Is MLS the Trump of USA Soccer?

I have noticed that quite a few MLS apologists bash non left-wing characters and policies on the regular.

Are these apologists aware of where their support for “club MLS” is directed to?

It is quite the embarrassing conundrum.

MLS apologists bash USA President Donald Trump often, but the kicker is that they appear to be blissfully unaware that one of the chief shareholders of club MLS is famous Trump supporter Robert Kraft:


Another club MLS founding father, Phil Anschutz, is a noted supporter of “right-wing” anti-LGBTQ groups:

This is very odd since club MLS and its fans try so hard to market an “equality” stance when it comes to LGBTQ demographics in USA soccer and the nation as a whole.

What is with all of the uppity, progressive speak? The MLS club that these folks support directly contradicts with those values.

Is it any surprise that the parody account @MLS_Trump fits club MLS like a glove?


Discriminatory, closed-system USA soccer policy (no promotion/relegation) jives well with these non-progressive values that MLS apologists claim to hate.

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USA Soccer Excuses in the Face of Croatia and Iceland Success

Surpise! MLS/USA soccer closed-system apologists have once again scored a perfect 10 in the mental gymnastics narrative spin competition.

On one hand, these closed-system apologists have always held that USA does not have enough soccer culture, fans, players, or infrastructure to be successful. Lately, small soccer nations such as Iceland, Belgium, and Croatia have been popping up and proving that the “little guys” can make serious noise in global soccer despite population and resource limitations. Small nations are now eclipsing USA soccer success on the regular.

Amazingly, these closed-system apologists are now claiming that USA soccer’s abundance of resources is a handicap and not an advantage. To review USA soccer ingredients:

  • 330 million total population
  • 24 million soccer players (probably 50+ million soccer fans in general)
  • #1 wealth and infrastructure on the planet
  • $11 billion projected profit for 2026 World Cup hosting honors.

Closed-system apologists want you to forget all of that noise. Apparently, these small nations have an advantage over USA because it is easier for them to organize into a cohesive unit. You simply cannot make it up:

Since USA soccer closed-system apologists cannot hold the U.S. Soccer governing federation (USSF) or MLS (the ones who appear to be pulling the strings for USSF’s decisions) accountable, they predictably must resort to a new spin on one of the two erroneous USA soccer failure scapegoats: blaming soccer fans/culture or soccer players.

You see, oh unenlightened ones, USA’s soccer landscape is so massive and diverse that it is hard to organize all of you good folks into a system of development that will produce top level USA soccer players for clubs and the national team. Leave it to the MLS closed-system to tackle this massive this challenge! Woe is USA for being so blessed with an abundance of soccer resources!

Why is the USA soccer national team player pool no better than the pre-MLS era in the mid-1990s? Why is MLS capturing a 6% (and shrinking) slice of the total USA soccer market?

With Croatia’s wild success in the 2018 World Cup, the credit must go to the Croatian soccer federation’s implementation of an open market (promotion/relegation) which enables excellent practitioners and organizations (clubs, fans, coaches, players, administrators) to rise to the top levels of the Croatian soccer ecosystem. Small, open-system nations are putting on a brilliant exhibition in the maximization of limited resources and potential.

Is USA soccer too rich or too poor? The conditions never seem to be right for MLS and USA soccer closed-system apologists. USA soccer must make the choice to align its soccer with American values of equality and opportunity for all. An open USA soccer market will incentivize hard work and excellence from players, coaches, administrators, and fans. USA is a world-class soccer nation, but it has to open its domestic ecosystem to all in order to produce a world-class domestic club soccer competition and national team.

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USSF Is Responsible for USA Soccer Instability

The common declarations on the state of USA soccer continue to be: “We need a stable system!” and “We need to grow the game!”

Wait a minute. Let me get this straight:

  • USA has had soccer for 100+ years (yes, even pro clubs and players that go back that far).
  • USA has 24 million soccer players (more than the entire populations of many great world soccer nations).
  • USA sets the attendance and profit standard for hosting World Cups (USA just promised an $11 BILLION 2026 World Cup profit to FIFA).

Despite all this, USA is still lamenting over how weak and unstable its soccer is?

The real story? America goes bonkers for the normal soccer seen around the world, but its domestic club soccer competition (led by a failing MLS closed division 1) is woefully unpopular (MLS has a paltry 6% share of soccer TV viewers in USA).

There is no soccer problem in USA. There is no soccer fan and player interest or passion problem in USA. Perhaps it is time to examine U.S. Soccer governing federation (USSF) leadership and policy?

“It’s the SYSTEM, stupid!” – me

A closed USA soccer system that only gives one company/club (MLS) access to division 1 is absolutely toxic to stability and growth. Why should millions of soccer-crazy Americans care and invest in USA domestic soccer when they are denied a fair opportunity to compete? Compare the world’s open systems with USA soccer’s closed system and there is no contest.

Open systems:

No open soccer system has collapsed in world history.

I repeat:

Open. Systems. Never. Ever. EVER. Collapse.

100% stability rate.

