This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
How vital will this offseason be to Major League Soccer's continued evolution as a league? We're about to find out soon enough. MLS Commissioner Don Garber addressed the flurry of topics in his annual "State of the League "address and touched upon the looming collective bargaining agreement, extended expansion, change in scheduling format as the list continues on.
In a round-table forum with journalists from MLS' various partners, Garber discussed how far the league has progressed, where it is now and looking beyond the horizon and into the future of what it can possibly become one day. In the one-hour, 17-minute video, Garber started with what the league is pitching as an initiative called "Decision Day" in which the final week or weekend of the regular season would feature matches played at the same time, possibly split with the two different conferences. There was also what Garber called "flex scheduling" under the new TV deal with ESPN and Univision that would allow the significant matches be moved into the nationally-televised TV slots.
When asked about the upcoming CBA negotiations expected to gain more steam in January and February, Garber said the discussions between the two sides have been formal.
"There will likely be another meeting in December and then we'll get down to the negotiations in earnest and I'm confident that we'll be able to reach an agreement that is good for league and good for the players. I would say the dynamic is one that I'd describe as positive."
In an interview with The Associated Press after the State of the League, Garber said MLS clubs and the team are losing more than $100 million combined as they invest in player acquisitions, stadiums and league infrastructure. During his roundtable address, he said he does not anticipate a work stoppage.
"We have informed the players in a very transparent way that the league isn't performing financially the way we would like," he said. "I think they accept that and understand that. At the same time, I think there are a wide variety of things that are important to them that we're going to have to listen to and get our owners to recognize and continue to move it forward to try to get a deal done."
Transparency was a running theme in the annual address. It is, according to Garber, "a big priority in 2015."
"One of the things you'll start seeing is the concepts that we have in place that allow players to come into the league, that allow a priority order as to we why we have some management to who get sth right to players outside of our draft and outside of the youth system," he continued, "all of that will be shared with the public after we've come up with a way to try and organize it in buckets so that people can understand it. Whether that's allocations or priority order, all that stuff that the hardcore fan is trying to figure out today, you have a commitment from me today that at least a heck of a lore more of it will be more transparent that it is today."
The Commish touched on expansion and said MLS till get to 24 teams by 2020. Garber aims to have stakes in the ground on spots within the next six months. It's well-known now how Sacramento, Las Vegas and Minneapolis are interested in being part of that equation.
RSL shutout of MLS Best XI again • The league unveiled its Best XI of the 2014 season Tuesday and for the third year in a row, no RSL player made the cut. Not since former center back Jamison Olave made the list in 2011 has the club had a player named to the MLS Best XI. Prior to that, Olave, Nat Borchers and Javier Morales were all part of the list in 2010. The original RSL member on the Best XI list was former forward Jeff Cunningham in 2006.
The 2014 Best XI: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Boswell (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (L.A. Galaxy); Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls); Robbie Keane (L.A. Galaxy), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls), Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders).
Also announced was MLS' 2014 Coach of the Year honors, which went to the man who married RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, D.C. United coach Ben Olsen. In his fifth year as coach, the 37-year-old Olsen guided the club to a 43-point turnaround from its historic 16-point season in 2013. D.C. finished 17-9-8 with 59 points and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Mulholland shown green card • Early Tuesday morning, RSL's Luke Mulholland posted a tweet writing, "Today is the day" with an emoticon of two hands pressed together in prayer. The 26-year-old Brit had his prayers answered. The midfielder was the recipient of a green card, meaning he longer occupies one of the club's six international slots, according to the club.
In his first year with RSL, Mulholland nailed down a starting role on the side of the midfield, scoring six goals and notching seven assists in his first year in MLS.