Monday, October 06, 2008

MLS Expansion watch: The Vegas factor - Is relocation the way for more Canadian teams in MLS?

The Columbus Crew are the best team in MLS this season. They may also be headed out of town, relocated to Las Vegas as part of MLS' continued tinkering to get the league to the next level. As outlined in the linked article, Columbus has always been the forgotten one when it comes to the league. Crew fans feel unappreciated by a league that would seemingly rather force a second team into the New York market--even though the first team there barely draws--than help the top team stay in a small market.

It probably isn't fair. OK, it undoubtedly isn't fair, but it 's the way MLS swings. It picked up and left San Jose for Houston just a year removed from that team's second MLS Cup (and they have since won two more and are the favourite to three-peat in seven week's time).

It begs the question. If MLS is open to relocation provided that the right investors and market are in place--and it sure seems like they are--then why shouldn’t those Canucks interested in bringing teams to their respective cities save themselves the $40 million expansion fee and cut to the chase of buying up a struggling team? It appears the casino folks have their eye on the most obvious candidate, but it's unclear who in Kansas City would notice if the Wiz were to leave town. Denver has never really taken for this whole soccer thing. And who knows how long Salt Lake can sustain interest after the novelty of a new stadium (which opens this Thursday) is gone.

Harsh? You bet, but if Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver are serious about joining Toronto then they may want to start putting feelers out to see what American investors are out there looking to get out of the soccer game.

Four Canadian MLS teams by 2011? In the post sub-prime mortgage American world it's not all that absurd of a thought.


Duane Rollins said...

Tried to add this above..html acting up:

It should be mentioned that the Vancouver Whitecaps will play for the USL championship Sunday against Puerto Rico. Vancouver advanced after defeating Montreal 2-1 in a two game total goal series. The championship game will be in Vancouver even though Puerto Rico finished ahead of the 'Caps in the regular season. USL decided that Vancouver's home pitch was more appropriate than Puerto Rico's to host the title game.

Montreal continues to roll in the CONCACAF Champions League as well. They sit on top of their group with three games left to play. One more win and the Impact will advance to the quarterfinals in February. If that happens, the home leg of the series should be interesting...

DR said...

I know I've commented on this before, but the MLS kind of seems like it's in shambles. In fact, if I were a bad 50-something local newspaper columnist I might say the only thing major league about it is the name. But I'm not, so I won't. I will say that other, bigger leagues get killed - and rightly so - for having teams in financial straits, but then people put a happy spin or otherwise ignore the MLS' problems.

Duane Rollins said...

If you'll allow me to get a little political here...the MLS sort of gets treated like the NDP does in the reporting of opinion pools. Since so little is expected, small gains are really played up while the overall position of the league--still clearly No. 5 in North America, far behind hockey--is ignored.

The NDP is still polling behind the Liberals, but election reporting is focusing on how much closer they are to the Grits than they have been in the past--even though the Dippers are still likely going to finish third on Oct 14.

Tyler King said...

And even though they're polling about the same as what they were in the 2006 polls.

I think just as good an analogy - low expectations meaning small achievements being exaggerated - is Sarah Palin :P