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Odd Weekend of Playoffs Exposes the Worst Flaw of the MLS

mls badge Odd Weekend of Playoffs Exposes the Worst Flaw of the MLS

For those of us that follow a major European team, there is a weekly pattern that develops over the season.  After the weekend game, many fans like myself spend a couple of days absorbing commentary about the game.  Youtube is scoured for clips and the blogs are mined for insights.  If your team happens to have won, the triumph is celebrated.  The coach’s decisions are lauded and your man-of-the-match is hailed as a legend.  A draw or loss unleashes a torrent of what-could-have-beens and there is always one player who failed to convert a chance or had a defensive lapse that is labeled as completely useless forever.

After a couple of days of looking backwards, the eyes move forward and the upcoming game becomes all consuming.  Injury lists, manager’s comments and possible line-ups are devoured.  On the day of the game the anticipation begins the moment we wake up.  The game itself is a series of life or-death moments, and then the entire cycle repeats itself.

This pattern repeats itself all season for one over-riding reason – every game matters.  From winning the Championship to avoiding relegation, every game is impactful.  We may be six months from the end of the European season, but nobody looks farther than this weekend’s game because they all matter so much.

The same cannot be said of the MLS.  As much as I enjoy having a US league, random games over the summer come and go like the waves on a beach.  Half the teams are going to make playoffs anyway, so the pressure is modest and the pain of losing and the joy of winning are mitigated.  Do-or-die games rarely occur during the regular season until the last couple of weeks.  For the  teams that qualify for the playoffs with a month to go, they can go through the entire season without ever having a game that truly, deeply mattered.

So, when we finally get to the playoffs, and the results are vital, players walk out onto the field looking nervy, tentative and flat.  They are so unused to meaningful games that they look like completely different, and in many cases poorer, teams. 

Among the lowlights from this weekend –

Seattle’s and Houston’s finishing completely deserted them.  There were plenty of chances on both sides, but the scoreless draw resulted from a combination of club-footed finishing and an atmosphere where physical play replaced a level of skill that seems to have deserted most players.

Real Salt Lake, one of the few teams that had a series of do-or-die games over the past month, beat defending champions Columbus, who have not played a meaningful game since the last MLS Cup.  RSL looked sharper and fitter, and hung in all game until they took their best chance in the 88th minute against a flat-footed Crew.

Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy, two very defensively minded teams , conspired to let in two goals each because silly defensive errors.  The most comical goal of the weekend occurred when the usually dependable Omar Gonzalez, playing in his first playoff game, passed the ball back to nobody in particular, and playoff debutante Sean Franklin stood there while Maykel Galindo raced onto the ball and slotted it home. 

The only game that resembled a well-played affair was the New England – Chicago game and it is not a surprise.  These are two veteran teams that have made meeting in the playoffs an annual ritual over the past few years.  These two teams have had several must-win situations over the past month and have enough play-off experience so that they were able to muster something closer to their “A” games.

Hopefully next weekend the play-off butterflies will be better contained and we can see a few more impressive games.  However, under its current scheme, most MLS teams will always meander into the post-season unused to pressure, and will start their play-off run learning how to play important games all over again.

42 Responses to Odd Weekend of Playoffs Exposes the Worst Flaw of the MLS

  1. David Fishwick says:

    Eric, with all due respect, I think you have this one wrong.

    The pathetic lapses during MLS playoff games this weekend cannot be blamed on a lack of important matches. Just a general lack of quality in comparison to the top divisions in the top leagues of Europe. There were only 4 or 5 games in the entire MLS schedule that were truly meaningless. Don’t tell me that Wigan-Sunderland in April or May is going to have any meaning. Neither team will be bad enough for relegation or good enough to get into Europe. There are dozens of other games in all 4 professional divisions in England that are similarly meaningless.

    This argument could have been made in other years, especially when there were only 10 -12 teams but with 15 teams this year and 16 next year, it is now null and void.

    Just my two cents, keep up the good work.

    • Chris in Belfast says:

      Exactly. In most European leagues the games that matter are the relegation six-pointers and the games to get people into Europe. Places 10-15 generally aren’t playing for much, and it is silly to suggest otherwise.

