billsportsmaps.com

August 29, 2015

USA/Canada soccer attendance map for 2014 – MLS, NASL (II), USL-Pro: all pro soccer teams in the USA & Canada in 2014 (43 teams)/ With an editorial on the mendacity of Major League Soccer.

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USA/Canada soccer attendance map for 2014 – MLS, NASL (II), USL-Pro: all pro soccer teams in USA & Canada in 2014 (43 teams)



    USA/Canada soccer attendance map for 2014 – MLS, NASL (II), USL-Pro: all professional soccer teams in the USA & Canada in 2014 (41 teams within the three pro leagues)./ With an editorial on the mendacity of Major League Soccer

By Bill Turianski on 29 August 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Sources of attendance figures:
MLS, businessofsoccer.com/2014/10/29/2014-mls-attendance-review-a-look-ahead-to-2015 (businessofsoccer.com).
NASL and USL-Pro, 2014 Lower Division Attendances (dohertysoccer.com).

2014 North American pro soccer leagues’ cumulative attendance figures…
The 1st division: 2014 MLS, league average attendance (19 teams): 19,148.
The “2nd division”: 2014 NASL (II), league average attendance (10 teams): 5,501.
The “3rd division”: 2014 USL-Pro, league average attendance (14 teams): 3,114.

Highest-drawing team in USA & Canada…
Seattle Sounders (III): 43,734 per game (at 65.2 percent-capacity in the 67,000-capacity Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington state). Seattle’s crowds were biggest in MLS by a very considerable margin of more than 21 thousand (!) (the second-best attendance in MLS in 2014 was Toronto FC, at 22,068 per game).

Teams which played to 100-percent-capacity…
Sporting Kansas City.
Toronto FC.
Portland Timbers (IV).
Real Salt Lake.
Sacramento Republic [a brand-new USL-Pro team).
...

Elements of the map page
The map includes...
1). all 19 teams from the 2014 MLS (one of which, Chivas USA, is now defunct);
2). all 10 teams from the 2014 Spring & Fall seasons of the NASL (II); and
3). all 14 teams from the 2014 USL-Pro (two of which, Charlotte Eagles and Dayton Dutch Lions, have opted to turn amateur and join the USL-PDL, a development league that is the de-facto 4th division in USA and Canada).

On the map, team logos and team-colors-circles are sized to reflect attendance - the larger the logo-and-circle, the higher the attendance. I tried to have the circles on the map be composed of the colors each teams wore in 2014 (as opposed to simply the colors in each teams' logo).

On the map I also put in the locations of the two new expansion franchises of MLS for 2015 - New York City FC and Orlando City SC (II). [Orlando SC (II) replaces Orlando SC (I) of NASL (II), who dissolved to make way for the new franchise in MLS, under basically the same ownership (that is how "promotion" often works in the first division of American and Canadian association football, which is otherwise a closed shop)].

The chart at the far right-hand-side of the map page shows the following for each team on the map…2014 average attendance, stadium seating capacity, percent-capacity (which is average attendance divided by stadium capacity), year of establishment [first year the team played], total seasons played [to 2014], MLS Cup titles with last title listed (for the MLS teams only, of course), US Open titles with last title listed (for the USA-based teams only).

    Major League Soccer is a cartel that refuses to abide by rules of free trade and will keep the USA (and Canada) as soccer backwaters

Germany-born Jermaine Jones had a great World Cup for the US Men’s National Team in June 2014. The now-33-year-old Jones had had a successful career in the top flight in Germany (with Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, and Schalke), in England (with then 1st-division-side Blackburn Rovers), and in Turkey (with Istanbul giants Beşiktaş). A few weeks after the 2014 World Cup, Jones expressed his desire to return to America (where he grew up), and to play professionally in the USA. The transfer of Jermaine Jones from the Turkish Süper Lig to Major League Soccer was handled this way… 1). As reported by the Washington Post, Jones wanted to play for the Chicago Fire, because that is where some of his roots are. 2). Major League Soccer said he could only play for either Chicago or New England. 3). A “blind draw” saw him chosen to play for New England. By the way, Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation (which runs the USMNT), at that point in time (late summer of 2014) served as the president of Kraft Soccer Properties, tying him closely in a financial sense to the New England Revolution’s “owner”/operator, Robert Kraft. The New England Revolution are a team which draws somewhat poorly (15th out of 19 teams in 2014, at 16.6 K-per-game/ which is lame) and are in a bad stadium situation (playing to about 50,000 empty seats each home game at the NFL’s New England Patriots’ stadium, which is 20 miles outside of Boston).

So…let’s review…someone who is head of the US Soccer Federation (Gulati), but also worked then for some guy (Kraft), helped to send the best US player in the 2014 World Cup to that guy’s team – a team with no titles and a lame stadium situation. A team that needed some propping up. How rigged. How anti-competitive. How fixed. Why could Jones, a free agent, only play for two teams? And isn’t it such a coincidence that Jones ends up on the New England Revolution, a team run by Kraft, a man who employed the head of the US Soccer Federation in the capacity of the President of Kraft Soccer Properties? That goes beyond conflict of interest – this maneuvering goes way beyond that, into the realm of unethical behavior. What rule book did that come out of? This is what Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky had to say about that… {excerpt}…”It’s a function of MLS’s “single-entity” structure: the clubs aren’t independently owned, but are operated by league stakeholders. You’ve basically got a single corporate overlord deciding where in-demand players go, without the players themselves getting to choose. It’s absolutely absurd that this is how America’s top-flight league handles the acquiring of a top talent…” {end of excerpt at the deadspin.com article MLS Used A Blind Draw To Decide Where Jermaine Jones Will Play, from July 25 2014).

