What MLS Can Learn from Indios Story


Many critics of the American game, most with European orientations demonstrate nothing but disdain for the playoff system in football.

For these critics the story of Indios needs to be told. Six short weeks ago the Mexican Club which is only four years old was flirting with relegation from the Mexican Primera Division. Based in Juarez, Indios draws a lot of its support from across the border in Southwest Texas and New Mexico.

Indios put together an amazing late run in the Mexican Clausura and now are in the semifinals of the playoffs after qualifying with a 3-1 win over Guadalajara (Chivas) on the final weekend of the regular season and defeating Toluca in a two leg Quarterfinal season.

The run by Indios has become so compelling that they are winning fans across the United States where television access to Mexican Football is unmatched by any European League. On Sunday afternoon my twitter feed lit up as fans and bloggers tweeted that they had found their team in Mexico after Indios held off Toluca.

The fact that Indios is a border team with no history fits the US psyche. We are used to expansion teams in our sports, including football and embrace Cinderella stories.

Translate this to MLS, USL and the NCAA College Cup. The season is always active and with hope. Teams can disappoint for much of the season but bounce back in a big way later in the campaign and contend for a title. Much of the MLS season features matches that lack intensity and appeal. But nobody in their right mind is going to claim that MLS in October lacks excitement, flair and meaning.

Can you imagine the excitement in a football league with BOTH playoff tournaments and relegation? The FMF offers both in a non traditional manner. They relegate one team based on the cumulative points over two seasons each May, while eight teams in the 18 team league make the playoffs.

With MLS rapidly headed towards 20 teams in 2012 and hitting what is almost sure to be a level of clubs that FIFA is going to request to cap, the idea of MLS 2 and a single team being relegated after the first 5 seasons of this new system needs to be thought through.

For me the Mexican League is one of the most compelling products on the planet because they have both relegation which makes European leagues so interesting late in the year and the playoffs which we love in MLS. Here in the states we’d be wise to replicate the FMF formula. After all, the FMF and MLS are close enough business partners anyhow.

15 thoughts on “What MLS Can Learn from Indios Story”

  1. I saw Indios defend well and counter attack selectively the other day. What a story!

    The eurosnobs will never get it, will they?

  2. nope. For them, it doesn’t matter if it’s good. It only matters if it’s what they happen to bolster.

  3. Once again what investor would want to put money into a team only to see it get relegated. I know relegation makes teams and leagues better, the drama, etc., but for right now it seems too risky. Maybe in 20 years, if MLS is still around, with less restrictions on clubs, stadiums, level of play, and MONEY it could happen, but I really can’t see AEG happy when LA goes down. Guess I like to move at a slower pace.

  4. KK,

    You don’t even mention another reason to follow them – they’ve given US players a chance to play – and one of them, DM Marco Vidal, helped them earn promotion last year – only to be shoved to the bench this season.

    He steps back into the starting lineup late in the season and soon thereafter they begin their miraculous run.


  5. All the proponents of pro/rel have YET to explain how the league would make the owners go along with the idea. It won’t happen, and frankly, I don’t think it should.

    US Soccer should simply adopt a farm system, the way baseball is.

  6. Can you imagine if INDIOS had David Beckham?

    Seriously, these guys are putting a beat down on the big boys in the FMF.

    Great job! Bad Ass logo, too.

  7. one of fmf’s biggest problems… one of many… is its relegation system. its designed to let the big teams stay. example… cruz azul with its whopping 14 pts was allowed to stay meanwhile puebla, tecos, and indio (all playoffs teams) were in danger of relegation. huh wtf…

    another example.. few years ago.. america… 11 pts… ELEVEN pts out of a possible fifty-something points… they were allowed to stay.

    makes no sense.

    i love the playoff system but i hate mexico’s relegation system… it should be simple… last place… you’re relegated. easy.

  8. It’s going to take a while before MLS sets up a promotion/relegation system. They have to establish a stable 2nd division first of all and have solid attendances before they go through with it. A promotion/relegation system like the Mexican Primera would be good for MLS, but it won’t happen for another 20 years or so.

  9. Kartik, my friend. This site will now be the first I go to for football news. It’s so hard to find English-language sites that talk some Mexican football, but yours has, so now I’ll be here frequently and recommend it to all my friends.

    Now, the Indians have to face Pachuca, which will be just as difficult. Kudos to the Mexican Football Federation, for reseeding teams after the Quarterfinals. That makes the task for the minnows to continue to be hard. It’s gonna be an awesome semifinal series, beginning Thursday night.

    BTW, relegation is based on the past 3 seasons for teams who have been in the 1st Division for that long.

    Hey beeto, there’s nothing wrong with Mexico’s rel system. In fact, I believe that Cruz Azul should have had relegation immunity this year because they played in the Concachampions league. A 3 season average is good. And an 8 seed, although maybe unfair, making the playoffs gives the potential for excitement. American sports knew what they were doing when they expanded their playoffs. None of em will ever go back to 2 or 4 team postseasons. Oh well, you gotta give the fans what they want.

    And I agree that the logo is off tha hook. Phat.

    Argueta, shut your f’n yap already, I swear. All you do here is deride Mexfoot. F you, dude. I usually root for Brasilian squads, but now I hope they all get eliminated in the Lib Cup quarterfinals. Go Argentina!

  10. An MLS 2 would work. Today, I nearly wrote and mailed the Globe and Mail a copy of how promotion/relegation would make the NHL a better league.

    USL can’t promote to MLS, unless you build an MLS 2 with smaller SSS…

  11. well what can i say the most exciting in the FMF soccer to this years something that honestly IN everyone’s minds it will never happen from going to the second league to making it to the playoffs beating (america, chivas, cruz azul, pachuca) wow making it to the semifinals being down 2-0 to winning the second game not making it enough to be in the final do but having the heart to do this that has to be in everyone’s greatest team!!! the city that has suffer from drug lords no police to having the mexican army!!!! in every bad there’s always a good and that is what the indios of ciudad juarez did made believe in their people….what they should do is have some MLS and FMF teams go at it see how that goes to me the teams from mexico and the us would be a bad ass league latez

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