We received lots of wonderful, smart comments after Wednesday’s post on MLS failures in CONCACAF Champions League.
In an effort to introduce a new conversation, in trying to avoid covering the same heavily trampled ground, I proposed that an imbalance of experience in meaningful matches is denting MLS chances in the annual, regional club tournament.
I acknowledged that salary cap and roster depth were surely major elements of this ongoing Liga MX whuppin’. But writers like myself sometimes (falsely) assume that everyone remembers how often we already have stated the obvious, so we tend to undersell the glowing, red-letter items when taking the conversation elsewhere.
For the record, dominance of Liga MX teams in CONCACAF Champions League is largely about money and, by extension, a higher quality of collective play. (That was expressed by several readers simply as Liga MX sides being “better.” Fair enough.)
Seeing as so many of the comments drew a big red line right back to the salary/money issue, this needs to be said: Major League Soccer is what it is.
There always seems to be an insinuation in these comments (not always, but often) that MLS needs to spend more. It’s a fine debate to have.
I get the point. Still, patience has its long-term reward. I was seeing the same arguments 10 years ago, a.k.a. the darker years, when a grand total of 10 teams made up (in retrospect) an alarmingly wobbly Major League Soccer. Number of dedicated stadiums 10 years ago today: one.
(The Home Depot Center, this country’s second major stadium constructed expressly for pro soccer, opened in June of 2003.)
Had Major League Soccer owners gone all in at the time, throwing yet more money into the sinkhole, there wouldn’t be an MLS today.
Times have changed, and how. But the “math” here remains fairly simple: TV numbers keep rising, but remain relatively modest. Until those increase substantially, most clubs will continue to lose money. Until a few more beat their way into black ink, the salary cap increases will be modest at best.
It is what it is.
Everybody wants it to happen faster for MLS; me, too. But it deserves to be said every now and then: this has always been a marathon, not a sprint, and the pro game is in a pretty good place, all things considered.