Game First: Some Thoughts

In a media rollout that read a bit like an advertisement for efforts already under way, Major League Soccer (MLS) announced the "Game First" initiatives today.

The best news I'm seeing in there includes:

"Re-investment of transfer fees (MLS clubs now receive two-thirds of the fees earned when one of their players is transferred. That money can be used in a number of ways to improve the team's on-field product.)"

Even if this can't all be spent on players - see the "Dempsey situation" - it's good to see the clubs get a bigger piece of the pie.

"MLS has hired a full-time consultant based in South America to assist MLS teams in scouting and acquiring players from that talent-laden region."

About damn time.

"MLS has established guidelines for field maintenance, including...The pattern of directional cuts, so as to assist fans and referees better view offside decisions."

Ah. Suddenly the talk about the grass makes some sense.

"During the past few years, more bonuses for starts and wins have been incorporated into player contracts. In 2007, those bonuses will be paid once every two weeks instead of in one sum at the end of the year as in the past."

The muted cheering you hear comes from every player who has ever regularly cracked the senior roster as a developmental these guys are supposed to play a full 90 on a stomach full of ramen noodles I never understood.

Finally, there's the good stuff we've heard before about the Youth Development program, qualifying for the SuperLiga, the playoffs, and the CONCACAF Champions' Cup all of which strike me as changes for the good between 2006 and 2007. So, no, it didn't quite justify a press rollout, seeing as little of it constitutes "fresh" news, but I can't think of any other way to highlight the good stuff.


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