Just give us MLS 40 and be done with it, Don.
Johnny Wakefield

Not sure if this is all tongue and cheek, but the reality MLS IS going about expansion somewhat unprofessionally. The cat and mouse, borderline personality push -pull, approach must indeed stop.

That said, MLS does need due diligence regarding ownership group and stadium selection. MLS may indeed be a joke to some Euro snobs and Liga Mex fans. And its level of play is arguably not top 20 of world leagues. But it’s a fact that its growth is astonishing from a historical view. And it is not slowing down, tv ratings aside. MLS WILL be a top ten league. Is just a matter of when not if. It will probably overtake Liga Mex in ten years if the cheap ownership groups are bought out or are dragged into a much higher salary floor model.

With growth comes responsibility. It takes very deep pockets to pay franchise fees, run a team, build an academy, build a SSS, market the team etc. So MLS can’t take expansion money unless the ownership group is capitalized, has vested rights to build and has a plan. In turn it can’t just grant expansion franchises because an ownership group can pay the fee.

But what MLS should do is grant expansion immediately to all groups who check all boxes. Looking at you Garber and Sacramento. Let them in immediately. Then wash, rinse and repeat until other groups check all boxes.

Soccer is not a niche sport. But MLS is. It needs 1) a more robust national footprint, 2) more western teams and southern teams to balance travel, and 3) much better tv deals that include at least one weekly over the air match. Ideally MLS should go all in with NBC or Fox plus a steaming service such as Netflix or Prime to have virtually all games, all of them, easily accessible to the casual fan. MLS Live secured the hard base, but it’s time is over. MLS Live won’t grow new eyeballs. OTA will.

In short., MLS should make no promises other than telling its potential ownership groups to check all boxes and they are in. First come first serve, making whatever logistical exceptions as needed. Do that and MLS will be at 12 new ownership groups in no time — a decade on the outside. Win win, as grass roots support is energized, fan engagement remains high, and franchise fees keep rolling in. The issue to stop expanding is for the next generation. Period.

Transparent and non opaque expansion along with better and smarter TV deals would make the future very very bright for MLS. But that won’t happen until MLS hires a real international soccer man, not an NFL yes man to advise and answer to is ownership groups. Sorry Don. Your service has been good. But your tenure needs to end.

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