Time for the A-League and MLS to join forces

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

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    David Beckham of LA Galaxy in action against Grant Brebner of Melbourne Victory. AAP Image/Joe Castro

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    It was football last night, but not as we know it. The LA Galaxy’s 4-3 win on penalties over the Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium had all the ingredients needed for a big match. David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovon, a big crowd and a few outrageous haircuts.

    Yet, somehow, it felt like we were watching a glorified kick around at the park. As Victory skipper Adrian Leijer said after the match: “it wasn’t about the result.”

    Sure we had a Beckham shot from half way, bringing back memories of his memorable goal for Manchester United against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 1996.

    Keane even got jeered while taking two dubiously awarded penalties for one of the 697 clubs that he supported as a boy.

    Still, something was missing. Football without intensity is strangely boring.

    Whenever a ball was turned over it was hard to find someone who cared enough to turn and chase. Roddy Vargas wasn’t even bothered if any of his passes found another player let alone a team-mate in the first half.

    These games could be so much more.

    It’s time the A-League and the MLS turned their relationship into something more meaningful.

    At the moment it’s like Tiger Woods coming out to Australia and only playing the pro-am before departing.

    If the logistics could be worked out it would be fantastic to see the A-League champions and the winners of the MLS Cup face off every year for a trophy.

    The fixture could be squeezed in at this time of year. It would mean a team like the Galaxy taking on the A-League winners from the season before, but that is no different to the current set up for Australian teams competing in the Asian Champions League.

    The Hyundai/Dodge/Pepsi/Coca-Cola shield would take time to gain relevance, but surely it would be better than one off friendlies.

    It would also ensure a lasting relationship between the two leagues. If, and when, Beckham moves on to more Parisian surrounds, it’s likely no A-League side will bother playing a mid-season friendly against a team from the MLS.

    Australian officials can learn a lot from their American counterparts. The MLS travelled the same path as the A-League earlier in its existence.

    Now the average attendance for the 18, yes 18 teams, climbed to 17,872 for the season just completed.

    That means more people attend MLS games than NBA (17,323) and the NHL (17,132). 

    Teams in Vancouver, Kansas City, Portland, Philadelphia also have stadiums built specifically for them and the Houston Dynamo will join that list next season. 

    They’re boutique arenas that create a unique football atmosphere. Sound familiar anyone?

    While most of the intelligence gathering by A-League officials should be done off the field, it would be nice to have an outward on-field symbol of what could be a fantastic partnership.

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    The Crowd Says (41)

    • December 7th 2011 @ 6:07am
      Whites said | December 7th 2011 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      The Salary Cap Cup as the only 2 leagues with a salary cap. It would be good to see.

    • December 7th 2011 @ 7:23am
      Dane said | December 7th 2011 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      ” Keane even got jeered while taking two dubiously awarded penalties for one of the 697 clubs that he supported as a boy.”

      Haha. Quality.

    • December 7th 2011 @ 8:15am
      agga78 said | December 7th 2011 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      We have a competiton to play in the Asian champions league, there is no need for a match between US and Australian sides and even if had a trophy to play for it would be as meaninful as the chappell hadlee trophy, no one would care.

      THe ACL has the potential to be one of the biggest club tournments in the world and with Chinese teams now starting to buy big name players like Anelka and Guti and other Oil rich clubs buying big name players the ACL is the big deal for Australian clubs and with 3 teams in the competition this time the ACL has now become a serious big deal for local A league clubs.

      • December 7th 2011 @ 9:58am
        nordster said | December 7th 2011 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        agree the ‘trophy match’ would have no more intensity than a friendly. That being said i love these tours from the US and European clubs, we just have to accept them for what they are and enjoy. No point trying to turn them into league or cup games with that passion as they are not.

        and yeah give the ACL more of a push and time to catch on, its the most exciting competition we have going forward imo.

      • December 7th 2011 @ 11:00am
        zizou said | December 7th 2011 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        The MLS also has a continental competition to play in which sort of makes your opening statement redundant.

        Closer ties between the leagues should be paramount as both operate in very similar sporting environments, there is much we can learn from each other.

        • December 7th 2011 @ 1:03pm
          nordster said | December 7th 2011 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          on the similar sporting environments … an A-L/MLS club CEOs conference would achieve more in that respect.

          Let the on field opportunities come up as they may.

