Don Garber Says No to 2011 Single Table Format for MLS

 Don Garber Says No to 2011 Single Table Format for MLS

During half-time of the MLS Playoff match between FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber appeared on Fox Soccer Channel for a few minutes to discuss developments in the league.

Two topics of note was whether MLS is considering combining the conferences into one league and what his thoughts were about New York Cosmos becoming the 20th team in Major League Soccer.

First, Garber said that MLS has no intention on combining the conferences into a single table. His reasoning was that he wants to keep rivalries between local teams.

Second, Garber said that he was impressed by what the Cosmos has been doing and that they’ve been doing a good job thus far in their pursuit of becoming a Major League Soccer team.

Based on Garber’s enthusiasm, it looks like the Cosmos deal is practically a given. But as for Garber’s comments about not wanting a single table, I believe his thinking is flawed. There are tons of single table leagues around the world that still manage to maintain local rivalries. Teams such as AC Milan and Inter Milan, Manchester City and Manchester United, HSV Hamburg and St. Pauli, Everton and Liverpool, and so on.

It’s time for Major League Soccer to make changes to the league format and to create a calendar that is more balanced as well as maintaining the local rivalries.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Don Garber Says No to 2011 Single Table Format for MLS

  1. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Good Call Garber Last thing we need is Major League Soccer to run by eurosnobs! this is a American Based League, so that means american ways. Look eurosnobs just deal with it

    • The Gaffer says:

      So the best you can do to argue against a single table is to call people names? Congratulations.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • DCUDiplomat96 says:

        actuallyu Ggaffer Im am Correct, Last time I checked MLS is not in europe!, or in south america. Its in North america. Plus MLS is trying to bring in fans not alienate. Yes you have traditional soccer fans(primarily eurosnobs) but alot of them dont have the best interest of MLS. I beleive Garber knows what he is doing. Nobody is gonna take a single standing format seriously, MLS has established a consistent and well tested format in a developing situation. MLS will need more teams, and it needs to be a big league. It also needs to reflect the nature of the American sports culture.

        • Alex says:

          DCUdiplomat, will you shut up with the whole “screw eurosnobs, this is america” ignorant bullshit? will you? seriously you might as well jump on the “we dont like soccer because its not an american sport” bandwangon too. im guessing you want MLS to go back to MLS 1.0 with timeouts, shoot outs and ulimited subs. you probably also call fans markets, soccer a product and clubs franchises. to be perfectly honest i am more leaned to the eurosnob agenda (yes i am a eurosnob, fear me) but even i have to agree that people who are too far deep in the eurosnob agenda are a danger to our league. we cant go from the hot jacuzzi straight into the cold pool. but i also believe that people like you that believe our sport should be completly covered in batter and deep fried are a even bigger danger to our sport. people are growing more intellegent about the sport and are starting to realize that the need for conferences are not needed. we can have a balanaced schedule with rivalries in a single table. heck we’ve been doing it since the beginning we just dressed it up with conferences. i completly agree with Jeff’s coments about single table. it makes sense. and its not eurosnob, every league that is better than us (fyi thats not only europe) have single tables. and what the heck is up with you and eurosnobs? is that your only argument platform? if so you are a really dumb person.give me one good reason why americans do it better? go on im interested tell me why the destinction that we are a seperate continent from europe is a good enough reason to not modernize and legitimize our league? you do realize single tables are not just a euro thing? so change your vocab from eurosnobs to world snobs ok? if you want my views on single table look at jeffs comment because i share his views. you people that thing the american way is better make me furious and fyi i am a proud american. we cant be ignorant of better ways of running a sport. do us all a favor please go to wikipedia, learn as much as you can about association football and comeback when you think you learned enough to start making relavent comments.

        • moe says:

          US EUROS WANT A GREAT LEAGUE HERE,WE ARE NO HATERS,we want whats best..the set no is terible,why is redbull playing sanjose in the 1st round,,mls cant even get the american system right.for non americans i see toronto doing quite well.the eoro way has a proven track record .nothing wrong with making us fans.will u guys jump ship if its single table?dont think so.but they will gain more respect from the guys that want to watch but its just not clicking..mls system of doing things is flawed..unless you guys want the shootout back let us euros teach u a little something on how to run the league and u just might prosper.

