MLS Executives: There Is “No One Specific Way” To The Front Office

As The League Has Developed, The Range of Jobs Has Expanded And Continues To Provide New Career Opportunities.

MIAMI, Fla. (October 11, 2019) —

Today’s Major League Soccer clubs are a far cry from what they were in the beginning days of the league.

Teams are now managing full academies and some have USL squads (Inter Miami and New England are the two latest to announce USL teams for next season). With all of these additional components to an MLS team, millions of dollars in investment is required to run operations. Scouting has gone global as well. In addition to the financial undertaking, a full soccer operations staff is needed in order to do the job effectively.

The rapid expansion of Major League Soccer has increased the demand for employees to fill the various roles. With each new team, there is a full slate of front office jobs to fill, and that demand for talent has increased exponentially.

The list of positions in front offices across MLS includes work in team administration, salary cap management, analytics, scouting, team operations, stadium operations, ticketing and sales, marketing, legal, sponsorships, communications, digital and media, community engagement, and more. The staff includes many different titles, for example, president, chief commercial officer, sporting director (or general manager) (usually charged with running scouting, player selection and other soccer operations) and team administrator (who handles things like travel and players’ adjustment to teams and cities, including housing, banking and other life needs). Generally speaking, job functions within a front office can be divided into two sides: Soccer Operations and Commercial.

“It’s a natural evolution,” said Dave Kasper, who is the general manager (since 2004) of D.C. United. “You’re expanding where there’s multiple departments on the soccer side, and we’re starting to see that because our league is growing so fast and there is more money being pumped in.”

Dave Kasper, General Manager, D.C. United

“When you think about everything a front office entails, it’s player development, it’s scouting, domestic and international, and it’s team administration,” said Will Kuntz, Vice-President of Soccer Operations at LAFC, “There is so much you have to touch and it’s so global in a way that few other sports are. You look at front offices in other sports, pick your sport, they have a whole number of people in a number of roles. It underscores the importance of myriad people in the job.”

The ability to scout and identify international talent is absolutely essential in today’s MLS, which has only increased since the introduction of targeted allocation money (TAM). This year’s example of how not to build a club was provided by FC Cincinnati. The team used a large portion of its TAM on trades to build its roster instead of bringing in more talented players and using the TAM to buy down their salaries. This was due to Cincinnati’s lack of having someone, a general manager or sporting director, in the office during the roster-building stages. They eventually added Gerard Nijkamp, who formerly led PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands, as GM.

The Cincinnati example should be a lesson for all future MLS teams; a properly staffed soccer operations staff will likely include one or more people with expertise on the league’s intricacies. MLS’s centralised, single-entity status and league-controlled salary cap mechanisms essentially have created a niche skill set that is vital to success.

Knowledge of the international market is very important. MLS front offices need to have an active presence internationally as MLS becomes both a buyer and a seller in the global football market.

As the dollar amount goes up, acquisitions become even more critical,” said U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter, who was considered one of the top chief soccer officers in the league when he worked as coach/technical director with the Columbus Crew. “And as we realize that we can’t always be a buying league, we also need to be a selling league, the way we structure our clubs and the way we work to both bring players in and sell players is extremely important. Clubs are realizing that. So they’re putting more resources into scouting, which they should. They are putting more resources into player personnel; once you get the player here how do we integrate them into the team and how do we integrate them into the society? And then I think teams are now also putting more resources into…how do we export these players? What do the contacts look like?”

What Kind of Backgrounds Fit In?

“I do think as the league grows we all need to grow in the support staff. There is going to be a combination in every front office and it comes down to the individuals and their skill sets and where they can add value.

It may be a former player, it may not. It may be someone who has (a) law background or was an agent. It comes down to relationships, being able to work with the coaching staff and different people in the club and being able to manage up. Some is specific to personalities and some is understanding MLS and the landscape of U.S. Soccer, and that can be learned. I don’t think there is one specific way.”

Chris Henderson, Sporting Director, Seattle Sounders FC

Some of those hired by clubs have experience in the MLS office itself. Take Chicago Fire Senior Vice-President of Communications Sean Dennison, as one example. A graduate of prestigious McGill University in Montreal, he worked for fourteen years at MLS headquarters, the last two of which he served as Vice-President of Communications for the league, before joining Chicago in 2018. Other examples include general managers Ali Curtis of Toronto Football Club, Nelson Rodriguez of the Chicago Fire SC, the aforementioned Will Kuntz and Sporting Kansas City’s Assistant Director Of Player Personnel, Meghan Cameron, all of whom had previous experience in the league office.

Others have worked for other leagues or confederations. Inter Miami CF’s Chief Business Officer Jurgen Mainka, for example, served as the director of marketing and communications, and later the Deputy General Secretary and Chief Commercial Officer at Concacaf prior to being hired by the Inter Miami ownership group. Looking at the personnel across MLS teams also shows that not all front office employees even have prior experience in soccer, or even in sports in general.

