MLS Salary Structure, Improved Play Making League More Attractive
Changes in MLS' salary structure have made the league "more attractive to young foreign stars and older U.S. players alike, resulting in deeper rosters, more exciting games and a level of play rapidly approaching that of Mexico's Liga MX," according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. LAFC Exec VP/Soccer Operations John Thorrington said, "Inarguably we have narrowed that gap. Look at the on-field product week in and week out and MLS is in a very different place. The types of players that are coming have a lot to do with that." Baxter noted the MLS Players Union released the first '18 survey of player salaries, which "showed the number of millionares in the league increased to 46 from 28" in '17 while the guaranteed salary total for the league's 669 players topped $249M for the first time (L.A. TIMES, 5/12). Dynamo Senior VP & GM Matt Jordan said, "There's a lot of top players who have the choice to go to China and make a ton of money. (But) It's a totally different culture, it's a totally different lifestyle." Jordan: "The one advantage we have in the MLS is that it's a very stable league, it's a very organized league -- very professional -- and it's growing. So I think you have to find players ... who can play at the highest level and come with the right attitude. It all starts with the player's attitude and their motivation to help grow the sport in that city and throughout the league" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/13).
QUEEN'S FEAST? In Cincinnati, Patrick Brennan wrote at this point, most soccer fans in the city will take an MLS bid for FC Cincinnati "however they can get it, regardless of the timeline for beginning play in the league." That is the aggregate effect of "delays in the expansion process and opposition that persists to this day." But FC Cincinnati "likely sees an opportunity in joining the league" for the '19 season as "opposed to later that others don't." There is a "significant competitive advantage that could be gained by beginning play next year." MLS makes certain personnel mechanisms available to first-year teams to "help make them more competitive upon arrival." The problem FC Cincinnati faces is that "time is slipping away, and if it misses the current window of opportunity to wrap up its bid, the aforementioned spoils of the expansion process would have to be shared" in '20 with new franchises in Miami and Nashville (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/13). THE ATHLETIC's Mo Egger wrote he would "love for Cincinnati to land an NBA team," but wants to know if "there's truly a demand" in the market for MLS. Egger: "Does anybody feel like we're missing out?" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/11).