  2. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    I dont see a Good reason for a single standing, why hurt teams in the middle to lower end of the sta ndings??? with the current format it gives most if not all teams a chance at the playoffs and a chance of winning the league championship. plus single table will draw fans away, because if there team is not in the top 8 maybe round 12 or 13 they might not bother to see them play because they arent in a legitimate position to be competitive. single table hurts the league more than benefit. plus single table is a european thing, its not necessary.

  3. LI Matt says:

    It seems the only argument I ever see for a single table is “everyone else does it”. As my mother taught me when I was five, that’s not a good enough reason.

    The case against a single table is simple: you try and sell tickets for an 18th-place team.

    It sounded to me like Garber wants to go back to the unbalanced schedule.

  4. joejoe says:

    In case no one has noticed, MLS has essentially been operating a single table. For the last couple of seasons the playoff teams have been made up from the top eight point earners for the entire league, not the top four of each division. Its a totally different argument if you think that at the end of the regular season the top point earner should be the MLS cup winner. I like playoffs. Other leagues in this hemisphere have playoffs. Don’t mess with the playoff system. It works. Leave it alone.

  5. Dan says:

    I think the league is actually thinking Long-term. Lets all face one fact MLS is going to be a 24+ league in the next 15years. Plus if it ever did get to 32 teams it would be MLS east vs MLS west. the east would not play the west until the Cup game. so that means 30 games each year for everyteam.

  6. CoconutMonkey says:

    “The case against a single table is simple: you try and sell tickets for an 18th-place team.”

    That seems to be the common argument, but it’s really not as simple as you’d expect.

    For example, if you take a look at this year’s wooden spoon recipient’s attendance figures for the second half of the season, DC United average home attendance in the first 15 weeks of the year was about 14,731. Whereas the last 15 weeks was 14,350. Not a big difference if you ask me.

    However, (and here’s a good case for more conference play) the best three draws for DC were against Eastern Conference clubs: New England(week2), Chicago(week4), and Toronto(week 30!?). How weird is that? Two teams who aren’t going to the playoffs outdrew a Galaxy match (4th best attendance btw).

    But here’s the flipside, the 3 WORST draws for DC were also Eastern teams (KC 10k, Columbus 12074, NY 12089). Would you really want to pull an LA or RSL off the schedule to invite Kansas City again? And, aside from Toronto, Western Conference clubs outdrew Eastern clubs in every visit to RFK in the last 15 weeks of the season. This doesn’t really help the unbalanced schedule argument.

    What do these numbers prove? Not much really. I’m not saying single table is better, or that playoffs are king. But I think it’s fair to say attendance isn’t just a simple matter of who is in the playoff hunt. There’s a lot of other factors to consider when talking about scheduling and getting butts in the seats.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_D.C._United_season

  7. Ultra says:

    I see no reason not to have a single table, at least until the number of teams goes over 20. Why have stupid conferences if you don’t need to? All it does in MLS, and other American sports, is allow bad teams into the playoffs and often teams with better records are left out. In other sports it is a totally unfair competition format. For example in MLB the Jays and Orioles have to play the Yankees like 20 times but don’t ever get to play the Pirates or Nationals.

    But this year MLS basically played a single table. One home and one away vs. every other team. There was no need for conferences, and they did nothing to “keep rival rivalries between local teams” because teams didn’t play any one team more than anyone else.

    Getting rid of the playoffs is a horrible idea but why not have a balanced competition to decide who gets into the playoffs? They will need conferences after 20 teams though, which I have no problem with because the league will probably need to go beyond that number if I’m ever to have a team to support.

    As for the Cosmos it’s the dumbest idea ever. Let’s reward a market that won’t support the star studded MLS team it has, while areas who have either been screwed over by MLS(*cough* Florida *cough*) or have never been given a chance to begin with. If Pelé and Co. want to revive the Cosmos, fine. Join NASL, USL Pro or buy the Red Bulls.