      Furthermore, to suggest Columbus hasn’t played a meaningful game since last year’s MLS Cup ignores a pretty obvious exception: Champions League? Many teams this year had to juggle their rosters, making play in those “meaningless” summer contests ever more important, as often they were taking the field with less than their best eleven. If MLS can address roster depth in the near future (ie., bringing the roster sizes back up some, and maybe reinstating the reserve league) I actually see this as a pretty good problem, as it will force MLS clubs to have rosters that are more consistent. This *could* lead to consistent mediocrity, but *if* salary cap increases some, we could see an improved level of play that is sustained across all competitions. I’d LOVE to see that.

  2. Fan says:

    “Do-or-die games rarely occur during the regular season until the last couple of weeks.”

    Biggest myth floating around now. Just ask the teams that didn’t make the playoffs and lost games they should have won in the first four months of the season.

    MLS is not the only leagues which has bad games and matches that don’t always seem to have much bearing on the table. Euro-posers just want people to believe that.

  3. Dave Clark says:

    Seattle blew a 3-1 lead v DC United at about the half way point. The final score was 3-3.

    Those 2 dropped points were the difference between being #1 in West and #4

  4. Charles says:

    Amen Dave…
    I was thinking of that game just today, it cost us Sounder’s fans home field advantage ( huge in the MLS ) for next round.

    There are so many points that are rediculous about that article it is too many to list.
    First of all, you have no idea what you are talking about, Seattle couldn’t finish all year, every game should have had more goals.
    Second of all, by Christmas 16 teams will be all but eliminated from the EPL, you could argue they already are, but if they had a playoff, even in a league with NO parity like the EPL they would still have more than 1/2 of the teams alive. How are the games MORE meaningful than the MLS ?
    Third of all, did you even watch the MLS this year ? Just about every team could still win it all in the final week. New England snuck in, and they just won their first round game.
    Fourthly, the excitement about relegation is a joke, I am an American sports fan ( including soccer ), the amount of time talking spent talking about the last place team is insane. Outside of a courtesy article about the Detroit Lions losing every game in a season, it would NEVER, EVER fly with people like me.

    I really don’t get this article at all. I guess the EPL fans go week by week pouring over stats etc, because if they looked at the whole season it would be hopeless for 80% of the teams already ? So why do MLS fans do the same thing ?

  5. Deron says:

    New England finished with 42 points
    Real Salt Lake finished with 40 points
    Colorado finished with 40 points
    DCU finished with 40 points
    Toronto F.C finished with 39 points
    FC Dallas finished with 39 points

    What mid-season loss/win didn’t make a difference for any of these teams? For the fans of these teams all the games mattered. For neutrals… well who gives a crap about them them? Neutrals ought to commit to a team or shut-up.

    The biggest problem MLS has is that there’s too many people who think they should be fans of the league. That doesn’t work. The EPL doesn’t have fans. The teams in the EPL does. That’s what makes the games compelling.

    I don’t have a team in the EPL and as far as I see the games don’t matter for half the teams who are merely fodder for the top four. They’re all in it to manage their books just well enough to stay up and hope to avoid receivership. See? Now I’m doing it, I’m a neutral on the EPL, I’ll shut-up.

    • LI Matt says:

      May 30: New England 2 DC 1

      June 24: Colorado 1 FC Dallas 1

      July 24: Real Salt Lake 4 FC Dallas 2

      Change any one of those results, and you have a different playoff lineup.

      Maybe they were PERCEIVED to be “meaningless” AT THE TIME, but it turns out they weren’t.

  6. David Fishwick says:

    Eric – sorry to pile on you here – but I just realized something, maybe it was intentional.

    The quickest way to expose yourself as ignorant of Major League Soccer (MLS) and American soccer in general is to call it ‘The MLS’. It is not ‘The Major League Soccer’ anymore than the World Series currently being played is for the championship of ‘The Major League Baseball’ or that the country of Ukraine is ‘The Ukraine’ or that France is ‘The France’.

    Maybe it will come across that I’m being a touch sensitive here; I’m no out of control MLS homer, I can see the flaws in the league and am more than happy to criticize when appropriate. But if you take a look at the league more than once or twice a year, it is simply incomprehensible to call it ‘The MLS’ – especially coming from someone such as yourself with such a clearly solid grasp of the English language (and that was a sincere compliment).

  7. Dan Y. says:

    I have to side with the responders on this point.