Chris Henderson’s Insights On Front Offices

Seattle Sounders FC sporting director Chris Henderson Photo: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chris Henderson is currently the sporting director of the Seattle Sounders. A former midfielder, he gave coaching a try post-career but thereafter transitioned into being a technical director. Henderson was hired by the Sounders as technical director in 2008. He has spent the last decade learning “on-the-job” and also interacting with foreign clubs when he travels the globe scouting for players.

“The ownership groups have their own companies and are used to running businesses and used to having people with a certain profile to run their business,” Henderson said. “Somebody with extensive soccer knowledge (can help) because in the position you are going to be in you have to have an understanding with the head coach and the coaching staff.”

While the hires around the league follow different strategies and come from different backgrounds, a common theme is also there: the investment teams are willing to make in order to be competitive. This is only going to increase, and the teams that do it best will continue to have the most success.

“Nobody knows if (a hire) is right or wrong until you look at it later,” Henderson said. “I do think as the league grows we all need to grow in the support staff. There is going to be a combination in every front office and it comes down to the individuals and their skillsets and where they can add value. It may be a former player, it may not. It may be someone who has (a) law background or was an agent. It comes down to relationships, being able to work with the coaching staff and different people in the club and being able to manage up. Some is specific to personalities and some is understanding MLS and the landscape of U.S. Soccer, and that can be learned. I don’t think there is one specific way.”

With regard to those with legal backgrounds, they have found places both within the league office and with its clubs. When asked about the changing roles of the legal department at Major League Soccer, for example, Dimitrios Efstathiou, Vice-President, Legal, said that the legal team today is being considered as more than just ‘scribes’ and ‘drafters.’ “We’re at the table, with our counterparts within the media department or the corporate partnerships department or the licensed products department. We are sitting down and helping drafting a strategy to approach a deal and issue spot early on so we’re viewed as, again, a business affairs member as opposed to the lawyer.”

Another example is Darren Eales, President of Atlanta United, who had played soccer while attending West Virginia University and Brown University, later returning to his native England and earning a law degree from Cambridge. After working as in-house counsel at West Bromwich Albion, he moved on to Tottenham in 2010, where his work touched on all major aspects of soccer operations. He helped to negotiate and execute player transfers, including playing a key role in the 2013 world record transfer fee sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. Eales was the first person hired for the Atlanta team by owner Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Darren Eales and Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank. Photo: Atlanta United FC

Lawyers are thus particularly good candidates for MLS front offices. Beyond the ‘obvious’ role of serving as an in-house counsel, someone with a legal background has a skill set that can be valuable in any business agenda. For example, most lawyers are very skilled at written and oral communications. Even with all the advances in technology, business is still won and lost based on personal relationships. People do business with whom they trust, with whom they find commonality and with whom they like. And these relationships are built on clear communication, exchanges of ideas and getting to know each other, skills that most lawyers have. Additionally, given the extensive use of contracts, from sponsorship agreements to media rights distribution to player contracts, having legal skills can assist with issue spotting and avoiding vagueness that often leads to disputes. Finally, despite the stories that make the news, most lawyers adhere to a high degree of ethical standards and can bring added professionalism to a business setting.

With new MLS teams beginning in Miami, Nashville, Austin, Saint Louis and at least one other city in the near future, there will be a need for many competent candidates to carry out the myriad of job functions in the front office. Some of these people may have a soccer background, while others may have other useful skills like foreign languages or an aptitude to work in an international environment. Whatever their skills and talent, they will also need passion and energy. Teams that have an open-minded approach to hiring and can assemble a front office with the right combination of talent, experience and dedication will be the winners.


Related:

MLS also has annual awards for front offices. Here’s a list of who and which teams won awards following the 2018 season:

2018 MLS Club and Executive Award Winners:

  • Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year – Darren Eales
  • Ticket Sales Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Public Relations Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Club Retailer of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Digital Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Operations Staff of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Supporter Management Team of the Year – Atlanta United

Additional award winners

  • Sporting Executive of the Year – Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City
  • Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Corporate Partnerships Executive of the Year – Justin Compton (Sporting Kansas City)
  • Ticket Sales Executive of the Year – Sean Sittnick (Minnesota United FC)
  • Marketing Executive of the Year – Rich Orosco (Los Angeles Football Club)
  • Expansion Club Recognition Award – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Ticketing Sales Impact Award presented by the National Sales Center powered by SeatGeek – Colorado Rapids (Sales Combine)
  • Marketing Team of the Year – New York City FC (24-hour game)
  • Marisa Colaiano Community Relations Department of the Year presented by MLS WORKS – Chicago Fire
  • Business Analytics Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Social Media Activation of the Year – LA Galaxy (#Galaxy Social / Malea Emma)
  • Digital Content Experience of the Year – Portland Timbers (The Rivalry)
  • Equipment Manager of the Year – Chris Maxwell (Houston Dynamo)
  • Security Staff of the Year – Seattle Sounders FC
  • eMLS Team of the Year – Philadelphia Union
  • Team Administrator of the Year – Spencer Childs (Portland Timbers)
  • Athletic Training Staff of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
  • Academy of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
more