    • Tyler says:

      I pray the league does not expand over 20 teams. 22 teams is what the maximum needs to be. If other markets want to prove they have a love for the game, perhaps USL can place a club there. Give that about 10-15 years, and then we can be to talk about promotion/relegation. At the rate MLS is progressing, that can be a serious talking point in a decade.

  8. Mark G says:

    I think that Garber is right. A single table may work for geographically small areas like Europe the rivalries are easy to maintain because of your close proximity but an unbalanced schedule and the conference format will be better for the league in the long run

  9. Nate says:

    The MLS needs to maintain some kind of a balanced schedule. Whether that means you play everyone twice or have some kind of conference/division arrangement, it can’t just be a haphazard “rivalry” match decided by someone. Unfortunately, haphazard seems to be the way thy Garber wants to go.

    Having an unbalanced schedule takes credibility from the league. Ever other American league has conferences/divisions, but they also have a very methodical way of scheduling the games other than “maintaining rivalries.” also, more rivalry matches devalues the rivalry. Three matches against one team, unless there is a neutral site for the rubber match, is not a fair way to maintain a rivalry.

    • Jeff says:

      The single table format being kicked around for MLS would not be used to determine the league champion. There would still be playoffs.

      That’s why I see no reason not to do it. I don’t think it makes the games any more exciting to have L.A. play Chivas 4 times instead of 2. IN fact, I think it takes away. Who cares if you lose the first game? You got three more to play against them. But if you only have two shots, and lose the first, damn straight you’ll play hard that second.

      A balanced schedule of 2 games against every club in a single table is best. Top eight go to playoffs. Just like it is now. You just get rid of the stupid situation where 2 of the 4 teams in the “Eastern Conference” play out West, or where last year’s Eastern Conference champions are in Utah, or 2008′s Western Conference champions are from New York.

      It sounds stupid, and it looks stupid. And we’re not attracting new non-soccer fans to MLS by having conferences.

      I see no practical reason for conferences. I don’t think they make rivalries any more exciting, I don’t think they create a clear playoff picture, and outside of just being the way “we do it in America”, I’ve yet to see any true argument in favor of them.

      Single table creates a clear playoff picture, it avoids the stupidity of crowning Salt Lake the Champions of the Eastern Conference, it still has playoffs AND rewards the top eight teams in the league, and you still get those rivalry games, without watering them down by playing too much in a season.

      None of those reasons fall into the category of “That’s the way they do it in Europe”.

      • DCUDiplomat96 says:

        The single table format being kicked around for MLS would not be used to determine the league champion. There would still be playoffs.

        Have you heard of the saying “if you give them a inch they(eurosnobs) will take a yard”?? thats exactly the angle here, People who want single table doesnt get the picture they still have the prem and la liga and whatever “league” from europe in their head. MLS is NOT competing with Europe MLS is competing with MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL and the NCAA.

      • Charles says:

        Good points.

        I don’t think you addressed my continuity point.
        BTW, we all agree the playoffs as the are now are a bit of a joke.

        I just tend to think of it as random pairings.

        My team drew the best regular season team.

  10. Henry M says:

    Nice debate going on, but one point against having a single table that isn’t getting as much play is that MLS will potentially grow to a much larger league (in terms of number of teams) than most of the European leagues given the sheer size of our country. NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, all seem to hover around 30-32 teams. When MLS grows to that size, roughly double the number of teams in the Premiere League or La Liga, our conference structure will allow us to have two divisions each of which is roughly the size of a typical Euro league table. Garber is just positioning MLS for the future.

  11. Charles says:

    I agree with all the comments.

    However my vote is for conferences. continuity playing a big part of why you have them now. Not like you need them right now.
    I think the single standings cry is desperation by the Euros to go only a single standing….without playoffs.

    Whoever wins the playoffs are the real winner in MLS, it is the way it will be done. Get over it. Now lets talk pro/rel ;-)

    It is good, embrace it Euros, embrace it. Those playoff games were more exciting than all but maybe 1 or 2 games of EPL when I followed it for the first half of last year.

    • Marc says:

      “Those playoff games were more exciting than all but maybe 1 or 2 games of EPL when I followed it for the first half of last year.”

      You can’t truly believe this can you? I mean…….really?

      • Charles says:

        Read Sounderatheart.com

        They have a three ( only two right now ) part series on parity.
        Pretty good summation of what I hate about those very poorly run leagues.
        Virtually every game in EPL is meaningless. I tried to watch last year, I really did, but every week, except a few it was the same thing, 8 games of “they will never win anything ever” versus “they will never wi anything ever” one of two games of “could win” versus “no way in hell” and maybe one game of “could win” versus “could win”.

        The stats in the blog I mention bore this out..it is a lot more extreme than I would have even thought.

        And yes I believe that. You must have missed the playoffs. I wouldn’t have wrote something I don’t believe.

  12. Jeff says:

    I don’t see MLS ever getting 32 teams. I’d be stunned if it ever grows beyond 24 teams. So that argument against single table is out the window. Besides, MLS started with two conferences, moved to three for a bit, and jumped back to two. So EVEN IF they did grow to above 30, they could always change in the future.

    And the single table we argue for is not to get rid of the playoffs. Top eight in the single table advance to playoffs. It just avoids the stupidity of half the Eastern Conference being from the West Coast. Same as the current playoff qualification set up, but without the idiotic West Coast team winning the Eastern Conference.

    To finish, I know it’s just opinion, but if you really thought the MLS playoff games were better than all but two EPL games from last year, I pity you. All the playoffs do for me is to bring the intensity of MLS on the pitch up to the EPL level. The playoffs have been great so far this year (watched all three games), but not better than the EPL games in my opinion.

    • The Gaffer says:

      I don’t see MLS going past 20 teams.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Charles says:

      I know it is just your opinion, but I watched the EPL games, there is no intensity there in most games, as most games don’t matter one lick. Like Everton is going to win the league….or get relegated. The latter COULD happen but it is not going to happen.

      Gaffer, you are the biggest honk for having a team in FL, the MLS is already at 19 and they are adding NY. So that is it ?

      A guy comes in for a major city, there are quite a few left, with $50 million to invest and MLS says NO ? Sorry, but you are just wrong there. MLS will blow past 20 in the next three years.

      • Logan says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t FIFA limit first division leagues to 20 teams? If that’s the case, would MLS have to work outside of FIFA to have more than 20 teams?

        I think once US and Canada can support more than 20 MLS teams is when a true 2nd division of soccer can take hold and then we can start talking pro/rel.

        • Charles says:

          You knew someone would open that can of worms ( yes I view pro/rel as worms ) sooner rather than later. ;-)

          • Logan says:

            I think it may be the only solution if US/Canada need and can support more than 20 teams as (if I’m right about the 20-team limit) I doubt MLS would work outside of FIFA, and the need for more teams could fill the need for a 2nd division. And of course once we have a true, solid 2nd division, then pro/rel is inevitable.

            Can of worms busted open.

          • Cavan says:

            FIFA has no ironclad guideline for number if teams in a first division. The 20 teams thing is just Sepp Blatter bloviating. MLS can expand all it wants. FIFA isn’t paying our bills. Until FIFA chips in, they have little say. They care more about having a sustainable, viable league here than about the number of teams.

            If some something crazy happened and the leagues in Europe went out of business tomorrow, the new league in its place would look more like our leagues. They do things the way they do because that’s how they’ve always done it, not because it’s inherently better. We need to do what works for us and forge our own way. The only thing that’s uncompromisable are the Laws if the Game themselves.

    • Alex says:

      i think the fifa limit for number of clubs in a league is 24, and over expansion kills a league. it dilutes the talent pool and just doesnt make sense. i think 20 or 21 is a good number. but for a league that continues to preach about how evil NASL ran their league of over expansion and independent clubs they seem to want to over expand too.

  13. Michael says:

    My opinion on the format that best suits the needs of a truly respectable soccer league and our desire to bring in more fans:

    – 20 teams, single table, balanced schedule, February to October
    – Top team at the end of the regular season is the Champion, they and the runners-up get automatic CL group stage berths (US or Canadian)
    – The 8 other teams in the top half of the table playoff for the third CL berth in the preliminary round (US or Canadian)
    – National cup winners gets the final CL preliminary berths (US-only and Canadian-only)
    – Rebrand the US Open Cup so that it is placed on a pedestal, and respected, cherished, something the fans want to win, with teams in CONCACAF play entering the latest, and the Final being the sport’s premier annual event in the US.

