Tuesday night was a fun night on and off the field at Toyota Stadium. Before FC Dallas beat the New England Revolution 4-2 to win the US Open Cup, MLS commissioner Don Garber was on hand in the press area, where he did a roundtable discussion with the various local and national reporters on hand.
Garber went through a wide variety of topics from league expansion, the USOC final in Dallas, how he hung around the FCD staff and did some sells calls for the first time (yeah, might have to get into that later on in a separate post), to one of the more important topics in my mind on the league’s investment in its youth players.
When asked about the loss FC Dallas suffered in Weston McKennie to Germany power Schalke, Garber was lamented how tough that situation was for everyone involved.
“That one hurt,” explained Garber. “We had a lot of forces that we were working against on signing that player, and that’s the reality of how difficult it is with a player pool at the youth level that continues to attract the attention of very, very aggressive and well-funded international teams.”
Garber continues to explain to the press that there wasn’t much more they could have done in the deal. But the signing of Paxton Pomykal should help soften the blow.
“The player had been in their system for nine years,” said Garber. “So when you look at the investment that goes into supporting that development and then you lose him and get nothing, it makes you scratch your had and wonder, ‘Why are we doing this?’ And then two weeks later you sign Paxton [Pomykal] and you feel a little better about it.”
The league continues to invest more money into the youth systems and academies. FC Dallas has easily made the most of this investment with two national titles this year along with a U-14 side that went undefeated in their setup (FC Dallas president Dan Hunt said they pretty much are national champs in the front office’s eyes). But as Garber wrapped up the discussion on youth players, he said the league and clubs still have some work to do.
“It’s something that we’re wrestling with,” he said. “We obviously have part of a broad pyramid of soccer and have all sorts of different constituencies that we have to manage and deal with. But you’ve heard me say this number before: it’s north of $50 million a year we're investing outside of our rosters and we’re not necessarily getting that value back in the short term signing those players to our first teams. And you certainly haven't seen a lot of that in the sale on of players. I’m feeling a lot of ownership pressure to ensure that investment will start paying off.”