Written by Will Parchman

In the event you hadn’t heard, nascent club Red Bull Leipzig has spent the last six tumultuous years ruffling almost every German feather in existence. In 2009, Red Bull bought a nowhere fifth-division club and undertook a full re-brand: jerseys, name, crest, stadium. With the stated aim of being in the Bundesliga first tier and playing in the Champions League by 2020, this was a club with unbridled ambition. In 2011, former Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick was installed as the sporting director and given a transfer budget well in excess of $100 million.

The uniquely fan-driven German ownership model is entirely at odds with how Bundesliga clubs operate. No single investor can assume majority voting rights in a German club registered on the stock market, which gives fans the right to veto higher ticket prices. That, among other reasons, is a major driver for the league’s famously low fees at the gates.

RB Leipzig has managed to delicately skip around these rules. It isn’t currently listed as a stock company, and while their membership scheme exists, it’s prohibitive. At the beginning of the 2014-15 season, the club charged €800 per year to be a member (Bayern Munich, by comparison, charges €60). Further, they reserved the power to reject any application for any reason. That could explain why a year ago, six years into RB Leipzig’s project, they’d still only garnered 11 members, most of them Red Bull employees.

The primary reason RB Leipzig irks Germans so much is not necessarily because they flaunt the letter of the law, but because they’ve done so in a way that allows them to sidestep it entirely and still join the Bundesliga. The club did its nefarious promotion-at-all-costs research, which would allow it to join the Bundesliga despite ignoring the spirit of the rules that it put in place to engender fan involvement.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The growing clamor for transparency in MLS hasn’t abated simply because commish Don Garber tossed the public a few crumbs in December. After harping on the league’s desire to be less opaque in his State of the League address, there’s been little of actionable consequence. Acknowledging that the actions of the past will not determine the course of the future is important.

On Friday, Garber met with the APSE in New York to talk a wide range of MLS topics, from Beckham in Miami (No, Beckham isn’t backing off Miami, and no, there isn’t any good news) to a full-time stadium for NYCFC (securing one is tougher than they thought).

For our purposes, Garber’s general party line about the vagaries of development extended into the distance again. The thing about generalities – “we’re spending as much as much on development as we did on players 10 years ago etc” – is they don’t serve any discernible purpose beyond simply pushing back your real answer to another time. On Friday, Garber noted the league “doesn’t get as much coverage as we’d like,” which forces them to push more of their own content on their website.

Which is fine. Understandable from their standpoint, even. But if you do want more coverage, be specific about the strides you say you’re making, especially where development is concerned. General coverage newspapers can’t wrap their headlines around vagaries and capriciousness. Give us numbers. How much does each club spend on its academy system? How have those numbers changed since the Development Academy was founded in 2007? If the league’s development is growing, as Garber’s continually trumpeted, shouldn’t these be facts and figures they want publicized? Open. Up.

Because it’s precisely those figures that change paradigms. You can’t do that with a blanket statement about improvement. With something concrete, suddenly players have increased confidence that the league truly is out to develop them into a next level star. But more importantly, it drives international opinion. Whatever Germany and England and Argentina think of MLS now, you fight that with numbers.

The closest we’ve gotten is Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl teasing a couple broad academy figures from some MLS clubs. But more specificity would be nice.

Here are some other wider points Garber made in his interview. Pro/rel, too. Boom.

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Written by The 91st

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Sports Illustrated contributor and Friend of the Program Liviu Bird joins TDS’s The Young Professionals this week to chat up the U23 MNT. A recent 3-0 victory over Mexico was studded by Jordan Morris’ second international goal in as many weeks. Care to jump on our hype train yet?

Also, the guys chat up the U20′s and the upcoming World Cup, which is now a month out. If you’re going to New Zealand, be sure to bring us along in your luggage.

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Written by Will Parchman

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On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer rolled out these bizarre 2015 World Cup wierdos for the USWNT up top, featuring lime green grass stains airbrushed onto the shin guards. Cool? Notably, they don’t include a stitch of red or blue. Is there rioting yet? I’m imagining riots.

U.S. Soccer’s uni patterns have gotten increasingly prosaic, from the classic thin red stripes to the sash to the waldos to the blue printer toner we have now. The notable exception was the centennial kits with the greatest badge ever. Luckily for us, the desire to see those on U.S. jerseys hasn’t died. By a long shot.

Matthew Wolff is a graphic designer for NYCFC, which notably did not use his awesome crest design that’s way better than the one they ultimately used. This week, he turned his attention to U.S. national team jerseys, and he may have crafted the best ones of all time. Seriously. All time. These are incredible.

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Written by Will Parchman

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For about 87 minutes, the Champions League quarterfinal second leg between old rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid went predictably. Plenty of kicking, not much in the way of coherent interchange. Real Madrid tried some things – Ronaldo stepovers, James runs, Pepe frogstomps – and Atleti tried a couple quick-hitters, but it was no use. Much like the first leg, the game was fun but hopelessly disjointed.

And then Chicharito scored with minutes left and Madrid exploded.

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Written by Will Parchman

Today is Wednesday, which means the Impact are in Mexico City to stumble blindly onto the threshing floor of the Azteca Stadium. It’s the CONCACAF Champions League final, which is a Wild West, where the mostly bad Impact somehow managed to qualify to face perennial challenger Club America.

The Impact will almost certainly lose, but still. How many times have we said that against Pachuca and then Alajuelense? They survived both times, somehow, and here they are. In the MLS Thunderdome. Godspeed.

The Impact’s media team is fantastic, and they’ve been hard at work documenting the team’s improbable run through the tournament. You can see one of those beauties here. Will the Impact win tonight? Almost certainly not. But given this tournament, anything’s possible. Even at the Azteca.

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Written by Will Parchman

Barcelona walked over PSG again on Tuesday en route to a shockingly easy pathway to the Champions league semifinals. Despite everything Real Madrid did last year and then Bayern Munich’s unholy fleecing of Porto in the return leg this week, Barca looks a hell of a lot like the team to beat in this competition. They utterly de-pantsed PSG. By the end of these two legs, PSG was without pants.

The game’s seminal moment – nay, life’s seminal moment – came when Iniesta destroyed the lives of three PSG players before easily setting up Neymar to do a Neymar thing in the box and score.

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Written by Will Parchman

Doncaster hosted Fleetwood Town in an English League 1 match last weekend (the game was played at Keepmoat Stadium, which is the greatest). BBC Sport listed seven shots on target, but their three succinct sentences sum up the match’s quality: awful and verging on apocalyptic.

In-house media teams have a whale of a time packaging highlight videos for drab scoreless draws. So Doncaster didn’t even try. These glorious 27 seconds are a monument to future highlight videos everywhere. We don’t need to see this game run back. Nobody needs to see this game run back. And so you get to see the glorious walk out of the tunnel and the beautifully taken final whistle. Bravo, Doncaster. Keep that moat.

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Written by Will Parchman

vanney

The Toronto FC coaching carrousel turns abnormally fast. TFC has been bad literally since it kicked its first ball in an official capacity, and the spinning Rolodex of coaches is a road map for that failure. Nine coaches since 2006, and not one of them with a winning percentage in the 40′s. Each of the last four didn’t even hit 30.

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Written by Will Parchman

Sometimes you hit it so right you can literally hear the universe click into alignment. No joke. It’s audible. Happened to me once against a raging 13-year-old in FIFA 15. I heard angelsong.

Indy Eleven’s Sergio Pena got to experience that thrill over the weekend when he hit this absolute banger against San Antonio. It won Indy Eleven the game. It also changed the universe for the good just a little.

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