    – The season format should look like this chronologically:
    Beginning of MLS regular season (February)
    CONCACAF Champions League Knockout Stage (February-April)
    US Open Cup Qualifying/Canadian Championship (April-June)
    Beginning of US Open Cup proper (June)
    MLS Rivalry Week the week of the MLB All-Star Game (July)
    MLS All-Star Game and a few summer friendlies for teams not in continental competition (July-August)
    CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary and Group Stages (August-October)
    End of MLS regular season (Early October)
    Semifinals of US Open Cup proper (Mid October)
    MLS Champions League Qualification Playoffs (Late October-November)
    US Open Cup Final, the “Soccer Bowl” (Thanksgiving night)

    This will accomplish a few things. It will allow us to crown a true champion, it will allow more teams to have something to play for (and therefore more things for fans to be interested in), it will decrease the impact of fixture congestion somewhat, and it will allow for a significant amount of time between qualification for an event (US Open Cup, CL playoffs) and the actual event itself for teams to market the game and sell tickets.

  14. Bravo says:

    This may have been mentioned, but I don’t think it is quite as easy to maintain a rivalry when the closest team is 350 miles away. It is different when you don’t see the other team’s fans around town all the time and have friends and co-workers who support the other cities club. MLS doesn’t need to manufacture rivalries but they should encourage them in each region.

  15. Logan says:

    Rivalries are created by the fans–not the league. You can’t “manufacture” rivalries. Conferences are unnecessary. Single table format, balanced schedule just makes logical sense.

    • Alex says:

      i agree, i dont like the fact garber wants to manufacture rivalries. its true the nearest club for chicago fire s.c is like 300 miles away. how is that in any way local? i think that guy should just go back to working with NFL. his mindset failed when i worked for NFL europa and its bound to fail for MLS if he keeps at it.

  16. Logan says:

    Also, I find it interesting that Garber basically said that everyone around him is telling him to go to single-table format but that he has just decided not to listen to ANYONE around him.

    • Charles says:

      The difference is like the Sounder listening to the most vocal of the fans. They are trying to attract the new fans, a growing base, while trying to keep the old, a stagnate number.

      Look the playoffs for the prime example. Old wants single standings, new doesn’t care. So divisions, but then for the playoffs only take in the top 8. Crazy, yeah, but trying to appease both does that.

      Garber has a vision and the guys that own the teams like the vision enough to pay him $3 million a year and put up $40 million or more to join the vision.

      • Logan says:

        How do conferences work next season when there are 2 more teams added to the West?

        As for the new vs old argument, while I’ve always liked soccer, I didn’t really get into it until a little more than a year ago. So, I guess I’m a new fan and, to me, most of the “old” ways make perfect sense.

        I’m all for the playoffs (until pro/rel is possible). I just don’t know why anyone thinks the conferences work when west teams are winning the Eastern Conference Championship.

        Also, once pro/rel is possible, there’ll still be playoffs–just in the second division.

        Last year’s Coca Cola Championship playoffs were awesome, and a 2nd division here could be the same.

        But I am, I guess, old school in my way of thinking. I still think baseball should go back to two conferences where only the top team from each plays in the World Series.

        • DCUDiplomat96 says:

          uhhhh Mr Logan Major league baseball Has two leagues, called American and National. ALso the “championship” “Playoffs” if thats what they call it over there doesnt even crown a league champion. American soccer fans are different, we Crown our champions after they win the championship game after qualifying for the playoffs thru the regular season and winning thier end of the conference and the championship game. so what part you dont get again????
          Oh yeah the Supporters shield is NOT the league Champion, the MLS Cup is, the season ends when the mls Cup is raised, respect it or go home… thats how we roll baby. sorry !!!

          • Logan says:

            Yes, I meant the two leagues, not conferences in baseball. Thanks for correcting me.

            And telling fans to go away is no way to keep a league yr obviously passionate about afloat.

