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There are a few things that have been detrimental to the image of MLS this week, including Alexi Lalas’ face appearing every time I open the MLS homepage. High on my list would have been MLS moving the Fire’s away playoff game at New England to Sunday from Saturday, just two days after they had scheduled it for the original date in the first place. Apparently someone at MLS head office went to Walgreens and figured out what all the scary looking decorations they were selling were for.
I digress, but only because rarely do we see MLS worry about its image when it comes to accommodating supporters who already had travel plans for a game a few days away. Instead, it busies itself handing out an absurd fine to DC President Kevin Payne, who a few days ago made some petty but fairly truthful comments about the play of certain MLS teams to Soccer Insider:
You look at the way Real Salt Lake played when they came here [a 0-0 tie in May] and sat 10 guys behind the ball. You don’t have to do that. Sometimes that is the best way to get a result — if you don’t care about the product, if you don’t care about advertising your league. Long term, who wants to watch that?
Now, as we commented, Payne’s comments were a rather poor effort at covering his own backside for a team incapable of playing good football and winning this season. But certainly, even a hardcore MLS supporter and Direct Kick subscriber like myself has trouble finding the motivation to track down a San Jose-Colorado game in July even when my television is starved of the beautiful game.
A couple of days passed and MLS sent out a press release saying “Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber today fined D.C. United President Kevin Payne $5,000 for public comments deemed detrimental to the public image of the League.
I don’t particularly feel sorry for Payne being knocked down a peg, but it’s typical of MLS to waste time worrying about how the league appears instead of working on improving what it actually is.
Update: maybe it was worth MLS doing this, just to see Kevin Payne eat humble pie.
I deeply regret some of the comments I made in an interview published earlier this week. In trying to explain the, sometimes, unfair expectations on the Head Coach of D.C. United, I made critical comments of Colorado, New England, Real Salt Lake and the League. Those comments were unprofessional. I have great personal regards and professional respect for my colleagues at those organizations and for their ownership and fans. I have apologized to those teams and individuals privately and now do so publicly