Com­mis­sioner wants to be the head of a ‘selling league’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Paul Newberry

AT­LANTA >> The com­mis­sioner of Ma­jor League Soc­cer wants his teams to get in the selling busi­ness.

In his an­nual state of the league ad­dress lead­ing up to the MLS Cup fi­nal, Don Gar­ber said the trans­fer deals that sent teenagers Alphonso Davies and Tyler Adams to the Ger­man Bun­desliga should be a model for all clubs.

“We need to be­come more of a selling league,” Gar­ber said Fri­day at a down­town At­lanta ho­tel. “We’ve been buy­ing for so long. But as we’ve gone through the anal­y­sis, it’s hard to jus­tify the in­vest­ment we’ve made in play­ers and the in­vest­ment we’ve made in do­mes­tic devel­op­ment. We have to have some­thing that turns the model around or it’s go­ing to be un­sus­tain­able.”

Davies, an 18-year-old Cana­dian who played this sea­son for the Van­cou­ver White­caps, is join­ing Bay­ern Mu­nich as part of an MLS record $22 mil­lion trans­fer. Nine­teenyear-old mid­fielder Tyler Adams of the New York Red Bulls also is mov­ing to the Bun­desliga, mov­ing to sis­ter club RB with Leipzig un­der a five-year ar­range­ment.

Gar­ber noted that At­lanta United, which is host­ing the ti­tle game against the Port­land Tim­bers, could be ex­plor­ing trans­fer deals for stars such as league MVP Josef Mar­tinez and Miguel Alm­iron.

“In world soc­cer, play­ers get sold,” the com­mis­sioner said. “If some­thing hap­pens in At­lanta, I’m sure they will do what­ever they can to have higher at­ten­dance and even more pop­u­lar­ity next year, even if they sell one of their stars.”

Gar­ber also sig­naled a new play­off for­mat next sea­son. A likely change is from two-legged se­ries in the con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals and fi­nals to a to­tal knock­out for­mat hosted by teams with the bet­ter record. That proba- bly would move the MLS Cup back to Novem­ber for the first time since 2011.

“We want to make the reg­u­lar sea­son more and more im­por­tant, where win­ning in March is as im­por­tant as win­ning in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber,” he said. “The sys­tem we’re look­ing at will place a very, very high em­pha­sis on the reg­u­lar sea­son.”

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