  17. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Point Blank “single table” will kill the League. if it was to happen lower teams wont make upb for the lack of crowds when the team has a bad season, more teams will be in risk to move, even with promotion added to the equation, it still wont benefit the lower teams because if they do get demoted, they wont get the fans support in the lower division as they would being in the first division. Conferences provide much better outlook for teams and rivalries are key, Next year Cascadia will have Portland and Vancouver, along with Seattle will bring serious implications in probably who might win the western conference. Im sure the Sounders Impact will have a serious Impact in the other towns(portland/Vancouver) Montreal will provide a more personal rivalry for Toronto FC, TFC already is getting the buts in seats they just need a halfway decent and competitve team, what way to bring the Montreal Impact to drive TFC to be more competitve, this will make the eastern conference real good. also the US geographically when it comes to pro sports andeven college sports its all regional. Developing a regional emphasis is key Look up the NFL AFL, or better yet why the MLB has the american league and national League. why u think the LA dodgers SF Giants rivalry is important, and the yankees vs red sox??? haveing Conferences or divisions just works better for American soccer. Just watch, also its natural for one conference to be the better conference on certain seasons( ofcourse you have to look at free agency for that. a good draft too.

    • The Gaffer says:

      A single table would not kill the league. Give me a break.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • DCUDiplomat96 says:

        @ Gaffer and single table gonna do any better?? you gonna alienate more potential american sports fans, bad enough the regular soccer rules are, not really appealing to the masses, unless Team USA is playing. sorry but ties arent taken seriously. Really how is the single Table format gonna win the hearts of minds of american soccer fans who arent eurosnobs??? Major League socccer Needs to carve its own way of things, and not because ” the rest of the world is doing it.” Oh yeah i hope Seattle Lose tonight too, bunch of euro wannnabees

        • Alex says:

          seriously what is with your eurosnob agenda? you should be greate ful for Seattle. they revived the soccer fan. 36k, a strong team and loyal fan base? is that your definition of eurosnob? then whats the american way, 10k, a weak team depending on chance to get to the playoffs and a bunch of bandwagon jumpers for fans? is that the american way? oh yea quoting you “THATS THE WAY WE ROLL BABY”! give me a break……….

    • Alex says:

      all in favor of kicking this ignorant american snob out say aye………

      • Marc says:

        I dont understand this guy…..A single table format works EVERYWHERE in the world. Why would it not work here?

        Sometimes I dispise my fellow americans thickness.

        • Charles says:

          Thickness ?

          You just re-enforce what I think about the Euridiots.
          They are so superior to everyone elses opinion.

          I really believe they don’t want soccer to succeed it the US, because others will follow it and take away from their superior knowledge. Wow, they are great.

      • Charles says:

        wow you got a lot of support there ;-)

        Single table WORKS ?

        No. It is VERY boring. Look at LaLiga, they just had the 5-0 championship game…IN NOVEMBER. What are they going to do with the rest of the season.
        not a coincidence the Sounders already out draw the rest of LaLiga.

  18. Jeff says:

    How would single table kill the league? Why would crowds stay away from a low table team in single table, but not in a conference set up?

    “Well, we liked DC United last year despite them being bottom of the Eastern Conference. But this year, with the same record, they are bottom of the single table and we can’t go view them.”

    Doesn’t make any sense at all. A bad record is a bad record, in a conference or a single table.

    Like or hate the single table, but a bad record really doesn’t make any difference in it that I can see.

  19. Jeff says:

    I don’t think MLS should cater to the American sports fan who doesn’t like soccer, because you will only win over a very small segment of them.

    MLS needs to cater to the many soccer fans in America who love the game but don’t follow MLS. Those fans are not calling out for conferences.

    Besides, MLS did cater to the non-soccer fan. Did you miss the first few years? Shootouts instead of ties? Refs not keeping time on the field? Stupid generic team names like Burn and Clash? It didn’t work. The non-soccer fans didn’t come because they don’t understand the game and don’t want to. The soccer fans who did come stopped coming because they were insulted.

    MLS under Garber has finally started to respect the sport of soccer, and it is paying off. Check out the expansions, check out building stadiums, check out the better quality on the pitch.

