Yes, I know the title channels Peter King a bit. Don’t worry, I promise not to mention lattes, field hockey, or the Red Sox. With that out of the way, let me move on to the big lessons of all this.
1. The “training wheels” theory of divided MLS ownership is, for the time being, completely and utterly debunked. I know Bill got to this point first, but I used to think that at least the possibility existed that some owners might want to spend more and have more personnel-related independence than other owners. Now, after the recent comments out of executives in LA, Seattle, and Toronto, that’s clearly untrue. It’s clear now that one of the main reasons these people chose to invest in MLS is the single-entity system. That indicates to me that single entity is not going anywhere in the near or medium term, whether Toronto or Seattle fans like it or not. It’s time to classify that discussion in the same category as promotion/relegation or moving to a winter calendar. It’s not an argument worth having.
2. This league still has a long way to go to long-term financial sustainability. Even if (like me) you think that LA is engaging in some fuzzy math when Garber says that only Toronto and Seattle are profitable, that’s still only 2-3 teams that make a profit. I think many of us have perhaps thought the league was further ahead of where it was and possibly been fooled a bit by the illusory images of big crowds in Toronto and Seattle and the cup final. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the league is on the right track, I just think this has served as a reminder that the league is a bit further back on the tracks than maybe we’d allowed ourselves to believe.
3. The MLS Players Union was not as stupid or reckless as we might have thought. I had been worried that Foose or the vocal senior players in the Union might be leading the players and the league to ruin. That proved not to be the case. I still wonder if the owners “broke” the union here. To their credit, Garber and the owners certainly aren’t talking like they did. But I am still not sure if the Union isn’t somewhat weakened by deciding not to strike, even for a small amount of time just to “send a message.” As I said in another column, I live in DC where where if one side isn’t winning something, that means it’s losing something, so maybe there is a concilliatory element to this that’s in my blind spot. Maybe I’m wrong, and the new CBA is a solution that both sides are legitimately happy with. That would certainly be a good thing, but I can’t tell at this point as we hardly know the details of the new CBA.
What other big (or small) lessons do you think we learned about MLS or the sport in general from this whole process?