An Off-Season in Public Relations?

revsWhat happens when the MLS season ends?  For the public relations and communications departments of the various franchises, the work continues.  Off-season work takes many forms, with roster changes, drafts, transfers and pre-season preparation all underway immediately.  Lizz Summers is the Director of Communications for the New England Revolution.  She has served in that capacity for more than six years after coming to the Revs from the media relations department at the University of Texas.  Ms. Summers was kind enough to provide us with her insight into what happens in MLS when the lights are off in the stadiums, but glowing brightly in the front office.  Thanks to Ms. Summers.

Footiebusiness: The Revs season ended last year on November 6. What is the first thing that you and your team have to do once the season ends to start preparing for 2014?

Lizz Summers: The off-season certainly moves faster than you think. There’s a lot that goes through your head as soon as the season ends, but the first thing we do is close out the current season as best we can right away when it’s fresh in our minds. This year, there were probably a handful of things we needed to sit on until MLS Cup was played, but anything we could do to wrap up 2013, we did. That meant updating all of our “sports information” type materials first – records, historical information, the entire roster’s bios – so it was all set and ready to go so everything could be updated (web sites, media guides, etc.).

At this stage of the league’s history – and coupled with the length of the competition calendar – there really is no off-season. Technical staffs are doing a lot of scouting – both international and collegiate – during November and December, so you’re working with them remotely for any news that needs to get out. Plus it’s a big time for ticketing and marketing promotions, so you’re helping push that messaging out.

I just checked my files and we put out 24 news releases between the time we lost to KC in the playoffs and January 1– on a broad range of topics including injury updates, MLS awards, roster moves, affiliation agreements and ticketing/marketing campaigns, as well as the 2014 season schedule which came out earlier than ever. It’s not uncommon for teams to be putting out releases within a day or two of major winter holidays when you’d expect it to be really quiet, because there is just so much going on, especially with roster movement.

And with all of that said, before you know it, your technical staff is prepping for the MLS Combine in early January, which leads to the SuperDraft and then – this year – we were one week away from players reporting when we closed the first day of the SuperDraft.

FB: 2013 was the first playoff season for the Revs since 2009.  How does your job change when the team makes the playoffs?  What additional items require attention during the postseason?  How does the condensed off season impact you?

LS: The playoffs make everything a lot more exciting. From the build up to your actual qualification to the last moment the whistle blows on your season, anything can happen and for the entire front office staff – not just communications – you have a lot of contingencies in place depending on when your season formally ends and how far you may go in the playoffs.

For us, there were a lot of questions about our club as the season came down to the end, and, if with our youth, we had what it took to make it through in a cluttered East. I spent a lot of time chatting and debating with media and pundits about our team and its chances, and really stressing that the last six weeks of the season were already a playoff run for us – even before we qualified on the last day of the season.

With that also comes a lot of talk about your players and their impact on your club – and then how that improved the team on a broader scale. Last fall, we spent a lot of time promoting Jose Goncalves and Diego Fagundez because they were so important to our on-field performance. Diego’s impact was easy to see – his goals, his assists, his age – but Jose’s impact was harder to quantify, and we spent considerable time trying to find or create metrics to clearly demonstrate how important he was to the team. Thankfully, the overall defensive record showed how influential Jose was to the Revs, and media and teams around the league agreed enough to vote him defender of the year. With Matt Reis and Kevin Alston’s awards, their stories were so compelling and heroic we believed that they had a great chance of winning their respective awards on their own merits after the story-telling done all season about the two of them by various outlets.

Game-wise, your job pretty much remains the same. The added playoff effect comes from more media attention – both locally and nationally. For us, that meant balancing interview requests and really trying to spread the attention across our team, and not let it center on a small handful of players. We had a young team so we relied on a lot of veterans and players who were comfortable speaking regularly as the requests came in.

We were a bit fortunate this year with our seeding in that we had a full week to prepare for our home game against Sporting. We use an agency to help with media and marketing projects, so they were a great help coordinating interviews and promotions ahead of the first leg of the semifinal series. Had we been the number four seed, our turn-around would’ve been two days ahead of a Wednesday game, so the seeding helped us a lot. And our ticket sales staff and marketing staff did a fantastic job selling the game and we had the second-highest attended playoff game in club history.

The four-day turn for the second leg was a bit tight, but the travel for that game ended up only being one day in advance, not two days like a normal trip to KC for us. The extra day at home gave us time to turn everything around and accommodate requests that came in, as well as confirm plans if we advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship round.

There are a lot of ifs and whens as you get to the playoffs since you’re planning for any possibility, but it’s planning you want to be doing. After missing the postseason for a few years, we were all happy to be busy that late in October and November.

FB: You first joined the Revs in 2006. How have communications/public relations changed during that period.  Are there more media requests or team outreach efforts?  How has social media changed your job?

LS: The profession has changed a lot, and so much of it is due to the explosion and expansion of digital news and social media. Today we still have a lot of attention placed on mainstream media – newspapers, TV outlets and radio – but so much of the soccer media is based online, that we’ve all had to adjust our opinions and attitudes about what is a “news outlet.” Many of the teams in the “big four” pro leagues shun bloggers, but soccer embraces them. We have to – and we have to work with them to ensure that they have accurate information.

In our market, a Revs fan isn’t going to find everyday coverage in the daily papers or on the evening sports report. But they are going to find it on a variety of online sites run by people who are dedicated to putting news and opinion out consistently. It’s important to us that those sites and those writers have the information they need to write or produce accurate, compelling content for our fans. They know our doors are open to them, and we’ll answer any question or inquiry they have the best we can. But with that access, and because of the dialogue we’ve opened with them, they also know that when they have facts incorrect, they’ll hear from us with the correct info.

When I started with the Revs, the only real social media channel was Facebook, and businesses – including professional sports teams – didn’t utilize it the way we all do today at all. A few years later Twitter came along, and so many more platforms continued to emerge. Today, there isn’t a PR staffer in MLS (or any sport) who isn’t routinely tweeting, posting or capturing a moment for social media, whether it’s directly for the team, or as part of the larger conversation to influence others.

Social media has also allowed us – and fans – a glimpse into the soccer media’s mind and about what they’re thinking and who they link or don’t like, so in a sense, it’s also made the media relations aspect of our job a bit more direct. You know right away if there is an opinion or attitude you need to try to influence, or on the flip side, maintain.

Social has also created some more transparency about the teams and what goes on and given fans a greater peek into the daily workings of the teams. You have players, coaches, executives and staffers all on social media interacting with fans and being ambassadors for your club. There is a lot more direct interaction and it allows fans to have a more engaged experience with the club. Social takes a lot of work and attention, but it’s such an important communication with your fans and potential fans so it’s vital to use it well and spark conversations.

FB: What is something about being the Director of Communications for a Major League Soccer team that most fans of the game don’t fully understand or appreciate?

LS: We feel the same frustration the fans do that teams aren’t covered more in mainstream media, be it local or national. It’s the number one topic of discussion any time MLS PR colleagues get together during the year: how do we increase media relevancy on a greater scale. One reason so many clubs support the emergence of digital media sources so much is because we know the depth and breadth of the coverage is so far superior to what mainstream media provides in many markets. Staffs are trying to help bridge that gap and there are more and more interested, invested mainstream media members turning on to soccer, so the change we all foresee is coming. But it’s slower than we all would like, and it frustrates us, too.

Another important fact that is that mainstream media is a business, and click-throughs and comments and likes and shares all do matter. So if your club does have coverage in a paper or on TV and it’s posted somewhere, make sure to engage with it. If the metrics show that the content is generating conversation and being seen by a wider audience, there is a greater argument to increase coverage.

Monday After

us-soccerThe final preseason Monday After of the off season.  We will have some great stuff this week as we get ready for the start of the 2014 campaign.  On Tuesday will present an interview with Lizz Summers from the New England Revolution about what life is like in the public relations and communications departments of a Major League Soccer team.  We will also cover the unveiling of the new uniforms and have some business preview items for 2014.

Looking back at the weekend, the final preseason games were played around the country, with games from the Desert Diamond Cup, Rose City Invitational, Carolina Challenge Cup and Disney Pro Soccer Classic.  The games were streamed live and generated a significant amount of Twitter traffic.  With the regular season just a week away, the games represented the last chance for teams to prepare for the coming campaign.  The live streams continue to impress and provide fans hungry for MLS action a great way to follow their teams before the television schedules start next week.  There were some great preseason stories, including sellouts for the San Antonio Scorpions.  There were crowds of almost 14k at Providence Park for the Timbers up in Portland.

Finally, the US is scheduled to play the Ukraine in an international friendly on Wednesday.  The game, scheduled for Wednesday has been moved to Cyprus.  Given the situation in both Kieve and Crimea, this seems like the prudent decision.  while Cyprus has had its own problems in the last few days, it seems like the safer option for the upcoming soccer game.