    I’m a TFC supporter from Pittsburgh, who got up to BMO Field twice this season; one game in May against Chicago, and a few weeks back against RSL. People were seeing the importance of both of these matches. Granted, a few weeks ago people could start plotting the pathways to the playoffs. But, to say that people saw the May contest as a listless fixture on the schedule, would be inaccurate.

    In the MLS, you have half the teams seeing the post-season, with 5/6ths of the league fighting for a playoff spot or positioning, till the waning weeks of the season. For the EPL, 1/3rd of the clubs enter the season fully expecting to do well enough to avoid relegation, yet fail to qualify for an UEFA club tournament. By the time you reach the mid-point if the season, the point spread from the 11 spot to the top or bottom of the table is so wide that the club plays nothing but meaningless matches.

    MLS is not a European league, it’s a US/Canada league, and doesn’t need to apologize for being as such.

  8. Dave says:

    As Americans, it’s in our DNA to want a playoff. There is a very compelling element to the idea that your team has to “win or go home.” It adds a second and supplemental dimension to the competition that, while it often does not reward the “best” team of the regular season, it brings a tremendous amount of excitement to the sport.

    It’s when we as fans stand up and say, “okay, this one counts, once and for all…” The players react to that energy & excitement and the legendary ones rise to the challenge. The fans remember the games because we pay better attention to them.

    Without playoffs, we wouldn’t have the Brian Ching 116th minute retaliation goal in the 2006 MLS Cup, or the memory of Vince Young’s 4th and 5 TD run at the Rose Bowl, or Bill Buckner, or Aaron Boone’s 11th inning GW homer in the 2003 ALCS, or Eli Manning’s 4th down completion to beat the 18-0 Patriots. Were the NY Giants better than the Patriots that year? Probably not. But when it counted, they rose up, just like Brian Ching did. That’s the kind of excitement that should be exported TO the Premiership; not the other way around…

    Btw, every game doesn’t really matter in England when the Big 4 ALWAYS qualify for Europe (MLS parity is something else we should export TO the EPL…) And don’t give me this or that about relegation. It’s exciting to watch in April or May, but it IS the worst 3 teams of the league we’re talking about. Hull City just can’t be that exciting, relegation or not, and even with that long-named Dutchman’s jersey to stare at… The US playoff system is far better.

  9. Eric Altshule says:

    Wow. I am getting beat up far more than usual for this one. Let me offer a few things in my own defense.

    1. When I say every game matters in the EPL, as an example, I don’t think I am exaggerating. Finishing in the top four matters to go to the Champions league. Finishing in the next three matters to go to Euro. Finishing in the bottom three matters to avoid going down the toilet. That is 10 positions with huge meaning, and the other 10 teams are constantly battling to avoid one group or get in another. Did Seattle blow a two goal lead in a summer game that could have meant them finishing first instead of third and miss a possible home field in a hypothetical playoff game? Yes. Is that a huge deal? Not compared to the fates that could happen in the EPL if you go down a couple of slots on the table.

    2. I am not saying that we should abandon the playoff system. Without relegation, playoffs are the only way to give the season any meaning at all for the majority of teams. I am just saying that the result is that the individual games don’t really raise the thermostat that much during the regular season. Different sport, but the same is true for the NBA. The Lakers lost their first game last week, and nobody cared. It’s not like they are going to miss the playoff or anything.

    3. I am a Galaxy season ticket holder and go to 80% of their home games, so I am not some snooty Euro snob looking at this from afar. Frankly, what I am saying can be seen in the mid-season play. The reaction of the media, crowd and the players to each individual game is modest. Star players can miss a month of the season with the National Team, and MLS largely shrugs because the games missed are not so critical.

    4. Yes, in the history of the playoffs have had some really exciting moments, and as I have said, I am not against playoffs. But anyone who thinks relegation in Europe is not exciting or emotionally impactful and creates more games that matter – well, I have no words. I would suggest, however, you weigh the emotion of the average Red Bulls fan near the end of this season against that of a Newcastle fan last season. The Red Bull fan is thinking about his new stadium and the possibility of Thierry Henry and all sorts of potential goodies around the corner. For that fan, every game from June 15 on was completely meaningless. That Newcastle fan – a slightly different story.

