Garber 2017 MTL

The state of the league

MLS commissioner Don Garber was at Centre Nutrilait on Tuesday morning to talk to the Montreal media about the state of the league and some of the most talked about subjects in North American soccer. Amongst other things, Garber was asked about the 2026 FIFA World Cup bid, the Impact’s position in the Montreal sports market, MLS expansion plans, the All-Star Game, and integration of a video replay system.

On MLS’ progression since its inception

“We are currently building the foundation for the sport from the ground up. Years ago, it was from the top down. We had to find owners, teams, brands. Now, the top and the bottom are meeting in the middle and we are building this long-term foundation that will help grow the sport for generations to come in North America.”

On the Saputo family’s contribution to the sport in the city

“We have a very special owner in Joey and in the Saputo family. Their commitment to this club, both at the highest level and at the youth level, as we can see at the Centre Nutrilait, is almost incomparable.”

On the joint North American 2026 World Cup bid

“The league has been very involved in the 2026 World Cup bid with the Canadian Soccer Association, US Soccer and the Mexican Football Federation. We are optimistic, the ball is in our court to submit a bid.”

On his assessment of the Impact since the club joined MLS

“The Impact has a terrific brand. This is one of the better brands in professional sports, in my opinion. It represents the character of the city, it has a uniqueness to it. I think the club has done a tremendous job in bringing exciting players. Piatti is viewed as one of the best players in the history of the league. Joey and his team have been able to bring young, exciting players on the development side, and some renowned international players.”

On future expansion plans for MLS

“We can say that four new teams will join MLS before 2022. Two of these markets will be decided before the end of the year.”

On holding the All-Star Game in Montreal in the coming years

“The All-Star game will come to Montreal. It’s not an if, it’s a when.”

On video replay

“Every MLS game will have a video assistant referee (VAR) after the All-Star Game. We are still debating whether it will be in the All-Star Game.”

On shifting from big-name stars ending their career in North America to younger DPs and homegrown players

“We are making a transition from borrowing interest to earning interest. At the beginning, we needed to bring people in our restaurant. Now, we have to serve them really good food they will continue to enjoy, whether or not we have a celebrity chef. It will take some time. We want to be a league that has improved quality of play, while having players that attract fans’ interest and attention.”