Top Stories

Don Garber: “We need to become more of a selling league”


ATLANTA — Don Garber has been adamant in recent years about MLS becoming a “league of choice” that could retain its young stars.

On Friday, however, he revealed he has had a change of heart.

Garber conducted his annual State of the League address on Friday afternoon, and one of the things the commissioner talked about was how MLS needs to adopt an approach that sees its teams sell more of their youngsters in order to create more internal revenue. It is a strategy used by many if not most leagues and teams around the world, but one that MLS has been reluctant to take.

Until now.

“We need to become more of a selling league,” said Garber. “As a person who has been selling this league for nearly 20 years, I’ve always believed that you needed to have the players that resonated in your market to be those that can be aspirations for young kids who are peaking through the fence when they see them train. We all need to get used to the fact that in the world of global soccer players get sold.”

Garber’s comments come in the wake of a season that has seen promising young stars like Alphonso Davies of the Vancouver Whitecaps sold to European clubs for a significant profit. Garber believes that MLS and its clubs will benefit greatly if moves like Davies transferring to Bayern Munich become more of a trend instead of rare exceptions.

In fact, Garber even made a point to say that failing to move in that direction could result in the league’s demise.

“We have been buying for so long and, as we’ve gone through the analysis, it’s hard to justify that investment and the investment that we have to make in player development,” said Garber. “We’ve got to have something that turns this model around or else it’s going to be unsustainable, so when I see Alphonso Davies get sold for what could be $22 million that’s a positive thing for the league.

“Now (Vancouver Whitecaps owner) Greg Kerfoot and his club need to use that money to bring somebody in that’s going to be as exciting as Alphonso and that’s what happens around the world and that’s what our teams are going to need to do.”


  1. That’s a shockingly poor article which misses the entire context of Garber’s remarks which answered a question about US academy players being signed by foreign teams for free and that it was hard to justify $100 million invested in academies if the players can be poached for free.

  2. Then young players need to be able find playing time much earlier. European clubs aren’t that interested in buying 25 year old guys.
    Priorities on teenagers and not guys drafted out of college even if they are less prepared to help you win matches in the short term.

  3. A good sign. If Garber has come around, then hopefully the rest of the league will too. Now he needs to change the final part of his statement from “buying the next Alphonso” to “DEVELOPING the next Alphonso”.

  4. franco panizo was there, wow. he asks this question to don garber at 47 minutes in the press conference video.

  5. Many of us have been saying this for years, and years. Becoming a feeder league is not a bad thing. Develop & Import young players by giving them games than sell them after a year or 2 rinse and repeat with the next young player.
    It doesn’t need to be huge sales (10-20m), just profitable sales (1.5-3M) for a couple players from each team, each year (to start). If they do this consistently more young stars will sign with the league (McKennie, Sargent, etc….) instead of jumping across the pond right away. It’ll also open more opportunities to get young players on loan or transferred from other regions. This model works for the Dutch and other leagues.

  6. The only way you become a selling league is by demonstrating the quality of the product you’ve developed by…. getting young players playing time.


Leave a Comment