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MLS Commissioner Don Garber given new five-year deal

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber has received a five-year contract extension.
(Ryan Remiorz / Associated Press)

Don Garber, who rescued Major League Soccer from near bankruptcy and turned it into a thriving league that has won respect worldwide, has signed a five-year extension as commissioner that will keep him in the job through the 2018 season.

Garber, who joined the fledgling league in 1999 when it was danger of sinking under heavy dept, guided MLS through several waves of expansion that has nearly doubled its size from 10 to 19 franchises. Two more cities -- New York and Orlando, Fla., -- will join next season.

Garber told SI.com that he signed the new deal in January, three months before he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent surgery in July and said he is now cancer-free.

Garber spent 16 years as an executive with the NFL before joining the MLS, which he has led to unprecedented growth.

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In May, the league reached an eight-year broadcast agreement with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision Deportes that have been reported to be worth $90 million a season, triple the value of the league’s previous deal.

And last season’s leaguewide attendance average of 18,807 per game was higher than the NHL and NBA.

It was also under Garber’s watch that MLS adopted the “designated player” rule, which allows teams to go beyond the league’s salary cap to sign up to three DPs. That allowed the Galaxy to sign English star David Beckham for $32 million. Since Beckham, top players such as Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley have either joined or returned to the league.


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