So for the last couple of years we have heard folks talking about MLS 3.0, the era of big TV deals, new forms of Allocation money, and even more big name DPs. RSL’s owner has talked about it as a part of the reason why some of the front office changes over the last couple of years have been made, so RSL can compete in this new MLS, despite being a small market team.
Last year we saw RSL attract Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez, a move that saw him pay off his own contract so he could find a new team to play with, and he chose to come to Salt Lake City. We saw the potential of what he can do in his limited minutes at the end of the season last year, I expect the best is yet to come. It was a sign of things to come, or so it appears.
Listening to Yura talk to the media today, he mentioned over and over again that he had told his agent that he wanted to come back to MLS, and back to RSL for the last two years. Now a player having a very specific place he wants to play can really put both his current club and his target in a rough spot as deals are never easy to complete. Between transfer fees, salary, MLS salary cap issues, it is a complicated thing but Yura’s agent Patrick McCabe (@
For me it all made me start thinking about what this new era of MLS might mean for RSL and RSL’s fans. If there is one thing our fans have influenced with our front office it is the “us vs the world” mentality. We are not going to outspend LA (either one of them), Seattle, NYCFC, TFC or any of the other big market teams. The league isn’t going to change the rules to help us be successful, they aren’t going to put us on national TV as much as other teams (we have 4 national TV appearances – 1 FS1 & 3 UniMas). Now part of this is our not wanting to play home matches on Sundays (when FS1 and ESPN show MLS matches) but still not even our away matches are in high demand, despite years of being a top team.
I have been as big of a critic of Dell Loy Hansen as almost anyone out there, I questioned his handling of Jason and Garth’s contracts, as well as saying that Bill Manning wasn’t the guy to help RSL compete in this new MLS 3.0 world. I am still a bit skeptical, but I will give some credit where it is due, and for being willing to allow his GM to work on this deal for months as well as being putting up the money needed to make it happen, is a big deal. I still miss Jason and Garth, but I can’t deny that Jeff and Craig did a great job with the Yura deal, the draft and I expect folks might be surprised with some of the upcoming announcements. Add into that RSL despite not resigning Chris Schuler are still working with him as he recovers from his injury and surgeries, I honestly believe that the continued support will give RSL an edge in signing him if his recovery goes as we all hope it will.
What does all of this mean in the scope of MLS 3.0? I don’t think it really matters for RSL, for me there is something far more important. It is #RSLfamily I described it to someone today as this “It is the relationships between the players, on the pitch, in the locker room and outside of the stadium. It is the decade long relationships of the fans, in the tailgate lot, in the stands, and beyond. It is the relationships between the fans and the players, the willingness to sign autographs, take pictures, and understand it our privilege to cheer for them and their privilege to have fans who cheer.”
It includes the fact that past, present and I expect future employees of the team will be talented people who are more than just doing a job, they are passionate about soccer, MLS and RSL. If you don’t think it matters to them, you simply haven’t taken the time to talk to them at every level they are fans just like the rest of us. There is no chart showing the ROI of the relationships, the value of having someone so approachable as Brian Dunseth as one of the bridges between the team and the fans? Or how much fun it is to see a guy like Elliot go from the stands in 2005 to now being the Assistant GM at RSL. It is the fact that the RSL front office still makes a point of meeting a guy face to face to talk before a contract is ever offered.
So while from the outside it may look like RSL trying to keep up with the big boys by bringing in Yura, but for me it was bringing a guy home who wanted to be here. It was a move to help a young man take care of his family, by rejoining the #RSLfamily and that is way more important to me than anything MLS 3.0 has to offer for me RSL 3.0 is simply a renewal of the #RSLfamily.
So whatever MLS 3.0 may mean to the rest of the world, I hope it never makes us forget what it is that makes RSL so very special because it is still “us vs the world”.
That’s How I See It