Don Garber thanks Howard Webb for raising MSL profile


MLS Commissioner Don Garberis thankful to Howard Webb for helping raise the profile of MLS (Picture: Getty)

Major League a soccer commissioner Don Garber believes Howard Webb helped to raise the profile of the league and admitted he would consider promotion and relegation in the future.

The MLS season kicks off this weekend, with the Los Angeles derby between LA Galaxy and LAFC – scheduled for Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena – postponed due to the stormy weather in California.

The league has announced a ten-year deal with Apple TV to broadcast every game from this season. However, MLS is gearing up for its biggest campaign yet, having increased its number of clubs to 29 with the inclusion of St Louis City for 2023, and no sign that progress will stop there.

There could feasibly come a time when promotion and relegation needs to be introduced and Garber revealed the possibility is there to move to a more European model in years to come.

‘I live in a world where there’s never a time for “never”,’ he said. ‘Who knows what the world is going to look like? ‘In order to have promotion/relegation you have to have the ecosystem in the pro game that can support it.

‘That doesn’t exist today but who knows what will happen in the future? I’ve given up trying to predict where soccer in North America can go because it’s over-delivered on all our expectations.’

And Garber heaped praise on former Premier League referee Webb, who ran MLS’ refereeing department until his departure late last year for a return home and a role as the English top flight’s chief refereeing officer.

Howard Webb is now in charge of PGMOL (Picture: Getty)

He certainly has his work cut out amid growing problems for the league’s Video Assistant Referee programme in the wake of mistakes which cost both league leaders Arsenal and Brighton points earlier this month. VAR Lee Mason will no longer work on Premier League matches following a high-profile error that allowed Brentford’s equaliser against the Gunners to stand despite an offside infringement.

Garber was sorry to see 2010 World Cup final ref Webb leave the US but added: ‘I love Howard Webb. He was great for us. If not for Howard, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

‘You take a guy off the field who refereed the World Cup final and have him come in to the US to help grow our officiating business, [that] speaks to the fact we punch above our weight.

‘I love the fact he left the US to go to England. It warms my heart. We’ll miss Howard. Nobody complains about the officials in MLS the way they used to and they don’t complain about officials in MLS as much as they do in other leagues around the world. That is a credit to Howard.’

Garber loves the idea of future expansion, with the likes of Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix expected to be in the running for future MLS franchises.

However, asked about the upward limit for teams, he replied: ‘It probably is 32. I do think 32 is likely the limit that any North American league can manage in terms of a competitive format.

‘There are many big cities in this country and soccer cities that can support an MLS team that doesn’t have one today. It would be intuitive that you could go beyond 30.’

All MLS, Leagues Cup and select MLS Next Pro and MLS Next matches can be watched through MLS Season Pass, available on the Apple TV app on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices, set-top boxes and game consoles and the web at MLS Season Pass will feature the most expansive and accessible line-up of programming ever for MLS fans. For more information about MLS, visit For more information about the Apple TV app, visit Apple

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