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Poll: Should MLS Adopt a Single Table League Format?

MLS commissioner Don Garber killed the idea of a single-table in Major League Soccer next season this past Saturday during an interview with Fox Soccer Channel.

But what do you, the fans, think? Vote below and then voice your opinion in the comments section below. Should MLS have a single table or continue having conferences?

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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.
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39 Responses to Poll: Should MLS Adopt a Single Table League Format?

  1. Tom says:

    I vote single table with play-offs.

    Back to the real world- However they choose to do the divisions/conferences next season, I hope that they get rid of this two bracket system. One bracket (1-8 or 1-12), and no more “conference championship”, just call it the semi-finals.

  2. Robert says:

    No More Conferences! Single Table and reduce the number of entrants into the playoffs. 1-6 or 1-4. 5-8 can play in that “Jabron” Super Liga. Colorado Rapids home crowd was abysmal and embarrassing to watch. Also, add away goals rule so you don’t have teams parking the bus when they go up in aggregate.

  3. francesco says:

    With the league getting bigger confrences seem to make less and less sence. And why does Garber always mention confrences when asked about the single table format? How does a single table prevent rivalries from happening? He’s too bred in the ways of the NFL and american sports.

  4. Charles says:

    Who would have thought soccer bloggers would be 85% pro single standings ?
    Wait I did.

    I have a feeling that most in support of it are hoping to get rid of playoffs and a salary cap and put in pro/rel as the next step. Which for very obvious reasons, I am against.

    • Sergio Lima says:

      Obvious reasons? Please, I really would like to hear the reasons not to be on a single standings like the ones used on most soccer countries in the world and eliminate the playoffs.
      Don’t you have already playoofs on the cups? Why not a regular championship? That is the only way to find a real champion, everybody plays everybody twice, one at home and one away. And please don’t tell me that the American fans would not support something like that, if they support the league the way it is today they will support anything. In my oppinion, of course.

  5. LI Matt says:

    What exactly is the advantage of a single table?

    “Everyone else does it” is not a good enough reason. I don’t care what “everyone else” does. How would it make this league better?

    • Robert says:

      Conferences are for leagues with 30+ teams in which it would be impossible for teams to play a 3-4 game series like MLB, NFL and NBA. A single table will avoid the issue in which San Jose plays in the Eastern Conference, Salt lake city etc etc. etc. this is not the NFL!

    • Sergio Lima says:

      Everybody uses because is the real championship. Everybody playing against everybody at home and away. The only problem I see for US doing this is the lack of a second division and relegation. everybody playing on a single table must have a reason to keep fighting, if you are not concerned about being drop to the second division, you may not playing the second half of the season with that same passion. maybe that is were I would have to go back and agree with Charles.

      • Timmo says:

        In Australia we have the A-League which is single table and in no way are we going to ever see promotion/relegation not for a long time.

        We currently have 11 teams that play a 30 game season (all sides play each other 3 times) plus a final series involving top 6 sides.

        Team who is first during the regular season gets automatic spot in the Asian Champions League

        Champions after the final series or runner up if it is the same team who had the best record after 30 game regular season gets the other spot.

        A single ladder table would work in MLS particularly when you have pressure from FIFA to only have a maximum of 20 teams in your highest league. Your at 19 at the moment.

        The other fact is look at the current MLS cup and the last 2 MLS cups.
        2010 (Colorado versus LA or Dallas – Western Conference teams)
        2009 (Real Salt Lake versus LA – Western Conference teams)
        2008 (Columbus versus New York – Eastern Confernce teams)

        Shouldn’t the goal be that the MLS cup the big final have the BEST TWO TEAMS IN THE FINAL REGARDLESS OF THEIR GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION.

        Excuse me if I don’t know the ins and outs of American sports but like Australia too we compete in a congested sports market. You have American/canadian football, basketball, baseball, hockey. Australia has Aussie Rules Football, Rugby league, Rugby Union, Cricket etc.

        Hope you get a single table.

  6. adam says:

    posted in Peter King’s (SI) “Monday Morning QB” column:

    10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
    a. MLS Eastern Conference semis: New York vs. San Jose. Come again?

    Ouch

    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/peter_king/10/31/monday-morning-qb-week-8/5.html#ixzz142viV4E2

  7. Daniel Feuerstein says:

    I understand Don Garber wants to keep rivalry games going if you keep the conferences alive. Unfortunately that’s a false belief. You can have single table and keep the rivalry matches going and have playoffs with clubs from 1 to 8 finish in the standings.

    I also think Garber wants to make sure at least more than one club from the east goes to the playoffs and not have it all west (And the Other way around). Well that’s why it’s called the regular season. So these clubs can fight for that post-season playoff position.

    Just because you won’t go single table, doesn’t mean that Pro/Rel is attached to it.

