Friday Kicker: Scouting Africa, Garber Talks

Friday Kicker: Scouting Africa, Garber Talks

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 25, 2008

Happy Friday afternoon to ya. Its already Happy Hour in most places across the country. I saw a couple more things out in the soccer media-o-sphere this afternoon that I thought needed mentioning.

First over in DC. Steve Goff mentioned something that I’ve been calling for a while here. That’s scouting in Africa for players. We’re already seeing the benefits in New England what some fresh young talent from across the Atlantic can do for a club. The two young Gambians Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally have been a solid addition to this club and I know more clubs will start to look for guys like them in Africa.

Goff mentions that “Super agent Patrick McCabe” is heading to Africa to scout some players for a number of MLS clubs. He is headed to Senegal and Gambia in June with representatives from Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago and possibly DC. They will visit several clubs and also attend a Gambian under-20 match.

All I can say is it is about time that MLS clubs are on board in scouting in Africa. I wouldn’t be shocked if before long that we will see more than those four clubs listed above in scouting over there. A few clubs already have players from Africa but I think a heavy scouting mission by several clubs will lead to better players into the league from there.

Its only a matter of time before players from Africa start heading over here to play in MLS.


The second item up for talks this afternoon is from the New York Times Goal Blog. MLS Commissioner Don Garber stopped by to discuss the league’s new challenges with it’s fans. Previously it was all about survival and not folding like the NASL. Now its all about “soccer-specific solutions” to the next set of issues that the league is facing.

“How are we going to carve out our rightful place in the sports landscape? How are we going to compete against the European leagues?”

Below are the audio from the Times. Garber talks about the usual: Beckham, scheduling issues, and the most interesting on MLS Supporters.

Garber on MLS Supporters.

Garber on Keeping US Players.

Garber on Scheduling Issues.

Garber on Beckham. (for the billionth time)

I would have loved to hear him talk more about bigger problems like developmental salaries and things like that. He wants the league to be able to compete with the big boys in Europe but honestly I think we all know that this is a “beating the dead horse” subject here on salaries and such.

Low level players in the EPL are making more than entire clubs in MLS. To be big this league has to think bigger. We all want better wages for these guys on the lower end of the stick. Its bad when developmental players can qualify for food stamps.

The schedule sound bite is interesting since he didn’t mention the problems with clubs playing too many games early (DC, Houston) or how out of sync it really is with most of the world. I’m not calling for a redo on when MLS plays it’s games (I actually like the spring to fall schedule better for the league), but things do need worked on.

As for growing with people here in the States. Tailor to the actual fans first, keep them coming to the games and the rest will follow. It wouldn’t hurt to get those fans to push local medias and national sport outlets to cover the game more. If he wants the league to be mentioned more he needs to get on the ball in getting ESPN and those outfits to at least mention the games in highlights and score rundowns on the radio.

Getting the demand out for the league will help bring in more of an audience. That’s how you grow in this country.

Give it all a listen and let me know what you think. To me it was the sugar-coated stuff we are use to hearing.


Last item falls around Chivas USA. A very interesting bit of info today in Soccer America’s MLS Confidential. Apparently sooner or later Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara will be looking into building the Red-and-White their own stadium. Something I honestly think should happen for this club to get successful here in MLS.

“…operator-investor Jorge Vergara will evaluate further the possibility of building his own stadium, perhaps in the San Bernardino area east of Los Angeles. That area is not heavily Hispanic and it might be, far from the bright lights of HDC, an element that proves to be essential in the Chivas USA quest for success.”

Again, this is the right move for this club. As nice as it is for them to play in the HDC, they are losing money from doing so. Currently they are dropping around a $1 million a year in rent to AEG to play in the HDC. In order for this club to make money they have to do what every other club in this league is doing, and that is building their own stadium.

Honestly, before long they will and it will make this rivalry between Chivas and the Galaxy that much better. Its good now but once the Goats have their own digs it will be so much better.

Not to mention a stadium will vastly help the overall identity of this club, which is something that is almost as needed as the stadium itself.