On Wednesday, a handful of MLS players, assorted media, Kobe Bryant and one giant bottle were at Banc of California Stadium for an event. Say what you will about that (read what happened below) but it’s worth noting the value of glitzy events in MLS.
It’s the 25th season for MLS, and the league is both finding real inroads as a sustainable concern and also still in major need of gaining ground on the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL. There’s been a lot of progress for MLS, and those other leagues have a huge time advantage on them, but there’s still work to be done, whether it’s a giant bottle and an NBA star or something else bringing eyeballs, day by day.
Here’s your news for this Thursday morning:
- See you in Cancun: The Earthquakes unveiled their preseason plans on Wednesday, with the headline being the club’s return to Cancun for a preseason trip, the team leaving Jan. 26, returning to San Jose on Feb. 10. The players seemed to both delight in the change in the scenery and get fully put through their paces with punishing training sessions in the Yucatan, but maybe there will be a tequila-fueled team dinner that helps them bond again this season.
- More on preseason: Aside from the Cancun trip, preseason opens on Friday with player physicals, and there are four announced preseason games: Feb. 3 against TBD MLS team, Feb. 10 against TBD, Feb. 18 against Reno 1868 FC (closed-door match), and Feb. 21 against Sacramento Republic FC (also closed-door).
- There’s a contest, too: You can also enter a contest to win a three-day trip to Cancun. The Quakes’ Cancun Sweepstakes includes airfare, three nights’ stay at a local resort and access to the Feb. 3 closed-door game. Enter for the golden ticket here.
- CBA update: I was in Los Angeles on Wednesday for an MLS event, which turned out to be Bodyarmor becoming the sports drink of MLS (and the Quakes). Anyway, among the happenings on the day was this update on the MLS CBA negotiations from Alejandro Bedoya.
- Where are they now? Wynne edition: Marvell Wynne’s end to his playing career was both abrupt and drawn out. The rugged defender, who spent 11 seasons in MLS, including two with the Quakes, was flagged with a dangerous heart condition during a routine physical and required open heart surgery. After not playing in 2017, he retired in 2018, and this profile in the San Diego Union-Tribune chronicles Wynne’s journey, including depression and how he scratches that competitive itch now.
- Where are they now? Stahre edition: Another former Quake figure update, former head coach Mikael Stahre, has been named manager of Norwegian club Sarpsborg for the 2020 season. It’s his first foray into management since being fired during the 2018 season by the Earthquakes.
- In Fioranelli’s own words: Fresh off the news he’s got a contract extension, Quakes GM Jesse Fioranelli wrote a personal essay explaining his journey to San Jose on the team website. It’s interesting to read about just how cosmopolitan he is and how he came to this point in his career.
Today’s question: What do you think can be done to make the Quakes and MLS a bigger deal around town and the U.S.? I know, it’s the million dollar question, but if you were commissioner, what would you do? Leave a comment below! Let’s chat.