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The Daily Dirt March 22, 2018: MLS Survey special report

Spill the tea boys

MLS: Chicago Fire at New England Revolution Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, yes. The MLS confidential survey - a shockingly honest and intimate look at MLS from the players’ point of view. ESPN publishes it every year and the quotes range from - insightful to bless your heart.

Here are a few eye opening responses...

The play yer kids movement has been gaining steam lately, let’s see what MLS players have to say about it:

Do young American players get sufficient playing time in MLS?

Yes: 51%

No: 43%

No answer: 6%

What the players said:

”There’s an emphasis right now with this league on signing young players from abroad with the TAM money, which is good from a business perspective. But if we want our young players to develop, if we want our federation to develop, if we want our national team to develop, these guys need to get games.”

”I think they will [get more chances] the better the youth system gets, but not now. There’s still too many spots filled by international players.”

I see the “they took our jobs” vibe runs strong with MLS players.

Well actually, the earth is flat:

Do you favor promotion/relegation in MLS?

Yes: 63%

No: 36%

No answer: 1%

Editor’s note: In 2017, those in favor of promotion and relegation numbered 54 percent of those asked, compared to 49 percent in 2016 and 64 percent in 2015.

What the players said:

”To play on a team that’s fighting against relegation, it makes games mean something. In MLS, where we haven’t made the playoffs, those games are dumb at the end of the year. Because people just tune out. Fans tune out.”

”Fundamental changes need to happen in the league before pro/rel is feasible. A viable second division doesn’t exist yet. Relegated teams would fold.”

”It’s something underneath you, a spark always on your butt. It makes every point so much more meaningful.”

”It unstabilizes ownership groups and creates [a similar issue] for players.”

As Ted Westervelt would say, “the day #ProRelforUSA pops up as #trending will be a good one. It will be the screenshot heard round the world. It’s coming.”

The revolution will be screenshot.

It takes approximately 93 months to complete the MLS playoffs, they’re actually still going on. The players opinions about it are telling of their enjoyment of how they are scheduled.

Should the playoff system be revised?

Yes: 61%

No: 38%

No answer: 1%

We looked at the overrated player list yesterday and it’s hard to argue with Giovani Dos Santos, but at least it’s getting more difficult to find trash players who are just earning an inflated paycheck in the league, maybe?

“It was easier with Mix [Diskerud] and [Frank] Lampard and even [Andrea] Pirlo. Before it was easy. Me answering like that is probably a good sign for the league.’’

One answer is clearly a case of when xG goes wrong:

(On Nemanja Nikolic, who polled 3%) “He’s Golden Boot, so I know it’s kind of an odd answer, but I think he could have a regression to the mean this year.”


The players had a tough time deciding who was the most difficult player to face one on one. But Atlanta fans will find one answer completely obvious.

David Villa: 10%


Other: 54%

No answer: 11%

What the players said:

”With Villa, his craftiness on the ball [means] you never know what he’s going to do.”

”It’s always a mental game with [Parkhurst], even more than the physical duels. He does that better than anyone in the league.”

”Ismail Elfath.” (Editor note: Elfath is a referee!)

Other at 54% is the runaway winner, but Ismail Elfath is a sneaky good pick and the obvious arch nemesis of the entire league.

One of the questions was focused on a great question of the universe - the correct answer to this is 42.

Do you understand MLS roster rules, as well as GAM (General Allocation Money), TAM (Targeted Allocation Money) and other acronyms?

Yes: 50%

No: 44%

Sort of: 6%

What the players said:

”I’ve heard people talking about it, and I’ve just been nodding my head, but I don’t have a clue.”

”I consider myself very literate with the roster rules and restrictions but still learn something new every week.”

”MLS just made these rules to profit European or South American players coming, f---ing over the college players and the players who have been in the league for a while.”

Glad to see that MLS players are embracing #SoccerForAll.

None of these guys is particularly objectionable, though calling what Olsen usually has his players do “soccer” is a pretty generous description.

Which current coach would you least like to play for?

Wilmer Cabrera: 11%

Ben Olsen: 9%

Oscar Pareja: 9%

Peter Vermes: 8%

Sigi Schmid: 7%

Adrian Heath: 6%

Jesse Marsch: 6%

Veljko Paunovic: 6%

Other: 22%

No answer: 16%

What the players said:

”I don’t think myself and a handful of players saw eye-to-eye with [Cabrera] and, in return, basically never saw the field. I think maybe he was a grudge holder.”

”[Olsen is] a pretty good motivational, but I need someone to give me the tactics and X’s and O’s.”

”Whoever is coaching New England -- doesn’t matter which coach it is.

They should also ask if the league needs to be called Major League Football.

If a stadium had an artificial surface, would it impact your decision to join that team?

Yes: 63%

No: 36%

No answer: 1%

What the players said:

”No. As long as they train mostly on grass.”

”Hard yes. I don’t like turf, plain and simple. The times I played on it, it takes a day or two extra to recover.”

With only 15ish teams having played against Atlanta United at home, it seems like the fans have made a big impression on opposing players.

Where is the hardest place to play in MLS?

Kansas City: 17%

Atlanta: 14%

Portland: 13%

Houston: 12%

Seattle: 12%

Toronto: 6%

New England: 5%

New York City FC: 5%

Other: 12%

No answer: 4%

What the players said:

”[Kansas City because of] their fans. And the way they play: It’s nonstop from the first minute ‘til the end.”

”Portland. It’s the best environment in MLS.”

”Houston. The heat, the humidity, no fans, the grass isn’t great.”

”I always think New England is tough because the crowds are pretty small, and the field’s not great, and it’s just a weird vibe going into that game.”

Laugh all you want about New England, but the Revolution have turned a completely awful stadium that nobody really goes to and is completely neglected in soccer terms by their owner into a home fortress. They only lost two games there last year.

Reporting by Jeff Carlisle and Chris Wondoloski.

Wait, really?

After indulging in all that, here’s a goal to start your day!