An open letter as Major League Soccer teeters on the brink of a work stoppage


Dear MLS,

Don’t do this.

Don’t have a work stoppage. Find real middle ground. Keep your sport’s most anticipated season in a long time alive, not suspended or worse.

I come from a position of experience here, as a longtime hockey fanatic who has watched several unnecessary setbacks work stoppages. I also appreciate both sides of the story to at least some extent. Now as a hockey nut who planned on wearing No. 12 for the Sabres from the time I was a toddler, I stuck around. I know plenty of fans who didn’t.

[ RELATED: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

I know you can look at this issue and see how it portrays your growing sport. Have you seen the NFL or Premier League missing real, actual games because of a work stoppage at any point in recent history?

No, they had the wisdom to avoid that. You’re not listening, are you?

Guess not.

And yes, I know you’ve forgotten more business expertise in the last year than I’ve put together in my few decades on this Earth, but all I need is my ear to the ground and my eye on my phone to hear America’s many soccer haters issuing these texts, words and emails: “Your league in the only country that doesn’t love soccer about is going to strike? Hilarious!”

[ BOOKMARK: MLS standings | stats | schedule ]

To boot, it’s hard not to get with the players’ side here. Owners are ‘poor’ but the league is spending crazy jack on Designated Players? Player rights that are more closed than any of the “Big 4” leagues had before MLS existed? Ugh. Offering players free agency only after 10 years with a single team and above the age of 32? Wait, wait, now it’s 8 years and 28? Wow.

The soccer world is mere days away from David Villa, Kaka, Sebastian Giovinco and Mix Diskerud are here. Jozy Altidore, Brek Shea and Sacha Kljestan are back. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are coming, and the world has perked up its ears a bit. And you want to tell those players and fans that this is how your organization works? There’s momentum to be capitalized on, and you’re ready to tell the casual fan you don’t care.

Even if the strike only lasts a day and cancels a game, it happened. Ticket holders heading for games get nothing. I still run into former baseball fans who stopped paying attention in 1994. Do you want 2015 to be that millstone? Happens more quickly with fans who’ve less time invested in your league.

The Twitter world is abuzz with the way your club Montreal did 3-time CONCACAF Champions League winner Pachuca on Tuesday. At least it was until folks started rolling with the #MLSCBA hashtag. Momentum gone.

We want to watch games this weekend. We’re not interested in the rationale. Find a way to get us your product.



Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.


“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.


“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.


“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.

Spanish court to decide fate of Spanish league game in USA

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish court will decide whether the Spanish league will be allowed to play the Villarreal-Atletico Madrid game in the United States next month.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Madrid to hear arguments from the league and the Spanish soccer federation, which is against taking the regular-season match abroad.

The league has called for an injunction to force the federation to give its approval. It accuses the local soccer body of unfair competition.

The league also needs the approval of UEFA and American soccer bodies to be able to play the match, which is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Miami.

The commercial court hearing the case is expected to issue a ruling within the next few days.

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