Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What anti-#ProRelForUSA topic has not been debunked?



In the over 100 posts that I've been writing this blog I've touched on quite a few topics...

We've seen some of them be shared enough that they've nearly stopped several items from being used as arguments against the opening of the pyramid. We've seen huge growth of those advocating for an opening of the pyramid. We've even had the pleasure of having a sitting USSF Board member comment on one of our articles on Facebook and in a podcast interview.

Now I need your help though. NO... this is not a post begging for money. I just need your help in continuing to keep writing about the topics that most often pop up.

During your discussions online and in person what topic do you hear the most often that you have not seen addressed by either this blog or by another site?

Hit the comments up and let me know what you would like to see written about!


Continue to use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag on all your social media platforms. Join one of the several Facebook Promotion and Relegation groups out there and follow some of our favorite Twitter people.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who is challenging those in power?



Jorge Ramos recently did a TED Talk titled "Why Journalists Have An Obligation To Challenge Power". One of the first statements he made struck a chord with me.

I was born in Mexico, but I've spent more than half my life reporting in the United States, a country which was itself created by immigrants. As a reporter and as a foreigner, I've learned that neutrality, silence and fear aren't the best options — not in journalism, nor in life. Neutrality is often an excuse that we journalists use to hide from our true responsibility. What is that responsibility? It is to question and to challenge those in positions of power. That's what journalism is for.

Last night the USMNT squeaked by with a win over Martinique in Gold Cup group stage play. The same Martinique that features a very small 4 tier 57 team pyramid with even its top division being amateur/semi-pro. The same Martinique NT that only has 4 players who do not play in that same top division league as this Bleacher Report Info-graphic points out.


Jordy Delem who has a total of 7 starts in MLS after playing only 16 games in USL last season. Antoine Jean-Bapitste who plays for Villefranche in the 4th Tier of the French pyramid. Anthony Angely who plays for Poitiers in the 2nd Division in France, and Steven Langil who played 6 games last season for Polish 1st Division power Legia Warsaw before being sent back out on loan to his previous club Waasland-Beveren of the Belgian 1st Division.

I saw plenty of hand wringing and worry coming from fans on social media over the way the national team played versus obviously inferior competition regardless of if it was the 'A', 'B', or 'C' team Bruce Arena ran out there to play.

But I also saw Tweets like this from media members.


I also saw a halftime analysis that claims that this "Pressure" was causing problems for the back line of the #USMNT. No questioning of the Bruce Arena installed tactical play of the entire team when under this light pressure.




USMNT Head Coach Bruce Arena was able to make this statement at a Gold Cup press conference...



He was not immediately inundated with follow up questions about players such as Miguel Ibarra who was called up from NASL and performed admirably in his action and last nights savior Jordan Morris who was called up directly from college play at Stanford University. With the tiers of American soccer not being merit based... how can any of us and him especially... act as if lower tier teams can not hold top level players? Why was he not pressured on this topic? Why was he not asked if the lower tiers of US soccer are even being scouted?

Let's add this "MLS Only" way of Bruce Arena thinking to this quote from  Johan Cruyffs' book "My Turn"...


At some point Jurgen Klinsmann was pressured by those in power at USSF to included players from as many franchises in MLS as possible. Klinsmann imploring the best and brightest of young American soccer players to play in top leagues in Europe elicited the ire of MLS Commissioner and USSF Board member Don Garber.

Is Bruce Arena under the same pressure to pick MLS players?

Has anyone asked?

Why has only Jurgen Klinsmann, in the recent history of high level soccer people in this country, put under immense pressure by the media? Was it because he didn't play along with MLS wishes? Was it because he put USSF under pressure with his statements about reforming the entire pyramid in the US? For his wishes to fix the development system? To end Pay to Play?

Every day we can find a new topic to question those in power over American soccer with. When the media fails to ask these deeper more meaningful questions that absolutely need asked, they become willing accomplices to whatever plan those in power have put in place.

