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MLS State of the League Address: Crib Notes

Weren't able to catch the MLS State of the League Address? Didn't want to sacrifice an hour of your life that you'd never get back? Don't worry, we took notes.

It's probably a good thing I'm not in college.

I tried summarizing Don Garber's State of the League Address in handwritten notes. It's not that my penmanship is bad (my fiancee makes me write all of the cards we send), it's that I suck at taking notes. I get distracted too easily and write stupid crap that isn't very helpful. So apologies in advance.


Nice choice of butt rock hold music. Reminds me of the old NHL2Night show on ESPN2 back in the day.

Tacky Skrillex crap with MLS Cup commercial. 2012 called.

Greg Lalas isn't even looking into the camera. It's weirding me out.

MLS Cup will be broadcast on Sirius XM FC (Channel 94) for all three people who have Sirius XM.

Media roundtable talking heads: Greg Lalas playing the role of dour moderator. Tony Meola, Patrick LeDuc, Jorge Perez-Navarro, my stream just died. (note: I thought that was only supposed to happen during Union press conferences?) Back now. It's Doug McIntyre, Rob Stone, and Amanda Vandervort rounding out the distinguished panel of something.

Opening remarks by Don Garber:

Garber giving rundown of past formats has to be most boring crap ever. Thanks Univision. Promotes MLS Cup. Goodbyes to Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan. Will honor LD at SuperDraft (note: I'm sure that'll go over well here in Philly). Wants to thank LD for making MLS a "league of choice". Honored to have TH14. "Many people would have liked to see him lift a Cup" LOL (note: Garber says more about Henry but I'm laughing too hard to write at this point)

2014 Recap

"Starts with the World Cup" (note: I thought we didn't care about FIFA schedule?) Heineken came on board thanks to the World Cup. Name drops players on USMNT as proof of a successful MLS. Wants to help Canada qualify for a World Cup. Says it will be a mark on his career if Canada doesn't qualify for a World Cup (note: Well the Canadian Women's team has made the WWC and is hosting it this year. If he's referring to just the men, then he's never retiring).

TV Party/Six Pack

Extension of ESPN deal. New TV deals will leverage Univision to "transform relationship" with Spanish-speaking fans (note: I want to believe him, but since most MLS franchises don't have much Spanish-language web content, I'll believe this when I see it). Derping about the new crest. CBA big priority. TV Initiatives: Decision Day (note: That sounds like a terrible Adam Sandler movie) will be an end of the year and will focus all games at the same time and be meaningful (note: They're going to try and schedule the last matches of the season to all be played at the same time and to be meaningful. They'll have better luck achieving peace in the Middle East). Flex Scheduling - working on ways to move games that matter to TV. TV sponsors: Heineken and a new big agreement or two in the next few days/weeks. Talks about NYCFC/ Red Bulls rivalry (note: I can't help but feel like he's a used car salesman trying to pitch me a rusted '83 Corolla on this). Orlando City. Uses "unprecedented" for like the 20th time already. Mentions it's MLS 20th season.

Video and Questions

Starting XI video unveiled (note: it was unintentionally leaked hours earlier, so this surprised no one). Terrible generic EDM (porno?) music for this. (note: I didn't watch the video after the second or third time I saw the Union on the wrong end of the highlights. I checked my Facebook instead).

Jorge Perez-Navarro (JPN): Will MLS exercise option to keep Cubo Torres?

Don Garber (DG): "We'd like to." Stammering on about "process" (note: Once they get him back from Guadalajara, there'll be a "process" in place to put him in either LA or NY).

Doug McIntyre (DM): Where are you with the CBA?

DG: Formal discussions started. "Positive dynamic".

DM: What about work stoppage?

DG: Not thinking about that. (note: Dude you need to start thinking about that, especially if you keep touting record attendances and tv deals but cry poor to the Player's Union).

DM: Can the league handle a stoppage? (note: I like that Dougie isn't giving up here).

DG: League can handle a stoppage, as could the players. Didn't reach that point last time. Had a mediator designated by White House (note: Thanks Obama).

Tony Meola (TM): Coll. bargaining from player's perspective. We know there's a new TV deal, yet you keep saying the league isn't financially where it needs to be. How can you convince players?

DG: Don't think this is some setup (note: Too late). Players need to understand how the league operates (note: Everyone does). Very good for everyone that MLS is better now than 20 years ago. How do we continue to grow and invest? Investing more in youth development today than player salaries 10 years ago.

Rob Stone (RS): Pandora's Box of Expansion. Going to 20. What's the end game? How many can MLS sustain? How many will be in the playoffs?

DG: 24 teams by the end of the decade (note: And you get a franchise! And you get a franchise!)

RS: Can MLS sustain more than 24

DG: I don't know. MLS isn't mature league (note: Not even old enough to drink). 3 groups want teams: 2 in Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and Sacramento. LA is coming in 2017. We're not sure what's happening in Miami. Need to figure out a sense of timing and make decisions (note: Not sure if Atlanta was omitted on purpose or what). Will make a decision in 2015. Playoff format leaked to Brian Straus from my leaky board (note: So a board member "leaked" this to SI and he's coyly joking about it? Uh huh...) Are looking at that, but haven't made a decision yet. Saturday. Wants 50% participation in playoffs.

RS: What's the update with Miami? If it falls through, how does that effect Beckham's stake?

DG: Second part needs to be discussed with David. We love Miami. It's the gateway to Latin America. We know there's been pro sports struggles. Can it survive? Only if it has the right stadium. Until we get a stadium commitment, there will be no team in Miami. Reiterate: We want to be in Miami.

RS: Not going to Miami without stadium situated. What about NYCFC playing in a baseball park? LOL LAFC doesn't' have a stadium, so how do these differ from Miami? (note: Barely got that down I was laughing so hard. This guy must be new - he thinks that all rules apply to all teams equally).

DG: We believe we have an LAFC "stadium solution" and confident in stadium opportunity. Have multiple options. When made decision about NY, we weren't just confident, we were at agreement level on a particular site (note: I'm not sure what that even means). We lost that site. This is not an exact science. Can't say what you say today will set a precedent for tomorrow (note: I'm pretty sure that's actually the exact definition of a "precedent"). NYCFC is committed to it, focused on it, working on it. Almost 20K season tix sold (note: I didn't actually see DG physically pull these numbers out of his ass). We failed before in Miami. We folded a team. We folded a team in Tampa. Orlando is different, but we're not going back to Miami with out a stadium.

Patrick LeDuc (PL): Progress on status of Canadian players being considered domestic players on all MLS clubs, not just Canadian clubs (note: mmm Canadian Club)?

DG: Derping on about soccer in Canada, nationalism in Canada. Then "We don't have enough Canadian players who are good enough to allow Canadian teams to be competitive (note: Harsh)." Unfortunately for US, according to labor we can't treat a Canadian different than any other non-American player. We are working with Canada, Mexico, and CONCACAF to strengthen national teams. (note: Mexico is doing just fine with Liga MX and looks at MLS with disdain. Garber is delusional if he believes he's doing them any favors.)

PL: Are Canadian players asking for more content? Is pressure coming from CSA?

DG: Not pressure. Want to help Canada like they're helping USNT.

Amanda Vandervort (AV): From twitter - Will away goal rule continue to be used?

DG: Yes. Seattle fans didn't like it losing to LA but liked it beating Dallas. (note: Because it's all about what Seattle likes?) "Rules can help games become more competitive." No they can't wtf is he talking about? (note: I got pretty upset here and just listened incredulously as he went on and on about how it's attracting a large market and stuff)

JPN: Will we ever see September to June schedule and competing in Copa Libertadores?

DG: Talking about how they met with the committee about weather in new locations. "It was minus zero degrees" (note: There's no such thing as minus zero degrees. How is this man in charge of the top soccer league in the US?). Imagine what it'd be like in Toronto in February. Insurmountable until we build domes and heat stadiums. Getting closer to CONMEBOL and Liga Mex (note: I think I had a small stroke here because he keeps calling it Liga Mex. It's Liga MX. M. X. EM EX). How do we avoid scheduling issues? Copa America will help us get closer to CONMEBOL. Wants more competition either official or unofficial. SuperLiga was ahead of its time.

DM: Way to accommodate international windows?

DG: Challenges NBA and NFL don't have to deal with. Insurmountable issue. Would be good to take off all FIFA windows, not to have competition with National Team.

DM: October window prompted the tug-of-war between Klinsmann

DG: Would love national teams not to call those players. Jamaica called a player, had to find ways to allow him to compete. We are committed to club and country. NBA doesn't have to deal with this.

RS: He (Adam Silver)'s not dealing with Designated Players either. What's the next evolution for the DP Rule? Talk of money, increase number of DP's?

DG: Better response is the conversation. No dramatic change. (note: It's at this point I really stop caring.) Thierry Henry something. Any club can win. Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake are examples.

RS: Attracting players. How do you get European players who play for their national teams in their prime to come here?