Academy’s First Season Showing Immediate Results

MIAMI, Fla. (October 7, 2019) —

It is only two months into the Inter Miami CF Academy’s first season, and thus far it has been a fall season that has seen the various youth teams post impressive results. For example, this past weekend, Inter Miami CF Academy teams played nine matches, coming away with wins in eight of those nine, with the other result being a draw.

La Academia teams have already taken part in one international tournament, which also marked the first-ever time a team under the brand of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami has taken the pitch.

Academy teams have also played in front of Inter Miami CF’s official supporters groups in their first home games in South Florida. The fully-funded youth academy is a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

Learn more about the Academy, its origins, missions, the initial selection process, its focus and more here: The Inter Miami CF Academy

Get to know the teams as well as the very talented and experienced technical staff of the Inter Miami CF Academy here: Academy Teams & Technical Staff


 

Inter Miami CF Academy Results – October 5-6, 2019

MIAMI, Fla. (October 7, 2019) —

Nine matches were on the slate this past weekend for the Inter Miami CF Academy’s teams. In total, Inter had eight wins and a draw.

U18/19s

The U-19s were also on the road. This time, the club was in Raleigh, NC, to play against North Carolina FC’s Academy side on Saturday, Oct. 5. Federico Tellez scored Inter Miami’s only goal in the 1-1 draw with North Carolina FC. 

U16/17s

Meanwhile, the U16/17s played the toughest matches of the weekend. Led by head coach Javier Morales, the Inter squad came out winning by the minimum result of 1-0 over the North Carolina Fusion U16/17s.

A first half goal by Inter Miami’s Oliver Pratt in the 21st minute was the only goal of the match.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, Inter Miami’s U16/17 team won 2-1 against North Carolina FC’s U-17. Goals from Logan Batiste and Alexander Lozano sealed the victory.

U15s

The U15s also travelled to Summit, North Carolina, outside of Greensboro, this past weekend for their games.

The Inter U15s faced the North Carolina Fusion U15s. The away side, coached by Abraham Bibas, notched a victory 3-0, earning goalkeeper Javier Barbosa a clean sheet in the process.

Goal Scorers for Inter Miami: Juan Hurtado (9′), Alejandro Vigil (33′) Pedro Faife (55′).

The Inter Miami U-15s also defeated North Carolina FC 2-1. Israel Boatwright and Juan Hurtado were the club’s goal scorers.

U14s

The U14s, managed by Philippe-Oliver Cineas, were also playing away to the West Florida Flames. Inter went away with a 4-2 win.

Inter Miami Goal Scorers: Juan Quevedo (5′, 73′), Nyle Waugh (34′, 71′).

U13s

The Inter Miami U13s were in action on the road in Brandon, Florida near Tampa, taking on the West Florida Flames. Pedro Cavalcanti’s side devastated the home side in a 14-1 away win.

Goal Scorers for Inter Miami CF: Mateo Pereyra (18′,57′,69′), Justin Hylton (21′), Daniel Pinter (24′), Justin Ellis (27′,29′,32′,50′), Dyllan Bustamante (30′), Cauã Scabin (37′), Keyshawn Pownall (47′, 55′), Vitorio Rivalta (66′).

U12s

U-12 White

The Inter Miami CF U-12 White team defeated the West Florida Flames U12s by a score of 3-0 on Saturday. Jacob Hin scored a goal while Guy Meneus had two goals in the victory.

U-12 Black

The Inter Miami CF U-12 Black team won by a score of 5-4, also against a West Florida Flames academy team. Inter’s goals came from Nash Dearmin and four by Leon Jacobs.

MLS Decision Day 2019 – Here’s What Is At Stake

MIAMI, Fla. (October 5, 2019) —

The last day of the MLS season is upon us. It’s called “Decision Day.” For most fans of soccer around the world, that means a final chance for some clubs to survive relegation, or for a club to seal the championship. For MLS, which follows the model of North American sports leagues, the final round of the season is a chance for some clubs to secure a place in the postseason tournament, known as MLS Cup.

For this season, MLS made some changes which definitely gives more emphasis to the regular season and rewards teams for better performances. The post season was revised to a single elimination format which involves single games at the home of the higher seed, rather than two legs that flattened the odds. This means teams are vying to finish high enough in the table to secure a very important home matches in MLS Cup.

