Don Garber: On Playoffs, Landon & The Reserves

This post courtesy of TSG writer Jay Bell

Editor’s note: Let’s give a round of applause for Jay Bell. New (a few months) to TSG reporting, Jay filed the great Lenhart interview last week. He took in the Dallas game and then he taped…and has now scribbled down Don Garber’s comments from his visit to the press box at halftime of the FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake match this past Saturday.
Well-played Jay. (You can follow Jay on Twitter here.)

Garber speaks...

And now, Don Garber speaks:

Regarding competitive format issues:

“We have some more teams coming in.  We’re trying to think about our playoff format.  Are we going to balanced or unbalanced?  I think most importantly is to send a message to our fans, to our media that nothing is off the table.  We want to be sure that we can continue to evolve our competition and put on great entertaining matches.  Have every game count.  Have our season be meaningful and figuring out the best ways to do that.  We’ve been off-site with our internal competitive group weekly for the past six months.  Then we had an off-site with our competition committee last week.  We’ll meet again prior to the board meeting in November and try to jam through all of these issues.  Its actually fun and exciting.  People care.  That’s a good thing.”


“Everything’s on the table.  Single-table is always on ‘the table.’  For us the issue with the single-table and having the champion of the league, in essence, be the team that wins the Supporters Shield is not something that will ever happen on my watch.  I believe in playoffs.  This is an exciting game and the gate is higher here than it would be in the regular season.  The game is more interesting playoff-concepts.  I know that is not what they do in the rest of the world.  They do it in some countries.  They do it in Mexico, for example.  I know you can have playoffs with the single table, but for our view conferences matter.  Conference champions matter.  Regional rivalries matter.  Conferences allow you to have more regional rivalries, essentially.  So that’s where our heads are at.”

Confusion of playoff standings:

“There is a better way to do it than we’ve done it this year.  We had bad luck, if you will, in terms of the way the season ended or ended up.  That was unusual.  It was really the first time we had it as confusing as it was this year and we need to fix that.  So we’re going to look at making it a bit more easy to understand throughout the year as opposed to having it posted on our website and even having people in the league office read it to understand what’s happening.”

Number of teams in the playoffs:

“We’ll have two more teams.  Maybe more, maybe less [in the playoffs].  Maybe a different playoff concept.  This whole idea of a tournament might make sense.  We look at everything.  Everyone should know that. We do that every year.  We come to a conclusion that it’s similar in the past.  I think we’re pushing the envelope a little bit more next year as we start getting to twenty teams, spreading across the country coast to coast.  It probably makes sense for us to think a little differently about competitive process.”

This season:


“Its been a great season.  The quality of play has been certainly improving every year.  I think anybody who is a close follower of our league would agree with that.  Lots of young players and great stories.  Chris Wondolowski is a fantastic story.  Lots of excitement with designated players.  The reserve league is something that we’re very serious about bringing back next year and Wondolowski is the poster child for that concept.  He probably wouldn’t be playing soccer if it wasn’t for what he did for many years as a reserve player.  We’re feeling good about our young players.  We’re feeling good about the designated players.  We’re feeling good about the relevance, increasing relevance in our clubs in their local markets.”


“Well I can’t really comment too much yet on the rosters, but it’s clear to me that we need to do something to ensure that we can be more competitive in the Champions League.  Perhaps working with our rosters is a way to do that.  Its one of the things that we’re spending time thinking about.  What is our schedule going to look like?  How do we create some space around those Champions League games?  How do we eliminate the clutter everybody knows exists in our season? . . . When are we going to be able to provide value to that Champions League tournament so that the teams that are in it aren’t necessarily doing it with one hand behind their back.”

Real Salt Lake winning their Champions League group:

“I think all of our teams should, but not all of them can.  We have to balance between our league schedule and our continental championship, if you will.  Its a real challenge when you’ve got to play more games, have more travel, your schedule is more congested, and you’re one of the better teams in the league.  It just seems like we have to find a way to make it easier for them to at least be on par with the people that they’re playing against.  We haven’t figured that out, but we’re trying to figure that out.”

Landon Donovan:

“Landon is committed to our league and is a great player for the sport in this country.  I can’t comment as to whether or not . . . and I don’t think anybody is looking at him as far as I know, but I hope he is in our league for the rest of his career.”

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kaya on 2010/11/01 at 5:28 PM

    I didn’t even try to understand the playoff format. I’m sure if I had time, wikipedia could explain it to me.
    I tend to like the way the championships are played in the rest of the world, but until there are several leagues and promotion/relegation, it seems like playoffs make sense.


  2. Posted by KaptPowers on 2010/11/01 at 11:45 PM

    As a New England Revolution fan, Mr. Garber, let me assure you that conference championships do not matter at all. The only thing that matters is who wins the MLS Cup. Regional rivalries depend on just that- the regions. Getting rid of conferences wouldn’t move the location of New England, New York, and DC would it? How do conferences allow you to have more regional rivalries? Is the Celtic/Rangers rivalry somehow less interesting because they’re not the Central Division of the Scottish Premier League? Is Boca Juniors versus River Plate not as thrilling because they don’t play in the Atlantic Conference of the Argentine League? Conferences are a dumb holdover from the early MLS “hey look at us Joe ‘Merica Sports Fan, we’re just like the NBA!” days. Single table, balanced schedule, get on it.


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