Insider Notes: MLS to significantly increase TAM spread across the league
In the next week, MLS is expected to announce an $8.8 million increase in Targeted Allocation Money over what had been previously earmarked for 2017. That’s an increase of $400,000 per team to $1.2 million per team of TAM for next season.
TAM is a strategic investment that helps teams add or retain players that will make an immediate impact on the field while allowing teams to spend outside of the modest $3.6 million salary budget. It was designed to help teams attract more top talent down the roster outside of the allotted three Designated Player spots.
Recent TAM recipients have included LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme (Best XI, Defender of the Year and Newcomer of the Year finalist), Columbus Crew SC forward Ola Kamara (16 goals, Newcomer of the Year runner-up), D.C. United midfielder Luciano Acosta (three goals, 11 assists) and New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (24 goals, Golden Boot winner, MVP runner-up).
Total TAM money for 2016 and ’17 has thus been increased from $33.6 million to $42.4 million league-wide beyond the money committed by the owners in the league's collective bargaining agreement.
In other news around the soccer world:
Bruce Arena meets with Germany-based U.S. players, set to decide coaching staff
Recently re-hired U.S. coach Bruce Arena isn’t wasting any time back on the job.
Arena said in a conversation Tuesday night that he had good meetings with five U.S. players in Germany during his trip there: Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler and Bobby Wood.
For anyone thinking Arena might pick fewer German-American players, he clearly has interest in Johnson, Brooks and Chandler. Also, look for an announcement on Arena’s U.S. coaching staff sometime in the next week. It will likely not include Tab Ramos, who will stay on as the U.S. Under-20 coach and youth technical director. The staff will most likely be comprised of assistants Arena had last season with the LA Galaxy. Those assistants were Pat Noonan, Kenny Arena (his son) and goalkeeper coach Matt Reis.
Finally, Arena has moved to terminate the contract between the national team and Exos, formerly Athletes Performance, which was closely associated with Jurgen Klinsmann.
Why does FIFA's Gianni Infantino favor a 48-team, 16-group World Cup?
In information emerging Wednesday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino is now supporting a 48-team World Cup with 16 groups of three teams each, something that would go into effect beginning in 2026. The top two teams in each group would advance to the knockout rounds, which would have 32 teams.
Why does Infantino like this idea? Well, clearly Infantino wants to expand the number of teams. A source close to Infantino says this format is better than previous expansion proposals for a few reasons: No teams travel for only one game; each confederation has a guaranteed number of qualified countries; and it’s easier to understand for fans, TV and sponsors.
Initial reaction hasn’t been very positive, however, with critics saying having three-team groups makes the World Cup much more of a crapshoot.