MLS throughout it's existence has prided itself on the single entity structure and an implied system of parity. When the LA Galaxy signed Landon Donovan, and then when the rules were changed so they could also sign David Beckham, it was clear that MLS was beginning to allow teams to cultivate some of their own resources. We've seen the first Cup win by a DP team, now with the announcement of the $44 million 10 year deal with Herbalife we're seeing just how teams can pull away from each other resource-wise. It's a matter of league revenue vs. local revenue and as of now the Galaxy's local revenue is unmatched. As AEG President Tim Leiweke said:
"[the partnership with Herbalife and Time Warner] gives us the resources other teams don't have. As much as people scrutinize our expenditures and spending money on DPs, the reality is that we have the economic wherewithal to do it."
MLS' system gets called a Salary Cap colloquially but officially it's always referred to as a Salary Budget. That's because MLS teams are given equal shares of the money pooled from broadcast rights, ticket sales, and the Adidas sponsorship. Where teams distinguish themselves financially, and where the DP money comes from, is local broadcast rights and local partnerships. From the shirt sponsorship and local broadcast rights alone, the Galaxy have $9 million a year to play with.
"In a league where there is a lot of revenue share, and we pool a lot of our resources (ticket sales and broadcast rights), for us to have local revenue like this gives us the ability to make sure for the next ten years that this brand and it's team are going to be on top of it's game."
Of course, DPs is not the only place local money can be spent. The other place much of that money will end is in the Academy System, where the Galaxy are growing players like Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal. Beckham, Donovan, and Keane won't be around forever; the Academy System gives the Galaxy some continuity in all the turnover.
"We're gonna put every penny back into the team, whether that be DPs or on development system. Some of that will be on our training facilities, but now this empowers us and encourages us to make sure this brand and this team are doing it better than anyone."
This all goes a long way toward making the future look bright, but what about the present? The Galaxy were highly favored to move on in CONCACAF Champions League, and now a MLS Cup repeat may be the only thing to satiate a fan base which has gotten used to winning.
"It's been a couple of tough weeks. That's my fault. We lent players out, we had guys overseas. We probably should have fought back on the schedule. The schedule was brutal, unfair, and we were the only team that had it."
The first part of that is fairer than the second. Lending out Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, and Omar Gonzalez knowing the team faced the knockout stages of a tournament at the beginning of the MLS season showed the team's priorities. Books need to be balanced, but this is an occasion where that was the priority and Galaxy competition wasn't.
As far as the schedule, certainly MLS gave the Galaxy a short straw but Santos Languna played the weekend between their two CCL matches as well. That didn't stop Santos from obliterating the Seattle Sounders. Proper advanced planning would have went a long way toward overcoming that small hurdle.
"We congratulate Toronto, them did a great job. This team is always going to be competitive, and if people think the demise of the Galaxy is upon them they sorely misunderstand the character and the passion of this organization."
Leiweke certainly doesn't have his hand over the panic button. And two weeks into competitive play in 2012, it's probably not wise for the fan base to have their hands over the button either. There's still a lot of soccer to be played, and with the 2012-13 iteration of the CCL still to come (a reward for winning both the MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield in 2011) it's not yet time to throw this team under the bus.
The Galaxy face DC United today at 4pm PST at the Home Depot Center. Game thread will be up 60-30 minutes before the match, depending on when lineups are posted.