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