The Q&A portion of Don Garber’s state-of-the-league press conference is being streamed live on MLSsoccer.com, and story and transcript will show up later.
Here are some highlights from that:
* Says the expansion to Toronto has helped “transform Major League Soccer” and that will only grow when Vancouver (2011) and Montreal (2012) join the league.
* Limit on Canadian players on those rosters are “in discussion” with goal of competitive balance between U.S. and Canadian teams, development of Canadian national team, and fairness to Canadian competition in CONCACAF.
* League is “very focused” on putting 20th team in New York by 2013 perhaps with Cosmos name. Single table will continued to be analyzed as always. But says MLS “will always have playoffs.” And adds that can happen with single-table. Acknowledged “oddity” of the two Western teams in Eastern final, but says that by itself won’t force change.
* Says league feels “very positive” about future TV picture, although there’s no easy solution for leap in ratings. Doesn’t see low-identity Dallas-Colorado pairing in MLS Cup as a problem. Contract with FSC ends this season. Engaged in discussions for renewal, but also with other potential partners including Versus.
* League is “looking hard” at areas that will encourage attacking soccer.
* Says league is frustrated by the need to tweak conferences and playoffs during this period of year-to-year growth through expansion. However, he says this period is nearing its end, and stability may arrive thereafter.
* Says league will know within a week about scheduling format for next season.
* Says the league wants to avoid moving existing teams to greener pastures and instead will try to help them improve their lots in their current cities. Adds that even if the league pauses at 20 teams, that it will eventually almost certainly grow beyond that as Atlanta, cities in Florida and elsewhere remain eager to join. The only question about returning to the South, he said, is when.
*Says success of soccer in the Pacific Northwest is something they never dreamed up, and they are taking the lesson that rivalries matter. That’s a reason he wants a second team in the South.
* Closes by saying certain markets such as the ones in the Northwest and potentially New York, are best served by resurrecting the NASL names. Adds that other markets are best-served by international/traditional names such as the FCs and Real and United, etc.