All games kickoff Sunday, October 6 at 4 p.m. EDT.

Fixtures For Round 34

What’s at Stake? Here are the main 2019 MLS Decision Day Storylines:

  • In the Eastern Conference, three teams – D.C. United (4th place / 49 points), New York Red Bulls (5th / 48 points) and Toronto FC (6th / 47 points) – will be playing for the final spot available to host a playoff game.
  • In the Western Conference, four teams – Portland Timbers (46 points), FC Dallas (45 points), San Jose Earthquakes (44) and Colorado Rapids (42 points) – are competing for two playoff spots.
  • The Seattle Sounders FC and Minnesota United are tied for second in the table on 53 points. They play each other in Seattle at CenturyLink Field; the winner secures the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference.
  • The Los Angeles Galaxy can assure themselves of having a home game in the playoffs with a win over Houston. Last year, Houston’s win at Carson cost the Galaxy a spot in the playoffs. Zlatan and company are hoping to set the record straight this time.
  • Chasing the Golden Boot Award: LAFC’s Carlos Vela is tied for MLS’s most goals in a season record, set last year by Atlanta’s Josef Martínez, at 31 goals. If Vela scores Sunday, he gets the record. Currently at 29 goals for the season, LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is chasing Vela for 2019 top scorer and the record.

Probing 2019 MLS Decision Day Questions:

Eastern Conference: Should Teams Watch out for the Revolution?

With the Eastern Conference qualifiers already set in stone, Atlanta versus New England looks to be the most interesting match of Round 34 on this side of the league.

Atlanta can lock up the number 2 seed in the East with a win against New England combined with a Philadelphia loss or draw.

Ironically, despite winning a lot of matches in their three-year history, the Five Stripes still have not won on decision day. In 2017, Atlanta drew 2-2 with Toronto FC at home. The following season, they were crushed 4-1 at BMO Field. On Sunday they’ll face a dangerous New England Revolution side that come into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a high.

New England has been looking like a time on the rise under Bruce Arena, riding some serious momentum. New England clinched the seventh and final playoff spot in the east with a 2-0 win over top-seed New York City FC, a team that recently defeated Atlanta United 4-1 in the Bronx.

Toronto FC currently sit sixth in the table, just one point behind the Red Bulls from New Jersey.

Atlanta United has not done well versus the Reds, while the team from New Jersey has won in Atlanta before. It’s reason enough for Atlanta to want to avoid playing either of these sides right away in the first round of the playoffs.

New England comes into Atlanta with nothing to lose. They are in the playoffs, something that looked impossible until Arena took the helm. The pressure sits squarely on Atlanta United. This is Arena’s first visit to Atlanta with the Revolution. The way he sets up New England today could tell us how he may approach a potential playoff rematch. Expect New England to stay compact and look for the counterattack. Columbus Crew used this trategy in Atlanta on September 14th and came away with a win. Frank de Boer’s team failed to find the necessary attacking solutions, and were subsequently punished in transition. How will De Boer adjust? It should be a study in tactics.  

Western Conference: Can Los Angeles Football Club Finish With The Most Points In History?

LAFC has been the dominant team this season, with only a couple of blips on the radar. They will likely use the final game of the season to remain focused. As the top seed, after this game they will have a first-round bye that will give them two-and-a-half weeks’ rest. With a win, LAFC have a chance to finish with the most points in a single season. Will they do it?

Can Colorado actually sneak in to the playoffs?

The Rapids had been building up momentum for months. After starting the season 0-9-2, they rallied under interim coach Conor Casey toward something resembling respectability. Robin Fraser took over as the Colorado Rapid’s head coach in late August, with his only previous managerial gig having been with Club Deportivo Chivas USA.

“By the end of the first session, I thought that not only were they a good team, that they have a really good spirit, and a lot of belief in themselves,” Fraser said. “That’s when I felt like this could be a really fun project.”

Now, on the last round of the season the Rapids have a chance, though admittedly a slim one, of making the playoffs. Can they do it? To reiterate, despite having started the season winless through 11 games the Rapids are still alive heading into the final round.

If Colorado upsets LAFC — the best team in the league, already owning the Supporters’ Shield and with the top playoff seed already clinched — and Dallas loses to Kansas City and San Jose loses to Portland, the Rapids are in. Even if the ‘Quakes draw with the Timbers, Colorado can still qualify through tiebreakers if they win by two goals or more. This ‘perfect storm’ isn’t exactly likely. LAFC is the top team, Dallas is at home, and Kansas City is playing only for pride. But wouldn’t it be a great story of overcoming odds?

Colorado has been scoring goals. Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio are both in the double digits (13 and 11, respectively), while Andre Shinyashiki and Jonathan Lewis have come on stronger. Fraser wants to inject a possession style of play but joining so far into the season has made that difficult. Yet he’s optîistic.

