Garber Sits Down With AOL’s Fanhouse

Garber Sits Down With AOL’s Fanhouse

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 25, 2011
  • Don Garber, Interview

I hyped up one Brian Straus article the other day and today I’m going to pimp another one. Straus was able to sit down with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber for a long, in-depth interview earlier this week. If you haven’t taken a glance at the entire thing you should do so, its well worth the read.

I wanted to point out a few interesting quotes from the article and give you my thoughts on the answers Garber gave. I thought Straus did an excellent job at posing some tough questions to Garber and it was interesting to see him go into some PR speak and try to avoid certain questions.

Regarding Playoff Format:
[quote] Our goal would be to have a long-term format in 2012. The objective in 2011 was to make a decision that we believe will at least emphasize the regular season more so than any of the other options that we looked it.

By rewarding the top finishers — the Supporters Shield winner and the top finisher in the other conference — with a game against a wild card team that had fewer points. Rather than keep those teams in the conference, having those teams regardless of conference play against the Supporters Shield winner and top finisher in the next conference. At the end of the day, we believe this format will prioritize the regular season.[/quote]
My two cents: Playoffs are here to stay no matter which way we look at it. I’m good with that too. With Garber as Commissioner we’ll never see the Conference structure go out of the picture. It just won’t happen. Still, the way the playoffs are formatted with the two-legged semifinals series after having only single elimination games before and after them, make the playoffs still seem like a step away from where they should be.

Tighter Schedules, SuperLiga, CCL:
[quote]We have a slightly longer season. We may or may not have SuperLiga going forward. That’s a decision we’ll make shortly. There was very little schedule congestion caused by the additional games. We believed it was time for us to extend our season. We have a very short season. We have some players who believe they need to play elsewhere to stay in shape, to come back in form for the MLS regular season. We continue to look at conforming with the international calendar. The way to start on that is, we’ve got to have a longer season. The best way to have a longer season is to have more games.[/quote]
My two cents: First of all the writing is clearly on the wall about SuperLiga. It just won’t happen this year. Too many questions and scheduling issues surround it. With expansion meant expanding the schedule a bit, we knew this would happen eventually and quite honestly with the roster expansions too, teams can and will be able to handle it.

On Beckham:
[quote]I believe the David Beckham signing will be viewed as one of the historic milestones in MLS history. He elevated the exposure and credibility of this league in ways that we would not have been able to do at that time without a signing of that magnitude. Financially it was a deal that made sense for us. Our television ratings grew when David was playing for the Galaxy. The anticipation and excitement around the league, the media attention, all escalated. It’s hard for anybody to argue that it wasn’t a good signing and an important thing for the development of the league. That’s not commissioner’s speak. That’s fact.

Does it disappointment me that he trains with Tottenham (after the Galaxy opened preseason camp)? Yes it does. Was I supportive of his desire to play for Milan on loan so he could prepare for the World Cup? I wasn’t pleased with it. But we did it to support a guy who was important to the league and someone who had made an important commitment to us. In retrospect, would we make the same decision? I don’t know. But certainly, on balance, this was a very successful signing and something that I think will go down in our history as a real important part of driving the league’s success. It’s inarguable.

Most players are keeping in shape and are on vacation during the offseason, whether it’s in Major League Soccer or any other league. That’s the way our contracts are structured. He wants to train and stay in shape. That’s not a bad thing. It’s only something that I believe becomes a challenge for us when that training impacts his role for the team that has him under contract, the L.A. Galaxy. AEG allowed him to train, the owner of the team allowed it, and said, “You’ve got to get back when it’s time to get down to business.”[/quote]
My two cents: Long comment for sure but a very interesting one indeed. I’ve always felt the league was a bit upset with the way Beckham has played them over the last couple years with his loan stints in Europe. I’m with him in the thought that the signing was still a very important one in the league’s history. The doors his signing opened up for the league are still being measured and will continue to be so for years to come.

Beckham owning a club and Expansion in general:
[quote]I would assume that when he’s done playing he will act on his option, and we look forward to working with him on that.

We have been very focused on our 20th team being in New York. We’re not close to being done with that. But it still remains our goal, and therefore the other markets that we remain in discussion with will come in as team 21 or beyond.[/quote]
My two cents: With Beckham not able to own a club in NY or LA, the options are limited for him and his group. I know where some fans would like him to go, I got a hunch it won’t be there though. The league is still holding strong to getting the Cosmos or some New York club in as the 20th team.

[quote]The clubs are recognizing that they need to be locally connected, relevant sports teams playing the world’s game. Part of that is how they brand and position themselves. The move to international branding is not something that I think diminishes their value as American sports teams. I’m totally okay with that. In fact, I’d rather have names like FC Dallas than the “Burn”. I’m not sure what a “Dallas Burn” is. When we think of brands, does it resonate as a soccer brand? If it could be the name of a lacrosse team or a college sports team and it doesn’t really resonate? Than I struggle as to how effective that brand can be.[/quote]
My two cents: I posted this over at earlier this morning. I find it great to hear that he thinks having a “FC” over a “Burn” makes more sense for the league. I know some folks hate the whole FC/SC thing in soccer but it is apart of the culture of the game. Hearing that some rebranding that has gone on in the league doesn’t diminish the value of the club is also positive to hear. It is pretty amazing to think that out of the original ten clubs only two have the same logos left (Columbus and New England).

Read more of the interview here.