Some insider topics from the world of soccer:
• MLS got a big $150 million investment from Providence Equity Partners last year in return for a stake in MLS’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing. Instead of using that money to cover previous losses, MLS owners decided to reinvest it entirely in two major initiatives.
One was MLS’s own video programming like KICK TV and MLS-Plus, and the other was the product on the field. That includes so-called “retention funds” of $225,000 per team to keep guys like Kansas City’s Graham Zusi in the league and make MLS more attractive than destinations like Scandinavian leagues.
Another aspect of the on-field improvement was matching funds for what have been called “league Designated Players” like Portland’s Diego Valeri, Columbus’ Federico Higuaín and Toronto’s (now Portland’s) Max Urruti. League DPs involve the MLS office providing up to $1 million to match what teams are paying some of their top attacking stars, as long they’re approved by league HQ. Preference is given to players who are young and play in attacking positions.
• Bayern Munich is looking to make inroads in America, and that involves a couple different initiatives, sources at Bayern tell me. One is the establishment of a Bayern office in New York City that’s soon to open, and another is the likely participation of Bayern in the MLS All-Star Game next year. That game would be in Portland, Ore., the U.S. home of Adidas, which sponsors Bayern and MLS.
• Colorado announced last week that it had said no to another (unnamed) MLS team that requested permission to speak to coach Óscar Pareja, who has two more years on his Rapids contract, and SI.com has confirmed that the team that was negged is indeed FC Dallas, where Pareja played and worked as an assistant coach. Dallas is searching for a new coach, and the Hunt family-owned franchise may be going the college route. I’m told Dallas has interviewed at least two current college coaches in its search process.
• D.C. United was terrible during the MLS season, winning just three of 34 league games, but one thing United will have going for it next season is a large amount of allocation money, which will allow the team to spend it on improvements. D.C. is the first team in league history to earn allocation money from both winning a spot in CONCACAF Champions League (by taking the U.S. Open Cup) and getting the full “you stink” allocation money from the league that goes to the worst team in the regular season. Combined, that means around $500,000 in allocation money, which should help United rebuild under coach Ben Olsen, who’s expected to return.