From World Soccer Talk.com, from Aug. 26 2014, by Robert Hay, MLS Again Creates New Rule to Appease Owners.

Note: the following bullet-points below were adapted from this article by Alex White, Major League Soccer: Deciphering the Single Entity (from otfsoccer.com from Feb. 9 2014).
Single-entity ownership in MLS means…
• All MLS players are employed by the league itself, not the soccer teams (franchises). MLS players do not work for the team that they play for – they work for the league itself.
• The league retains all intellectual property and negotiating rights, but employs “operators” to manage the franchises; these operators are misleadingly called “owners”, rather than what they really are: cronies in like Flynn.
• Individual franchises control player personnel within the organization (including trades to other MLS franchises), but are under a salary cap (currently at around $3.10 million).
• There is no collective bargaining and judges have upheld this (citing MLB’s and the NFL’s exemptions from certain labor laws).
• The minimum salary is set at an extremely low $36,500; this forces many MLS players to seek a second job to stay financially afloat.
• Ticket revenue goes to the league, with a percentage given back to the “owner/operators” (cronies). Therefore, bad-drawing franchises are rewarded, and good-drawing franchises are unfairly punished. Teams do not get to keep all the ticket revenue they earned, so where is the incentive to improve their product and attract larger crowds?
• “Owner”/operators (cronies) sit on MLS’s board and committees and collectively make league-wide decisions.

This is a major league? Major Leagues don’t consist of teams with all the players on all the different teams in the whole league getting their paychecks from a SINGLE SOURCE. That is by definition NOT A COMPETITION. Major League Soccer, with its single entity ownership format, is a closed-shop cartel (a monopoly) that refuses to follow the tenets of a competitive pro sports league, let alone follow the rules of capitalism (via restraint of trade by quasi-monopolization of the labor-pool of skilled workers [yes, they Union-bust]).

MLS is run by some rich and connected suits who have fixed the league. Fixed it so they don’t really have to compete with the rest of the world with respect to finding the highest caliber of player. Fixed it so teams that can’t draw well stay afloat when they deserve to go under – by pooling all ticket revenue. Fixed it so the cronies who pretend they are owners never have to compete with other pro and semi-pro teams for a place in the top division – like the rest of the world does (except in Australia). MLS is a retirement home for European club stars. MLS has restrained the labor trade so much that salaries are so low that many first team players must have other jobs (like semi-pro players in the 6th division in England have to do to make ends meet). MLS will always be second-rate because they have cornered a market without having to play by the rules of capitalism…thanks to the cronies who pretend to be owners who get away without having to compete with the rest of the association football world.

Call me a Euro-snob if you must. What I really am is someone who enjoys following competitive sports leagues. Which is something that MLS will never be under its single entity ownership format. Apologists for MLS say the single-entity-ownership and no promotion/relegation-format was and still is the only way pro soccer on a major-league-level could survive in the still-soccer-indifferent USA (and Canada)…by keeping salaries down and manufacturing competition, and making sure the “owners” teams never have to compete for a spot in the top flight like the rest of the world does (except in Australia). Outside of a few “franchise players”, many players are making near the minimum wage of $36.5 K a year. Nobody ever has to really scrape and battle because half of the teams make the playoffs and no one ever gets relegated and you can even be so bad and disliked that you can only be drawing 6 or 7 thousand a game and you will be safe for years (like Chivas USA was). The players are not under contract to the teams they play for, but to MLS itself. Think about that. And if you think that MLS produces an acceptable level of player-skill in its on-field product, then how come an MLS team has not won a CONCACAF Champions League title in 14 years? {See last paragraph further below for more on that.}

MLS teams have no incentive to try to draw larger crowds – because MLS teams must pool all ticket-revenue (and get 1/20th of their hard-earned ticket revenue back)…
Meanwhile, according to MLS rules, a successfully-drawing MLS franchise (Seattle Sounders) must share their ticket-revenue with the rest of the franchises. There is no reward for drawing well in MLS – you send all your gate receipts to the league and you only get back a share. So the ability to draw good crowds is not rewarded, and thus incompetent teams catch a break (proof of that can be seen in the abysmally-drawing Chivas USA, who in a regular league format [with individually-owned franchises], would have folded several years ago, not just in 2014). The Seattle Sounders (III) are drawing twice what pretty much the rest of the teams are drawing (at 43.7 K per game; second-best draw in 2014 was Toronto, at 22.0 K). In a level-playing-field league, where every team gets to keep what it earned from the ticket-paying public, you should be starting to see the Sounders (est. 2009) beginning to turn that awesome drawing-power into being successful enough to start racking up the titles (you know, like how all the big clubs in Europe do, where drawing power equals financial clout, which equals the ability to hire a better class of players). The Sounders have only won the Supporters Shield once, in 2014 (the Supporters Shield “title” is for best regular season record, which is meaningless, because, you know, there are playoffs in MLS).

And if the fear of relegation killing off relegated franchises is such a big issue, then I submit to the anti promotion/relegation ideologue this salient point…if your team can’t survive a year or two having to play in the second division, where – horrors – you must play against teams from places like Greater Raleigh, NC or Rochester, NY, then do you really think your team deserves to exist as a quasi-major league team? Because your team is being propped up by a closed-shop oligarchy that exists nowhere else and goes against the 125-year-old established protocols of professional association football and the multiple-centuries-old tenets of a free-trade society. And who says the second division has to be continental? Make it two leagues in the 2nd division – with the eastern-most teams in one 2nd-division league and the western-most teams in the other 2nd-division league (like they do in the third tier in Spain and in the fourth tier in Germany and in the sixth tier in England). And have a promotion playoff like they do in England, Spain, and Italy ( among many other countries with similar set-ups).