  10. Matthew N says:

    The worst part of the MLS is the fact that it has playoffs. I absolutely hate this aspect. I would much rather it be single table, whoever has the most points wins. It makes every game matter and we don’t have to deal with these ridiculous two-leg aggregate matches. Seriously.. if MLS wants to attract more than just casual fans, it needs to ditch playoffs (if they really really want them, at least wait until you get more teams… shit.. half the league makes the playoffs). I tried to watch the playoffs this past weekend, but it just doesn’t do it for me.

    • MLS is far from the only league with playoffs.

      It’s a fantasy invented by some Europeans that only US based leagues have playoffs. Search around the globe at football leagues in Asia, Australia, Mexico and South America. I think you’ll be surprised.

      I as most people know am very critical of MLS on other issues, but I simply cannot fathom where the hatred for playoffs and conferences/divisions comes from. The bottom line is every world league does not have follow the same structure as the Premier League to be viable.

      Anglophilia has afflicted so many of our fans, that the volume has been raised and we may never have a civil discussion again.

      As for the merits of Eric’s post, he has some good points. For a league that has a playoff structure, MLS’ season is much too long. I have favored a split Apertura/Clausura type season for a while and know it is one of the experimental ideas the TOA breakaway from USL may pursue if they ever get off the ground.

      The playoffs should be a showcase, but as Eric points out, often players are nervy and flat. I think that has to do more with a long regular season than anything else. Some Premier League games in April and May are totally unwatchable, although many here would loathe to admit that…………

      • Matthew N says:

        It isn’t that I hate playoffs, it is more a dislike of how small the MLS is versus how many teams get into the playoffs and it greatly de-emphasizes the regular season. In the NHL and NBA, this is the same… so many teams make it to the playoffs that pretty much anyone above .500 makes it. The MLS isn’t that bad, but it feels like the season lasts forever (and I agree with you about the Prem and MLS both having seasons that border on too long). I don’t really mind conferences and divisions, but I always hate it when a team that is 10-6 in the NFC gets shafted on a playoff spot and a team that is 8-8 in the AFC gets in (to use American football as an example). I’d much rather the playoff teams be drawn from a single table so that the best teams are in.

        As the MLS gets bigger, my distaste for its playoffs may decline, but really.. my team is the Columbus Crew and I could not bear to watch that pathetic game in a nearly empty stadium against Real Salt Lake the other day. I think I would just rather see playoffs in the CONCACAF Champion’s League and see single table in the MLS, like in England (mostly because I don’t like how the slate is now even and an ice-cold Columbus team has to play against a rather hot RSL squad). If there were no playoffs, the MLS has like 8 teams all within a few points of each other. If we just had a couple more weeks of games, there could be some really intense jockeying for position. Instead we are force-fed a playoff that I really don’t like (I absolutely hate the idea of playing a series against a team and then scoring it on aggregate– play a 3 game series like baseball or make it single elimination– or even a group thing like the WC, early Champion’s League). If we have to have playoffs, the current way they do things is the method I prefer least. I have always thought total goals for/against was a dumb metric, even in other nations/competitions.

        • Chris in Belfast says:

          I can’t really find a way to argue that the Prem. season is too long. Everyone gets everyone else at home once. That’s really the only fair way to do it. The only only feasible way to make the season shorter is to have fewer teams in the league.

          As pointed out earlier, having a play-off actually makes the regular season matter *more*. If FCD didn’t have a hope of making the playoffs on a hot streak, can you imagine them playing that out of their heads while Columbus still waltzed away at the top of the table? For FCD the playoffs incentivized them to close the season strong, because if they’d done well in the playoffs they could conceivably be playing some extracurriculars the next season. (Superliga, Champions League)

          I’d also disagree with Eric’s assertion that in the Prem. there are 10 teams playing hard for something (Champions League, Europa, relegation) plus ten others trying to get into one group or avoid an other. In practice you really have one or two extra teams trying to get into Europa and usually one or two more teams really at risk of relegation. That leaves six teams doing nothing more than make up the numbers during the season. Especially by the time we get into March, *usually* the table has mostly sorted itself out, and we don’t see a ton of movement past that.