SBJ Talks Soccer

fireworksThe Sports Business Journal has a pair of excellent pieces looking at MLS as the league prepares for the 2014 season.  This is part of the annual MLS preview in the periodical.  We will have more on this next week in the lead-up to the openers, but tonight we will focus on two of the articles.   The first is a roundtable conversation with Adrian Hanauer, Tim Leiweke, Merritt Paulson, Anthony Precourt and Nick Sakiewicz.  For fans of the business of the game, the interview is filled with nuggets about how the teams and leagues are operating in 2014.  There was a significant amount of talk about the improved level of play in the league, the importance of a dedicated time slot and additional promotion as part of the next television deal and the importance of big name players coming to MLS.  With respect to to local television, Sakiewicz said, “In Philly, we feel good about our ratings story. We had a 47 percent improvement last season over the previous year. We have awesome partnerships with our local ABC affiliate and with Comcast. We see it coming. We’re anticipating that in the next few years, we’ll be able to turn the corner on local TV.”   Leiweke indicated that TFC wants to increase its stadium to 30k in coming years and believes that the team could have sold that many in 2014.

The other SBJ story involves a chat between the magazine’s Executive Editor and a number of his friends and acquaintances.   Essentially, the soccer loving friends are asked for their thoughts about MLS.  The piece doesn’t cover much new ground, but includes the usual refrains about turf fields, unknown players and the quality of play.  Nevertheless, the group covers some positives about the league, including the Pacific Northwest rivalries, improving play and increasing attendance.

Sporting Does a Deal

sporting kansas citOn Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City announced a a deal with fan engagement technology company Experience, to provide  in stadium technology and experiences for the Sporting faithful.  Beginning with the 2014 season, Sporting fans will be able to use Experience within the team’s Sporting Club Uphoria App for the iPhone and Android.   In 2013, the Uphoria App allowed fans to view highlights and listen to game audio while in their seats.  The new partnership with Experience will allow fans to buy game experiences at the match, including on field experiences, seat upgrades and more.  The integration will be up and running for the team’s home opener.

Sporting is not the first soccer team to work with Experience, but given the team’s focus on technology, this seems like a  partnership made for both organizations. The product has been live for about two years and the company has relationships with teams across the sports spectrum.   I had the opportunity to speak with Experience President Ben Ackerman about his product and the partnership with Experience.  He said that Experience had a goal to establish a relationship with Sporting, because of how innovative and forward thinking Sporting has been and how focused the organization is on the fan experience.   Mr. Ackerman also told me that the goal is to provide targeted fan experiences that improves the game day experience.

The App represents the next wave of targeted marketing opportunities for teams.  Experience can assist Sporting in offering opportunities to fans based on their demographics and prior choices.  Whether fans are hard core supporters, families out for a weekend event or attending a corporate function, the App can guide fans to in-stadium experiences that meet their needs.   The technology aside, this offers another potential revenue opportunity for teams with fans already in the stadium.  Interestingly, Mr, Ackerman told me that Experience’s financial model is “success based” with Experience not charging Sporting anything up front, but only if fans purchase opportunities through the App.   In Mr. Ackerman’s view, the success model incentivizes both the team and Experience to make the partnership work.

DC United Finds a New Sponsor

propaneThe biggest business story of the day comes from the Nation’s Capitol, where DC United announced a jersey sponsorship deal with government contractor Leidos.  Per Steve Goff, the deal is reported at 3-5 years and for a figure close to the fee formerly paid by VW which was just shy of $3 million.  Per Mr. Goff, “the Leidos logo will appear throughout RFK Stadium and all of the team’s marketing and media properties”.  The jersey with the logo will go on sale starting on March 8 for the team opener.

This is a coup for DC United, which manages to keep the income stream of a jersey sponsor despite the end of the VW relationship. Leidos is not a household name, but it is an American defense company that provides scientific, engineering, systems integration, and technical services. The company does billions in revenue every year and employs more than 20k people..  The company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

If reports are correct, the finances of the deal are seemingly on the low side of those in place around the league.  On January 12, 2011, the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer announced a four year, $12 million dollar deal with Mexican food conglomerate Bimbo.  In 2012 the Chicago Fire signed a multi-year deal with Quaker worth slightly less than that. Recall that at the end of 2013, RSL signed a 10 year, $30 million deal with LifeVantage that starts in 2014.

