Last week I criticized Major League Soccer for its tepid response immediately following some downright thuggish behaviour from Columbus Crew supporters during the team's loss at home to New England on May 24.
For those of you who don't remember, fans in the Crew supporters section spent that game tossing lit flares, bottles and, eventually, an N-Bomb at New England players.
I would have re-posted the video but MLS acquired the rights to it and deleted it from YouTube.
Last night reporters across North America received an email from MLS commissioner Don Garber via the league's communications office, indicating the league is ready to take action.
In his statement Garber explained that the league has been working with the team, supporters and security staff to figure out just what happened. He also said that because MLS values ethnic diversity it won't tolerate racially offensive language anywhere.
Admirable, but a standard response to incidents like this, and when you see it you're never sure if it's just talk.
But this paragraph in the middle of the statement showed me the league is ready to back up what it says:
MLS and the Columbus Crew are working diligently with all relevant authorities, including Club Supporters Groups, to identify the spectator involved. In the event the perpetrator is identified, he will be banned for life from Crew stadium and all other MLS stadiums and events.
Now, the league hasn't actually identified this guy yet. And enforcing that ban could be difficult. He could always show up at the stadium with his face painted in Crew colours, or buy tickets with a fake ID, claiming his name was "Brian McGee" or "McLovin'."
But the fact that MLS is willing to ban this guy for life and send a message to potential copycats is an important step toward establishing the league's credibility.
A big-league response to bush league behaviour.
PUTTING TOGETHER THE ROSTER PUZZLE
Time to answer a question. This one comes from "Thane," and is actually a comment from the previous entry:
How exactly does trading a player for an international slot work? Do we now have the slot in perpetuity, or is it a one-year deal? What happens if MLS re-jigs the foreign player rules?
Great question, Thane, and I called the league this morning for the answer.
Basically, every MLS team started the 2008 season with eight international roster slots on their roster. Over the winter the league awarded TFC two more, provided the team used those roster spots on American players. That deal brought TFC's international total to 10, but after the 2009 season the league will review TFC's situation and decide whether they still need those two extra Americans.
TFC acquired its 11th international spot in a trade with Colorado. If they don't use it by the end of the 2010 season, they lose it.
International spot number 12 opened up yesterday with the Phelan trade, and TFC has until 2011 to use it.
Hope that helps.ONE MORE QUESTION
This one comes from John Dinner, who wants to know who gets the money when a player is transferred..
Typically the league takes a third of the transfer fee, with the rest of the money going to the team.
Of the team's cut, $500,000 goes to their allocation budget, so they can use it to sign players , add to their salary cap or pay down other existing salaries.
Whatever money remains goes to the team for them to use as the league directs them. So if the league wants them to start saving up for a DP, then that's what they do. If the league wants all that money invested into the youth academy, then that's what happens.
Of course, there are exceptions. Real Salt Lake received a grand sum of zero dollars last summer when Benfica bought Freddy Adu's rights. Apparently the league took the entire $2 million transfer fee to offset the money it invested in 2004 when it made Adu the world's richest 14-year-old, then granted RSL some extra allocation cash.
Another MLS mystery solved.
Thanks for your question, John.
-- Morgan Campbell