Most of the soccer world has seen wild success under open-system policy. The planet’s top national teams, club teams, and players all come from open systems. Off the pitch, the most profitable and popular domestic and international competitions are made up of open system clubs and national teams. The most profitable clubs come from open systems.

USA’s closed system:

USA’s domestic club competition sees an average club collapse rate of TEN clubs per year. This really is all the evidence we need in this debate. USA has the most unstable domestic soccer system – by far.

Many USA first-division (MLS) players make less than $100,000 per year. Many second-division players (currently USL) do not make a livable full-time wage. No paid playing opportunities exist with clubs below these two divisions.

USA soccer’s closed system encourages league versus league infighting. Leagues are able to poach clubs from competitor leagues (MLS D1 has poached multiple clubs from NASL D2 in the last 15 years) or place new clubs in close proximity to competitor-league clubs in order to drive them out of business.

Here is a snapshot of USA soccer closed-system chaos as of October 2017 (via @Flight_19):


The evidence is clear: open soccer systems are far superior to closed systems. Any argument that the current USA soccer closed system is more conducive to stability and growth than the open system alternative is just plain wrong. USA soccer’s closed-system policy is a self-fulfilling prophecy of instability.

Are open soccer systems utopia? No one is claiming perfection or that the harsh realities of open markets do not exist, but an open system that is 90% healthy is leaps and bounds ahead of USA soccer’s current stability standard.

Clubs can struggle or even collapse within open systems, however, these examples account for just a tiny percentage of the ranks of healthy clubs in open systems. Even with these outlier instability cases, clubs that have to shut their doors or file for bankruptcy (administration) usually have brands and supporter trusts that live on for “rebirth” in the future. Soccer clubs, when hosted in an open and unlimited soccer ecosystem, are practically inextinguishable.

Does the current U.S. soccer federation intentionally plot this instability, or is it just a result of clueless incompetency? Is this federation now just a front for MLS business interests and are the decisions made by this supposed “impartial” body meant to benefit MLS and kill of any outside competition? With the way the federation continues to double down on this toxic closed-system policy, questions like these must be asked. It is time to hold the USA soccer governing federation accountable.

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The Promotion/Relegation USA Soccer Decision Is Not up to MLS

“What if MLS doesn’t want to go along with promotion/relegation in USA Soccer?

“How will we convince MLS shareholder-owners to accept the promotion/relegation risk despite paying hefty franchise fees to enter MLS?”

America MUST understand that USA soccer’s decision to move to a 100% open system with promotion/relegation is NOT up to MLS.

Yes, when projecting what American soccer might look like under open system conditions, MLS is usually considered as the defacto division one container-league, but MLS participation is not required in order for USA soccer to move forward to an open system.

This decision is 100% in the hands of USA soccer’s governing federation (currently USSF). With one pen stroke, the federation can create fair opportunity for millions of people in the USA soccer ecosystem.

Opening USA soccer does not depend on USSF officials walking into a board room of MLS shareholder-owners and successfully pitching them on why going along with an open system would be great business for the future of MLS. Yes, it would still be beneficial to ask MLS to participate in the open system, but the USA soccer governing federation is free to walk away and move forward if MLS does not want to play ball.

The USA soccer open system transition can be distilled down to one key pillar: reserve USA soccer’s divisional sanctions for open leagues only. 

An open system uses leagues as open, tiered containers for clubs move up and down through. They represent the very structure of the USA soccer industry itself. Any league that refuses to serve in this fashion has no need for a divisional sanction.

MLS models itself after U.S. sport franchise leagues such as NFL, NBA and MLB. These leagues do not require a division 1 sanction to survive and thrive, so there is no reason that MLS should require a division 1 sanction.

Here are the two potential MLS and open-system transition scenarios:

A) MLS agrees to participate in an open system and proceeds to break its single-entity “club MLS” structure into autonomous clubs that are fully controlled by individual owners. Pretty straightforward.

B) MLS refuses to participate in an open system. It would then have its division 1 sanction stripped by the USA soccer governing federation and operate off on its own like a non-sanctioned U.S. sport league. MLS remains untouched and its shareholder-owners are not exposed to the risk of open system competition. There would then be a competition between unsanctioned MLS soccer (or any other closed league that wants to operate like MLS) and the sanctioned, open system of independent soccer clubs. MLS shareholders would be free to buy their brands out of the MLS entity (if MLS is willing to sell) in order to become an independent club and flee to the open, sanctioned system.

There is a path forward to an open USA soccer system no matter where MLS stands on the issue. The decision to open USA soccer up to all people and clubs should not be left up to one single constituent (MLS). Why should one group determine the fate of everyone else? If the current USSF governing federation is putting the interests of club MLS first in its decision-making process, that is corruption.

Any USA soccer governing federation is responsible to look fight equitably for all American soccer constituents. The people of American soccer ultimately have the final say as to direction of governing policy. When the people unite and speak up for change, leadership must bow. Will this current USSF organization be the one that moves American soccer into its future of equality and opportunity, or will a new Federation be required?

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