Currently it seems that nowhere in the entire ecosystem of soccer in the United States is there being pressure applied to the leaders of the game.

The question I have today is...

Does American soccer media have a single writer, TV pundit, or even big time blogger who consistently challenges the power structure of American soccer?


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

If not now, when?



We all know American soccer needs to change. It seems that almost weekly the spotlight is being shown on a "new" problem (that has existed for years) somewhere in the American soccer structure/culture.

My questions is ... Why are so many people involved in American soccer scared of the deep and radical systemic change that is needed to address these issues?

Why do they keep pushing for small incremental change?

We all know that incremental change results in incremental results... Do we really want to wait "generations before we are literally playing at the level of the Premier League or Bundaliga"?

If you are fine with that... keep advocating for incremental change. For the status quo.

Unfortunately, for those of us who would like to see positive movement relatively quickly for American soccer, too many involved in the leadership of the sport, the media, and a multitude of very vocal (on social media) fans incorrectly believe that small incremental change will deliver radically different results.

Only sweeping reforms are going to deliver the kind of radically different results that all of us want to see in our lifetime.

Incremental change will never do this.

So why do these leaders, media members, and fans keep fighting against this sweeping reform?

Fear.

The one thing we can stop being scared of ... that soccer as a "major" sport in the United States will go away. It is here to stay. Soccer is going to remain on TV. It is going to remain being played by millions of children and adults every week. It will remain a pro sport. It will remain in your city and town. It is not going away. We will not return to the "Dark Ages" so many are scared of.

If we change the way soccer is governed in this country. Soccer is not going away.

If we have an open and inclusive pyramid put in place. Soccer is not going away.

If clubs are paid Training Compensation and Solidarity Payments. Soccer is not going away.

If the youth soccer "travel and tournament" structure is affected by the addition of 100's of Adult clubs having academies that are free or very low cost. Soccer is not going away. 

If merit starts to decide which players play in the best academies not parental wallet size. Soccer is not going away.

If the entirety of the adult amateur soccer system in the country is restructured and able to move up and down on sporting merit and is connected to the pro game. Soccer is not going away.

If billionaire owners are no longer allowed to buy new spots in the 1st Division of the sport for $150M dollars. Soccer is not going away.

We can keep going with this list of things that if they are addressed in sweeping reform all at once... none of it will kill soccer.

Right now soccer is growing at every level even while being structurally choked off all the way from the top down. What will happen to the sport when proper leadership makes the changes that we all know are needed?

The sleeping giant that is US Soccer will awaken.

Keep speaking up. Use #ProRelForUSA on all of your social media platforms when talking about any of these issues and keep the pressure on those who can make the change.






Monday, July 3, 2017

When do they start to ask the hard questions?



Normally when I sit down to write a blog post I have a starting point perfectly worked out in my head. A stat, a document, some figures, an article I've read... something.

Today I have nothing but a feeling. The feeling that the soccer press in the US is failing the fans of the sport in this country.

I say this not to point an accusatory finger at any person in particular, any publication in general, or even broadly at the entirety of the media business. Just to say that at some point soccer in the US needs a media that is more than cheerleaders of the sport, reporters of game results, and prognosticators of future National Team lineups. We need a media that digs deep and finds out the "Why" behind all of the business dealings in the sport. The "Who" is behind those reasons. The "How" did these people make the decisions happen.

After my recent post about SUM valuation compared to MLS team worth a screen capture of the Soccer United Marketing Wikipedia page has started to float around Twitter.


Why has this series of relationships and manipulation of policy by USSF not been a much larger story concerning the business of soccer in the United States?

If this was going on at FIFA it would be the largest sports story in the world and would have reporters digging in to every relationship and business dealing by every board member of the Ex-Co. Why is this level of scrutiny not levied at USSF Board of Directors members and top level employees as well? What is it going to take before the effects of this collusive relationship by MLS/USSF are explored and we find out if it is actually having the negative ramifications on clubs outside of MLS that many USSF reformists think that it is?

