Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber always meets the press for a Q&A session between rounds of the SuperDraft, and he always gets a grilling. That was the case again today. With the Frank Lampard furore finally cooling off and collective bargaining negotiations with the MLS Players Union finally heating up, there was plenty to talk about as the countdown begins to the league's 20th season.

In addition to his remarks at the draft, Garber also held forth at an event before the draft where the league announced that its Most Valuable Player trophy has been named in honor of Landon Donovan.

Here are highlights of Garber's remarks throughout Thursday's events. He also talked one-on-one with Sports Illustrated's Brian Straus in a conversation on camera that you can watch above.

On Landon Donovan's legacy:

Without Landon, there's no MLS the way it is today, without doubt.

On who becomes MLS' most recognizable star now:

I think the fact that we are what we are partially because Landon came here means that we're no more reliant on Landon than we are any other player. Think about what our offseason has been like: it's been the most active offseason, with more signings this year, than ever before.

Did I think, when Landon retired, "Oh boy, what are we going to do? Who's our go-to guy?" Now, we don't have any individual player. I will miss Thierry Henry. I think he created great moments for our league last year, and certainly helped the Red Bulls. We will have players coming in and out of our league for a generation to come.

But we are what we are because Landon made a decision to come here, and that's, I think, the big difference.

On whether MLS still needs player who is "the star" in order to gain mainstream recognition:

It doesn't. And there will be signings - like we had in this offseason - next year, and the following year. And they will surprise all of you, and even surprise us when teams calls up the league office and say, "Hey, we're kind of thinking about signing Steven Gerrard." And we'll say, "Well, that's pretty cool. Let's figure out a way to get that done." Next year it will be someone else.

When Orlando came in and said, "We think Kaká is going to make a commitment to play at our club," who would have thought that Kaká would be playing in Major League Soccer three years ago, or five years ago, or in 2001? So we're not reliant on any one player.

On whether, now that things have settled down with Frank Lampard, he feels the matter could have been handled better in hindsight:

You know, you heard NYCFC say it, you've heard Man City say it, and you've heard me say it. It could have been handled better, and it needs to be handled better going forward.

We've learned lessons from this, and those lessons are that transparency is more and more important. There was not enough information that was made available at the time, and what information was made available, not all of it was correct. So we've got to be ultra-focused on getting these things correct.

On whether, when New York explicitly announced that it had "signed Frank Lampard as a designated player," it was known by officials at New York City FC and/or MLS headquarters at the time that the specific language was false:

Well, it wasn't really false. He was signed to an agreement - as you've read, and this has been going on for weeks now - he was signed by the City Football Group. So he was signed. Frank had said he signed, and Man City said he signed. They mis-characterized that he was signed and then loaned out, and they have acknowledged that they mis-categorized it. So the league was well aware that he had made a commitment to the City Football Group to come to Major League Soccer.

At that time, as you've heard, he needed six months to figure out what he was going to do. [Manchester City manager Manuel] Pellegrini approached him to play for Man City. He agreed to do that, and it never should have been characterized the way it was. It wasn't that they were trying to do something to mislead the fans. They just characterized it improperly.

[Editor's note: With all due respect, it was false.]

On whether he's now leery of potential future controversies casting New York City FC as being subsidiary to Manchester:

No, I'm not leery at all. This is not easy stuff, and they'll figure it out like all new teams figure it out. We believe in them, we believe in what they're going to do to build our league. We very much wanted a second team in New York, and believe it's important to help grow the league, to have two teams in New York, and we're confident that it's going to right. There are going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that's not exclusive to any one team.

On the current state of CBA negotiations:

They're very active. They're ongoing. There have been proposals back and forth between us and the MLS Players Union. I will say that the dynamic is more positive than it was five years ago. The players are smarter, the union is more experienced, we have a better understanding of what the issues are. We're more mature, they're more mature.

We're going to continue to go through what is important to them, and have them understand the dynamic in which we're going to be making decisions. There's a meeting that I'll be attending on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and it's going to get very focused over the next couple of months.

On whether he thinks the CBA can get finished by Opening Day, which is March 6:

You always go into these things with optimism, and I think the players do as well. But we recognize, and they do too, that they're tough. They generally go to the last minute. That's just the way labor negotiations go, with the labor movement in our country.

But we go into this with the expectation to do a deal. The players go into this with the expectation to do a deal. We have issues that we're going to have to battle through. It takes time, and it takes a lot of focus. Last time around, we needed a federal mediator to help us through the process.

On whether his desire to have more transparency in MLS can be realized by using the CBA to codify a more transparent rule structure:

I think those rules - some of them, will be rules in which we operate that are present in our CBA - some of them are rules in which we as a league operate. How do we allocate players, how do we assign players?

We will, likely before the start of the year, announce a whole new system of how we are assigning players. Because we know there's enormous debate as to how that happens.

The league needs to have a process to assign players. In the rest of the world, they don't need that process. There are two transfer windows. FIFA governs the way those contracts, through the International Transfer Certificate, are basically managed. But there is no order. In the leagues here in the United States, you can't just randomly come into the National Football League without going through the draft.

