With the MLS season about to kick off a flurry of news has come down over the past few days. Over at ESPN FC, friend of the blog Jason Davis has ten storylines to watch for in 2013. Waking The Red’s David Rowaan has made his post-preseason depth chart predictions for Toronto FC. And MLS unveiled their website redesign, which is overly mobile friendly and a little too blue.

It’s all very exciting. News out of New York, however, may put a damper on the positive vibes emanating out of Soccer town, North America. Speaking with a Red Bulls beat reporter, Thierry Henry lamented the loss of Kenny Cooper and questioned the merits of MLS’ salary cap.

Via Franco Panizo:

“As you know here, with salary cap and all of that, that’s the only reason why he left. It wasn’t for a football reason,” said Henry. “It is annoying because you knew, I don’t know how he used to do it, but if the ball was going to hit three guys, the ball was going to land at his feet and he was going to put it into the back of the net.

“If you’re in any other league in the world, you keep your good players. Not in this league,” said Henry. “That’s just the way it is and that’s why most of the time you see players [moving] and being traded. It is an American way of dealing with things, salary cap, draft, trade.”

A couple things. We saw how well a non-capped system worked in the NASL. Clubs across Europe are mired in financial strife thanks to unchecked spending. A non-capped league would also afford incompetent ownership groups the opportunity to  destroy their already floundering teams with incomprehensible buys –Toronto FC, come on down.

Arguments for making tweaks to the system –lessening the restrictions on the the third DP spot, changes to how allocation money is handed out– make a lot more sense than overhauling the framework of a league that cannot act with financial impunity.

Panizo states Thierry Henry ‘understands what the MLS salary cap is all about.’ I’m not sure he does.

Comments (11)

  1. “If you’re in any other league in the world, you keep your good players.”

    Try telling that to Arsenal fans.

  2. It’s interesting that Henry is quoted praising the work of KFC. The blogosphere’s insiders had almost uniformly proposed that Henry was very dissatisfied with Kenny and was behind the transfer out!

    You might still argue that Henry did want Kenny out, but wanted a better (pricey) replacement which they’re not getting for the moment – due to the salary cap. Yeah, it’s possible, but it’s hard to picture Henry then going out of his way to praise an impediment to Red Bull success.

  3. MLS is already stretching the capacity of some teams to keep up with 3 DP’s per team. It’s not MLS that needs to change, it’s the EPL and every other league that wants a semblance of parity.

  4. … yeah, when you contrast the stability of teams in North American sports with the chaos that generally reigns in Europe (outside Germany) in terms of sports economics, I think it’s safe to say that this argument isn’t going to go anywhere.

    Europe is built on the principle that there are big clubs and small clubs and never the twain shall meet. Thankfully, we don’t have that outside of MLB (and even there, the luxury tax operates to drag teams down a bit – look at how the Yanks are crippled spending-wise this offseason).

  5. Having a salary cap system isn’t the issue and I certainly don’t think Thierry Henry is saying that it is the problem.

    The problem is that the cap is kept impossibly low, and not to ensure financial stability but rather to maintain a competitive balance that benefits only the weakest clubs and makes it near impossible for MLS Clubs to embark on a dynasty building project.

    It is not in the best interest of North American professional soccer to continue propping up the Kraft and Hunt families who are satisfied with mediocrity so long as those SUM cheques keep rolling in year after year. Get rid of all the manipulative rules (Like allocation), create a transparent salary cap system with a reasonable salary floor and let go of the training wheels. It is time MLS grows up

    • ^ Agreed 100%.

      I have no problems with financial controls such as a salary cap.

      What I do have an issue with is the league dragging it’s feet for teams that clearly have made no effort to run a sustainable business or have made very poor choices.

  6. None of the complains Henry brings up are different without a cap. Even in the top leagues, players leave clubs for non-footballing rea$on$. All the time.

    Similarly, the argument “If you’re in any other league in the world, you keep your good players. Not in this league,” is total bullshit. Why did he move from Monaco to Juventus? There are three leagues on the planet that his statement could apply, and even they poach off each other. Henry spent the lion’s share of his career in those three leagues, that’s all.


    • Oops. So, to respond to the question, the cap is necessary. Unless you’re blowing your brains out City / Chelsea style, money will be a problem. In MLS’ case, refusing to even go there and allow the clubs some shred of financial stability is essential. You won’t have the best players, but you have to stand up before you can walk before you can run.


  7. I wish the cap was growing faster than it is (probably hard to do without TV success) but it’s definitely needed. I’d like for Thierry Henry say that the salary caps in the NFL and NBA are making it hard for teams to compete on the global scale and give players good wages.

    3 of the 5 biggest sports leagues in the world have salary caps. Patience is needed.

  8. There are around 100 soccer leagues on the planet. Only two have salary caps. Not one soccer league in Europe, South America, Central America, Asia, or Mexico has a salary cap. Not one. And not one league of their has gone under because of it.

    The facts are very clear here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *