Beckham Eyes Removal of MLS Salary Cap

A salary cap is a fixture in most of the major sports leagues in the United States. ¬†Every league except for¬†Major League Baseball has a system in place to prevent teams from spending unlimited funds on its players with the idea¬†of leveling the playing field financially. ¬†The NFL and NHL have a “hard” salary cap, meaning teams are forbidden from going over the stated salary cap number with zero exceptions. ¬†Teams must be at or under that number at all times. ¬†The NBA has a “soft” salary cap which punishes teams who spend over the salary cap number with a “luxury tax” – a tax on the amount a team spends over the salary cap. ¬†The NBA also states a¬†maximum amount an NBA team is allowed to pay one player which is referred to as a “max contract”.

The MLS has a hard salary cap – with exceptions. ¬†For 2014, the stated salary cap set by the MLS is $3.1m; however, a team is able to designate up to 3 players that do not count towards that number – a.k.a. “The Beckham Rule”. ¬†Therefore, a team is able to spend an unlimited amount on its top 3 players while still being required to stay under $3.1m with the rest of the squad. ¬†Back in 2007, this gave¬†the LA Galaxy the ability to sign Beckham for over $6m per season, despite the salary cap being at less than half that amount.

Beckham’s signing back in 2007 was revolutionary for the MLS and certainly paved the way for the current trend of European stars finishing their careers in the States (a la Thierry Henry and Jermaine Defoe). ¬†Even though these players are at the downside of their careers, they are still a level above the rest of the MLS which not only raises the level of competition across the league, but also adds star power that the MLS is so desperately in search of. ¬†The NBA has LeBron, Durant, Melo…etc. ¬†The NFL has Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson…etc. ¬†The MLB has Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, Derek Jeter…etc. ¬†The MLS, solely because of “The Beckham Rule”, now has Dempsey, Henry, and Defoe. ¬†Stars attract fans, it’s as simple as that. ¬†No way would Dempsey, Henry, or Defoe be playing in the MLS if teams were required to stay under $3.1m without any exceptions. ¬†It’s also no coincidence that after the Beckham signing, the MLS popularity has been climbing ever since. just posted an article regarding how seven of the top MLS individual earners earn more in wages than some entire MLS teams earn in revenue.  Take a look at the table:MLS earnings

As you can see, Dempsey, Bradley and Defoe make more than 3/4 of the teams in the league. ¬†It just so happens the teams that out-earn them, are the teams that employ those players. ¬†A team isn’t willing to pay Dempsey $6.7m if they can’t earn more than that back in revenue…simple economics (not to be confused with the billionaire owners in Europe). ¬†This is why Beckham is pushing for the removal of the salary cap in general which will open up the signing of players to more of a free market system, similar to the Barclay’s Premier League. ¬†The only way top-level talent can be coerced to play in the MLS is by offering them more money. ¬†And the only way to grow the league is to bring in those big names.

Beckham recognizes this fact when he says, “The salary cap removal is what we’ll work for. Obviously, that’s one of the things that stops a lot of players coming over here, where I think the league and certain cities in this country will attract big-name players.”

In other words, the salary cap is holding back the growth of the MLS. ¬†One of the main reasons a salary cap exists is to keep parity in the league so that every team has every chance financially to provide a winning product. ¬†Last season, two teams who earn less than 6 individual players played for the league championship (Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City) so parity does exist. ¬†I think the main focus for the MLS now should be to align with Beckham’s ideas and either greatly increase or completely remove the salary cap.

Now that Beckham will be making executive decisions with his own team in Miami, he would like to have the ability to sign the best players available without the current financial restrictions.

“I’m not going to mention any players because it’s disrespectful to the players and the teams,” says Beckham. “But we want to bring big players. We have to.”

If that doesn’t get soccer fans excited at the potential of the MLS, I don’t know what will.



