SBD/May 15, 2013/Franchises

MLS Franchise Notes: Toronto FC's Kevin Payne Blasts League For Referee Assignments

In Toronto, Kurtis Larson noted Toronto FC President & GM Kevin Payne "took a strip off MLS on Monday for what he called 'inappropriate' actions precipitated by the league." Payne referred to TFC "as 'lab rats' to hone young referees." He said, "Six of our 10 referees (this season) have refereed 10 games or fewer (during their MLS careers)." Numbers provided by TFC on Monday indicated that referees "in charge of L.A. Galaxy games this season have averaged around 100 games of experience." The Red Bulls and Sounders, the league’s "other two darling clubs, have similar numbers" (TORONTO SUN, 5/14).

GOING FORWARD IN REVERSE: In DC, Steven Goff notes DC United is "off to the worst start in the club's 18-season history." Last season's "late run to the third-best record in MLS and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals created a false sense of standing." DC United management "figured -- wrongly -- the cash-conscious club could contend for a championship without opening the checkbook for another impact player." Many fans "wonder what happened to" the $2M-plus the club received from Belgian Pro League club R.S.C. Anderlecht for selling MF Andy Najar. First, the payments are "made in installments, not all at once, so United was not in position to make an immediate purchase." Second, the money was "put toward managing the salary cap" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/13).

TURF BURN: In Portland, Geoffrey Arnold noted the growing number of serious knee injuries suffered by Timbers players has "raised questions about" the team's artificial turf field. Most MLS players "prefer to play on grass, and at their practice facility in Beaverton, the Timbers train exclusively on grass." Four of the 19 MLS teams "play on artificial turf." The surface at Jeld-Wen Field "is manufactured by FieldTurf" (Portland OREGONIAN, 5/12).
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