Although many fans associate jersey sponsors with consumer products life Quaker and Bimbo or (at least in MLS) with MLM schemes like Advocare and Herbalife.  However, Leidos is an enormous company with substantial resources.  It is difficult to see what Leidos gets from the deal other than additional name recognition and opportunities for community outreach with the team.  From the official presser: “Soccer is a growing, global sport and we are a growing company with our eyes on the future,” said John Jumper, Leidos Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. “This sponsorship will help enable us to get exposure not only locally, but throughout the country and internationally.”


Monday After

unitedOnly two Monday After posts before the start of the regular season in Major League Soccer.  We’ll start with the jersey week gimmick that MLS started last year and is continuing for the 2014 season.  While I personally don’t understand the excitement that surrounds the release of new jerseys, I understand the business importance of putting new gear out for fans to purchase.  Many look forward to the release of the new kits and teams can sell them at top prices.  17 teams will participate in the release the week  before the season, beginning the Monday preceding the first games.   The events will be a mixture of public and private while some will take place at the stadiums with other out in the community.  Not surprisingly, there have been some initial leaks of the jerseys, but those types of leaks typically serve to simply whet the appetite of the public.

In other weekend business news, American soccer fans have been keeping an uneasy eye on the situation in Kiev as the March 5 date for a USA/Ukraine friendly nears.  There are significant political events occurring in the former Soviet Republic that are far more significant than a soccer match.  Nevertheless, the safety of the US players and coaches is an important consideration and there are reports that the USSF is already considering potential alternative locations for the match.  The situation is one that bears watching over the next week, as tensions remain exceedingly high in the region.

Finally, the DC United stadium saga took another turn last week when mayoral candidate “Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) said Wednesday that she wouldn’t support Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s proposal to trade away the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center in order to help pay for a new D.C. United soccer stadium on Buzzard Point.:  This is just another setback from the seemingly premature announcement last July that stadium efforts were moving forward.

Chivas Changes

chivasI was planning for a Bits column tonight, but there was a rather dramatic piece of news in Major League Soccer on Thursday that dominated the headlines.  MLS announced that it purchased the rights to Chivas USA from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes effective immediately.  While Commissioner Garber would not state the price paid by the League, he suggested that fair market value was paid.  Some have used the recent $35 million sale to Vergara for half the team as a guide, but $70 million seems like a high number for the struggling club.

Garber indicated that a re-brand would be coming and that MLS was looking for an ownership group that could bring a stadium deal for Chivas USA.  He was adamant that the team would stay in Los Angeles and acknowledged that a new ownership group would likely not be found in 2014.   The team has struggled almost since the beginning and a recently resolved lawsuit involving claims of bias and discrimination made national news when featured on 60 Minutes.  For the last while, league officials had been working behind the scenes to try and improve the Club.  Obviously, MLS felt compelled to take this dramatic step because those efforts weren’t succeeding.

Per the official press release,  Mr. Vergara and Ms. Fuentes retain all branding and licensing rights to the Chivas name, however the league will continue to have rights to use the name during the transition, which will include the 2014 season.  Garber also acknowledged that they will have one shot to get the re-brand correct.  Some successful rebrands in MLS include Kansas City and Houston. in 2014: Chat with Greg Lalas Part II

mlsYesterday we presented Part I of our new chat with Greg Lalas.  Today, we offer Part II.   In this segment, Mr. Lalas discusses the editorial process at , takes a look back at the last four years and offers some thoughts on what fans can expect in 2014.

Thanks to Mr. Lalas. When we spoke four years ago, you told me “[t]he idea is to present a place that a soccer fans, not just MLS fans, can get all kinds of content that is connecting MLS to world and is engaging and interesting to them.” Four years on, have you reached that goal?

Greg Lalas: I would argue that we are moving in that direction more and more every day.  We have done a pretty good job in the last four years to present ourselves  as a place where the North American soccer fan, in particular, can come and get their daily, weekly or hourly dose of the soccer news and conversation and chatter and banter , but I always think of it as a work in progress.  Are we where I would like it to be or any of us would l like it to be? Not quite.  But we are getting there.

FB: We also talked about the balancing act that you had, trying to provide both news and commentary.  Are you satisfied with that balance now and how it has shaken out?