          The playoff system is flawed, true. But the single table system only seems flawless because it’s been around forever in the big European leagues. If you must, think of the Supporter’s Shield as winning the league (congrats on two in a row, Columbus), The Open Cup as the Carling Cup, and MLS Cup as the FA Cup. (I know the Open Cup is open to more teams, but MLS teams would much rather win MLS Cup than the Open Cup, and the latter competition is used more to try out new players, much the like Carling Cup with big teams.) This is the way we do it here, and that’s just fine.

        • CoconutMonkey says:

          “I simply cannot fathom where the hatred for playoffs and conferences/divisions comes from”

          I’m glad you brought that up Kartik. While I’m not totally in love with the MLS Playoffs, I really don’t like regional conferences/divisions. And that’s not because I have a crazy love for all things English. I just have a desire to see competitive balance. Basically, I don’t like the fact that we’ll never get to see a Sounders-Galaxy MLS Cup, or a Chicago-Detroit Stanley Cup (wishful Hawks fan thinking).

          But, each league/country has different circumstances and we sometimes forget to take them into account. I think we MLS fans still don’t agree on what we are/should be excited about. Playoffs? MLS Cup? USOC? SuperLiga? Champions League? It’s kinda hard to get consistently pumped for competitions when the format keeps changing. Especially when you can’t see half the damn games on TV.

  11. Bolacuadrada says:

    I love the playoffs. Go LA Galaxy.

  12. 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League says:

    The Columbus Crew did indeed play meaningful matches this year in the CONCACAF Champions League. How could you overlook that? You are ignorant.

    Yes, the quality of play in the playoffs is low. The league is no better than England’s 3rd division. We all know this. That’s why the playoff attendance is low. This league is unwatchable, but the CCL is not.

    • Matthew N says:

      I would love to watch the CCL, but the games are rarely, if ever, on live, and the production quality is quite poor. At least on my cable, the picture on most of those matches is piss poor and the commentary is bad. Maybe this makes me a snob, but I really like to have a nice picture (HD in Janurary on FSC). I watched a couple of the CCL matches that Columbus played, but many were on delay and there was next to no promotion of them. I’d be willing to be that most MLS fans don’t even know there is a CCL. I was really really excited when they first started it, but it hasn’t seemed to catch on. I can’t wait for the day when we are kicking asses and the Primera clubs are jealous. Hopefully Columbus can do something for us this year.

      • TG says:

        Why are there playoffs in MLS? Because extra games equals extra money. How no one has mentioned this is beyond me.

        The league, like every other, honestly doesn’t care about what should/should not happen logistically or sportingly. Its a business that is only looking to increase profits.

        Why don’t European leagues have playoffs? Because of tradition. If you removed tradition, you can sure bet there would be playoffs.

        And the regular season in MLS is ultimately meaningless because if SUM/MLS did care about the regular season, the Supporters Shield winner would get a bye to either the final or semifinal like with the K-League in Korea. Instead their only reward is playing a team that caught fire the last month of the season.

        • USL and WPS both give teams byes and it works out well. But IMHO the single table in USL MUST go.

          I liked the divisions in the USL First Division and the decision to go to a single table five years ago has made it more difficult to follow your local team as the fly from Puerto Rico to Vancouver and back again all season long.

      • Chris in Belfast says:

        Ok, but this problem is separate altogether from the contention that Columbus didn’t play meaningful games for most of the summer. Even if it wasn’t seen on TV much, and even if tons of fans didn’t show up for the home games, the games did mean something, and Columbus stands to benefit financially from playing in them. That’s a good thing.

        In time, if MLS teams put a little advertising muscle behind it, the CCL will grow into something more respectable. It will be better, too, if team’s fans feel that their clubs are more than also-rans to the Mexican clubs. I’d argue that what happened last year with the USL clubs was an absolutely flukey occurrence that happens occasionally in knock-out competitions, but won’t normally hold true in the competition. Right now, most fans of MLS teams probably feel that the games are mostly useful for judging just how far behind the Mexican clubs their local side is.

  13. Berlin says:

    The Championship has playoffs in England too. It’s not just a rest of the world thing. A single table without relegation/promotion would make a huge portion of the end of the season meaningless every team from below Seattle would have been out of it weeks ago. Playoffs are the best payoff we can have for the current system. College football wishes it had this problem.

  14. Rex says:

    I think we will see games that are much different on the 2nd leg.

