Don Garber’s reign as commissioner of Major League Soccer will reach the 20-year mark if he fulfills his new contract with the league. According to SI.com, the 56-year-old executive, who has already served 15 years at MLS’s helm, has signed a new five-year contract, one that would keep him with the league through at least its 2018 season.
Garber joined Major League Soccer in 1999, with his initial years defined by a struggle that left the league close to folding shortly into his job. Now, 12 years after the league contracted to 10 teams, a stabilized league is embarking on a expansion project that will take it to 24 franchises by 2020, with the league’s 20th and 21st teams (New York City FC, Orlando City SC) beginning play next season.
Garber is considered to be one of the major factors in the league’s growth. From SI.com’s report:
“It’s the first five-year deal I’ve signed in 15 years. Every other deal was a three-year deal,” said Garber …“I had always been of the mind that you sign three-year deals so you can give everybody the flexibility to determine what you want to do. The league was younger and less mature. Now we’re teeing up a long-term commitment to each other.”
By the time his new deal is up, Garber will see Atlanta’s expansion team join the league, with David Beckham’s project in Miami also working to begin play in the future. With one more expansion destination to be decided, Garber could see the number of teams in Major League Soccer double from the time he took over 15 years ago.
The bigger goal, however, is one Garber outlined last year. Over the next eight years, he wants MLS to be among the best leagues in the world. With his new deal, Garber will play a major part in trying to reach that goal.