GL: To an extent.  I think we are proving that the commentary can exist.  Coming in, maybe we weren’t in the beginning as responsible as we needed to be with our commentary  to ensure that , that all the T’s are crossed and I’s dotted and the facts are right.   It has improved our journalism and reporting over the last couple of years  to make sure what we are saying and what we are writing about,  whether we are being critical or praising. is backed up by the truth so we are trying that all of the time.  We are pushing into areas all of the time.  A writer like Matt Doyle, who I think is superstar, is pushing the limits of commentary with his Armchair Analyst articles and his Three Thoughts after matches and tournaments.  These are really starting to resonate with our audience which is not just an MLS audience, but a North American audience for soccer.    The balance between news and commentary is something that every outlet has to deal with and has to be as responsible as possible.  I hope we are doing it as well as anybody with that responsibility.

FB: Is it a tough balance especially, because part of what makes sports so fun, and what people are looking for is rumor and more than just news?

dsgGL: True.  Its not like we don’t deal with and discuss rumors.   It is amazing how many times we have reached out to a club about a rumor, and every once and while I ask “how many others have reached out to you? It is amazing how many times the answer is “nobody” and yet we see five other articles. Why did nobody else reach out to you? Why are we the only ones who reached out to you?     Part of that it the modern journalism world that we operate in.  I understand that.  I understand the notion “Let’s get this rumor up and we’ll contact the club” and there is a second article that can go up and deal with that because something I have always said is that context is no  longer found in one article like in the newspaper world.  The site also provides the context.

Here is an article that says.  There is a rumor that Jermaine Defoe is coming to TFC. Maybe an hour later, another article that Toronto denies that  Jermaine Defoe is coming to Toronto.  Maybe the next day there is a rumor and a comment  from someone at Spurs saying that Defoe is likely to leave at end of the year and it goes on and on.  If you just read one of those articles you are not going to get the full story and I think that is how journalism in the digital space is moving more and more. To some peoples’ chagrin and to some peoples’ embracing of it and saying this is an interesting way to approach it.

FB:  Anything on the site that fans should be looking forward to for 2014?

GL: We are doing a really cool series of profiles right before the new season starts which is on March 8.  The week leading up to that we have a huge suite of content to get people ready for the season.  That includes a media roundtable; we are doing team by team previews, but we are doing some unique videos around them that are aimed at trying to give a little more context about each club.  Not just the club in 2014, but a little bit of its history. We are coming up in 2015 on  the 20th season of MLS, so we are trying to build a little bit more of that historical  context for people.

And the MatchCenter is one of the most groundbreaking things we have done.  Its code name is Golazo. It went live towards September of last year, technically in Beta, but this year it will be full live and it is an amazing experience of social content, highlights, photos, the usual commentary from OptaSports, live stats  and its an incredible experience.  This year we have redone the mobile version of it.  It is now an incredible experience that I hope people will check out.  The last thing is fantasy .  We are still pushing fantasy; we have revamped the game, made it a little more intuitive made it a lot better.  We are hoping that people will dig the new fantasy game.

FB: Do you envision MLS Live continuing to grow?

GL I hope so.  Everyone is discussing the tv contracts that are up at end of the year and we will see and for MLS Live, the more growth the better.  There is a huge digital audience for MLS and soccer in the US and Canada.  We have the numbers and a study to back that up in terms of the number of people with smart phones, people that are watching games soccer digitally in the US and Canada is higher than the other sports.  I expect MLS Live to continue to grow. in 2014: Chat with Greg Lalas Part I


Back in 2010, I had the opportunity to spend some time chatting with Greg Lalas about the newly launched  Mr. Lalas was named as the editor-in-chief of the new site and back then, we discussed his vision for the site, the technical problems it was experiencing and a number of other issues surrounding the launch.  Now four years later, Mr. Lalas was kind enough to chat for a few minutes about the how the site is doing four years later.  In Part I of our chat, Mr. Lalas discusses site metrics, content and more.  Part II will feature tomorrow.

Thanks to Mr. Lalas. What content drives the most traffic to

Greg Lalas: It’s going to be the big stars…and  any talk about new stadiums and expansion to new cities is a big thing.  The connection between MLS and the National team drives a lot of traffic to us.  It is a World Cup year so everyone is really fascinated with the US National Team.  The number of players on the USMNT who are in MLS is just making that connection stronger and stronger, so that is a big thing for driving traffic.    Right now, since we are in the off season, it is a little different, but obviously matches drive it.  Traffic spikes around matches and that is the same for everybody.  I talked to the guys at NFL and the same thing happens to them.  The highlights, the great goals; its what we as fans love.  I want to read about the US Team, I want to watch great goals.  I want to watch the action.  Ultimately, I think that is what  one of the great lessons of the last four years for us.  No matter what happens we are basically mirroring the fans.  We are fans, so what we find interesting is probably what the fans find interesting.

