The Business of Playing in MLS: Chat with Richard Mulrooney

rmulrooneyIn January we posted a two part chat with MLS veteran Carey Talley about some of the financial realities of playing in Major League Soccer.  Today we are pleased to continue our series on the business of playing in MLS with  our chat with former MLS All-Star and USMNT player Richard Mulrooney.  Mr. Mulrooney is currently the head soccer coach at the University of Memphis.  During his playing days, he earned 14 Caps with the full national team and made more than 260 appearances in MLS. You played more than a decade in Major League Soccer.  During that time, did the League or any of your teams provide any guidance or pointers on post-career financial planning?

Richard Mulrooney: Not until the end of my career did we even have a 401k set up and there was very little talk regarding financial advising.  I had followed my dad’s advice and got the IRA’s and other retirement savings all set up on my own from the first year in the league in ’99.  But in terms of the league setting up classes or really trying to educate us as a whole on financial planning it didn’t happen.

FB: What opportunities were there during your career for players to earn money outside of their regular salaries? Were these options made available by the team?

RM: The options I recall were coaching club on your off days or in the evenings which didn’t interfere with your MLS club schedule.  I knew a few guys who actually got other part time jobs to help make a little extra money but it was difficult because of the odd hours we had as players and the unknown of the daily schedule from week to week.  The team made appearances available to the guys and they gave a bit of money but other than that the team didn’t offer any other ways to make money available to the players that I recall.

FB: Similarly, what type of sponsorship/commercial opportunities were available to you during your career?

RM: There weren’t a lot of commercial sponsorships made to us as individuals so much as there were for the team.  If your team was sponsored by Honda then your team would occasionally set up an appearance at a dealership to sign autographs but that wasn’t an individual deal.  Personally, I was with Adidas and they would ask me to help market their product and I would be taken care of through the contract I had signed with them.  The bigger players in the league possibly had more opportunity for these types of deals but with MLS just starting out it didn’t have the power of like an NBA or MLB player.

FB: Other than the increase in the salary cap, were there changes in the League during your career that made it easier for players financially (e.g. per diem increases, better hotels, etc…)?

RM: After we got our Players Union set up that is when I saw the biggest help financially for me and other teammates.  The raise in per diem made a big difference as well as the 401K being set up. Obviously, the salaries were increased but you had that already if you were a player that played big minutes and your club wanted to reward you for that.  But the overall the Players Union was the biggest help in helping players earn a bit more coin.

FB: You also had experience with the national team, including 14 caps with the full national side.  Does US Soccer provide any thoughts to its players about life after soccer?

RM: Not so much help came from the US team in regards to life after soccer.  And to be honest I don’t believe it’s their job to do that.  They have a job to fill seats in stadiums which helped pay us when we played in front of Mexico or Jamaica. But we had such little time with them outside a week here or there that if it wasn’t spent on the field practicing it was in our rooms resting for games like the ones I just mentioned.  And that left no time to really have talks about our future outside of the game.  I was okay with that and understand it.

FB: Finally, even though your playing career has only recently ended, with the benefit of hindsight, what guidance would you give to players now entering the League about how to plan about their post-career world?

RM: The two biggest things I believe would help any player post career would be to start saving on your own from Day 1 as it really can be good money if spent and saved on the right things.  And the next thing would be still work towards your degree.  You can find work without it but you don’t want to be limited in what you can do because you don’t have the piece of paper.  Take a couple classes each year and by the end of your career you will be that much closer in earning it or that might just be all you needed to have it ready for post career soccer!

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.

Home Depot Center No More

galaxySince it opened in 2003, the Home Depot Center has been ground zero for American Soccer.  Home to the Los Angeles Galaxy for a decade, the Carson, California ground has played host to multiple MLS Cup Finals, the introduction of David Beckham, the Final of the 2003 Fifa Womens World Cup and many other big events.  During that time, the name Home Depot Center has become synonymous with soccer in the United States.

On Monday, the Sports Business Daily reported that effective June 1, 2013, the Home Depot Center will be reborn as the StubHub Center.  According to the reports cited by the SBD, the deal will be for six years and will encompass the entire AEG owned property, including the training facilities, tennis stadium and more.  Per SBD, “Shervin Mirhashemi, president of AEG Global Partnerships, said the value is greater than that of the deal Home Depot signed in 2003 when the facility opened. The old agreement carried a value of $70 million over 10 years.” The deal also gives StubHub exclusive marketing rights for the crown jewel of the Carson facility, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The deal is part of a larger relationship between AEG and StubHub.  StubHub was recently made the exclusive reseller for all AEG venues.   The article includes a great graphic looking at recent naming rights deals for stadiums in MLS. According to the article, the typical MLS deal is for about $2 million per year with deals typically running 10-15 years.

This represents an end of an era, but shows the continued strength of the Galaxy brand and the AEG influence.  Despite the impending sale of AEG, the company has been of extraordinary import to the success of soccer in the United States.


The Cascadia Debate

vancouverI have been extremely hesitant to cover the “controversy” over the league’s attempt to trademark the Cascadia Cup in Canada.  Yet with Commissioner taking time on Monday to address the issue, I thought it timely to provide some thoughts on the dispute.  By way of background, some supporters groups have reacted with outrage over the league’s alleged usurping of a fan created event for purposes of profit or business.   The Cascadia Cup tracks the matches between Vancouver, Portland and Seattle and crowns an annual winner based on total points in the series.  The Cup was created by supporters’ groups in 2004 and has been a publicized part of the MLS season since 2011.  For more on the background, click here.

In  late 2012, the league, which heavily promotes the Cup through its website and television partners, took steps to trademark the term “Cascadia Cup” in Canada. In the face of complaints from supporters, the league issued multiple statements indicating that the intent behind the trademark application was simply to prevent exploitation from outside groups and retain the intellectual property associated with the event within the league family.  The statement did little to mollify supporters who were concerned the league would take steps to attach a title sponsor to the event (a la the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup), somehow cheapening the Cup.

There is no dispute that the Cascadia Cup competition was a supporter event.  These supporters are among the league’s most devoted fans and are highly invested in the success of their team and their league.  However, it is that level of devotion that makes the level of outrage curious.  I have frequently written about how American soccer fans are far more interested in the success of their fledgling league than fans of the other major sports.  Thus, even if the league’s plan (which it has not stated, but which is one of the big concerns stated by supporters) is to monetize the Cascadia Cup, these same invested fans should be supportive of such a relatively benign effort to improve the business of the league.  If monetizing the Cup allows the league to generate revenue and utilize that revenue to improve the league, this is a win-win.  Because of the passion of the supporters, the Cascadia Cup is one of the most marketable rivalries the league has.  In a year in which the league is emphasizing rivalries, the Cascadia Cup is especially valuable.  This should be viewed as an opportunity, not a controversy.

Turnkey Sports: MLS Fans on Top

at&TThe Sports Business Journal is once again reporting on the fans of Major League Soccer’s remarkable connection to the corporate partners that support the league.  In reporting the results of the latest Turnkey sports poll, SBJ states that, “MLS sponsors were correctly identified as such by the league’s fans at a higher rate than the companies’ rival brands across all categories, according to the results of this year’s MLS Sponsor Loyalty survey conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment”

MLS fans’ track record of brand loyalty is a recurring theme.  Because of MLS’ relative newness to the sports scene, MLS fans have more “ownership” in the league’s success.  Unlike fans of the NFL, MLB and other mainstream sports, fans of Major League Soccer have real concern about their league and its place on the sports landscape.  Fans work hard to bring friends to games, introduce family to the sport and cheer for MLS teams in international competitions.  This personalized relationship to the sport lends itself to these same fans taking an interest in the corporate entities that keep the league solvent.  Moreover, because the relationships are promoted through means other than commercials (jerseys, signage, etc…), the names of these companies are always prominently

Some telling numbers from the survey (as reported by SBJ).   League sponsors such as VW, Gatorade, Pepsi and Allstate generally earned recognition scores in excess of 30%.  One major partner that fell below 30% was VW, at 28.5% .  However, among all sports/leagues, that 28.5% was second to only Chevy’s affiliation to NASCAR in the auto category.  AT&T”s relationship with the league was the biggest mover among all brands in the survey with almost a 16% year over year increase in fan recognition through its MLS partnership.   One final note, Visa’s brand recognition; “more than 44 percent of avid fans recognized the relationship, the highest rate of any of the league’s sponsors among avid fans.”

We will have more on this survey over the next few days.


Soccer Business Bits: MLS Sues Black & Decker AND MLS in Minn?

Sports Business Daily is reporting that MLS has sued tool manufacturer Black & Decker over an alleged “ambush marketing campaign” by B&D division DeWalt.   MLS fans know that competing tool company Makita is a long time MLS sponsor, and the suit alleges that DeWalt improperly used MLS logs and materials to “confuse” hispanic fans into believing that DeWalt is a sponsor of the League.  We will pull the relevant information on the suit in the coming days from the Court website, but proving damages in such a claim could open up some privately held MLS business information to public scrutiny.  In order to prove they were damaged by the ad campagin, terms of MLS sponsorships will likely need to be revealed.  Because MLS holds this information so tightly, the discovery process in this suit could provide new access to MLS revenue and advertising information.

Makita first signed a three year deal with MLS (reportedly in the mid-seven figures), in October 2004.  The deal was Makita’s first sports sponsorship and was designed to target hispanic audiences.

At a recent Metro Sports Commission Meeting, Chair Paul Thatcher suggested that the Vikings are interested in bringing an MLS team to the Twin Cities.  Unfortunately, the article doesn’t offer much more detail than that.  Minnesota has never been a top contender for an MLS team, despite a successful run at the lower rungs of American soccer.  Stadiums are being built in the State, but it seems unlikely that MLS will find its way to Minnesota in the near term.

Digital MLS: How Did They Do?

The posting has been a bit light this week; there has been a “new arrival” in the family which has changed sleep/work patterns a bit, but we expect to be back on schedule next week.  For now, check out this March interview we did with SUM Digital Strategy Director Chris Schlosser about MLS’ plans for digital media and online advertising in 2009.  Read the interview, and give us your thoughts….how did MLS do? Did you notice the ads?  Did you use the Brand Thunder Booms or notice the revised website?

Chris Schlosser is the Director of Digital Strategy for SUM,  a graduate of Columbia Business School and a former employee at Microsoft in Seattle.  While at Columbia, Mr. Schlosser formed a relationship with Sunil Gulati and ultimately came to work at SUM.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions from about MLS’ digital strategy. SUM recently announced the initiation of an online ad network that targets a variety of sites that soccer fans frequent.  What are the benefits to the sites and SUM in participating in the network?  What are the benefits for fans?

Chris Schlosser: Over the past seven years SUM has built significant relationships with the US commercial community, we spend every day selling soccer to Fortune 100 companies. We are using this network of clients and our experience selling soccer to drive incremental revenue for our member sites. There are lots of other ad networks out there but I can guarantee you that none of them have more experience or more focus on selling soccer. In addition to driving revenue we are working with a number of our partners on content sharing and joint marketing to grow the collective soccer audience. From a fans perspective the SUM Digital Network should over time provide significantly better content and features, as revenue grows it is our hope that this will enable our member sites to invest more money in content and features which will increase traffic and continue to drive value for both fans and the commercial community.

F.B.  How will the ads be targeted?  Who will decide which ads get placed on which sites?

C.S.  Our sales team will work with our advertising clients to create custom ad plans tailored to efficiently meet the needs of our clients. Many of our official site partners (MLS, EPL, US Soccer, etc.) have significant corporate sponsorships already in place, many of these sites maintain a category system with certain sponsors retaining exclusivity, we are used to working in this environment and will work across our network to protect existing commercial relationships. We also are focused on premium ad placements and clients, we are not going after the “fat belly” ads that are so common on many sites today.

F.B. Far more than most sports fans, MLS supporters take a direct interest in the League’s efforts to generate revenue.  How will the League be compensated?  How about the sites?

C.S. Our fans are amazing, in fact a recent SBJ study stated that MLS fans show more brand loyalty than any other sports fans in America, we even out indexed NASCAR which is built around branded experiences. We see the digital space as a significant revenue opportunity over the next 3-5 years and are investing accordingly. As a member of our network sites will see incremental revenue compared to what they are currently seeing from remnant networks or in house sales teams. Additionally SUM will see revenue from more deals and larger deals as we continue to build our presence in the digital space.

F.B. What other electronic innovations should fans be looking out for in 2009?

C.S. We have a ton planned for 2009, including some very interesting launches. You will see us launch redesigned club pages for 11 of our 15 teams this afternoon, additionally we are launching improved video experiences, team social networks (see for an early example), customizable and shareable highlight videos, and much more. 2009 will be an exciting year on MLSnet and our team sites. One great example of how the league is focused on improving the online experience for fans is that we are going to double the quality of our live game streams while keeping the same cost to fans as last year at only $19.95 for the season. That means you can watch more than 100 games for less than 20 bucks, now that is a great deal.

F.B.We’ve heard about the League’s new relationship with Brand Thunder.  We will the first “booms” be unveiled?  Who will be responsible for content?  The League?  The Teams?

C.S. The first browser should launch this week, we have a league deal but will work with each team to manage content and design on the browser.

Soccer Business Bits: Quick Hits

rslWith a big set of MLS action coming up, we thought we would provide you with some MLS business news in advance of the weekend.

With all the debate over the financial viability of soccer stadiums (any stadium really), the fighting usually ceases once the building is up.  As a result, the “success” of the project is typically ignored.  Check out this piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about Rio Tinto’s financial impact.  Most importantly, revenue for RSL is up over 40% from its time at Rice Eccles Stadium.

Speaking of stadiums, grass is down in Red Bull Arena.  Click here for an interior camera.

Speaking of grass, it appears that it is confirmed that TFC will be playing on the natural stuff next season. Apparently in Canada, spelling is a bit different.

Speaking of different, one wonders how AC Milan will prosecute this absurd claim.

Finally, solid attendance on a chilly night in SLC for a big win for the home side.  More than 16k on a Wednesday night is a great number.

The Business of the Champions League: Is it Worth It?

mlsTuesday night marked the opening of the CONCACAF Champions League competition for the 2009/2010 season.  24 teams from around from around the region are competing for the right to represent CONCACAF in the Club World Cup.  This is the second season for the competition in its current iteration.  The play-in portion of the tournament started in RFK before a paltry crowd typical of the tournament. Over the next couple of weeks, 16 teams will complete the home and home portion of the tournament in order to earn spots in the group stage.

In Europe, the Champions League competition is the most prominent of club events.  Club teams throughoout the continent claw for the money, exposure and glamor of a spot in Europe.  In CONCACAF, the tournament barely registers a blip on the radar screen of the region’s soccer fans, especially in the US.  Teams must invest time, money and energy to compete in the event without the substantial rewards offered in the European version of the event.  The teams face extensive travel and generate limited revenue from ticket sales.  So from a business perspective, is it worth it?

We say yes.  As the tournament gains traction (especially in some of the newer markets), the exposure to international competition creates an enormous opportunity for exporting the League to the rest of the region.  At the same time,  the elusive American soccer fan who watches only European football gets a chance to see more MLS on FSC in a tournament that makes perfect sense to them.

At the same time, players within MLS have the opportunity to show their wares to an array of potential suitors.  Ultimately, this creates transfer opportunities which can generate revenue for the teams and the League.  Similarly, front offices in MLS have an opportunity to evaluate talent from around the region, as they watch potential transfer targets play against MLS competition.

This process will take time, and likely will be a money loser for some time.  Yet the Champions League is an important business opportunity for Major League Soccer.  Ticket sales will come, as will television revenue and popularity over time.  Of course, it would help of MLS teams show well in the event.

Soccer Business Bits: Legal Analysis of the Jaqua Situation, July Fourth Round-up and More

soundersFor the second time since the season started, a Seattle Sounders forward has had his name linked with sexual assault allegations.  The first instance involved Freddy Montero, and those charges were quickly dropped.  Over the weekend, a civil complaint was filed against Montero’s strike partner, Nate Jaqua.  The claim primarily sounds in battery, but includes graphic descriptions of alleged sexual conduct between Jaqua and the female plaintiff.  The plaintiff is a former college soccer player.  Other defendants include the Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS and the Houston Dynamo.  We will reluctantly put on our lawyer hat for a moment and discuss these allegations.

Importantly, this is a civil case, which means that while Jaqua does not face potential criminal penalties (e.g. jail), he does face potential financial damages.  In addition, the standard of proof is typically lower in civil court, where fact finders are asked to use a “more likely than not” or 51% standard.  Because this is a civil action, the plaintiff’s identity has been made public.  Moreover, this is an action that is being pursued by her and not the State of Oregon.  Reports indicate that the police have never investigated these charges.

The inclusion of multiple co-defendants smacks of significant over-reaching by the plaintiff.  While this certainly adds deep pockets  to the case (and can help settlement),  the claims against the defendants other than Jaqua sound in “vicarious liability”.  Put differently, the plaintiff is alleging that these defendants are responsible because Jaqua was acting on their behalf in perpetuating the assault of the plaintiff.  However, under the traditional framework of vicarious liability utilized in Oregon, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements to make out a prima facie case of vicaroius liability:   (1) the conduct must have occurred substantially within the time and space limits authorized by the employment; (2) the employee must have been motivated, at least partially, by a purpose to serve the employer; and (3) the act must have been of a kind that the employee was hired to perform. It is hard to see how any of those elements exist in this case.   A copy of the complaint is here.

We will of course monitor this case as it moves forward.  Suffice to say, Jaqua has forefully denied the allegations.

Independence Day has come and gone, and with it, another week of MLS, WPS and Gold Cup Action.  In Colorado, just under 20k enjoyed the annual July 4th festivities, as the Rapids came up short against Chicago.  In RSL, a dissappointing crowd of 17,400 watched RSL escape with a tie, while 20k were in Los Angeles to see the Galaxy hold off New England.  Red Bull road woes continued, as more than 14k watched New York come up short against Dallas, while a packed house saw Kansas City fall short to Houston at Community America Ballpark.  As always, we recommend that you go here for a detailed look at MLS attendance.

In WPS action, just over 4k were in Chicago for a mid-week game against DC.  A distrubingly low crowd of 1,800 were in New Jersey for a July 4th match between New Jersey and Boston. An apparent crowd of about 5k was in DC for their Sunday evening tilt with Las Angeles.

In Gold Cup play, a small crowd of just over 15k saw the United States beat Grenada and Honduras beat Hati in Seattle.  The July 3 doubleheader in Los Angeles, featuring Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica and Canada brought a 27k sellout.  Games will move to Foxboro, Dallas, Philadelphia for the next rounds with the semi finals in Chicago and finals in New Jersey.