Proposed MLS/2nd division Promotion/Relegation system…
Proposed changes to 2nd and 3rd divisions in USA/Canada… the 2nd division in USA/Canada would be comprised of all NASL teams + all USL-Pro teams, combined into a geographically split ~36-to-40-team-sized two-league-second-tier {ie, 18-to-20 teams in a Western 2nd Division and 18-to-20 teams in an Eastern 2nd Division}).

Proposed changes to MLS… no change to MLS league structure except…A). The last-place finishers in each of the two MLS Conferences would get sent to face off in the MLS Relegation Match (with game to be played at the site of the team with the better head-to-head record in MLS that season). B) Winner of the MLS Relegation Match stays up, and the loser is automatically relegated out of MLS and into the 2nd division for the following season. C). The second division would send its 2 champions to the MLS Promotion Playoffs. D). The 2 second-division champions would face off in a two-legged match-up for the 2nd division title. E) Winner of the MLS Promotion Playoffs would be automatically promoted and would gain the right to play in MLS the following season.

Cost-cutting measures to mitigate the penalty of relegation…By splitting the 2nd division in USA/Canada into two separate league on the same Level, travel costs would be significantly reduced. Each new season, the second division would be sorted so that the Western-second-division-league (a separate league in itself, much like the 2 league/6th Level in England) has all the western-most teams in it; and the Eastern-second-division-league has all the eastern-most teams in it. Finally, many-millions-dollars-large parachute payments would be paid out to the team relegated out of Major League Soccer (just like they do in England, with regards to just-relegated Premier League clubs).

Here is an article from January 16 2014, by Billy Hailsey at Deadspin, which points out the inherent stacked-deck that non-MLS pro soccer teams face in the US, How U.S. Soccer Ensures The Fort Lauderdale Strikers Never Get A Chance. In the article, Hailsey points out this…{excerpt}…”The likelihood of the Strikers making much noise outside the orphaned second-tier league that is NASL is small, and will be smaller still if a group of owners headlined by David Beckham successfully bring an MLS team to Miami. This is the real shame of America’s lack of promotion and relegation. That system allows ambitious owners to buy up lower division clubs for not too much money, invest in them in ways they believe will bring sporting success, and potentially, reach the pinnacle of the pyramid. It allows for innovation, like the Strikers’ plans for international fame or the New York Cosmos’ announced strategy of bringing in good players from abroad but mainly focusing on finding and developing the best youth talent. But without the possibility of promotion, there’s a ceiling on the return on these clubs’ investments, and in turn the number of clubs with the ability to improve the game as a whole. In the other direction, the lack of relegation protects MLS franchises like the Red Bulls—whose new owners are dropping costs like Ronaldo needs to drop pounds—or the (possibly) pending Miami team from any real risks of competition. The status quo benefits the bulk of MLS owners happy with low costs, low risks, and an appreciating asset, but hamstrings nearly everyone else.”…{end of excerpt}.

-MLS is shutting itself out of smaller-city markets by refusing to adapt promotion/relegation like the rest of the association football world…
-MLS gives franchises to cities that don’t support soccer very well (like with Orlando & soon with Atlanta & Miami), and ignores cities that have done so and drawn over 10 K (like Rochester, Sacramento, & Indianapolis)…
And meanwhile, two American pro soccer teams in the minor leagues just shot up out of nowhere in 2014 and drew 10.4 thousand and 11.2 thousand per game respectively, both in inadequate stadiums. Those two teams are the Indy Eleven and the Sacramento Republic. But will they get a shot at being a major league team? Doubtful, because both are not from the sort of glamorous locales that Garber and Company favor. And meanwhile a 5-year-old franchise from a glamorous part of the country (Orlando City), that never drew above 8 thousand per game (in a giant and modern stadium), is getting a place in the MLS. Did Orlando City earn it? They certainly didn’t earn it by gate figures. And meanwhile, Miami, that uber-galmorous city full of probably the worst sports fans in the Western Hemisphere… a city that failed spectacularly at pro soccer – twice – will soon get another shot at a place in MLS (the Miami David-Beckhams). Because in MLS, it’s not what your team does on the field and at the turnstile that counts…its where your zip code is and its who you know that counts. MLS: the opposite of a meritocracy.

[Note: UK population data in the following four paragraphs is from the following, List of urban areas in the United Kingdom (en.wikipedia.org).]
If you are a soccer fan in a city in the USA or Canada that has a pro soccer team…but will never be granted an MLS franchise (such as my home town of Rochester, NY), what actual reason do you have to follow Major League Soccer? Because to the Rochester, NY soccer fan, MLS is just a walled-off city of elites. A walled-off city of elites which mid-sized-city-rabble (like us Rochester, NY-based soccer fans) are never allowed to partake in. Because we come from a city that is not big enough or glamorous enough to make the cut. Hey MLS, have you ever heard of Blackburn, Lancashire? Well, not only was this city (currently the 56th-largest city in United Kingdom) of around only 105,000 inhabitants in Northwest England allowed to play in the English First Division, the local club there were a founding member of the Football League in 1888, and Blackburn Rovers FC have won three national titles, the last of which was won relatively recently in 1994-95. Now, granted, Blackburn are currently stuck in the second division, but you know what? A mere three years before Blackburn Rovers shocked the newly-minted Premier League in 1994-95 and won the title, they were (circa the late 1980s and early 1990s) a second-division team. But they got promoted back to the top flight, got even better, and three seasons after being a second division club the Blackburn Rovers won the national title. A town of less than 125,000 people was the home of the champions. In the modern age, the Blackburn Rovers could only ever exist as a first-division-team because of promotion/relegation. It would be like Binghamton or Utica, New York having a team in the first division. Does this hurt soccer (association football) in England? Not in the slightest. It only makes it stronger. Do association football clubs go out of business in England because they have been recently relegated? Not in the first or second or third or fourth division. Maybe in the fifth or sixth division (like Halifax or Aldershot or Newport County). And anyway, virtually every 5th-or-6th-divison football club in England that has ever went belly-up has been replaced, by its supporters, with a Phoenix-club (like Halifax and Aldershot and Newport County), which has begun a climb back up the leagues ladder.