  15. Charles says:

    Eric, we still like you, even if you are wrong.
    Teams/players that play tight in the playoffs are a part of the game. The ones that don’t win championships. Were the games the best ever this weekend ? I will let each person decide, but the goals that determine the Houston/Seattle winner etc. will be in our memories forever.
    The 0-0 tie, with ManU not taking a shot on goal last year to clinch the title, well that is in our memories forever too, but only because it is ludicris.

    Please don’t bring up the NBA and compare the MLS to it. I will NOT like you then, the NBA games ARE meaningless, there are 82 of them, and teams clinch their playoff births well before playoff time….EPL style.

    Side note the NBA is a piece of cr*p league and shouldn’t be watched by anyone. SuperSonics and Sounders forever.

  16. Charles says:

    Do most fans in the MLS not know if there is a CCL or not care ?
    Sounders are in it for next year and I just don’t care.
    Huge fan, so I will watch it, but would rather win the MLS Cup.

    Quite frankly, I believe if the MLS isn’t one of the best leagues in the world soon, making the CCL a very secondary goal, or moving quickly toward that, the league is not going to make it. Having all the best US players away from Donovan play in Europe tells Americans one thing….you should be watching Europe.

  17. Robert says:

    Please remember that MLS cup is not the only silverware that a club can win. There is the supporters shield that gets them a birth to playoffs and Champions League, the US open cup that gets them in the CCL as well (Congrats to Sounders), MLS cup winner earns a spot as well. unlike premier league our clubs have to earn a spot in the CCL by winning not just by finishing in the top four which can be done by throwing money at the problem. Its the same set up as Europe its just in the United States we place more value on the Cup! We are americans we like seeing the best of the best play in win or go home situations.

  18. Glenn says:

    Just want to cast another vote of dissension for this article. Ask DCU about the three or four games they let slide from victories to ties early in the year, about the loss to San Jose late in the year. Going into the final week, I think only 3 MLS teams had been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and 4 or 5 had clinched. For every other team, every game all year that was not a victory proved to be critical. And EPL is FULL of meaningless games during the season, as others have already posted about.

  19. Jammer says:

    Yes, relegation and euro league qualification add importance to games. Here, no one gives a crap about the concacaf champions league. The playoff race is the best we have. For a fan of a middle team, every game mattered.

  20. chicago al says:

    Have you ever tried to watch a mid-table EPL matchup, much less a bottom table match up? Seriously. The whole game?
    Then, we all know the top 3 or 4 in the EPL are the same. There’s no drama. Playing for a play-in spot in the Champions league? Please. Playing for getting a Europa Cup spot? Why? The stadia are not full for those games, and managers often rest many of their best players for the league games. So it’s sort of a manufactured goal that they don’t appreciate.

    Explain if you are a fan of any team besides ManU, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, what are you excited about? Finishing “in the top half of the table?” NOT getting relegated? It’s a sad state when teams and fans celebrate NOT being one of the worst three teams much more than any team except the winner (or usually celebrate more than the winner, because ManU says yawn, we won again–and I’ve been a ManU fan since the early 80′s).

    It’s more a commentary on English society vs. American society, that English accept that there is a higher class of team, and they are content with the thought of not being able to win it all, whereas in the US anyone believes they can become anything. In US sports a team can be great for awhile, and then stink, and then get better. ALl US Sports cultivate parity (witness the draft system, salary caps, playoffs, shared revenue).

    Regardless of whether or not you have playoffs, it doesn’t solve the problem of how to make the MLS regular season more meaningful. If you want to do that, and take something from the English game, then you have to ask why are those fans of mediocre teams always so excited. The answer is: (1) strong regional rivaries (who cares if we stunk, as long as we beat our rival, like Northwestern beating Illinois), (2) the existence of mega teams, that all teams want a chance to beat, (3) strong local identity and loyalty–supporting your team because it’s your team (suburban stadia don’t do that) and it’s fun to go to a game (more fun to go than to watch one on TV from England). Do you think a Sunderland or Birmingham or Wigan supporter says well my team isn’t nearly as good as Liverpool, so why should I go? Why shoudl I care? Of course not, that’s not the point.

    By the way, the English leagues are increasingly incoprorating playoffs, for example the promotion playoffs, and even som erelegation playoffs in lower leagues. And what are the Champions league play-ins but playoffs?

