"Competitively I don't spend a lot of time thinking about one team having a resurgence versus another," Garber said. "At the end of the day we want to have an exciting season and a compelling competition. To be honest, I am more pleased with how [the Union] are doing off the field. That stadium [PPL Park] was a risk in terms of where the location is, but they are selling out, they have lots of sponsors and are relevant in their community."
Garber added that Union telecasts on local broadcast partners 6ABC and Comcast SportsNet are among the top three in the league, behind Seattle and Los Angeles.
"Their local TV ratings are among the highest among any other MLS team in the country," Garber said. "I think [the Union] isn't just a wonderful asset for the city of Philadelphia and Chester, but a great story for us as a league."
Despite an attack-minded effort from the U.S. (5-7-3 overall in 2011) for 70-plus minutes, a miscue in the back by defender Tim Ream allowed the Ecuadorans to escape with a 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena. It was the third U.S. loss under the new Jurgen Klinsmann regime, leaving the Americans 4-3-6 in matches played in the Garden State since 1990.
Off a restart in the 79th minute, Ecuadoran captain Walter Ayovi sent a cross into the box that found his brother, forward Jaime Ayovi, free to pound a point-blank header.
"I thought the guys did exactly what we asked of them, it was just one of those situations where you battle hard and come up on the losing end," Klinsmann said. "I mean, I think we saw a lot of positives."
Two Big Apples
MLS has repeatedly expressed desire to add a 20th team to the fold by 2013, and for a while it appeared the rebirth of the former NASL giant New York Cosmos put the franchise in the driver's seat. But Don Garber noted that talks with the Cosmos aren't exactly on pace at this time for that to happen.
Garber said MLS is in talks with two or three additional investors who have put their name in the hat to field a team, but the most important component would be building a new soccer-specific stadium. A section of Queens, N.Y., has been offered as a possible site to make the idea a reality, but Garber noted that nothing from any investor is concrete at this point.
"We are making progress," Garber said. "The city has been supportive and we appreciate their support. I've got two or three investor-prospects in my [club] box tonight and if we can build a stadium we will have a 20th team in New York City, but we have a lot of work to do before we get that stadium built."
Garber noted he feels better about the possibility of North America getting its 11th soccer-specific stadium erected, alluding to the notion that talks among perhaps more than one investor are going as planned.
"It's a difficult market to get projects developed," Garber said of New York. "Evidence of that is by how long it took to get Red Bull Arena done. Queens would be great, it'd be great to have a stadium around Flushing Meadow Park, somewhere around Citi Field, but Randalls Island is a prospect that we are spending some time looking at. I think it will ultimately come to fruition. The question is how long is it going to take? But the league is doing well, there is no rush and I feel that it'll all happen at the right time."