And here is another thing that MLS-with-no-promotion/relegation apologists need to consider…you say a national second division in a country as big as the USA would irreparably hurt relegated teams because of the huge travel costs? Well how come my hometown team the Rochester Rhinos has managed to stay afloat since their formation in 1996, despite having to play away games these last 20 years in every time zone in the Continental USA and Canada? We are talking about having to fulfill a fixtures list that has included trips to places as far-flung as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Yet the not-so-well-drawing Rochester Rhinos are still chugging along.

Rochester, NY, with the Rochester Rhinos, was pulling 11 K, as a second-division soccer team (in 1999 and 2000 and 2001), in an inadequate 12.5 K minor league baseball ballpark back when MLS league-average was only about 3.5 K higher…and MLS said “fuck off, Rochester, you can’t be in our cartel because Rochester is not glamorous and we would be embarrassed if your uncool city would ever be associated with us”. That is what happened. Don’t bother trying to obfuscate that fact, MLS apologists. Rochester was drawing higher than any other city without an MLS team, back in 2000, and MLS said Rochester could go fuck themselves, whether they (we) built a new soccer-specific stadium (which we did), or not.

And here is a little history lesson for you ill-informed MLS apologists…In the late 1970s, the Rochester Lancers of the old NASL drew better than NASL teams back then from (the much-larger cities of) Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, and Atlanta. (The Rochester Lancers drew 7-to-8.6 K per game circa 1978 and 1979/ for a look at crowd-sizes in the old NASL, see my NASL 1979 attendance map, here.)

The Rochester Rhinos were drawing over 11.4 K per game in a minor league baseball stadium in the late 1990s up to 2000 (and became the only non-MLS team to ever win the US Open Cup in 1999) (Rochester Rhinos’ attendances, here.) But the Rhinos can’t even draw over 6 K these days – mainly because around 10 or 12 years ago, so many Rochester, NY-based soccer fans (like me) realized that the Rochester Rhinos would never be allowed to play in Major League Soccer (as long as Garber and his cronies run the show), and thus lost interest in attending games for a team that is literally not allowed to advance. But regardless, the Rochester Rhinos these days only draw 5.8 K per game, and yet they can still afford to travel the length and breadth of the US and Canada to fulfill their schedule requirements. So I am quite sure a theoretically-relegated MLS team could afford to slum it in Rochester, NY in order to fulfill their theoretical-second-division schedule-requirements.

Currently (2015), a huge city like Leeds, West Yorkshire (which is the fourth largest city in the United Kingdom) does not have a team in the 20-team English first division. But meanwhile, tiny Swansea, Wales (which only has a population of around 300,000 in its metro-area, and is about the 27th-largest city in the UK) does currently have a first division team. The 20-percent-supporter-owned entity that is Swansea City AFC is there, in 2015, in the top flight of the most successful association football league in the world (the Premier League) because of real community support and because of hard work and dedication. And that in a nutshell is the simple and powerful beauty of the promotion/relegation system. Not only are the most-competent rewarded (like in the rest of the business world), and not only are the Davids given the chance to compete with the Goliaths, but the Davids can actually beat the Goliaths (such as the fact that Swansea City swept Manchester United and Arsenal last season [2014-15], and such as the fact that Swansea won the League Cup title in 2013 and played in Europe in 2013-14).


Here is a remark from a reddit.com-commenter {from this post on how poorly MLS’ television ratings are}…
“The fact is that the MLS product is simply not attractive to watch on TV compared to its soccer competition. Liga MX, EPL, UCL, etc., those not only have far better quality, but the competition is engaging and meaningful, and the clubs are independent and authentic. The clubs that are on have been vetted by history and competition.

MLS has to compete with that when it comes to the soccer product. It sucks, but it’s the reality.

So then, what does MLS do to try to compete? It makes its teams hit-or-miss branded franchises all owned by one single entity, it implements restrictive salary and roster rules to cut costs, it has no promotion and relegation to provide real competition/consequences and potentially bring in new markets and/or investment every year, it doesn’t compensate local youth clubs for producing top-level talent, etc. MLS does all of these things that negatively affect the quality of a product that’s already far behind its competition in many areas, all in the name of protecting MLS ownership’s investment.

I, personally, have an incredibly hard time giving a fuck about protecting the profitability of a bunch of zillionaire’s investments. I have a hard time not thinking about all of the other things I consume every day where I don’t think twice about whether the people that bankrolled it are losing money or not. And yet many of us MLS fans look at MLS ownership as saviors for “taking a chance” on the domestic game for us. We talk to people that object to MLS policy about how “its not our money at stake”, and shoot down ways that might force MLS owners to spend competitively because we are terrified we’ll scare them off. Like, what other product do we do this with?” (comment by YOULOVETHESOUNDERS).