“I really admire the character of the team. They care about each other, and I think you see that in how they play, adds Fraser.”

No matter what happens on Sunday, that’s something to build on and carry over. And if they can get into the playoffs they will definitely be a team to watch.

Which club, the Portland Timbers or San Jose Earthquakes, will stumble into the playoffs?

Their game at Providence Park in Portland is the only semi-do-or-die matchup on the schedule in Round 34. Despite going a combined 1-7-3 in September, at least one of them will drag themselves into the playoffs on Sunday afternoon. Portland has played its last three games to a draw. Portland can lose this game and still get into the postseason torunament if Dallas also loses. The Earthquakes, who need a win, won the first meeting between the teams, 3-0.

There is a sense that both teams might be approaching unhappy endings.

This could very well be Diego Valeri’s last game as a Timber. Negotiations over a new contract have not gone well, and the two sides have different demands. Valeri has been the face of the Timbers since his arrival in 2013. He’s gone above and beyond — not just on the pitch, but as an ambassador in the community as well. Yet neither side looks likely to budge at the moment. This might be it.

Moving past Valeri’s situation, the Timbers have had a strange and trying year, summed up by Brian Fernandez’s goal drought and red card that has him suspended for this all-important finale.

San Jose sits just below the playoff line on 44 points. But if you had offered them this position at the beginning of the season — win one, final game and you’re in — surely they would have taken it. The club has done much better under head coach Matías Almeyda in his first year with the team, who has imparted an exciting style of play.

San Jose has slumped late, however. They have lost eight out of 10 since early August. Either opponents have figured them out or Almeyda’s physically demanding high press has ground them down. There are also rumours out of Mexico that Club de Fútbol Monterey are looking for a new manager, and, you guessed it, his name is Matías Almeyda.

Almeyda is a bigger name that most people realise, having been successful in his native Argentina and leading Chivas Guadalajara to the CONCACAF Champions League title just last year Earlier this week, he admitted that links with Monterrey and a return to Liga MX made him “happy.” How quickly the sand can shift in the world of soccer.

Is Seattle or Minnesota a real contender?

The victor of the Sounders-Loons game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will lock up the No. 2 seed in the west, and home-field advantage all the way to the conference final. However, If Real Salt Lake wins in Vancouver and the LA Galaxy win in Houston, whichever side loses the match at CenturyLink Field would drop to fifth.

Seattle seems to feel rightly disappointed by this year’s performance: “I think anytime we don’t compete for the Supporters’ Shield, with the talent that we have, is a fail,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said this week.

“Maybe it’s more of a redemption-type game for us,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “We’ve had so many opportunities to make a statement game, and we’ve squandered quite a few of them. … We’ve been very, very fortunate. Let’s be honest. I think our season has been not the best. It was nice to finally start on top, but the remainder of the year has been a struggle. At some point, we have to make that statement.”

Minnesota has qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Their highlight moment of the season was a 2-0 away win at LAFC, which is also LAFC’s only loss since El Tráfico on July 19th. Carlos Vela was absent that match. But with the MVP favourite reinstated last weekend at Allianz Field, Minnesota still ground out a 1-1 draw. The Loons formula against Los Angeles was to stay compact, give LAFC possession in less dangerous areas, and have a ruthless mentality on the counter.

The Loons are playing with confidence, no matter the opponent.

Who Will Win The Golden Boot?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is second in the goal-scoring race with 29 goals. In fron is Carlos Vela of LAFC, who has 31 goals, a mark which places him in a tie with Atlanta United Josef Martínez for the most goals in a single MLS season. Zlatan had this to say:

“I am trying to score goals every game, that is part of my responsibility, part of what I have to do to help my teammates,” I have 29 goals in 28 games. If I would have the same amount [of] games like the other ones, it would be different. But now I’m chasing someone that has more games than me. If we score we score, we’ll have to see what the end number will be. If there still is a possibility, we’ll try.”

Still, the LA Galaxy star insists the ultimate aim is to achieve team glory.

“I prefer the collective win, when we win that game, that is more important,” he said. “With the collective success the individual success comes with it. If I can do good for my team, with my team, I know I’m doing good. I’m not focusing on the individual bonuses, I always say it’s like a bonus. Without my teammates those things would not be possible. If I win, it’s my team that wins. Whoever wins the Golden Boot has to think it’s not because of him, it’s because of his teammates.”


Credit to The Athletic for providing inspiration and perspective.

Inter Miami Faces Nashville On Sunday To Determine First Pick In MLS Expansion Draft 2020

Inter Miami CF and Nashville Soccer Club are the two teams beginning play in 2020.