DG: Not to be snarky but Robbie Keane and Tim Cahill are leaders and captains of their national teams (note: Not to be snarky, but Robbie Keane plays for Ireland, which at 61st in the FIFA rankings puts them between Egypt and Zambia. And Tim Cahill is Australian, which at last check wasn't in Europe.) Points out Beckham, Bradley, and Dempsey. How to get the next Messi? Either develop him or get enough revenue that we can purchase him. Coaching, infrastructure, and league respect.

AV: Instagram - how do you keep North American players in MLS?

DG: Have to believe league is good for their career and will make money. Can't recreate 100 years of history. Manage things in our control. Thinks LD Walks down the street and people recognize him. LOL

TM: Lots of young guys leaving to go to Mexico. How do we help clubs whose academies spend money on youth development not let them get poached?

DG: Been a healthy debate. "Mechanisms".US Soccer will announce mechanism to check academies. Can't get signed anywhere at 16. Against FIFA rules. Mechanism.

PL: Allocation money mechanisms transparency. Will MLS be more transparent?

DG: "Things aren't as easy as they seem to be." Jermaine Jones situation. Mechanism put in place. "Public doesn't understand out rules, and most of the media doesn't as well." Perhaps if the rules were clearly stated to begin with and weren't changed when it suits specific interests maybe us lowly fans and media could wrap our miniscule brains around them. Or maybe you could quit being a smug asshole. (note: I think I was hungry around this point.) Transparency is a big priority in 2015. LOL OK. Priority order for player rights. Will be shared at some point (probably just before they change them).

JPN: You just signed a new contract. What would you like to be your legacy?

DG: Wish we handled the JJ situation differently. (Everyone else too). League is further along in development than we thought. Four years left in contract. Won't think of legacy until after he leaves. Proudest of when vets come and say they're proud to be here because they remember when the league wasn't that good.

JPN: Chivas USA - could it have been different?

DG: Hindsight 20/20. Would make the same decision again. Targeting Hispanic market in LA. Mistake. Had to buy club from Vergara at market value. Fans

JPN: Chivas was most popular team in Mexico in 2005. It didn't work. Aren't you afraid it can happen with Manchester City and NYCFC?

DG: Learn from your mistakes. Mechanisms. Solely focused on competing with Red Bulls. Chivas wasn't fully committed.

AV:  Is there a chance we'll see Liga MX All Stars play MLS All Stars? YES PLEASE

DG: Remember when we beat Bayern Munich? Scheduling is a challenge, but would love it to happen.

RS: Does East-West come back?

DG: Thinks we can attract enough attention in our two markets (Seattle and NY?) with just our best players playing against each other. What kind of statement would that be?

PL: Handshake between coaches?

DG: Didn't go out to put on a show (note: Because an in-form team making hard challenges against an out-of-form team during a friendly is ok somehow.)

PL: Artificial turf. Should the league raise standards?

DG: League should have best artificial turf in Seattle and Toronto. Need to have best possible surfaces. No one complained about NE surface. League can't force a player (TH) to play or not play on a surface.

DM: Problem with TH not playing on turf?

DG: Would have preferred he played every game. Prefer players not to go on national team duty. But can't do that. Wasn't in TH's contract. League is better with TH having played here.

RS: Ownership issues with Red Bull. Iconic team in the Cosmos here in New York (note: At this point I'm sure there'll never be another State of the League like this. These are league-friendly, corporate news guys teeing off on Garber. Imagine if this was a group of independent bloggers and other media!) How committed are Red Bull, and is there a chance of reconciliation with the Cosmos?

DG: Red Bulls are committed to MLS. Not sure how this story got out. Spent more than any other club. Most expensive stadium. Most expensive market. Cosmos - nothing to reconcile. No relationship. We support NASL. Deeply committed to USL PRO. Reserves going away. Every club will have an affiliate or own a club.

RS: DC United. Big vote. If the vote doesn't go way, is it time to leave?

DG: Votes are going our way. One more vote. Mayor supports us. Wants to be considered for 2024 Olympics. Friends in the media aren't optimistic. New stadium in Boston. NYCFC Stadium. Orlando new stadium. Atlanta. Derp derp derp. Mechanisms.

JPN: Pro/rel ever in MLS?

DG: Ever is a long time. Not happening any time soon. (note: I can picture a certain twitter soccer personality/troll as Lloyd Christmas in 'Dumb and Dumber' going "So you're telling me there's a chance!")

GL: There were only 11k season tickets sold for NYCFC, not 20k

DG: Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. (note: If one quote sums it all up, it's this one. By this time, I'm just glad it's over with. The awful Skrillex music is back with the terrible headache-inducing commercial for the Cup Final. I need to go lie down.)