took the job back in 1999, and will have served 20 years as commissioner by the time the current contract expires.

Additionally, Garber is now cancer-free.

“It’s the first five-year deal I’ve signed in 15 years. Every other deal was a three-year deal,” Garber told “I had always been of the mind that you sign three-year deals so you can give everybody the flexibility to determine what you want to do. The league was younger and less mature. Now we’re teeing up a long-term commitment to each other.”

With regard to his health, Garber no longer needs treatment on the prostate cancer he was diagnosed with in April. He had surgery for it in July and used August to recover, which explains why he was absent from the MLS All-Star Game in Portland and the public eye.

“I’m feeling good,” Garber said. “I took a break during the month of August that allowed me to effectively recover. Now I’m back in the saddle and energized.”

Garber has helped the league grow tremendously since he first became commissioner. MLS will field 21 teams next season, the most in league history, and there are plans to expand to 24 teams by the end of the decade.

Garber has stated that one of his goals is to have MLS transform into one of the world’s premier soccer leagues by 2022, but there is no guarantee that he will be around until then.

Still, the stability that his new deal provides him and the league will give Garber plenty of time to think about it.

“At some point in year three or four I’ll sit down and determine whether I go beyond 20 years,” said Garber. “But 20 years is a long time to do any one job.”


What do you think of Garber staying on as MLS commissioner through 2018? Like the stability for the league? Happy to know promotion-relegation aficionados will have their hearts broken for at least four more years?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Probably the best endorsement of how great this is, is the guys that hate it.
    The exact guys that you won’t and don’t want to see standing next to you at a game.

    …..Nice job so far Don…..And when you lose sight that is ALL about the fans, like trademarking Cascadia, we will stomp you down like you deserve.

  2. Happy for The Don. Love The Don.

    Great job and thank you MLS for keeping one of the savviest and best commissioners around to see our league take on a reach the next levels.

  3. While we all like to pick on the little things we see day to day, this milestone for the don makes us reflect on what a strong job he’s done. Glad he’s sticking around, ensures my league will as well, and continue nice steady growth.

  4. Congrats to him on both counts. I don’t always agree with him and he has stepped in it a couple of times (MLS attempts to trademark “Cascadia” for example).

    MLS will be in a less expansive mood 5 years hence and his goals really need to be:
    1. Growing the TV audience.
    2. Transparency
    3. Simplification of player acquisition rules.

    Arguably, all three are linked significantly.

  5. Just wish he had more of a backbone where soccer specific stadiums and expansion are concerned. NYFC and Miami, with talk of NFL shared stadiums in other markets are backward steps in my opinion.

    • It is a lesson learned, no doubt… but Don does not lack backbone here… he is the one holding the feet to the fire on these teams. Nobody knew how difficult it would be (perhaps they should have) but he is not giving these guys a pass…. and bear in mind no team has ever come into the league with a ready-built SSS in hand for their opening game. It’s not easy.

    • Bucksmark,

      They just signed a $100 million TV contract. You don’t believe having those two situations in the works helped ? I disagree. The details can be worked out and the details won’t be perfecdt like the NFL right now, because they don’t make $10 billion a year.

  6. Don Garbere has been an extremely effective executive as Commisioner of the MLS. He guided the growth of professional soccer as no one else ever did.
    Congratulations on beating cancer, and many good years ahead for you in the company of your loved ones!

    JosehNSantos sr.

  7. He’s been the best thing for this league. Sometimes you need a strict parent. He reigns in the horse when needed. I’d like to see him open his wallet a bit more, but his results speak for themselves.

    I’d like to think at this point that even if the NFL came calling, he’d remain here. This is mostly his league: it’s running smoothly, it’s actually growing, and he doesn’t have to worry about NFL players who care more about drugs, partying, and violence.

    • Goodell’s currently making almost 30 million dollars annually. From what I can tell, Garber’s making 3 million dollars.

      If the NFL comes calling, he’s going to leave.

      • You could be right– it’s an awful lot of money. But I have to tell you, this would be utterly shocking to me. I didn’t know much about the experience of going through cancer until my gf went through it over the summer (she’s recovering and cancer free now so it’s all good), but it changes people and the people around them in very real ways. MLS has become Don Garber’s life work… his baby and his legacy. Things have started to go so well and the “good part” has only just started. .To continue working full-time while undergoing treatment, as he did, tells me he is in this for much more than the money… the wealth is almost an afterthought when you see a person with that much motivation for their work.

        Like you’ve said… that would be a big raise and I’m not trying to be some big shot who knows everything because he knows a person who survived cancer. Far from it. But Don Garber doesn’t have a problem with wealth–what he has that few people (even very rich ones) is a very legit crack at a huge, huge legacy that he would never have in the terribly unpleasant and thankless job of NFL commsisioner. There’s nothing left to achieve in that job…. just awful problems to manage, 25 hours a day and all you’ll ever hear about is Rozelle and Tagliabue.

        Anyway I think it’s a moot point because I don’t think it’s even on the table for anybody. This is all just hypothetical, unless somebody has heard something– am I mistaken?

      • Goodall is making $30 million a year ? holy moly….If you want Garber to stay about the only thing you can do it beg….please don’t take Garber away.

  8. Don’s done a great job growing the league and I doubt many people back in 1999 would’ve predicted MLS would be as successful as it is today. I don’t agree with him on everything but I think the league is in good hands with him in charge.


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