    • Roar Guru

      December 7th 2011 @ 8:48am
      Ben Carter said | December 7th 2011 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Hi Luke – love the idea. Brilliant idea. Makes sense in terms of the sport’s development in both countries. But admittedly as mentioned above the mechanics of making it work and fit somewhere alongside the already-lucrative ACL is a problem. If space can be found in the schedule for both, then great.

    • December 7th 2011 @ 9:02am
      Chris said | December 7th 2011 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      I’m not sure there’s much value in the champions of MLS and A League playing off once a year. But I agree the A League can learn a great deal from the MLS – that would be very useful.

    • December 7th 2011 @ 9:07am
      Futbanous said | December 7th 2011 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      I will ask the question once again who will pay for boutique stadiums in a country with a population two thirds that of one USA state California? Perspective is needed in regard to this subject.
      Agree with others the ACL already exists & provides a good measure of where were at & whats needed to keep improving our football.
      Too many tournaments & one or two become diluted,similar to the Carling Cup(or whatever it is today) in England.
      Certainly though we can learn much from the MLS regarding improving & eventually expanding the A-League,but modified in relation to the size of our population in comparison to the USA & now increasingly Canada.

      • December 7th 2011 @ 9:27am
        Football United said | December 7th 2011 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        Christchurch will be getting a temporary stadium of 20000 capacitiy for $17m, yes 17 million dollars. There is no need to spend hundred of millions of dollars on aami park stadiums, these small stadiums can be built relatively cheaply.

        • December 7th 2011 @ 10:01am
          Realfootball said | December 7th 2011 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          I simply don’t see how a 20k seater stadium can be built for $17 million. Are you able to elaborate on just how they are going to do this – I hope they can, but it sounds highly unlikely on the face of it.

          • December 7th 2011 @ 10:29am
            Futbanous said | December 7th 2011 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            Have to agree. Would certainly like to give it the “Wolf from the three little pigs test”.
            A Lowy/Tinkler/Palmer combined team would have no trouble at this price funding & building stadiums for the whole league.

            • December 7th 2011 @ 10:56am
              Whites said | December 7th 2011 @ 10:56am | ! Report

              WIN Stadium in Wollongong cost twice that for one stand and couldn’t pass that test.

          • December 7th 2011 @ 2:44pm
            Midfielder said | December 7th 2011 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

            Saw the article myself…. the 17 million means you don’t buy the land and its no frills … BTE the 17 million was NZ dollars … and its pre frab… meaning just bolts together …

        • December 7th 2011 @ 12:06pm
          Matt F said | December 7th 2011 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          When you say “temporary stadium” is that sort of like the temporary seating they put up for the Davis Cup match against Switzerland a little while ago? If it is then that’s more or less the stadium equivalent to the demountable classrooms which would explain the costs. If not then Australian clubs/sport bodies need to hire that company!

        • December 7th 2011 @ 12:07pm
          Chris said | December 7th 2011 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          Yes, a TEMPORARY stadium. Essentially it’s an existing field where they’re putting up some extra temporary seating. In no way is it a viable permanent solution – corporate facilities (which is a big source of revenue these days) are almost non-existent.

          In most places there are better stadiums capacity-wise than the current ones (e.g. Sydney FC could/should play out of Jubilee, or Parramatta Satdium, Brisbane Roar could/should play out of Ballymore, Phoenix could be moved to Dunedin to play out that city’s schmick new stadium, etc). But whether they represent better financial deals for the clubs is another matter…

          • December 7th 2011 @ 3:07pm
            Futbanous said | December 7th 2011 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

            Cant say for other states & clubs ,but Ballymore is not an option.Not if the Roar are to be considered a modern professional football club ,providing the modern amenities that go along with that. The turnstiles,catering & toilet facilities are primitive by present day standards.
            If this stadium could be brought up to date with a 25,000 or so capacity,then it is ideal.
            But even if that happened the Roar wish to distance themselves from Ballymore indicated by Ange plugging for new training facilities of their own.

            • December 7th 2011 @ 6:33pm
              Ian Whitchurch said | December 7th 2011 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

              Futbanous,

              It is going to be a heck of a lot cheaper to refit Ballymore than build from scratch somewhere else.

        • December 7th 2011 @ 3:29pm
          Michael said | December 7th 2011 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

          They come in a flatpack from IKEA.

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