USA Passes Massive HEX Test

This year’s Hexagonal is closer than in year’s past. There is no shot that after three games any of you reading this would have placed Panaman atop the group and Mexico currently out of Brazil 2014.I bet you didn’t have Jamaica at the bottom either. This year’s Hex will have no shortage of drama down the stretch. But that is down the road. I’m here to discuss the masterclass that wasn’t and the pesky Americans that went into the Mexican version of a gladiator arena and came out alive and unscathed.

A point is a point is a point. Expectations going into Estadio Azteca are always hindered by a multitude of factors including projectiles thrown from the crowd, high altitude and a Mexican team that is virtually untouchable at home. But the USA caught them at the right time. Mexico has zero wins and zero losses coming into this game. After a less than impressive performance saw them draw a not overly impressive Honduran that fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take a point at home. The USA found themselves riding high after a spring blizzard found the Colorado air and propelled them to a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica. It was not a pretty victory but it didn’t have to be. Anything to get the USMNT a vital three points.

So move on to match day and three hundred questions remain lingering in the air. Who will the back four be? Who steps in for injured Jermaine Jones? Will the incrdible run of injuries in the USMNT be too much of a challenge? Can Guzan be the man of the hour? When will Jozy Altidore get off the mark for his country? And lastly, will Landon Donovan suddenly parachute into Azteca for the start of the match and score the game winner? (WE ALL HOPED THAT HAPPENED)

And there it is, the whistle blows and off goes the madness. 100,000 screaming fans counting the passes of a Mexican side that enjoyed incredible spells of possession especially in the first half and a USA that looked better. I use such an awful, undescriptive word because that is excellent what they were. The USMNT were organized, they were relatively disciplined and they didn’t try to fight fire with fire. They weathered storm after storm after storm and took solace in whatever possession they were given. I think it was obvious that Mexico was looking to expose Beasley early and often. They might have had success had Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler been out to lunch but they were locked in and smart in their movement. The coverage they provided as a unit was impressive and integral to the USMNT backline suring up any mistakes from the midfield.

Alas, Mexico was clever in the attack and decisive with their movement, something that is difficult to cope with for an inexperienced backline and especially impossible for an inexperienced backline trying to defend the likes of Chicharito and Giovanni Dos Santos. But as of late, Mexico has had trouble finding the all important match winner as in apparent in their recent record. This was largely due to timely interceptions and blocks from my Man of the Match Michael Bradley.

Michael Bradley must have felt that his father was about to win a WCQ with an Egypt national side that has dealt with more adversity than half of the rest of the world’s international teams combined. Bradley’s time at Roma has helped him mature as a player and that is exactly what the USMNT needs. He is mature beyond his years and showed it last night with simple passing that helped keep the US team in possession. He made timely tackles and was the most consistent player on the pitch. His role as a back four buffer and combining midfielder were played to a T. He was a major reason the USMNT found a draw last night.

Lastly, Brad Guzan is on fire. He always seemed to be in excellent position. His feet were quick and his hands even quicker. When called upon he was absolutely stellar.

Even though this was a makeshift squad for the United States, some performances will not help make Mr. Klinsmann’s job any easier. These performances helped the USMNT to a week that they needed, a week that saved Klinsmann’s job and kep the USMNT at the forefront of qualifying for the next world cup.

Can the USMNT Succeed Without Landon Donovan?

Let me start by asking you to answer this poll…

What can you say about the past decade of American soccer without mentioning the name “Landon Donovan?” The somewhat mythical sense of the term coins him as a hero all before him, a savior, a face of an American soccer program that was in the need of one face and one leader. He “was” it and who is to say that he not still it?

Red, White and Blue…Courtesy of

Now that we have your opinion on Landon, let me give you mine. Landon is a special player. When he was a youngster with San Jose he was a special player. When he moved onto the Galaxy and the USMNT and Everton, he was a special player. Over the past ten years, Donovan has been an incredibly special player with many accolades to prove it. As much as I would love to say that Donovan is irreplaceable and that the USA will never see a player like him again,  there is no way I mouth those words without cringing.