MIAMI, Fla. (September 19, 2019; updated October 4, 2019) –

The two newcomers to Major League Soccer, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, will face each other on Sunday, October 6. Except that it won’t be on the pitch.

Major League Soccer announced back on September 19th that the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft* will occur on November 19, 2019. It will be the thirteenth expansion draft in league history.

Decision Day Coin Toss

In order to decide which club will select first in that expansion draft, as well as the order for the various other means of acquiring players for their respective rosters, MLS has created an event called the “2019 MLS Expansion Priority Draft.” This will take place on October 6, prior to kick off of an intense final day of the regular season during MLSsoccer.com’s “Matchday Central: Decision Day presented by AT&T Pregame Show.”

You can watch live this Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. EDT from AT&T MLS Studios in New York City as part of the MLS Decision Day Pregame Show presented by AT&T. (MLSsoccer.com, the MLSappTwitterFacebook and YouTube).

At that time, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner & CEO Jorge Mas along with Sporting Director Paul McDonough, as well as Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre and General Manager Mike Jacobs, will flip a coin to determine which club receives the first pick in the five available player-acquisition methods. For example, the winner of the coin toss can elect which of the five player acquisition methods they want for their team, followed by the loser of the coin toss making an election. This process continues until all of the methods have been chosen.

Here’s what the two team’s executives have to choose from:

  1. No.1 pick in 2019 MLS Expansion Draft 
  2. No.1 pick in 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas
  3. No.1 position in Allocation Ranking Order
  4. Penultimate position in MLS Re-Entry and End-of-Year Waiver Order
  5. Penultimate position in Discovery Player Ranking

What it boils down to is that the winner of the coin toss will receive two of the top three mechanisms. Having the first pick in the expansion draft is likely to be the most desired, although having the top choice in the allocation ranking order can also be a good way to acquire an experienced player. For example, it was used by Atlanta to acquire goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

It’s a complicated process to build a roster from scratch. “You’re trying to look at all the different mechanisms, your international spots, your roster positions, your money, your free agents, your expansion draft picks and you’re trying to see best how to build the deepest squad you can,” Sporting Director Paul McDonough said. “We’ve been preparing. Thinking on who could be available and how they would fit into our team. What would be a win for us is that we come out with a mix of players and assets that can help us continue to build the squad.”

Expansion Draft Take Home Points:

“We know we need MLS experience to be successful,” said McDonough. “It’s important for us to find those guys who can fill certain needs within the starting eleven or immediate depth of the squad as we look to build a competitive roster.”

How Many Players Can Be Selected?

The Expansion Draft provides an opportunity for Miami and Nashville to strengthen their MLS rosters by selecting up to five (5) current players from other MLS teams.

How Many Players Can Each Club Protect?

Each current MLS team may protect up to twelve (12) rostered players (previously 11 in years past) from inclusion on the eligible players list.

When will the list of unprotected players (eligible players) Be Released?

The complete list of players eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will be released on Saturday, November 16.

Are Any Teams Exempt From The Expansion Draft?

Yes, as reported earlier on Russo Soccer, certain clubs are exempt. Exempt clubs with players selected by FC Cincinnati in the 2018 Expansion Draft are D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo, and the New York Red Bulls.

Have Any Notable Players Been Acquired Via The Expansion Draft?

Yes, notable former Expansion Draft picks include two players chosen by Los Angeles Football Club in 2017: Latif Blessing and Tyler Miller. Blessing has six goals and five assists this season, alongside Miller’s nine clean sheets (shutouts) for the top-ranked club in the league standings. FC Cincinnati selected Darren Mattocks and Roland Lamah in 2018, and both became regular contributors for the club this season.


This is the first time since 2016 that two teams have had to flip a coin to determine the order of selection. The last time was in 2016, when Atlanta United and Minnesota United were entering the league.

Here is how that draft went. Atlanta won the coin toss, and the mechanisms were then split as seen below. After the type of selection, you can see what player was acquired and how.

  1. ATL:  No.1 pick in 2016 MLS Expansion Draft – (Selected Donny Toia, who was traded to Orlando City for the No. 8 pick in the 2017 SuperDraft, which was used to select Julian Gressel)
  2. MNUFC: No.1 pick in 2017 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas -(Selected Abu Danladi No. 1)
  3. ATL: No.1 position in Allocation Ranking Order – (Atlanta used the top spot to sign Brad Guzan)
  4. MNUFC: Priority on NASL/USL players should Atlanta United try to claim the same player in one of the other leagues in the U.S. – (no competing claim)
  5. ATL: Penultimate position in MLS Re-Entry and End-of-Year Waiver Order – (There were no players chosen by either team in either draft)
  6. MNUFC: Penultimate position in Discovery Player Ranking – (N/A)

The first three mechanisms are clearly more important than the others. But what is important to a team depends on how it plans to build its roster, i.e. is the plan to focus on established talent or unproven potential.