You MLS-apologists have been brainwashed by rich people and corporations.
You MLS apologists keep on defending this corrupt anti-trust violating cartel, designed specifically to screw players over and keep their salaries artificially low for the benefit of entitled rich oligarchs. As the lawyer Elizabeth Cotignola says in the recently published article Major League Loophole: A look at MLS’s shaky single-entity status …{excerpt}…”As negotiations over the new collective bargaining agreement reach the tipping point in the month or so before the 2015 MLS season is scheduled to kick off, the league once again finds itself at a crossroads. According to a recent study conducted by the Daily Mail, the league’s average salary currently falls behind that of obscure leagues in China, Austria and Ukraine and even, in some cases, leagues that aren’t their nation’s top flight. Couple that with the league’s ludicrously convoluted rules regarding player movement and the arbitrary, less-than-transparent way they are enforced, and it is painfully obvious why Major League Soccer lags behind Europe’s “Big Four” leagues (or even the world’s top 20). In today’s globalized game, no one with options will opt to ply their trade in an arrangement that alarmingly resembles a legally sanctioned form of indentured servitude (for all but the select few that form the league’s elite, that is).”…{end of excerpt from http://www.soccerwire.com/news/pro/mls/major-league-loophole-a-look-at-mlss-shaky-single-entity-status/ by Elizabeth Cotignola from January 15, 2015}.

As commenter niton said at the MLS sub-reddit…”Single entity is one of those necessary evils that while serving a critical function for many years will eventually come to be a curse. You’ve essentially got a structure which prioritizes the league business over everything else. That’s great while the league needs protection due to the lack of fans, money and attention which also serve as natural checks to greed. But as the sport grows and MLS’ clout grows with it, it’s going to allow the league to do a whole lot of things that the fans don’t like and which aren’t in the best interest of US soccer as a whole but which make the owners tons and tons of money. We’re not there yet but I’m seeing the early warning signs. Monopolies hurt the consumer and for all the legal technicalities that can be argued around the label, we have one in MLS.”…{comment from the thread The real reason MLS owners won’t budge — single entity at reddit.com/r/MLS.}

MLS holds back the game in the USA and Canada…
Major League Soccer, where the Seattle Sounders organization has to give away the lion’s share of the gate revenue that THEY earned. Major League Soccer, which does not reward drawing power and protects incompetence by pooling ticket revenue. Major League Soccer, where every player on every team gets his paycheck from the same office in NYC. Major League Soccer, which conspires to keep salaries down for its peon-workers, and tells its stars where they will play. Major League Soccer, which uses the closed-shop-oligarchy as its business model, in direct violation of established tenets of a free-trade society. That’s not a major league – that’s an exhibition pretending to be a competitive league. That’s ridiculous. That’s corrupt. It is an example of a cartel. It is an example of restraint of trade. Major League Soccer, with its single-entity ownership system, will always make the US and Canada world football backwaters.

Proof that Major League Soccer literally sucks: none of their teams have won the CONCACAF Champions League in 14 years…
Just two CONCACAF Champions League titles have been won by a Major League Soccer team in all the 18 seasons that Major League Soccer has had teams compete for that title. MLS was formed in 1996, and first had teams compete in the CONCACAF CL in 1997…and, Major League Soccer teams’ only titles won in the most prestigious competition in soccer in North America were…the 1998 CONCACAF CL title won by the DC United; and the 2000 CONCACAF CL title won by the LA Galaxy. That is it. MLS is just 2 for 18 in CONCACAF CL titles, and has won no CONCACAF CL titles since 2000. Mexican teams usually win it these days, while a few Costa Rican teams have also won it recently. Hey MLS, all you have had to do is beat some Mexican and Costa Rican clubs to win that title, and you can only do that 11 percent of the time, and not even once in the last 14 years ! Pathetic.

___
Thanks to Brendan Doherty for tirelessly tabulating lower-division attendances (no one else [that I know of] does), at Doherty Soccer – Not just another American soccer blog.
Thanks to Scott Phillips at MLS, 2014 MLS Attendance Review & A Look Ahead to 2014.
Thanks to NuclearVacuum for the blank map of North America, File:BlankMap-North America-Subdivisions.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, Major League Soccer
; North American Soccer League [(II)];
USL-Pro.

January 15, 2013

USA: National Women’s Soccer League, the new 8-team league set for an April 2013 start: location-map with team info / Plus the 2013 NWSL Allocation Draft, with the 55 American, Canadian, and Mexican players listed by team.

national-womens-soccer-league_2013_.map_allocation-draft_post_13b_.gif
National Women’s Soccer League, with players listed from the 2013 NWSL Allocation Draft [55 USSF/CSA/FMF players]


Official site of the National Women’s Soccer League, nwslsoccer.com.

    NWSL allocation draft on Jan. 19, 2013: 23 American, 16 Canadian, and 16 Mexican players allocated to the 8 new NWSL teams [55 players] -

Update, NWSL 2013 season, week 1 [April 13/14], from The Equalizer, by Jeff Kassouf, ‘NWSL attendance watch: Week 1‘ (equalizersoccer.com). [equalizersoccer.com is now on the blogroll].

The newly-formed National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is a professional women’s league operated by the US Soccer Federation (USSF), in affiliation with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) & the Mexican Fútbol Federation (FMF). The 8-team NWSL is set to start in April 2013. The allocation draft sent 7 or 6 players to the 8 teams. The NWSL College Draft is now set for Friday January 18h (see 3rd link below).

National Women’s Soccer League‘ (en.wikipedia.org).

NWSL at facebook, http://www.facebook.com/NWSL.

nwslshop.com/categories-nwsl-jerseys.html.