  8. Dan says:

    This is retarded, conference doesn’t mean ANYTHING!!! Everyone plays each other equal times so what’s the f*ing point! All you are doing is rewarding teams playoff spots that don’t deserve it b/c they are in a certain conference.

    WTF are they gonna do when the West is 2 teams bigger than East next year?

    • Charles says:

      Who cares ? Montreal and NY will balance that out very soon.

      Eventually something in the Southeast will stick, and San Diego and others are begging for an owner to fill a void.

      No one is for a single standings has answered the question ?
      What are they going to do when they have more than 20 teams….

      I am guessing the answer is pro/rel inspite of what Daniel said above.
      Like I said a stepping stone to what Gerber and no owner would ever want.

      • Robert says:

        Charles, you’re an idiot. leagues should not be more than 20+ teams due to scheduling, player fatigue, cup games, international dates etc. you’re the exact reason why MLS sucks because they market to people like you who know nothing about the sport.

        • Jason says:

          Typical Eurosnob. If it’s not done the way the Big Five do it, then it’s not real soccer. Sorry, football.

          Mexico goes with an apertura-clausura format using 3 groups, *and* playoffs. But I guess they suck too.

          • Robert says:

            Not a Eurosnob. I watch FMF over MLS any day. FMF mops the floor with MLS trash.

          • Charles says:

            Jason,
            Please read Robert’s previous rants.

            It boiled down version is MLS sucks, MLS sucks, MLS sucks.

            Robert, if the league stays at 30 games per year or 34 now as they blow through 20 teams, how exactly is your rant meaningful in any way?

            It is the reason for conferences. Unequal schedule, but equal within conferences.

            You really should join a site that is titled Majorleaguesoccersuckstalk.com….seriously.

          • Alex says:

            before i start let me say im a proud american with very high interest in MLS. i actually watch and pay more attention to MLS than EPL. with that being said i think there is no denying that MLS does suck, alright? any league will mop MLS up and leave it for dead. and put away the “we beat man u in a friendly” card. ok so thats straight. old wash ups coming to play in MLS just provides more stereotypes to the league. top it all off that MLS is more interested in money than fan interest and club performance. so there.

            and what makes me mad more than anything is people who believe that no matter what, the american way is the best way. you dont treat soccer with american tactics. its like filling up a car with water its just not going to work. a Single Table is not euro snobish. check yourself before you wreck yourself. single table is accepted in majority of leagues all over the world. and for the record MLS having a more than 24+ will kill the league. it dilutes talent, increases number of games, top that off with complicated scheduling of CCL and USOC. i dont think MLS is going to do the exact same thing they preached that killed the NASL. and its true. besides if MLS did decide to become hypocrits FIFA established a limit for leagues to have clubs of 24. MLS has said that the will cap their growth for 20 until the forseeable future and with anticipation of establishing a club in Florida the most MLS would want to go to is 21. i believe you said conferences are good for leagues with 30+. correct me if im wrong i believe i saw that somewhere here. i digress you people are missing one critical thing, mls has always been a single table format, you just didnt notice it. like i said before conferences would make sense if the top 4 from each conference qualifies to the playoffs but no its the top 8 clubs qualify regardless of conference. sure the top 2 from each conference gets seeded in their own “conference” semis but what about the other 6? it just provides random pairing with no meaning. remember real salt lake? they sucked the regular season, barely made it and lucked out to the finals. and i think it has been pointed out that you can have rivalries, and a playoff with a single table. A single table doesnt automatically eliminate playoffs nor does it automatically bring in pro/rel (though it would be sweet). Garber is an idiot. if MLS has always had their clubs play every club twice then whats the damn point of conferences? you cant fit a cube into a round peg, much less run a soccer league like NBA or NFL. im interested in hearing your side

        • Sergio Lima says:

          Hey Robert, we don’t call people idiots here just because we desagree. Calm down, brother.

      • Alex says:

        I second the comment that you’re an idiot. like Daniel said pro/rel isnt automatically attatched to a single table. You can still have rivalries with single table, you can still have a post season mickey playoffs, and here is something i think you need to know, MLS has been operating as a single table ever since! thats right. conferences dont make sense. it would if the top 4 clubs from each conference would qualify to the playoffs but its not ITS THE TOP EIGHT CLUBS FROM THE OVERALL LEAGUE STANDINGS REGARDLESS OF CONFERENCE! some say conference also helps in seeding but i may have a idea for that, IF mls and garber finally grows some brains and balls and go with a single table the top eight clubs qualify for the playoffs and MLS host some sort of fifa-like gala where they randomly seeds clubs into playoffs. MLS can have a TV spot on ESPN, it can provide exciting match up and it is legit. thats my two cents

  9. Dan says:

    10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
    a. MLS Eastern Conference semis: New York vs. San Jose. Come again?