More Information on the expansion draft history and the rules is available on the MLs website:

MLS Expansion Draft History | MLS Expansion Draft Rules


* An expansion draft is a common practice in North American professional sports as a method to begin to stock the roster of a new franchise.

David Silva Will Leave Man City At End Of Season – To Play For David Beckham’s Inter Miami?

He is reportedly intrigued by the idea of becoming the marquee signing for Miami’s inaugural season.

MIAMI, Fla. (September 24, 2019) —

On more than one occasion, when questioned about what players he would like to see on the Inter Miami CF squad, David Beckham has mentioned that the number of star players who have contacted him to express interest in joining has been “remarkable.” I was in attendance on January 29, 2018 when David Beckham told the audience gathered at the Knight Center the same story. The media has seized on this and over the past two years has fed us a seemingly endless supply of transfer rumours. Enter the latest feature.

A few days ago, in a story written by Tony Evans and published in the British online publication The Independent, Inter Miami are reportedly set to sign their first superstar. 

David Silva, Manchester City.

“Ésta será la última temporada. Diez años para mí es suficiente. Es el tiempo perfecto.”

David Silva

According to the report, David Silva will leave the Premier League defending champions Manchester City at the end of his present contract (expiring 30 June 2020) and will join Miami over the summer. Silva agreed to a year-long extension of his contract at the close of last season and said at the time it was likely to be his last season at the Etihad Stadium. He further insisted that he would never join another Premier League side and is reportedly intrigued by the idea of becoming the marquee signing for Miami’s inaugural season.

“This is the last [season]. Ten years is enough for me. It’s the perfect time,” the 33-year-old told the Daily Mail. “Initially, we were talking about two years, but I decided to sign another one, so I finished at 10 years.”

Silva, an attacking midfielder, is 33-years old, and is one of Europe’s most decorated players. He won a World Cup with Spain in 2010, two European Championships (2008 and 2012), four Premier League Titles, two FA Cups, and four League Cups with Manchester City, which he joined in 2010. Silva has twice been named to the Premier League Team of the Season.

Silva arrived in Manchester from Valencia CF in 2010. With the Citizens, Silva has 71 goals and 134 assists over 402 games. He also has had a long career as a member of Spain’s national team, with 123 appearances for Spain, scoring 35 goals and 32 assists.

Silva has 123 appearances for La Selección Española. Photo: Getty Images

Miami has signed five players thus far: Defender Christian Makoun, midfielders Matias Pellegrini, US youth international George Acosta, David Norman Jr. as well as forward Julian Carranza. Each of the current players on the roster is 19-years old. Silva would be 34 at the time he would arrive in South Florida.

The MLS season starts in March and if this rumour holds true, Silva would miss the first three months of Miami’s inaugural campaign. While a move here would likely be Silva’a last team before retiring, MLS has already evolved from being a league where players from Europe land before calling it a career. While some older players still come over, the difference today is that they are still playing the game at a high level. This is certainly true of Silva.

Earlier this month, Inter Miami Managing Owner Jorge Mas and co-owner David Beckham, as well as Sporting Director Paul McDonough were in Europe, making stops in Barcelona, Paris and London, igniting speculation on whether they were talking with potential transfer targets or head coaches.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have both been linked to Miami. While Inter Miami has the financial ability to sign pretty much any player they choose, a player like David Silva is perceived as a more realistic possibility. Paris Saint-Germain’s Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani has also been mentioned.

Speculation of a Miami move comes after the player has already spoken of his desire to return to the Canary Islands before retiring. Silva, who is from Arguineguín, Gran Canaria, had previously stated that he might want to return to play at the club where he played as a youth, Las Palmas.

“Me encantaría terminar mi carrera en Las Palmas, pero el fútbol es muy cambiante. Dependerá del equipo y de los jugadores que haya. No puedo volver para jugar en Segunda División”.

“I would love to end my career at Las Palmas, but football is very unpredictable,” he continued. “It will depend on the club and the players that are there. I can’t return to play in the Second Division.”

Silva has featured in each of City’s six Premier League games this season thus far. He’s been a member of the starting eleven and worn the captain’s armband five of those games. He has scored one goal and two assists. This past August 25th, David Silva made his 400th appearance in a Manchester City kit in the Sky Blues’ away trip to the South Coast against Bournemouth; he played all 90 minutes as the Mancunians came away with all three points in a 3-1 victory.

One thing that is for sure is that we should not expect to see #21 playing for another Premier League side or a Chinese club either. “The cycle is complete. It’s a round figure. I couldn’t see myself playing against City,” he said. “China, no. My girlfriend will decide for me!”

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Top 10 Assists by David Silva

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Destacados:

David Silva tiene decidido que ésta será su última temporada en el Manchester City. El canario, de 33 años, ha asegurado que es tiempo de cambiar de aires y no oculta su deseo de volver a Las Palmas.

“Ésta será la última. Diez años para mí es suficiente. Es el tiempo perfecto. Inicialmente estábamos negociando un nuevo contrato por dos temporadas, pero decidí firmar por uno y, de este modo, finalizar mi etapa aquí después de una década”, aseguró Silva, que llegó al City en 2010 procedente del Valencia.

El exinternacional español descartó, eso sí, seguir en la Premier:

“El ciclo está completo. Es una figura redonda. No me podría ver a mí mismo jugando contra el City. Diez años… está bien”.

Después de ganar cuatro Ligas, dos Copas, cuatro Copas de la Liga y dos Supercopas, Silva tiene claro cuál sería la despedida ideal: “Aún no hemos alcanzado el objetivo de ganar la Champions, pero firmaría que cada año fuera como el pasado (ganaron Liga, Copa, Copa de la Liga y Supercopa)”.

Just How Bad Is Barcelona’s Start to This La Liga Season?

Miami, Fla. (September 23, 2019) —

Granada had only beaten Barcelona once in their last twenty meetings. Then came Saturday night, a pleasant, warm, dry evening in southern Andalusia.

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the final score. The shocking result over the weekend condemned Barcelona to its worst league start in 25 years and leaves the club in eighth place in the table, three points behind Granada. The previous worst start was in 1994-1995 under manager Johan Cruyff. It is also the first time since that season that Barcelona have failed to win any of its first three away games. The Blaugrana have been winless on the road stretching back to April (last season.)

Manager Ernesto Valverde made four changes to the side that unconvincingly drew 0-0 with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last Tuesday, as a returning Messi started on the bench once more. Summer signing Junior Firpo was handed his first start of the season after Jordi Alba had picked up an injury in midweek, but it was his defensive slip that directly led to Granada taking the lead after just one minute and five seconds.

Ramon Azeez headed in at the back post, to the delight of the over 18,000 spectators at the Nuevo Los Cármenes, who would not have dared to dream of being a goal up after less than two minutes having been played. The early advantage proved no fluke either, as the hosts pressed on and could have added to their advantage before the interval – Manchester City loanee Yangel Herrera shooting narrowly over from outside the box.

Barcelona’s best opportunity fell to Luis Suarez in first-half stoppage time, but the Uruguay forward’s goal-bound attempt was – typically of the hosts’ defensive performance – blocked on the line.

Something had to be done, and Valverde introduced Lionel Messi (replacing Carles Perez) and 16-year old superstar Ansu Fati at half-time. The pair saw plenty of the ball in the second half, but despite their best efforts, neither could achieve a breakthrough. In fact, it was a Granada substitute, Álvaro Vadillo, who had a bigger impact on the game, adding the hosts’ second from the penalty spot after Arturo Vidal’s costly hand ball in the area, which was confirmed beyond any doubt by VAR. Vadillo swept the ball to his left from the penalty spot, away from a diving Marc Andre ter Steigen.

Granada’s Álvaro Vadillo celebrates his penalty kick.

Such was the strength of Granada’s play that the visitors, despite having 73 % of the possession and out passing Granada by a wide margin, failed to register a shot on target in the first half and landed just one of their eight shots – from Messi in 82nd minute – on target in the entire game.

Barcelona never looked like getting back into the contest after that, as a resilient, dogged Granada recorded a famous victory.

One can only imagine what Ernesto is thinking.

Barcelona have now failed to score in six of their last seven La Liga away matches, while €120 million summer signing Antoine Griezmann is yet to have a shot on target after four away matches for Barcelona.

The recent form of the Culés has Luis Suarez worried:

“This defeat hurts us and makes us very worried and we need to really take hard look at ourselves if we are to improve. We didn’t manage to dominate the game in any way. We need to analyse what has gone wrong in these a way games; we are obviously concerned about the lack of chances we are creating.”

Leo Messi is not fully healthy though he is still the key to Barcelona’s fortunes.

When asked where the blame lied for the loss at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, Valverde was clear in his answer.

“We’re missing precision in the final third, they tried to press us, we came out well from the pressure and then it was a matter of adding the finishing touch, that’s where we went wrong,” he explained.

“We will try to improve.” He also took responsibility for the defeat, adding, “You always blame yourself for what happens, the actors are the players but in the end, the coach is responsible,” he said.

Barcelona are also leaking goals as well, having conceded nine goals in five matches, tied for the worst defensive record in La Liga along with Real Betis.

“It’s clearly not a very good statistic for us and not in line with what we have been doing in the last few years,” said Ernesto Valverde.

Adding to the pressure the Catalan press has been unsympathetic to the Blaugrana, as this cover of yesterday’s Diario Sport clearly shows: