Saturday, November 22, 2008

What I Learned At the Supporters Summit

50 or so supporters attended this morning's Supporters Summit at the Home Depot Center.

It's my first time at the HDC, and the facility is absolutely gorgeous.

Fans from LA, Chivas, San Jose, Houston, Phoenix (!), Columbus, DC and New York attended a sometimes lively discussion with Don Garber and deputy comisssioner Ivan Gadzidis. Greg Lalas and Shep Messing also took part, but had little to say after the opening remarks.


The supplement that got Conway & Parke the 10-match suspensions? "Jungle Warfare." I kid you not. Garber said the two should have brought the J.W. to the RBNY trainers for testing before taking it. He made the case sound simple. It is.

Garber played a bit to the crowd noting that the league must build around fans that are the most passionate. He said he'd like to see 5,000 fans attend the summit in the future.

He deftly parried with an LA supporter that claimed that the league didn't listen to hardcore fans. The Don noted that the listening and putting all suggestions into practice were two different things.

Garber noted the challenge of turning the final into a two-legged affair, saying the league is seeking that "winning moment" that would make "SportsCenter," a moment all would remember. If the visitng team won the first match 3-0, the second leg would be a bore, which is not what the league is looking for.

Gadzidis gave a lengthy, lengthy response to questions about officiating, noting that all MLS matches are reviewed by both the league and US Soccer, and that folks complain about referreeing all over the world.

Jack Bell's Goal blog is the NY Times' most popular sports blog.

As for the effect of bloggers on the league, MLS employs a staffer whose entire function is to trawl BigSoccer and top soccer blogs for what the fans are saying about the league. If they read this..."Hi, League Office!"


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