Buying into Major League Soccer, and the return of the NASL?

Yesterday, was the final championship game of the Major League Soccer (MLS), with Real Salt Lake taking their first league title ever.  I haven’t been able to confirm it yet, but I’m wondering if this is the first professional sport league championships for the state of Utah.  Does anyone know?

On the losing side of yesterday’s game, which came down to one of the most dramatic penalty kick shootouts I have ever seen, was the Los Angeles Galaxy lead by David Beckham and Landon Donovan.  With the season now over, Beckham will pack his bags and make the rounds in Europe playing for Milan on loan as he did last season.  Last time things didn’t go so well with both teams coming to a major battle of the rights of Beckham, how much he is worth, and what should be paid for a few months of his service.  Some say, that Milan may have paid around $10 million, or about a single year of Beckham’s salary.  Not a bad deal for the MLS if you ask me.

What really caught my eye, however, was MLS commissioner, Don Garber’s public statements about Beckham and the league’s expansion.  It was made public that Beckham has in his contract the option to buy the league’s 20th franchise after 2011 or whenever he stops playing in the league.  It seems Garber doesn’t want Beckham owning a team and playing at the same time, which, while understandable, is ironic considering Phil Anshcutz and Lamar Hunt at one point in time controlled eight of ten franchises.  I guess the MLS is trying to tone down on the conflict of interests. Currently the league has 15 franchises, Philly comes next year, and Vancouver and Portland the year after that.  That brings the league to 18 teams, with Montreal considered to by the strong front runner to get #19.  However, Garber says the Montreal bid is not yet acceptable to the league, which requires teams to pay $40 million to join the league.  The league seems ready to keep expanding, and as I have mentioned before, it is fast approaching the number of franchises which the failed NASL had.  You can read more about Garber’s words here.

Curious that I discuss the North American Soccer League (NASL) which failed in 1984, but had some of the all-time greats play in the U.S. including Pele, Beckenbauer, and Cruyff.  Well guess what, the league is on the way back!  I first thought this was some kind of April Fool’s joke, but then I looked at the calendar.  Turns out the NASL is being reformed as a break away division two league in North America, after breaking away from the United Soccer League (USL).  There are now two second-tier soccer leagues in the U.S., notably one of the franchises which broke away was the Montreal USL team.

So who knows, maybe the Canadian investment team which bought the Pontiac Silverdome does have a chance at landing a professional soccer franchise.  Though an MLS bid would seem unlikely, there are now two leagues which will surely be looking for teams.

The big question: Did no one learn from the original NASL’s failure?  All signs seem to indicate we are ignoring why the old league most likely failed.


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