One of the biggest events of MLS CUP week buildup is Don Garber’s MLS State of the League address. MLS is still growing, trending upwards in attention while trending younger in participation both on and off the field.
Opened by Paul Courtemanche, the MLS State of the League press conference was quite possibly the most positive of it’s kind in MLS’s 23 year existence. Don Garber’s prepared statements stuck to the progress being made for the most part, and brushed aside or moved along quickly when there was little need to dwell.
In the question and answer portion of the program Garber admitted the playoffs will look different next year. However, there is still a Cup to be won tomorrow, though the 2018 MLS season and it’s growing fan base are the true winners.
The MLS Cup Winner, be it Atlanta United or the Portland Timbers, will play in a Campeons Cup August 14, 2019 at the MLS Cup winner’s stadium vs the Liga MX cup holders. If Portland Timbers win, they are into the CONCACAF Champions League. An Atlanta United win places the New York Red Bulls into the competition as Supporters Shield Winners.
One of only three men to make all 23 MLS Cups, Mark Abbott ladies and gentlemen!According to most everyone this will be the grandest MLS Cup he, or anyone else, has ever seen.
Because it is happening in Atlanta, and on that alone MLS is the biggest winner this MLS CUP. Atlanta United is the first MLS team to draw over one million do-fans.
(They’ve made way over a million dollars. Garber loves hinting at that revenue, but not enough to let the players union have a CBA argument. Something not touched on during this state of the league address.)
But it’s great, just GRAND, being in Atlanta. It can be stated twice that MLS has already won MLS Cup with Atlanta United hosting. It was just done in the last sentence.
Atlanta United did something with the attendance. Whether it be the front office decision to make concession friendlier, community marketing, or Atlanta transplants wanting a team that didn’t have Atlanta’s postseason history, metro Atlanta has a proud and authentic culture. Atlanta can boast the title of champ city in what is now a ‘true soccer nation.’
Atlanta United drew over a million, the first MLS club to do so. Likely only a few clubs are capable due to stadium constraints. This MLS CUP pits the new boys on the scene, Atlanta United, versus a team that predates MLS by decades in the Portland Timbers.
Atlanta draws 53 thousand a game with some topping 70,000. Portland began this season on an extended road trip for stadium renovations, and will do so again next year. The new attendance capacity still won’t top 26,000. That discrepancy in extra revenue alone is reason enough for some of MLS’s more arcane salary mechanisms.
Garber addressed those salary budgets are how they are growing. Garber emphasized that domestic players can earn the allocation money that most believe is being focused on foreign talent. Garber took the chance to take at shot at Jurgen Klinsmann saying the domestic players ‘had to earn it’ when it can to playing time and money.
Don Garber knew Jurgen was just a nuisance. Accepting advice from him concerning MLS’s direction was laughable. Left implied in Garber’s response was a sarcastic, “how’s Jurgen’s team doing again?”
Garber is still building a house, while Jurgen burned a few down already.