Kevin Baxter’s Los Angeles Times article on MLS travel is a must read.
For me, it’s sad that Bruce Arena would have to tell his players not wear Galaxy gear when they fly commercial so they’re not embarrassed. This fear of allowing MLS teams to fly however they choose is outdated and should change.
I’ve followed this league from the beginning, I understand the business challenges that it has faced down and conquered. I understand that limiting the team’s spending in the past has protected everyone and provided the foundation from which the league has grown. It is the most successful start-up professional sports league of modern times.
Don Garber told the LA Times’ Kevin Baxter:
“Charter travel is less of a priority than investing in academy programs.”
If that quote had come out 12 years ago when the league had to start mandating that teams invest in grassroots programs, I get it. However, now you have teams choosing to build $60 million training facilities. You have teams choosing to start residential academies. You have teams choosing to add more grassroots programs to develop young talents.
Currently, MLS pays for 25 economy airline tickets, 15 hotel rooms, and buses on every trip. If the league continued paying for all aspects of travel for all of its teams, moving to charter flights could increase the travel budget by more than $20 million according to Baxter.
Let teams choose how they want to travel. If they want to pay for charter flights, let the teams pay for it.
The league should not hold teams back from spending to take care of their players. Let teams choose to travel in whatever way they would like. Yes, the teams that choose to charter flights for their players will likely see some competitive advantages. Less travel time, more training time, less injuries due to travel will help them on the field. It will also help them recruit players. You know some players have turned down coming to this league because of the air travel situation.
It will push this league forward because the ownership groups that do not want to invest in charter flights will have to find a way to do it to stay competitive. It will hold every club accountable in terms of how they choose to treat their players and grow the league.
Kenwyne Jones ready to be “part of history” with Atlanta United (AFTN)
How big are the Columbus Crew’s problems? (Columbus Dispatch)
LA Galaxy discuss plane travel in MLS (LA Times)
A profile of a legend in American soccer who started his U.S. journey in Atlanta (Guardian)
A 48 team World Cup with 16 teams going home after one game? (Guardian)
Bob Bradley looking forward to “special opportunity” (BBC)
Diego Simeone is adapting at Atletico Madrid (Sky Sports)
Four Georgia players named to U.S. U14 Girls’ National Team training camp in Carson, California this week (SoccerWire)