MLS State of the League: Don Garber Excited About Orlando City

Major League Soccer held its annual State of the League event today, albeit with a different format than in the past, and Orlando City had a couple of mentions. Traditionally Commissioner Don Garber would stand behind a podium and address some assembled media, however this year the State of the League discussion shifted to a round-table format with the likes of Rob Stone and Tony Meola asking the commissioner a series of questions. Lasting a little over an hour, the conversation moved between multiple subjects, including the upcoming CBA discussion, expansion, and future playoff plans.

As far as Orlando City is concerned, the commissioner had nothing but good things to say about the Lions. “The noise that’s coming out of that market, it is absolutely unprecedented,” he said.

When asked about expansion in Miami, Garber discussed the folding of Miami Fusion FC and the Tampa Bay Mutiny back in 2001. “We were in that market and we failed.” The commissioner continued, “We’re coming back in Orlando, and that’s looking like it could be one of the best teams out of the box in our history.”

Mainly though, the discussion centered on league-wide issues. The highlights:

  • The league is looking at playing games on the last weekend at the  exact same time. This is similar to the way it is done in the final matches of the group stage of the World Cup and in other major leagues around the world.
  • According to Garber, there has been no decision yet on the number of playoff teams in the coming years. With expansion increasing the number of teams in the league to 20, reports had surfaced that the league was increasing the number of playoff teams to 12.
  • The controversial away goals rule will remain for the foreseeable future.
  • On Chivas USA folding, New York City FC, and the potential similarities between them, with both clubs being owned in some capacity by foreign soccer clubs: “We’d have to be dopey to let the same thing happen again,” Garber said. “Uniforms aside, (NYCFC) have a plan that is solely focused on New York City, trying to be a competitor with the Red Bulls, building a great stadium, and doing everything they can to be a part of the Major League Soccer movement.”
  • The league was close to landing a stadium location deal for NYCFC when the new club was originally announced, according to Garber. However that deal did not work out.
  • There will not be a move to a promotion/relegation system anytime soon nor adherence to the FIFA calendar. The commissioner cited weather as the main reason the latter won’t come to fruition.
  • The MLS Reserve League has been dissolved and all MLS clubs will be required to either own or be affiliated with a club in USL Pro.
  • Garber does not expect a work stoppage due to the collective bargaining agreement discussions which are taking place. The league signed a new television deal with FOX, ESPN, and Univision back in May.
  • The 2014 MLS Best XI was announced at the event. It is as follows: GK Bill Hamid (DC United), DEF Bobby Boswell (DC United), DEF Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), DEF Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders), MID Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), MID Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), MID Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), MID Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), FW Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders), FW Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), FW Bradley Wright-Philips (New York Red Bulls).

If you’d like to watch the State of the League roundtable in its entirety (and see Rob Stone absolutely own it), you can find it here.

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