FB: Are you continuing to see growth? Are you satisfied with the growth rate?  Are the numbers where you want them to be?

GL:  Yes. Our growth rate in 2013 was really great.  From page views, we were up a decent chunk and more importantly in unique users, they were up a lot, especially in the second half of the year.  I don’t know what happened in the second half of the year, other than we were doing  a little bit more digital marketing and we were doing a really good job in social media to drive the numbers.  In the second half of the year, the numbers really took off.  That might have also been around expansion.  The second half of the year started with NYCFC  and the bookend was Orlando City SC in November.  You look at those numbers and you see tremendous growth in the second half of the year.

FB: Are people spending a significant of time on the site once they get there?

GL: Not too bad.  Our average is 4 something minutes.  I would like it to be higher.  Page views per visit have held steady.  Our goals in 2014 in particular, are to really drive unique users even more than page views.  Like everybody else, we are trying to figure what is the actual calculus behind putting a bunch of these numbers together to say what is really a successful metric for us.  It is not just unique users.  It is engagement, it is Likes and Tweets and page views per visit and time spent and engaged time that ChartBeat uses (and we use ChartBeat for ourselves).

One of the biggest metrics that I am looking at, if we grow our unique users, can we maintain the same ratio of new users to returning users. The last thing I want is to blow out the number on new users, but they don’t become returning users.  If our unique users double, but our new users go up to 50% versus  what it has been over the last two years or so which is about 30%, then we are doing something wrong because we are not keeping those new users we are not making them  come back or giving them something that they want to come back for.   So, if I can grow the uniques  but still keep  it 70/30 returning/new  then I am going to me happy with the user metric at least.

FB: Is there a feature on the site that gets less traffic than you think it should?

GL: I think that there is a lot of talk about statistics  and Moneyball type analytics and I don’t think yet that we are seeing the traffic there that we could or should.   There is so much talk out there with Optasport and Match Analysis and all of these other statistically driven companies, talking about statistics 2.0 and deeper dives into the analytics, but I at this point I don’t see the interest in it at a very high level.  Part of it is that people are still trying to figure out a way to bring it down to a level that is digestible for the more casual fan.  You think about baseball, here is his ERA and that is his batting average.  Those are simple things to understand.  They are almost intuitively understood and then someone just put a number and an acronym to it. In soccer, we are trying to figure out what are those few little stats that help us understand the game a little better, so that a casual fan can get a glimpse of a match or a player or a moment and really say, I get it.   Right now, I think all of the stats are a little too complicated for the casual fan and in some ways we just need to dumb it down;   I need to dumb it down for myself sometimes when I read  what Devin Pleuler, one of writers, writes about.  We are getting there, it is a

FB:  I look at what you guys do with the Chalkboard and I wonder how much traffic it generates.  It is an interesting look after a match. 

GL:  It doesn’t generate as much traffic as we would think or we would hope.  That is why we are trying to do more around the written content or the video content around stats.  Devin writes the weekly article called the Central Winger and he breaks down stats.  He is doing some pretty groundbreaking work on the side.  He works for Opta full time and he is a contributor for

Monday After

galaxyMajor League Soccer descended upon Fresno, CA over the weekend for a preseason match-up between the Earthquakes and Galaxy.  Billed as the Central California Cup, the match drew a sellout crowd of almost 13k.  As we have repeatedly stated, these types of exhibition games provide the league with a great opportunity to spread its message beyond the MLS cities.  For a league that is hoping to grow its television audience, it is important for fans outside the home markets to become interested in the league and its players.  MLS somewhat accomplishes this through its efforts in Tucson and regular exhibitions in Texas.  13k is a great number for a neutral site preseason game.

The effort to locate a soccer specific stadium in DC continues, with United releasing some additional stadium renderings as part of a season ticket holder event.  The team also noted that renowned architectural firm Populous will be the architect in charge of the design.   Populous has designed a number of MLS stadiums and during the construction process in Houston, the Dynamo presented this interesting Q&A with Loren Supp from Populous.  The possibility of locating the stadium in DC requires some land swaps with private entities which remain underway.

Finally, there are reports that an ethics review is underway because of alleged improprieties in how David Beckham has approached his effort to gain support for a stadium project in Miami.  There are suggestions that Beckham’s dinner with the Mayor violated rules regarding lobbying and interaction with public officials.  While the initial issue seems minor, this is indicative of some of the minefields that await Beckham’s efforts in Miami.