CONCACAF was allowed free reign outside of media scrutiny on their multi million dollar deals right here in our backyard for decades and it gave us Chuck Blazer.

How long is our free press going to allow all of these USSF and MLS business dealings to remain cloaked in secrecy?

When do they start to ask the hard questions?

Friday, June 30, 2017

How much of the MLS expansion fee is for the team?



As anybody following the business side of American soccer knows (and we've discussed) MLS started Soccer United Marketing (SUM) to help diversify its income streams and capitalize on the growing market for soccer in this country. Private equity firm Providence Equity bought a 25% stake in SUM in 2012 for $150m. MLS for the last several years had been attempting to purchase back this 25% stake... recently they were able to make this happen.

According to Bloomberg (READ IT HERE) Providence Equity tripled their initial investment when selling their shares back to MLS.

Providence Equity Partners has sold its interest in Major League Soccer’s media and marketing arm back to the league, which is eager to capitalize on the growing interest in U.S. soccer around the world.
The private equity firm tripled its initial investment in Soccer United Marketing, according to people familiar with the accounting. Providence paid $150 million for a 25 percent stake in 2012. Six teams have joined MLS since then, diluting Providence’s original share.

This $450,000,000 price tag for a diluted portion of SUM puts its valuation to at least $2.25 BILLION dollars (that figure was achieved not accounting for dilution created by LAFC or Miami which may have already happened that would drive the overall valuation higher). This chart created by @RandomBlackRain on Twitter shows how much per team this figure equates to.


As we can see currently a 22 team league puts SUM's value at over $100,000,000 per team.

With reported Real Salt Lake $10M, Toronto FC $10M, Portland $34M, Montreal $40M, Orlando City $70M, Minnesota United FC $100M, and New York City FC $100M expansion fee payments some investors have already made quite the ROI with just their equity in SUM.

The argument often times made by those wanting to keep the current league structure is that "owners who paid this huge expansion fee for their team will lose tons of money".

I think we can plainly see that owners at this point actually are not paying the huge fee to buy a team... they are paying a huge fee to buy in to SUM. The current LAFC expansion fee price of $110m would make the team itself cost less than $13,000,000.

USSF right now can step in and outlaw the single entity structure of MLS in the US open up the pyramid and that would require a separation of the 1st Division MLS and SUM. This separation would allow current investors in MLS to retain BILLIONS of dollars in equity via their ownership stake in a newly spun off and highly profitable SUM. They would also retain ownership in an independently controlled 1st Division soccer team that they would be free to sell on the open market to any other investor if they were not interested in retaining ownership of an open system team.

This seems like a Win/Win for soccer in the United States AND the business of the sport.

Initial investors in MLS who helped to prop the league up during its lean years now own a multi-billion dollars sports marketing company and retain ownership of their independent 1st Division soccer teams. New and old investors in the lower divisions of the sport would also now have the ability to grow their teams and achieve sporting glory by making it to the 1st Division.


I would love to hear your opinion in the comments or on social media using the #ProRelForUSA hashtag.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Why is Jermaine Jones wearing a Chicarito jersey worthy of conversation but...

Earlier this week Jason Davis of Sirius XM radio had a conversation on his show about Jermaine Jones wearing a Chicharito Mexican National Team jersey...

My question is, why is this worthy of discussion but USSF Board member Don Garber's MLS owned Soccer United Marketing making millions of dollars for the Mexican Federation via promoting Mexican NT games on US soil and selling loads of sponsorships for the FMF isn't worthy of discussion?




Which one is actually an issue (if either of them are) that is worthy of discussion by #USMNT fans?

A US Men's National Team player wearing another great players jersey who happens to play for Mexico?

Or

A sitting USSF Board member via his "day job" sending millions of dollars to a competing CONCACAF Federation by selling their product on our home soil?

Would love to hear your opinion in the comments or on social media. Make sure you use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag!