Wednesday, March 29, 2006

By Imtiaz Mussa

On March 13th 2006, I wrote an article on Sportszilla about how the team once known as the MetroStars were bought by Red Bull and will now have a relationship with Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian League. I had a feeling that this would open up partnerships between clubs in Europe and the MLS teams. Basically, MLS would become a feeder league to these various teams. There have been rumors that F.C. Barcelona was considering purchasing D.C. United and hence, would stand to quite possibly have Freddy Adu for themselves or profit from selling the teenage phenom. Another rumor that was going around concerned the defending Premiership champions Chelsea. Today, we find out that Chelsea hasn’t bought the Los Angeles Galaxy but have developed a ‘special’ relationship with them.

AEG, the corporation that owns the Galaxy along with the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, and the Houston franchise also happens to own some property in London. Remember the Millennium Dome? It cost British taxpayers £1 billion to build and they don’t even know what to do with it. That’s a poor job by the people across the pond. Ever since Roman Abramovich has taken over at Chelsea, there have been rumblings that they would like to leave their current home Stamford Bridge in favor of a stadium that will have the seating capacity to rival Manchester United’s stadium Old Trafford which seats close to 70,000. Stamford Bridge only houses about 45,000. Is it possible that AEG will allow Chelsea to play in the Dome? Both sides deny it but considering the Dome’s vast size, it can easily trump the capacity of Old Trafford and Arsenal’s new home the Emirates Stadium.

So what are the terms of the partnership? According to the press release from MLS,
“The relationship will formally begin next summer with the staging of a tournament, scheduled every other year, involving Chelsea and a host MLS club. Additionally, the alliance with AEG also includes a club to club relationship between Chelsea and the 2005 MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy, along with an agreement to enhance and market the Chelsea brand in the United States and promotion of grass roots football activity.”
What that statement doesn’t tell you is that this will give Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho first option to sign Galaxy players and allow young Chelsea players out on loan to gain experience in the MLS. The clubs will also exchange coaching and medical knowledge and personnel. Chelsea makes a ton of headlines with the big name players that they try to sign but underneath that, they are also making runs at younger players who are just a year or two away from making an impact with the first team. Those are the types of players you can expect to see in LA.

So in sum, is this a good move for the MLS? After much deliberation, I have to say the answer is yes. I was initially mad about it because it was Chelsea but with the sale of the MetroStars and now the Galaxy’s partnership, we are starting to see that this league really has a purpose. It will never become a top league. America’s best players should not be playing here. They should be playing in Europe against the best in the world because it will make them better and hence Team USA better. Once the national team and MLS are separated, both can go on to achieve their objectives. For the national team, continuously get better and truly be one of the best teams in the world. For MLS, become a league that will showcase the best young talent in the world.


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