From ussoccer.com, ‘NWSL College Draft to Take Place on Friday, Jan. 18 at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis‘.

The National Women’s Soccer League will be the third attempt to establish a women’s pro soccer league in the United States. Both previous atempts lasted 3 seasons (the Women’s United Soccer Association lasted from 2001 to 2003; and Women’s Professional Soccer lasted from 2009 to 2011). One big difference this time is that the soccer federations of the USA and Canada (the USSF and the CSA), and the fútbol federation of Mexico (the FMF) wil be paying the salaries of the players they have placed in the allocation draft. There were 55 players placed in the allocation draft – 23 players who have played for the USA women’s soccer team; 16 players who have played for the Canada women’s soccer team; and 16 players who have played for the Mexico women’s fútbol team. The lower-left-hand corner of the map page shows the whole list of players grouped by their new pro teams. I have included 16 player-photos – 2 player photos per team for each of the 8 NWSL teams. In deciding on which 2 players per team I would showcase via the photos, I consulted a few articles on the NWSL allocation draft including the article linked to right below (by Richard Farley).

From prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com, by Richard Farley, ‘Morgan to Portland, Solo to Seattle as Pacific Northwest dominates NWSL allocation‘.

From ussoccer.com, ‘NWSL Announces Allocation of 55 National Team Players to Eight Clubs‘.

Here are 2 more articles on the 2013 NWSL Allocation Draft…

From the [Rochester] Democrat & Chronicle, from Jan.14, 2013, by Jeff DiVeronica, ‘Abby Wambach on playing for the WNY Flash: ‘A dream come true’.’ (democratandchronicle.com).

From Richard Farley, from Jan.12, 2013, ‘Thoughts as Seattle’s GM reacts to NWSL allocation, losing Alex Morgan‘ (prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com).

Below: The NWSL allocation draft on Jan. 19, 2013 featured 55 American, Canadian, and Mexican players allocated to the 8 new NWSL teams, including –
Alex Morgan to Portland Thorns; Abby Wambach to Western New York Flash; and Megan Rapinoe to Seattle Reign…
usa-womens-soccer_alex-morgan_abby-wambach_megan-rapinoe_nwsl-allocation-draft_jan-2013_.bgif_.gif
Photo credit above -
facebook.com.

___
Photo and Image credits on map page-

Stadia photos and Players’ photos -
Boston Breakers:
Stadium, bostonbreakerssoccer.com.
FW- Sydney Leroux (USA), ussoccer.com.
GK- Cecilia Santiago (MEX), womenssoccerunited.com.

Chicago Red Stars:
Stadium, bing.com/maps.
FW- Maribel Domínguez (MEX), photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
MF- Keelin Winters (USA), sounderswomen.com.

FC Kansas City:
Stadium, bing.com/maps.
MF/FW- Lauren Cheney (USA), blog.belief.com
MF/DF- Desiree Scott (CAN), Canadian Olympic Committe via dose.ca.

Portland Thorns:
Stadium, aecom.com.
FW- Alex Morgan (USA), photo from http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/magicjack.
FW- Christine Sinclair (CAN), kelownaunited.com.

Seattle Reign:
Stadium, Joe Mabel at en.wikipedia.org.
MF- Megan Rapinoe (USA), realsaltlake.com.
GK- Hope Solo (USA), photo from pinterest.com//hope-solo.

Sky Blue FC:
Stadium,bing.com/maps.
FW- Mónica Ocampo (MEX), photo by Ding Xu/Xinhua via cncworld.tv.
DF- Sophie Schmidt (CAN), photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.

Washington Spirit:
Stadium, Kevin Borland at flickr.com. bing.com/maps.
GK- Ashlyn Harris, photo from http://s1.zetaboards.com/L_Anon/topic/4615473/456/.
DF- Alina Garcuamendez (MEX), collegesoccer360.com.

Western New York Flash:
Stadium, dorochester.com via equalizersoccer.com. Screenshot of video uploaded by strawberrycroc at youtube.com, ‘7/20/11 CROWD OF OVER 15,000 DO WAVE AT SAHLEN’S STADIUM!!‘.
MF- Carli Lloyd, photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
FW- Abby Wambach, photo by Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports/ usatoday30.usatoday.com.
___
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘National Women’s Soccer League‘.
Thanks to ussoccer.com for the team lists (on the map page) from the 2013 NWSL Allocation Draft.
Thanks to FC Kansas City site for this article, ‘FC KANSAS CITY NAMES VENUE FOR 2013 SEASON‘ (fckansascity.com).

Thanks to NWSLshop.com for photos of the 2013 NWSL jerseys, http://www.nwslshop.com/categories-nwsl-jerseys.html.

June 28, 2009

2009 US Open Cup. 3rd Round.

Filed under: Soccer (USA & Canada) - - NASL/MLS/NASL(II)/USL/NWSL — admin @ 12:25 pm

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NBC Channel 40 (Atlantic City, New Jersey) sports highlights,  of Ocean City Barons 3-0 Crystal Palace Baltimore (June 7, 2009, at Carey Stadium, Ocean City, New Jersey) [a 1st round match of the 2009 US Open Cup] {click here}.      

2009 US Open Cup, 2nd round: Ocean City 1-0 Real Maryland (June 14) {click on the following:  http://www.youtube.com/user/oceancitybarons }.   

The Ocean City Barons,  who hail from the south New Jersey coast (12 miles from Atlantic City),  were awarded the $10,000 prize,  as the amatuer team that advanced the furthest in the tournament.  Impressive,  as is the fact that the team is able to land a sponsor as respectable as Moen,  the faucet manufacturer.  Go Barons !  {Ocean City Barons site, here}.    I also like the fact that the Barons play in a ground which has a ferris wheel as a backdrop.  Well,  they do play in a “resort town” (I know…linking the phrase “resort” with the concept of New Jersey is pushing it).  And as they are 15 minutes away from Atlantic City,  they have a sort of vague Blackpool FC-aspect to them. 

The Ocean City Barons travel to Germantown, Maryland to play a 2009 US Open Cup 3rd round match against current Cup-holders DC United,  on Tuesday night, the 30th of June.  The venue,  the Maryland SoccerPlex,  is the former home of the USL-2 team Real Maryland FC (whom the Barons eliminated in the 2nd round).

Seven of the eight 3rd round matches will be played on Tuesday, June 30,  with the Portland Timbers v. Seattle Sounders match on July 1. 

3rd round schedule, with locations [3rd round is halfway down the page] {here (WVHooligan.com site)}. 

One interesting fixture is the Harrisburg City Islanders v. New England Revolution, at New Britain, Connecticut…which is 83 miles (135 kilometers) from the Revolution’s home field,  the gargantuan NFL venue Gillette Stadium (68,000 capacity), in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  Last season,  the Revolution drew 3,950 in New Britain,  for a similar 3rd Round draw (beating Richmond 3-0);  and in 2007,  for a semifinal match,  the Revs drew 4,203.  This was four weeks after they drew a jaw-dropping,  embarrassingly tiny crowd of 1,512,  to a quarterfinals match at Gillette Stadium (!).  “Major”  League Soccer ?  That gate figure is more appropriate for English Non-League football.  

The largest crowd in the 2008 US Open Cup 3rd round was 6,678,  in Bridgeview, Illinois for the Chicago Fire v. Cleveland City Stars.  So the New England Revolution have been acting wisely,  avoiding paltry home crowds that would be swallowed up by a sea of empty seats in Foxboro,  by moving the game an hour-and-a-half’s drive west,  to central Connecticut’s Veteran’s Stadium {see this}.  This broadens the New England Revolution’s fan base,  and getting around 4,000 for a match when there is no regular soccer team playing there is not too shabby…for the United States,  that is,  when it comes to ticket-paying soccer fans,  or lack thereof.  And one can see that a similar conclusion was reached by the DC United organization,  in staging their home game v. Ocean City 22 miles outside the District of Columbia,  in a 5,100-capacity stadium.

US Open Cup site  {click here}.

[Note: please excuse the low quality of the non-MLS teams' jerseys on the map...6 of those 8 jersey images had to be cobbled together,  as there were no better images I could find.]

Thanks to Albion Road site…Jeremy wrote the team write-ups on the map  {AlbionRoad.com, click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages at Wikipedia  {click here (US Open Cup page)}.

June 16, 2009

2009 US Open Cup. 2nd Round (16 teams).

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2009 US Open Cup Bracket {click here}.    All 8 matches in the 2nd round are on Tuesday,  June 16.  On the map,  at the top,  center-right,  I have included a small bracket for the 2nd round and 3rd round match-ups (MLS teams enter in the 3rd round).  I have also included kits of all the teams in the 2nd round.

U.S.OpenCup.com site home page,  which will have a scoreboard and Twitter updates for games Tuesday evening {click here}.

Thanks to Albion Road site {click here}.

June 8, 2009

2009 US Open Cup. 1st Round (32 teams: 8 USL-1 teams, 8 USL-2 teams, 8 PDL teams, and the 8 teams which qualified via the USASA).

 us-open-cup_32teams_1st-round2009_post.gif



This map was made in collaboration with the Albion Road site { http://www.albionroad.com }. 

2009 US Open, 1st Round Bracket  {click here}.

The American soccer pyramid has Major League Soccer at the top.  There is no relegation or promotion betrween this top tier and the second tier,  which is the United Soccer League First Division (USL-1).  There is movement of teams between the USL-1 and USL-2,  as well as between the lower levels,  but this is not based on performance,  but upon costs constraints of the teams themselves.  Sometimes teams volunteer to be relegated from, say USL-1 to USL-2,  as a cost-cutting measure.  [This pretty much sums up the hand-to-mouth situation of professional soccer in the USA.]  Teams can also move up the pyramid,  as have the Cleveland City Stars this year (from USL-2 to USL-1).   

The fourth level of the pyramid is shared by teams in the Premier Development League,  the National Premier Soccer League,  and the Pacific Coast Soccer League [note: no teams from the PCSL qualified this year for the cup.].  Premier Development League teams compete in a seperate sub-competition for qualification to the US Open Cup;  while NPSL and amateur teams compete in a different sub-competiton for qualification to the US Open Cup,  under the aegis of the United States Adult Soccer Association (the USASA) .

The US Open Cup was established in 1914,  as the National Challenge Cup.  In 1952,  the competition became the National Open Cup.  The present name was adopted in 1959.  This name was amended in 1999,  when US Soccer honored one of the most important architects of the sport in America,  Lamar Hunt,  the Kansas City Chiefs gridiron football team owner,  who went on to be instrumental in the formation of the MLS,  including his ownership of the Kansas City Wizards MLS team.  Hence the present-day official name of the competition:  the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Since Major League Soccer was established in 1996,  a MLS team has won the US Open Cup Title every season,  except 1999,  when,  I am proud to say,  my hometown team,  the Rochester Rhinos,  won the cup,  beating the Colorado Rapids 2-0,  before 4,555 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. 

