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11- The MLS does not link into popular matches enough with Clubs from other countries. A match between two popular clubs sold out the Meadowlands in the summer ’02. The Metro Stars were nowhere to be seen. This crowd is connected to the huge NASL crowds of the late 1970’s. They DO exist for soccer. Manchester United will tour the USA in summer `03 and I do not believe the MLS is involved. They should be! It can be done.

12- The NCAA is run by football and basketball coaches and they hate soccer.
I believe NCAA soccer coaches must start screaming for attention and stop being lambs led to slaughter. They have no power. They do not have a tournament that is large enough or supported enough by the NCAA. Most colleges would be in Title IX trouble without female soccer teams. So use this clout or remain a secondary NCAA sport. Do not expect a football coach to be nice to soccer teams because now the soccer teams have the players who used to be the quarterbacks and wide receivers. Ask the football coaches in Long Island. They know what sports Long Island kids play today.

Soccer needs the NCAA. It’s the American way to build early player viability. Project 40 may get us some good young players, but it will keep them, and their college recognition, out of the newspapers. That’s not good for commercial viability. Football became the #1 sport through college player visibility / exposure. Americans value the NCAA sports world! It needs to become closer to the MLS and not opposed to it.

13- The MLS is in danger of creating the worst possible mistake of promoting itself as a Hispanic League.
This would be catastrophic. It would not only exaggerate the “foreign image” that soccer has, but would side step the majority of people who play and pay for soccer in the USAÉthe families in “suburbia.” I remember the Cosmos in 1975 were struggling to gain 25,000 fans a game. They were advertising and marketing their team to all sorts of minorities in the Metro NY area, eg. Italians, Germans, Hispanics and so on. I remember the League office telling them to market to the Northern Jersey suburbs. Northern Jersey suburbs not only played the game, but they had the money to go to the games. Most license plates in the Meadowlands parking lots were New Jersey plates. To become a core American sport and gain the respect it should have, pro soccer must market its game to the “cake” of American soccer fans in suburbia.

Clearly the American suburbs is where “all” the grass fields are located. Kids play in their back yard (where they used to play basketball), and kids play for NCAA scholarships. (Project 40 would not be acceptable in “my” circle of friends from suburbia). Immigrant groups, from those other 200 countries, are the “icing” on the cake. I believe this is an undeniable fact of “American” sports life.

Fulfillment of this classic USA marketing approach will create major diversity in the stands. It would prevent games where the USA national team plays in a U.S. stadium where they believe they are the visiting team in a Latin American country. The MLS won’t be commercial winners if this avoidance of core American soccer fans continues. Worse, the MLS will continue to struggle. I have sat in the Meadowlands when 78,000+ fans watched the Cosmos and 78,000 fans watched the USA women’s national team. Those were very large events with all different/diverse people in attendance surrounding the core suburban audience which, as we all know, play soccer. Soccer the game and League marketing were not the reasons for the NASL failure.

14- American coaches have been “under utilized” by the important national and pro teams.
We should be developing our own style of play and not playing to tie every game (like we did under Bora). Our culture provides winners in every conceivable sport on a world wide basis. We can do it in soccer with our own “style and substance.” In my opinion, Bruce Arena is the best coach in America. He and Dave Sarachan played soccer at Cornell. Both have grown as coaches using American players, style and substance. It hurts us to use another country’s “style and substance” not suited to Americans. While ties are a fact of life and they can advance you in a World Cup tournament, Americans never play for ties! Hire American coaches! They now know the game.

15- Soccer still lacks sufficient number of wealthy owners.
More “rich owners” mean more teams. I know this is hard because most “wealthy” people buy teams when they are 55 or older where soccer’s oldest fans are circa 40 today. We are not at the point yet when the MLS can readily increase its teams appealing to many wealthy people. The NASL brought in too many owners who were not wealthy. Its major problem became “keeping up with the Cosmos.” This was the major problem contributing to the demise of the NASL.

A league dominated by only 1 or 2 teams is a sure formula for failure. Competition is one of the two basic tenets for a successful professional sports league. When competition does not exist, fan interest will not materialize. Soccer needs more wealthy owners who can see future profitable growth through creating “competitive teams” with more USA National team stars.

16- Soccer needs owners who realize soccer is a 12-month a year sport.
Why do indoor owners hate outdoor owners and vice versa? Yes, it’s a different game, but if one owner owned outdoor/indoor teams, he/she would be filling stadiums and arenas all year round. More owner/league cooperation is needed. This has hurt soccer since the 70’s. Think League cooperation! No other sport can sell tickets on a 10 or 11 month basis in an indoor/outdoor format.

17- Soccer has structural leadership problems. Clearly the NFL, MLB, and NBA/NHL are the role models, leaders, and rule makers for their respective sports in the USA. They are the top management in the organized pyramid of leadership. There is no such leadership in the USA for soccer! There is no single person or commissioner to whom all commercial aspects of the game look to for leadership. Soccer has always had the youth associations (there are 3 big ones), the USSF, the world organization FIFA, the NCAA (weak), the indoor pros, the outdoor pros and the evolving minor leagues who are trying to “do it” like Europe (Div. II, Div. III, etc.). Not one is in charge. They are rarely in the same place mentally. It’s difficult to be unified because their self-interests often conflict and their goals are different. Add the phenomena of “touring” European Clubs who sell out the Meadowlands and the confusion deepens.

Needless to say, this confusion is rampant in the print press, the TV media, and the normal American sports fan. Soccer needs, in the near future, a “Builder of Soccer.” This is a person to whom all of soccer can look to for leadership, because that person only cares about soccer’s growth in the USA culture!

18- The MLS has ignored its soccer history in the USA.
They have ignored the NASL players and League workers who made the NASL successful. The NASL averaged far more than 15,000 people per game and it got its share of TV and print media. There were American stars too who could be working in team offices today. Whole towns would follow Kyle Rote, Rick Davis, Bobby Smith, Bob Rigby and Shep Messing to games. Attendance would increase and team loyalty would swell as would merchandise sales. The whole League would rise.

In addition, the NASL League office had delivery of a national marketing plan for team cooperation. Marketing leadership was taken by the League and offered to the teams. The MLS does not seem to be doing this. Each team seems to be fending for itself. The League needs a marketing campaign that is “today and edgy” for all the youth and college age kids who play which can use this history. All the other Leagues have a sense of history, e.g. Old timer games, celebrity posters, Hall of Fame events, and promotions like “greatest moments of baseball history.” The MLS does not use its history.

Summary
Clearly soccer has many on-going problems to overcome before it becomes one of the top sports in America. Soccer has never been like football where you open the gates and people pay to get in. However, the problems it has can be overcome by sports management experts who can create solutions and suggestions for these problems. In addition, cooperation from the media establishment would help. (The MLS must go after the media). “Older” sports department editors played football or baseball, not soccer, and therefore don’t understand the game and the youth leagues today.

Great care must be given to upgrading the MLS image, players, and structure to the media. The League needs to reach the “normal” American core sports fan and soccer participant who exists today. Waiting for the “new world order” will put teams out of business. Clearly, all the youth participants still do not go to MLS games!!

I believe soccer can attain solutions in the next 8 years. I believe the MLS can be the #3 Sport League by 2010 through engaging in positive directions/solutions to overcome the problems discussed in this document.