    HAHAHA LOVE IT!

    • Roger says:

      Well, I guess San Jose is east … of Honolulu.

      LOL

    • GSC says:

      can someone explain to me (in a non BS, biased way) the point of conference? thats not me being smart i actually dont understand what conferences are or how the work. so if anyone can explain that to me that would be sweet. thanks

  10. Dave C says:

    What I’ve never understood is why there are 2 conferences, but teams play the teams from the other conferences anyway, and the league is effectively organized into a single table to determine play-off positions anyway. So effective, it already IS a single table. And if you’re already using a single table, what is the point of the play-offs anyway? Why not just call the “Supporters Shield” winner the champion?

    The current system certainly doesn’t cut down on travelling, which I thought was the whole point of having conferences.

    Personally, I’m not against the idea of having play-offs per se, that’s the American way. I just wish they’d do it in a way that made sense. I’d rather it be done like this:

    (1) During the regular season, each team plays against every other team within the its conference 4 times (twice at home, twice away). You don’t play ANY games against teams from the other conference. So each team would play 28 regular season games.

    (2) At the end of the regular season, the two best East teams and the two best West teams go into the play-offs. This could possibly be expanded to 3 teams from each conference, but I think anything more than that would just cheapen the whole format (i.e. having the top 4 out of 8 go through from each conference is just too easy).

    I think this model would (a) reduce travel (especially if the 2 home and 2 away games against each team are played on consecutive matchdays as a double header), (b) keep the regular season relevant (since there is actually some competition to get into the play-offs, while at the same time giving everyone a decent chance), and (c) playing local rivals 4 times a year might generate more real rivalry. They would also make the play-offs more special, since you’d be playing against teams you haven’t already played during the regular season.

    • Roger says:

      I had though the same Dave C.Your system is the one that makes more sense for 18 teams.

      I thing the system to use should be designed to meke sense.if all the teams on the league have play each other,and they have play a 30 games seasson,we allready know what the best team of the seasson is.We dont need a play off. If we dont have interconference games in order to reduce travel, then play off make sense.

      What doesn’t make any sense to have 2 conferences, then play interconference games,then using a single table,qualify halve the teams for play offs.

      A tournament like the World Cup, wich have to crown a champion out of 32 teams in a month,needs a group and play offs structure.In other words,it is the amount of teams in relationship to the time available the factors that should determine if we should have single table or/and play offs, not the way they do it anywhere, even here.

      For knock out series we have the US Open Cup,wich to follow the same repeated pettern, is done NFL style and uses one game series instead of the logical,fear and balance home and away series.

  11. Steve says:

    Everyone here is being very short sighted. The conferences will be needed when the league expands past 20 teams. (Yes, that will be happening)

    With more than 20 teams, it gets harder to play each team twice because of the extra games needed. I love the playoff system of American sports and hate the single table format. What if a team is ahead by 7 points? That makes the last 2 games meaningless. Or, what if your team drops/draws a game or two, and loses points in a single table? Does it really show who the best team is?

    The playoff system needs to be modified slightly, but stick with the bracket system. Nothing is more exciting than playoffs in any sport.

    • Tom says:

      One is a consistency test, the other is a best-verse-the-best test. In England, for example, they have both tests- the league, the FA cup, and the Champions league. It is fun to see clubs tested in these different ways. We don’t have a strong domestic cup due to culture and geography. We don’t have a strong Champions League for the same reasons (although this could, and hopefully will, grow). Thus, I agree, it is nice to have a supporters shield and a play-offs.

      I would prefer one bracket, however, based on regular season record (maybe as a nod to the divisions, award those winners the top seeds even if a second place team from a different division has a better record).

      My guess is that the league goes to three divisions soon. I’m OK with that if we can one bracket play-offs, and we don’t play teams in our division more than twice.

  12. Tom says:

    Fans who go to games don’t want to see the same opponents 4 times but not see the other half of the leage at all.

    You need to play a rival every season, but not 4 times every season. The Yankees and Red Sox became rilvals before unbalanced scheaduling, in fact, a lot of fans feel they play too often now and it cheapens the rivaly.

    One thing that makes a rilvaly, is the ability to travel to the other stadium. Geography takes care of that. (By the way, one of Colorado’s closests rilvals- Kansas City-, is in the other division).

    Travel is not reduced for all teams. Some of these models have the Texas teams going to the East- this would increase travel for those teams.

    You can have single table with play-offs and not have it be an agenda for no play-offs. Somebody commented what would be the point? The point is to make teams test themselves against the best teams one more time. We don’t have strong Champions League like Europe, and we don’t have a cup tradition, so the play-offs play an important role. Its fun to see the best play the best one final time.