Unlike most European nations’ cups,  which are modelled after the English FA Cup,  all top flight teams in the USA (ie, MLS teams) are not guaranteed a spot in the competition…only 8 of the 14 American MLS teams qualify [ ! ?.].  The 8 MLS teams get a two-round bye,  though,  and enter in the 3rd Round.  However,  the 16 American teams from the USL (USL-1 and USL-2) automatically qualify for the US Open Cup 1st Round.   

This year’s competition features regional draws for the 1st Round,  to save on costly travel expenses for the lower-level teams.  Here is the US Open Cup.com’s 2009 qualification page {click here}.

All sixteen games will take place Tuesday, June 9.  Here is the US Open Cup First Round schedule  {click here}

Thanks to Jeremy,  at the AlbionRoad.com site {click here}.  Jeremy wrote the USL-1, USL-2,  and PDL teams’ write-ups on the map.   Thanks to http://www.usopencup.com/ .   Thanks to http://www.aegeanhawks.com/ .   Thanks to Lynch’s Irish Pub FC site {click here}.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at Wikipedia {click here,  set at 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup page)}.

April 16, 2009

Major League Soccer, 2009.

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MLS Major Trophy Winners, {click here}.

MLS week 4 power rankings,  from The Offside.com {click here}. 

Thanks to ProSoccer.com Ultimate Soccer Store {click here}.   Thanks to MLS Gear.com {click here}.   Thanks to the contibutors to the pages at Wikipedia {MLS Page,  here}.

April 23, 2008

Pro Soccer in America, Canada, and the Caribbean: Map of the MLS, the USL, and USL-2.

usa_soccer_3leagues_post_b.gif



[This map was made in collaboration with the This is American Soccer website, where it first appeared.   http://www.thisisamericansoccer.com .]

**Click here, for a write-up about the 2008 MLS season, from the Culture of Soccer site

Thanks to Adam, at TiAS, for initiating the project, and input.  Thanks to Jeremy, at Albion Road website, for recommending me (http://albionroad.com).  Thanks to David, at the Culture of Soccer site (http://www.cultureofsoccer.com) , for the article.  Thanks to SoccerLens (http://soccerlens.com), for the ’08 MLS jerseys.

October 24, 2007

1979: The North American Soccer League.

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This map shows the 1979 North American Soccer League, whose heyday was in the late 1970s. The league averaged 13,084 in 1979, and hit its high of 14,201 the following year. The league is most famous for the New York Cosmos and their star-studded roster, but the Vancouver Whitecaps were champions in 1979. The Cosmos had won it in 1977 and 1978, and won it again in 1980. The Cosmos rise (and subsequent fall) was meteoric, to say the least. Before they signed Pele, in 1977, they were playing in a rundown stadium on Randalls Island, drawing 5,000 at best. In the short span of four years, 1974 to 1978, the Cosmos’ average gate went from 3,578 to 47,856.

In 1979 the Cosmos averaged 46,690. That same season, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Vancouver all drew very well, between 22,000 and 27,000. Seattle, and somewhat surprisingly, Tulsa, were drawing respectable crowds in the 16,000-18,000 range. San Jose drew 15,000; Los Angeles, though fielding Johann Cruyff, only drew 14,000. Also, Chicago averaged only 8,000, a poor showing considering the size of the city and the fact that the team was competitive. In retrospect, that last attendance figure could be seen as the writing on the wall. For if a decent team, in a huge city, in middle America, couldn’t pull 10,000 through the turnstiles, then the viability of the whole project was in doubt. Especially with the high salaries of the overseas players.

Growing up in Rochester, New York, I was a devout follower of the Rochester Lancers. Opposing players dreaded the barracks-like atmosphere of their crumbling concrete stadium and its potato patch field. This gave the scrappy, Slavic-heavy Lancers squad a solid home advantage. Before game time, me and my brothers would go up to the top of the stadium and watch the traffic pulling in, trying to will more fans through the turnstiles. In 1979, Rochester had its best gate, 8,600. But it wasn’t enough to keep them alive, and after the 1980 season, the Rochester Lancers of the NASL dissolved. The NASL was dead to me at that point. It died for real, 4 years later. It had existed from 1968 to 1984. Its most vibrant period was from around 1976 to 1981. Pele, Eusebio, Rodney Marsh, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore, Giorgio Chinaglia, Trevor Francis, Carlos Alberto, and many more world football legends graced the rosters of NASL teams. The stodgy rules of the game were relaxed, with a striker-friendly 35-yard offside line, and shootouts instead of penalty kicks. The shootouts were awesome. It was a 5-second-Chinese-fire-drill, with the goal keeper usually rushing towards the shooter. The shooter then had to decide whether to elude the keeper, rifle the ball low, or chip it. Offense was further encouraged by awarding points in the standings for goals scored. So even if you lost, you could gets points in the standings.

But the league over-expanded, diluting on-field quality. The league expanded from 16 to 24 teams in 1977, and many franchises shifted to other cities. The clueless new ownership of many franchises aped the Cosmos, overspending on aging internationals and letting domestic talent languish on the bench. When the crowds fell off, the owners bolted. Some also believe that when FIFA awarded the 1986 World Cup to Mexico, instead of the US, it hastened the league’s demise. Still, the NASL ultimately contributed to the overall improvement of the quality of American (and Canadian) players, and their national teams. The US national team has been transformed from also-rans to a competitive force. And no American ever played in the English 1st Division before the NASL. John Harkes was the first, with Sheffield Wednesday, in 1990. Today, the USA is represented in England by the likes of Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, and Kasey Keller on Fulham; Marcus Hanhnemann and Bobby Convey on Reading; Brad Friedel on Blackburn; Tim Howard on Everton; Jonathon Spector on West Ham United, and Jay Demerit on Watford.

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