Daily news roundups

News roundup: U-17 golazos, potential Crew move to Austin, setting the kids free, more

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

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Philadelphia Union

Mulling Chester’s future.

Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem will travel to first-place Louisville on Friday in the club’s first-ever USL playoff appearance.

Major League Soccer

WHAT THE WHAT?! Columbus Crew may be relocating to Austin in 2019. More here.

If MLS wants to help the state of U.S. soccer, it needs to set the kids free.

ESPNFC power rankings.

U.S. Soccer

John Hackworth’s U.S. U-17 squad demolished Paraguay 5-0 to move on to the World Cup quarterfinals. PSG’s Tim Weah scored a hat trick and Atlanta United player Andrew Carleton added a goal and two assists.

Hackworth says the team has some potentially world-class talent.

Bobby Warshaw on reframing the pay-to-play conversation.

The senior team will play Portugal in a November friendly in their first action after the WCQ knockout. Who should get a call-up?

Breaking down Omar Gonzales’ painful OG versus Trinidad & Tobago.

Five coaches the USSF should consider for the job. (Sorry I don’t think Antonio Conte is leaving Chelsea this summer.)

Highlight of the day

OH MY TIM WEAH FOR THE U-17s!┬áThe kids are alright. I just found out his dad is my childhood hero George Weah so I’m pretty stoked.

32 Comments

  1. Rog wore a Bethlehem Steel jersey on Men in Blazers this week.

  2. Maybe they can relocate us to Philadelphia.

    • i dont know how the league let this ownership group buy a franchise. its so obnoxious that they were requiring all the expansion teams to have a stadium that is easily accessible in their city instead of in the middle of nowhere. every team except the cheapskate union

      • This is kind of revisionist.
        1. They let NYCFC come into the league without a stadium at all.
        2. The city/stadium requirement only came to be after the league saw the success of Portland. Portland joined the MLS. Until then the primary focus of the league was suburban soccer families.

      • Colorado, Dallas, Chicago, LA, Kansas City, NYRB, and RSL…all stadiums not located in their city. It’s not just us.

      • they all came before us though. i guess they didnt start making it a ‘requirement’ until after portland and vancouver joined

      • The LEAST of this damn franchise’s problems is the location of the stadium. It’s actually a lovely stadium in a goregeous setting with the bridge and the river. It surely needs better public transportation, but let’s actually fix the TEAM first??

  3. Adam Schorr says:

    So we see this stadium BS in every other sport. MLS can now be considered a big American sport!
    .
    Let’s be clear here: the Crew *are* moving to Austin. Not may be. When Precourt bought the team, he (with the MLS’s blessing) included a clause that lets him move the team to Austin. They have already set up plans to play there in 2019. They have already registered the team name. This was a cold and calculated move – an owner who wanted an MLS team in Austin but did not want to go through the expansion process. Why the MLS would let him do that is anybody’s guess.
    .
    Ignore all the talk of “if we don’t get a stadium”. It’s all BS. Seen it a hundred times before. He’ll make ridiculous demands, the city will say “lol no way”, and he’ll bolt blaming it on the city. It’s all BS though. This was a planned move and anything he says otherwise is nothing more than spin and lies. Just like every other time this happens in American sports.

    • Exactly. There’s no way they can stay in Columbus now. And Crew Stadium is going to be an awkward ghost town next year, hopefully taken over by a series of away supporters’ groups.
      .
      I can’t feel too bad for the Crew fans though. Columbus remains the one away game where I was physically threatened for wearing my Union jersey. So, f*** ’em.

    • If you’re Precourt, the long term value of your franchise will appreciate much more in Austin rather than Columbus. I feel bad for Crew supporters in Columbus, but I can’t blame Precourt for wanting to do so. It sets him up with great natural rivals in Dallas and Houston.

      We always want to see MLS become “big league” in the American sports landscape and when you have owners threatening to relocate their MLS club to another city, that’s a step in this direction.

      • It’s a bad step in a direction we shouldn’t be following.

      • I don’t disagree SilverRey, but it’s hard to argue that this isn’t somewhat positive for MLS that cities are competing for clubs.

    • This means Cincinnati is team #25 though, right? 2 teams in Ohio, maybe not, but now they’re a logical choice.

      • That’s a really interesting conclusion to draw. It probably helps their chances.

      • I know at least one guy from Cincy who takes his son to Crew games. And damn, Cincy impressed everybody with their attendance for the USOC matches. Maybe a franchise in Cincinnati would draw more fans and be more liekly to succeed than one in Columbus.

  4. This Crew situation strengthens my resolve that the U.S. needs an open system that includes promotion and relegation. Like Adam says, a move like this makes MLS just another big American sport — monopolistic, franchise-fed oligarchy. I know. Sounds like radical nonsense, but it’s true. Crew fans have just been given all the evidence they need that the club they’ve rooted for since MLS season 1 is not theirs. If ownership moves the franchise from Columbus, it takes with it that city’s rights to a tier 1 franchise. I could go on for pages, here, but I won’t. I’m not going to hold my breath because the suits running the sport have no incentive to open the system. Only intervention from FIFA could make something happen, and llamacorns will fly before that happens. It’s really, really discouraging.

    • The system can’t be opened until the lower divisions become more stable. There’s no point in relegation if you don’t know whether the league to which you’re relegating will even exist in a year or two.