    Conferences won’t win over the non-soccer American sport fan. If anything, they’ll just laugh at New York being Western Conference Champions.

  20. CoconutMonkey says:

    I’m a little bummed about the Don’s comments.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I flat out disagree with the notion that more divisional play leads to better rivalries. Playing the same team more than twice a year doesn’t enrich a rivalry, it cheapens it IMO. Not only that, fans are going to miss out on some great match-ups. Imagine someone gives you these options (btw, I’m a Fire fan):

    A. New York visits your town this month, and LA visits next month.

    B. New York visits your town this month, and New York visits next month (and possibly a 3rd time).

    I can’t speak for all MLS fans, but I would choose option A without a doubt.

    As for the conference championships, what we have now is simply not getting the job done. I just can’t get behind a system that makes it possible for 2 western conference teams to play for the title of Eastern Conference Champions. However, if the leagues way of “fixing” the playoffs is simply to unbalance the schedule more, and put the top 4 teams from each conference on each side of the bracket, I would be a very sad fan. That type of system may work great for the NBA, but that’s the last thing I want to see in MLS.

    One of reasons (aside from the big names) why Americans like myself are drawn to soccer and the EPL, La Liga, etc, is how they’re structured so differently from the typical American league. I like the uncompromising fairness of a single table. I like how teams are playing in multiple competitions every season. I like how every team in the country, big or small, has a chance to play for the League Cup. And I love how teams are always playing for the chance to play for something more; be it for the CL, Europa League, or fighting for promotion.

    That said, America is a very big and very diverse place. I don’t expect NOR want MLS to be a mirror image of the European game. I like the fact that we have vibrant college game and a draft. I like the fact that our league tries to level the playing field financially. I like the fact that DC United won’t fall into a financial tailspin because they had a bad season. Hell, I’m not even totally opposed to playoffs, conferences, or an unbalanced schedule as long as it’s done fairly, and improves our level of play. But keep in mind that every time the league makes a move that seems like it will bring in the casual American fan, you might actually be taking away the things that might’ve drawn them in.


    By the way, I hope everybody is taking some time to share your comments/criticism (constructive hopefully) on the MLS websites. Actually, this is a rehash from what I wrote up there (please don’t ban me). Anyway, despite what Don Garber may have said, I think the league is always willing to change their mind on a lot of things if the fans make enough noise about it.

    • Marc says:

      Completely agree.

      As a new fan of the game a few years back. I became enthralled with the EPL, La Liga and the Bundesliga partly because the strucuture was so simple yet brilliant. I support a traditionally mid-table team in the EPL that as of the 1st day of the season I knew had NO chance of winning the league.

      Did this take away from my viewing enjoyment. Heck no! Every year my team gets better and we improve over the prior years table finish. That is what its all about, seeing your squad improve comparative to the other squads.

  21. Roger says:

    how about listening to the fans?

    The fans are,after all, the consumers of their product.Speaking on terms they understand.

    Ask fans if they want single table!
    Ask fans if they want promotion and relegation!
    make a pool and ask them!

  22. Eliot says:

    I’m on the pro-Single Table bandwagon. The last few conference title matches have been a laughable affair for MLS and trying to bolster rivalries by making clubs play each other more often doesn’t work, especially if you’re just assuming these rivalries are geographically based only. If the idea is to make Portland and Seattle play each other 4 times per season because they can be divisional rivals, but ignore a cross-continental rivalry because it doesn’t permit the usage of a division, then you’re just cutting everyone short. It’s like suggesting Boston and Los Angeles can’t have an NBA rivalry because they’re on opposite coasts, and trying to force a Laker-Sacramento hate fest on everyone.

    Balance the MLS schedule and put every club in a single table. The worst club in the league is going to be the worst club in the league – fans of that team aren’t going to take a moral victory in the form of “well we were last place in the conference, but that’s only 9th place instead of 18th.” 9th place in a conference of 9 isn’t going to sell tickets on the merit of having been closer to playoff qualification than 18th place.

    And again, a Western Conference team winning the Eastern Conference is just absurd. That alone could be a reason to abolish the conference system in MLS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>