The USMNT will be fine. We have answers to a lot of questions that Landon’s departure/hiatus/crybaby issues. The 24 man roster Mr. Klinsmann named is a positive one. It includes a well-balanced mixture of youth and experience. Something that when combined correctly can bring great success and more success than what Landon has brought to the team. For me, Landon’s decision to step away from the game, especially at a time as crucial as this, is ludicrous. He is 30 years old, not 38 or 40 or 45. He is a mere 30 years old. World Cup qualifying is upon us and your team, your country needs you. How could you leave behind a nation when you are closing in on the end of your prime? There is no excuse for what Landon is doing. But that is irrelevant.

Now, it is not about the future, not about the past, but about the present. Jurgen Klinsmann’s quote about demanding more from his players and about how there is always a higher standard to achieve, is a beautiful example of where he believes this team its players are headed. For brevity’s sake I will list what I think will be his starting XI for tomorrow’s qualifier….

4-3-3                       Howard

Castillo        Cameron        Bocanegra    Johnson

.                 Edu          Bradley       Jones

.                            Dempsey

.        Altidore                                    Gomez

This team can win tonight. This team can finish top in the Hex and find its way to World Cup glory. It is matter of finding the right formula for this group at the right time. Landon Donovan does not factor into this crew. Yes, his experience in the big games will be missed, but those left in the team from previous World Cups will bring all the cool collected form necessary to perform well on the biggest stage.

USA will impress tonight and find a 2-1 victory in an extremely hostile environment. This will set the stage for the rest of qualification. I can’t wait to see this guys finally perform at the level they are capable of.

U.S.A. vs. Scotland – May 26, 2012

Well this was nothing but a fantastic game for the United States. After the national anthem performance of course which… I really rather not get into. It seems Jurgen Klinsmann is settled into his role as coach of the USMNT and it’s showing. The United States came out to a lighting start with a goal from Landon Donovan in the 4th minute followed by a stunning goal by Bradley off the half-volley in the 11th. Scotland rebounded to make in 2-1 by the fifteenth minute (an own goal by Jeff Cameron) but that’s as close as they would come. Landon Donovan finished with a pocketful of goals (3) and the U.S. can look back at the best performance I’ve seen from them yet.

With no intention of presenting an unbiased account of this one, it was great to see some creativity in the United States midfield combined with a tenacious work ethic and some tough tackles on the defensive side. The combination of Bradley, Edu, and Jones in the center of the park was really fun to watch. Each of these players have come a long way since the last time I saw them together (which, sad to say, was in 2011). Although Donovan will no doubt have taken the game ball with him, these three central midfielders were the difference in this one tonight. The Scottish players had no joy in the midfield and it’s tough to recount more than 4 passes in the attacking half for their side.

The creativity was most on display for the U.S. on the counter. The U.S. was able to get on the break quickly and also pick their heads up to make some nice-looking passes. And, in the end, Donovan was able to cleverly put away three and assist on one more.

The one piece of the team you didn’t see tested often tonight was the back four. Cherundolo, Cameron, Bocanegra, and Johnson started in front of Howard and really had very little to do. The conceded goal was not pretty. An awfully executed offsides trap type scenario led to Scotland’s captain all alone in the area and, in attempting to head the ball across to a teammate, found Jeff Cameron’s midsection and, subsequently, the back of the net. It seemed unnecessary, and a little lazy, of the back four to try to catch Scotland offsides as everyone in Jacksonville saw the ball coming back into the box. It would’ve been easier for the U.S. to stand their ground in the middle of the 18 and wait for the ball to come back in. But, after a 5-1 rout and the way the game turned out, it is difficult to comment on how this back four will work under pressure. Certainly a big question mark which we should get an answer to when Brazil comes to town.

All-in-all it was a great performance for the USMNT and a fantastic showing from Landon Donovan after all his talk of perhaps losing his love for the game. Perhaps this will inject some love back into his veins. And, don’t let me fail to mention, this performance was without one of the premier league’s leading scorers, Clint Dempsey. I hope this is the start (or maybe the start was the Italy friendly earlier this year) of the United States really getting into the form Jurgen Klinsmann was intended to deliver. I could be way ahead of myself but one can only hope.