Coaching carousel spinning, spending without selling, and more: Starting Lineup, September 6
by Jason Longshore
With the sixth coaching change in Major League Soccer this season going down yesterday, it's time to drop the old idea that there's no pressure in MLS jobs for managers or players. Is it different than other leagues? Yes, and that's necessarily a bad thing. The chopping and constant changing of managers at some clubs who suffer from relegation panic is not something to celebrate. It's not good for building a sustainable business model, a productive development plan for young talent, or really anything good other than tabloid headlines. MLS clubs have a little more patience with managers and players to come good, which is something that needs to be celebrated and used for good. We're starting to see more clubs in this country with long-term planning, with clear playing identities, and players being developed who fit those models. These are good things and the clubs that lack them don't have any excuses. But the idea that there isn't pressure on people's jobs, yeah that's not true at all. There's plenty of people this season who can attest to that.
1- Robin Fraser is out as manager of the Colorado Rapids. Currently, the Rapids are the worst team in MLS and have only won one of their last eighteen games. They are 3-13-10 with only 16 goals scored and have been shutout in their last four matches. Fraser had a great 2021, winning the Western Conference regular season for the first time in club history but they were knocked out in the first round by Portland at home. They failed to make the playoffs last year. Fraser's overall record in Colorado was 47-48-34. Including his stint with Chivas USA in 2011-12, Fraser's overall coaching record in MLS regular season play is 64-83-55.
2- In a study published by Swiss-based research institute CIES Football Observatory, Manchester United topped the league of transfer losses. The Red Devils spent almost $1.5 billion more on transfers than they recouped over the past decade. Chelsea are second, mainly due to the nearly $600M they've spent in 2023 under Todd Boehly. It's over half of their net spend during the last decade, the Blues have actually brought in $1.72 billion in player sales over the past decade while spending $2.82 billion (the most of any club in the world). PSG, Arsenal, and Manchester City complete the top five of clubs who have lost the most in their net spend.
The Premier League has largest combined net spending loss of any league by far at $11.91 billion over the past decade. Second is the Chinese Super League, who reigned in their spending after throwing crazy money around for a while. Their negative net spend is at $1.43 billion. The Saudi Pro League is next at $1.42 billion, with the majority of that coming in the past year alone.
3- Now on the positive side of the study, Benfica is the club that has made the most money in their transfer market dealings over the past decade, bringing in almost $820M for sales including Enzo Fernandez to Chelsea, Joao Felix to Atleti, and Darwin Núñez to Liverpool. The Portuguese Primeira Liga has made the most profit in their transfer dealings out of any league in the world, bringing in a combined $2.38 billion.
4- With the international break just getting rolling, we'll stay on the money side of the game with the reports out of Italy that Serie A might create its own streaming service. DAZN, Mediaset and Sky have submitted bids for the rights in Italy and clubs have until October to make a decision. The league is not happy with the bids that have been submitted and are not afraid to strike out on their own with a league-operated streaming service that would be a first at this level. It would take a significant investment in infrastructure to be able to do it, which might be what forces Serie A to accept a bid for less than they would like at this point. MLS did something similar with a partner in Apple TV, but it has opened the eyes of other leagues around the world that things can be done differently.
5- Last night at the GSU Soccer Complex in downtown Atlanta, Wofford came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with the Georgia State Panthers. Bryan Silva's classy finish opened the scoring early, Ethan Sassine scored his third goal of the season early in the second half, but Wofford's sophomore Danish forward Nikolai Rojel answered back both times. The Panthers are 1-1-2 in 2023 and are next in action on Saturday at 4pm on the road at UNC-Asheville, you can watch on ESPN+.
6- In other college action around the state last night, Mercer's men got a late goal from Barzee Blama to defeat Jacksonville 2-1. The Bears are now 3-1 in 2023. Covenant picked up a win at home over Bob Jones University. The Nighthawks of North Georgia hosted and defeated Erskine College.
In women's matches yesterday, Life defeated Talladega 6-0. Lucy Sandhoff set the Covenant all-time saves record for a career in the Scots' 2-2 draw at Birmingham-Southern. Clayton State is off to their best start in five years after defeating Delta State in Morrow.
7- The Dutch have had a rotating cast of goalkeepers as of late with the national team. Ronald Koeman has settled on (for now) Mark Flekken of Brentford for their Euro 2024 qualifying matches this month. Flekken has just recently made the move to England from Freiburg. Andreas Noppert was the surprising choice at the last World Cup by Louis van Gaal, he earned his first ever caps in that competition and played well. Noppert has dealt with injuries since his World Cup appearances. Flekken has five caps to his name so far and will add to that tally over the next week, unless Koeman changes his mind. this is the third goalkeeper he has started in his fifth match since rejoining the national team.
8- It's still unknown how some of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers will be viewed in the US, including the home games of Argentina and Brazil. Fanatiz has the rights to televise on pay-per-view seven of the ten South American teams but they do not have the rights to Argentina, Brazil, or Bolivia. As of Wednesday morning, it's still unknown how US viewers can watch these matches.
9- Check out my conversation last night with Nino Torres of Gol TV on 92.9 The Game's Atlanta Soccer Tonight, it's the second segment of the show. Nino gives his thoughts on the upcoming CONMEBOL WCQ's including some predictions of who will get to the 2026 World Cup and who will be on the outside looking in.
10- On this date in 1968, the Atlanta Chiefs clinched their first division title in Washington with a 1-0 win over the Whips to seal the Atlantic Division of the North American Soccer League. Graham Newton scored the winning goal late in the second half. The win earned Atlanta an opportunity to face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference championship series.
11- Born on this day in 1971, Dolores O’Riordan had an amazing career as the lead singer and songwriter for The Cranberries. We sadly lost her in 2018, and lost one of the most unique voices of modern rock and pop. My favorite song of theirs is your Song of the Day: