Commentary: Dempsey's return sparks MLS debate

Fleming says if MLS wants to be top 5 "there will have to be change"

Clint Dempsey national anthem with Seattle Sounders

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USA Today Sports Images

Of the many comments made by fans following Clint Dempsey’s arrival in Seattle over the weekend, one stood out:

Here’s a suggestion, from Europe: drop the stupid allocation system altogether, AND the draft system. They’re both absurd, and lead to both European and South American audiences/players thinking that the MLS is still a ‘nobody’ league.

The NBA and NFL drafts work because those sports operate within a closed system; the bubble created by a US-only sport. Soccer is anything but, and if the MLS wish to be taken seriously, it’s time to drop these silly NFL-style rules that the rest of the world merely shake their heads at.

As an outsider, I’ve often wondered how MLS is able to compete with the rest of the world on the field, when it operates so differently off it. The advent of stronger youth academies will certainly make the draft system less relevant.

And then there's the lottery, the allocation system, DP, salary cap, discovery player … aaaggghhh!!!! And I remain staggered at how MLS still retains so much control over which players go where.

Respected journalist Steven Goff wrote a superb article, as he so often does, on the Dempsey deal, and what it says about the current state of MLS.

For me, if this league genuinely wants to be among the top five by 2022, there will have to be change.