    You can have divisions and have one bracket play-offs. One bracket play-offs avoid San Jose being in the “East” final. But more importantly, one bracket play-offs reward good seasons by keeping teams with better records apart in the early rounds.

    Single table would, however, be a clearer way for fans to figure out seeding and play-off qualification races during the regular season. Oh, and you can have single table with slightly unbalanced schedules (I favor a 30 games season, in a 18 or 20 teams league, you have a few teams you only play once), or divisions with balanced schedules or unbalanced schedules. It is just cosmetic, as long as you have single bracket play-offs and a seeding system largely based on over-all record.

    • Charles says:

      Don’t you think that soccer has just about the right amount of games to do it perfectly ?
      For instance baseball, with 162 games each team plays each team a LOT.
      Football with 16 can’t come close to playing them all.

      Soccer with 34 games ( and I think that Gerber is thinking long term here by going to that ) could be perfect.

      ie. lets say it is 24 teams, play everyone in your conference twice for 22 games, then play everyone in the other conference once for another 12. Bingo 34 and everyone plays everyone.

      • CoconutMonkey says:

        Assuming the league grows to 24 teams and would like to cap the number of league matches at 34, I like that format a lot. It cuts down on travel a bit, still keeps the schedule balanced enough to be fair and interesting (playing the same team 4 times a year isn’t interesting IMO), but unbalanced enough to necessitate a post-season.

        It would make me even happier if they crowned conference champions on points alone (maybe give them some cash and a SuperLiga birth?) and single bracket playoff.

        PS. I’d also like a pony. ;)

        Only problem is, we’ve got 18 teams in 2011 with 34 matches on the docket. If single table isn’t…*er* on the table. What would be the best unbalanced schedule with conferences?

      • Tom says:

        Charles- I’d be fine with 2 conferences of 12 with the schedule you suggested- as long as the play-offs are one bracket (perhaps the conference winners as seeds 1 and 2). I’d like conference winners to be determined by season, not two brackets as we have now.

        I’d prefer one table with teams playing near neighbors and other rivals twice (for instance the Candien teams could all play each other twice even though in a conference set-up Toronto and Vancover would be separated- also last year’s cup finalists could always play twice- and Colorado-KC are near neighbors even though in most setups were in different divisions). But it is not a big deal- and on the whole I like that.

  13. NJ says:

    I agree, if your schedule has everyone playing each other twice, regardless of the conferences, then whats the point of the conferences. Does anyone understand the logic. The only thing you’re doing is ensuring at least 2 teams from each side of the country make the playoffs, but usually 2 teams do.

  14. Ultra says:

    It has never made sense, nor does it now, for MLS to have conferences. However as the league hits 20+ teams it will probably be necessary. It was stupid this year to have a perfectly balanced schedule, yet use the conferences and have a wacky bracket in the playoffs. But until they get to whatever number of teams they decide to stop at, they’ll have to tinker with the system.

    HOPEFULLY, at the very latest, by the 2022, MLS is settled in with 24 clubs spanning across the country. That’s a good number, two 12 team conferences works well(home and home in conference and one game vs. the other for 34 games), and it allows MLS to get back into the Southeast.

    However all that being said the 24 team D2, D3 and D4 in England all play 46 game single table seasons. AND 4 of the teams compete in playoffs and there is the FA Cup. Why couldn’t MLS do it? Keep playoff teams at 8, lose the pointless friendlies(play them in the offseason) and it could work. Start the season a little earlier and end a little later. Expand rosters if necessary. The more games the better when it comes to selling soccer to American sports fans.

    Conferences or no, the league is progressing. Hopefully it keeps getting better and can one day compete with some of the big Euro leagues in terms of quality of play. And hopefully one day I’ll once again have a team to support in MLS.

  15. Manuel says:

    Single table and no playoff’s. If you have to have a playoff take the top four clubs in a two-leg semi final and a two-leg final. The idea of having the final at a neutral site just plainly sucks! This isn’t the NFL! These clubs are already in meaningful competitions such as the US Open and the Champions League even if most of them don’t take them too seriously. Playing in additional games such as playoff’s reduces the meaning of the games during the regular season. The Galaxy already whipped the Sounders twice during the regular season do we really need to see them whip them again in the playoffs? And to have a 34 game season played in 32 weeks is a burden for any top flight player. Get it together Gerber and company!

  16. Michael says:

    Single table, with playoffs — BUT, the playoffs would be for Champions League qualification only.

  17. mo says:

    god i cant stand the fans here in America that are proponents of “Americanizing” the sport here. They have ruined socccer in this country. You don’t need playoffs. The US open cup is the playoff.

    i’ll start watching MLS again when they start to get their act together and look at the successful leagues and how they are doing it. Single table Single table single table. And yes eventually pro/rel.

    Garber is a clown

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