    And only since the mid 90′s did the glamor we consider with the EPL begin, with the arrival of international players into the best teams.

    Good point about the NBA. a long pointless season, and for that matter a long pointless game until the end of the game. It’s all about marketing, though.

    • Yo says:

      Some would say soccer is a pointless 90 minute game of kicking a ball around. Dont say certain sports or leagues are pointless just because you dont like them.

  21. 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League says:

    Those here who place more importance on a national title than the continental title, are stupid. Continental competition is the bread and butter of club football.

    No wonder the world mocks Americans. You know nothing about football. The point of sport is to strive to be the very best. Once you conquer your country, it’s time to set your sites higher. Those who don’t are uncompetitive and unambitious. What a pity.

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      My my my, how about having some perspective with your bread and butter?

      I’m really happy that you’re taking the time to teach us ‘mericans the ins and outs of what we should give a shit about. Europe has heaps of fully matured leagues in which they are BY FAR the most popular sport in the country (Care to tell me the best Rugby club in France?). Not to mention, there’s also a healthy 100+ year history of professionalism and international club competition. This ain’t UEFA.

      No club is going to conquer to world when they’re playing in front of 12,000 fans and you can’t see the match on TV.

  22. Charles says:

    I hear what you are saying “2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League”
    ,kind of a weird name you have.

    The problem MLS has right now for me as a new fan is the MLS Cup is diminished by the US Open Cup ( the NASL chose to sit that out ), the CCL and the Supporters Shield.
    So now that the Sounders won the US Open Cup,
    Columbus won the SS
    and only Columbus can win in CCL (but another league always has),
    Columbus trails 1-0 at the half versus RSL in MLS playoffs.
    What if a third team (fourth really) wins ?

    There are those that are going to say so what…I say it is a big deal because the others dimish where the MLS season, where MLS can make real money.
    My long winded point being the Continent and World title playoffs are a lose-lose for the MLS right now, no fans following and we don’t win them, making the league look worse. Get the revenue up, forget the US Open Cup ( which I love but it needs to be forgotten ), dimish the appeasement to Euro-lovers with the Supporters Shield, and make the MLS Cup the most important thing to MLS teams on the planet. THEN when it is possible to do so, worry about actually conquering the continent/planet.
    If the Sounders win the CCL next year and play in the Club WC, forget all I said ;-)

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      No way man. If anything, the profile of the tournament need to be raised considerably. It’s like a season long March Madness that almost ANYONE can join. How cool is that?

      The possibility of a big club getting embarrassed by a small fry is part of the beauty of knock-out tournaments. Aren’t exciting upsets one of the reasons MLS has playoffs in the first place? And, it gives players and fans something extra to get excited about throughout the year. Better to finish 11th with silverware than 7th with nothing to show for it.

      AND! Having a big open tournament gives the smaller clubs/players an incentive to invest, grow ,and get better. Sure, they might not win. But, if a USL2 team makes it to the group of 16, I’m sure you’re going to see a lot of those players go on to do big things later in their careers.

    • 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League says:

      Funny post. But it’s a privilege to be part of the CWC system. No other trophy in the world has more teams fighting for it. Think about it. It’s pretty amazing.

      Because of your attitude, I hope Joe Public eliminates the Sounders next year.

  23. Brian Zygo says:

    I’m of the opinion that all matches this summer mattered, to one degree or another. For example, if the Dynamo did not have that explosive run early in the summer, they would not have made the playoffs. If they had picked up a few more victories since the All-Star Game, they would have had a shot at the Supporter’s Shield.

  24. ddtigers says:

    I hate the agruement that the EPL games “all matter”, please. I see so many throwaway games from the midtable teams and lower against the big four/six. Not to mention the cups games. In MLS all the games matter especially as the league grows. Just more nonsense from euro snobs and overseas footie fans who hate MLS. I guesss we are not good enough to play the sport. Maybe we should just trade in our soccer balls for basketballs and baseballs and go home.

  25. Charles says:

    Every team, outside of the first four, in the EPL right now have lost as many games as ManU ( winners ) did last year….Nov 6th.
    Now tell me every game in the EPL matters ?
    Sure if you care who finished 6th and who ends up 15th. This is America, we DON’T care who finishes 6th.

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