      • You could already organize a pretty stable tier 2 and 3 out of teams we already have in USL and NASL. But I agree. You can’t wave a magic wand and make that happen. Everyone needs to get on the same page. Not likely.

      • Just looking through avg team draws for NASL and USL, you could draw a line at at least 4,000 attendance per game and get a 16 team div 2 league that would be pretty compelling. Numbers are attendance per game avg.

        USL
        FC Cincinnati – 21,199
        Sac Rep – 11,569
        Louisville City 8,613
        San Antonio FC – 7,152
        Rio Grande Valley FC 7,065
        Phoenix Rising FC – 6,127
        Tampa Rowdies 5,894
        Reno 1865 – 5,559
        Ottowa Fury – 5,429
        Richmond Kickers – 4,665
        St. Louis FC – 4,571
        OKC Energy – 4,265

        NASL
        Indy 11 – 8,965
        Miami FC 5,076
        NY Cosmos 4,789
        NC FC 4,285

        That leaves 22 teams including a bunch of MLS B teams (about 10) for a div 3. Interesting note is that Bethlehem Steel appears to be the highest drawing MLS B team (3,052 per game). Food for thought….

      • Agreed, someone just needs to go do it.

      • In order for it to work the NASL, USL, and USSF have to man up and work together. There can’t be this competition between them. Attendance for a lot of those teams would rise if they made it to MLS, so that alone can’t really determine the strength of the league, but NASL is not a strong league right now for various reasons. But if they combine with USL and then open up a 3rd division with teams that can’t meet standards and other smaller markets, well then we’d be in business. But instead both want to be D2, and that just can’t work especially if pro-rel is a possibility. You can’t have two division 2 leagues who both promote to MLS, unless they are relatively equal and have a playoff to determine final promotees. Everyone just get along!

      • Eric – I think the larger gating issue to pro/rel is that MLS doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity to get more expansion fees from these other cities. The added benefit to this approach (from MLS’s perspective) is that they get to continue to watch if NASL just withers up and dies in the next few years. If that happens, they’ll have a clear slate with USL to do what they want.

      • You’re right but they could theoretically still charge newcomers a fee to join the league, which may or may not be taken out of TV and merchandise revenue – which would have to be shared in a pro/rel environment.

      • Brian — First, you have to draw the line somehwere as a first step. Attendance would only be considered in Year One. After that, league position is all on merit.

        What would strengthen your tier two league would be the possibility of promotion. That would cascade through all divisions. We like to talk about the negative effects it would have on the teams relegated but fail to think of the advantages. With relegation, it means some MLS owners risk their investment. But there’d suddenly be a much greater motivation to invest in teams throughout the country. We have people writing think pieces about how to fund youth academies — there’s your first step. There’d be no ceiling to smart investment. If this sport is going to grow here, it has to grow out of its current model. Not saying it needs to happen tomorrow, but I’d love to see a 10-year-plan that does more than count up the dollars MLS will earn on expansion fees.

        If NASL does die — and it looks like it’s on life support right now at best — MLS may just figure out a way to do a proper tier system with USL. Looks like a possibility.

      • Zizou – Exactly. That’s why I think the pro/rel talk is still a bit premature. Once MLS hits 28 teams and the lower divisions figure themselves out (much of which will depend on the NASL lawsuits), then the conversation can begin in earnest (or not, if there are still competing D2 leagues).

      • Yea I understand the benefits to the lower division, I would just prefer to see one league battling for promotion rather than each other. I just want stability at the 2nd & 3rd level, then I’m all for promotion. I agree that promotion would create a healthier 2nd tier, and on down the pyramid, but right now, forgetting promotion altogether, the NASL concerns me because they can’t seem to figure how to stay afloat while the USL almost has too many teams. There has to be a balance in there somewhere.

  5. Owners who spend millions in expansion fees and stadiums are never going to accept a system that could potentially remove them from Division one opponents, television rights revenue and advertising. Period. It’s a great conversation for this board, but its not happening in our lifetimes.

    • It’s not the fact that owners spend millions – that is not a good reason, MLS is a cheap buy in relative to clubs around the world. We just need stable league tiers that are filled out enough to accommodate a pro/rel system. We aren’t there yet. Come back in 10yrs.

    • If you don’t want to get relegated, spend more. You think Sugarman would still be playing moneyball if the Union were at risk of being in the USL next season? After all, if teams can afford the $150 million expansion fee, plus TAM & GAM, why can’t they afford to pay for good players?

    • I agree. I find all the pro/rel talk tiresome. No American sport has anything like this, yet the NFL and MLB and the NBA have been healthy and competitive for many decades. I do not understand the obsession with this. People may be frustrated with our ownership — with good reason — but there are crappy owners all over American sports. Yet nobody talks about starting a Tier 2 NBA and instituting pro/rel. You might as well talk about Americans taking siestas or afternoon tea. Those aren’t bad ideas — they’ll just never be part of our culture.

      • Along with your point the ABA was once considered a tier 2 league, then gained traction and the NBA had no choice but to merge, and since then, in both football and basketball, every secondary league that’s tried to compete has either failed miserably or resigned themselves to be a mid-major league and focused on smaller markets. Yet with soccer, for some reason, we have to have not 1 but 2 competitive 2nd divisions instead of just focusing on making MLS the best it can be and letting the lower tiers focus on smaller markets. International soccer goes against so many American sports practices it’s crazy (i.e. transfers and no real trades, pro/rel, no playoffs balanced schedules, etc.)

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