So we have to accept the fact that we have certain rules to manage players come into the league that are coming in through the draft. We have other rules for players who come into the league who are overseas, and are governed by the international rules of contracts, and by transfer windows.

It's part of the changing world in which we're living. We have more international players, we have more returning U.S. players that are coming into the league. That was not anticipated when our original rules were written. So we've got to figure that out, and we've got to communicate that to the public so they understand that.

[Editor's note: You can sign with a NFL team as an undrafted free agent, which sort of puts a hole in Garber's argument. But you can't do so until the draft process has been completed, which re-confirms his point.]

On whether, when Frank Lampard first signed with MLS City Football Group, it was known at MLS HQ that there was a possibility he might stay overseas for half a season; and whether, had it been known, he would have in hindsight agreed to let Lampard go to Manchester:

When Lampard signed his agreement with City Football Group, what Frank has said is what I'll say: Nobody had any expectation that he was going to sign to play with Manchester City. Manchester City didn't know it, and Frank - you've seen the articles, Frank was going to go on an extended vacation, something he's earned after playing at 36 years old. So nobody was aware of that. It happened in that time period when they were here in New York.

It also happened that Frank, when he went to play for Man City, they had injuries. He became more important for the club than anyone expected. And even during the early time, everybody expected - including Frank - that he would come to New York.

So whether or not we would have made a decision as to whether we would have allowed that to happen, that's a circumstance I couldn't really comment on. I would have to see what happens the next time it comes up.

Certainly, it was not a positive thing for the league, it wasn't positive for what we're trying to do in New York City, and we've all acknowledged that. But I'm going to say this: we are not going to get everything right. We are still just 20 years old. We've got to get as much right as we can, we've got to get very focused on making the right decisions as much as we can, and if we don't get it right, we've got to acknowledge it and move on.

On whether the list of potential MLS expansion candidates is narrowing:

No, it's actually getting bigger. I'm going to be out in St. Louis in the next couple of weeks. St. Louis has got a lot of activity going on with the stadium that they're trying to get done for the Rams. There's a big soccer community out there, and we'd love to see a soccer stadium downtown, like they're thinking about a football stadium. San Antonio has been very active. There's a lot of stuff going on, and there's a lot of interest in expansion.

On the expansion situation in Minneapolis, where the Vikings' new stadium has explicit plans for soccer as part of a deal to receive state funding, but the owner of the NASL's Minnesota United has teamed up with the Twins and Timberwolves to try to build a soccer-specific stadium downtown - and has much more public backing from the market's soccer fans:

It's very positive that we have multiple owners in an important market that want to come into Major League Soccer. We've got a lot of decisions that we need to make. We're bullish on Minneapolis. We think it's a good market - it's an important market for us strategically, from a geographic perspective.

We love the two ownership groups and we've been spending time with both of them. Ultimately, soccer stadiums are a key objective of ours. That being said, we're not ruling out any possibilities in Minneapolis. We've got work to do with both groups. But I'm very bullish on the market.

On the status of New York City FC's search for its own stadium:

We know that they're active, and they've had ongoing discussions. I can't give you an update, other than it's a big focus for them.

And we're very hopeful that they're going to be able to be in a position to have a stadium for that club. It was part of their expectation coming in, part of our expectation in granting them an expansion team, and it's part of what I think our fans are going to expect. It's just going to take some time. It's a difficult market.

On whether he, as a New York native, has a preferred location where he'd like to see that stadium get built:


On whether the new CBA could include a new way of allocating Americans coming into MLS from abroad, or whether the current ranking-based allocation system could be done away with altogether:

No. We have to have a way to have players assigned to our teams. Think about it, guys. How are they going to come in? How would Jozy Altidore come into our league?

Now, we've been, in the past, not putting them through a ranking system. But that ranking system is part of our core tenet, which is parity, and having teams that are, in essence, finishing at the bottom have assets and an opportunity that allows them to get better. The allocation order is a mechanism to do that.

Other than that, it's a free-for-all, and this league is never going to have a free-for-all. We need to have order in terms of how players are signed. It's a core principle of Major League Soccer. We just need to make sure that everybody understands it. The issue isn't having it, it's not having enough people understand it.

[A final editor's note: I would be remiss if I did not point out that a year and a half ago, I wrote a long post on here> calling for the elimination of the allocation system. Much of what I said then still holds true today.

One could make a reasonably cogent argument that a system could exist within a single-entity structure which gives players free agency and gives teams the right to bid against each other for players coming into MLS from abroad.

Said system could also include a strong salary cap and specific limits on the number of players on a team's roster that are exempt from the cap, whether as Designated Players, Homegrown Players or any other classification. It could even be codified in a collective bargaining agreement if the parties involved wanted it to be.

And if, by coincidence, there were CBA negotiations going on while many folks in the MLS community were talking about how the league's roster rules are sometimes too Byzantine for its own good... well, that is a subject for another blog post on another day.]