Why MLS Cup Playoffs Are A Joke

July 10, 2010 - Kansas City, Kansas, United States of America - 10 July 2010: The Adidas MLS Jabulani match ball. Chivas USA defeated the Kansas City Wizards 2-0 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, Kansas City, Kansas.

Well, well, well, what just happened within a three day period? The only two sides that qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs in the Eastern Conference were knocked out after their home leg. While the Earthquakes put three past the Red Bulls and won 3-2 on aggregate, the Columbus Crew — who were also down by a goal — put two past the Colorado Rapids and were forced into extra time by a Conor Casey goal.

It took penalties to find a winner after Brian Carroll of the Crew sailed his penalty over the crossbar. So now Colorado Rapids will be hosting the Eastern Conference Final against the San Jose Earthquakes. If you’re scratching your head and wondering how these two sides reach the Eastern Conference Final and why one of them is hosting it, this is how the front office of MLS is doing their playoffs. Those special wild card spots when most of the west coast sides earned more points than the rest of the east.

Who remembers that Fed-Ex Office commercial where airport security is checking out this woman’s sales figures folder and calls in their so-called expert. As they are turning the pages, he says “I’m Yawning, I’m yawning some more, and (then he starts to snore).” Well in fact when it comes to the current set up of the MLS Cup Playoffs for the last three seasons I see it like this. “I’m laughing, I’m laughing some more, and now I’m laughing on the floor uncontrollably.”

As much as many would say we need single table and promotion/relegation, I can tell you that the first answer is more realistic than both combined. When MLS Commissioner Don Garber came on at halftime during the first leg at Pizza Hut Park on Fox Soccer Channel and discussed changing the playoffs and never removing the two conference tables, I found it interesting and frustrated.

It’s very clear that the conference tables for the playoffs are not working anymore. If we are going to clearly reward sides for truly making a strong run into the playoffs, the east and west monikers must be removed. I understand that Don Garber wants to make sure there are at least two sides on both coasts to make the post season, but now it’s time to make the league a bit more credible by allowing the top eight positions on a single league table to make the playoffs regardless of where their locations are in both Canada and the USA.

If the playoffs had a different look it would have been:

  • #1 Los Angeles vs. #8 San Jose,
  • #2 Real Salt Lake vs. #7 Colorado,
  • #3 New York vs #6 Seattle
  • And finally #4 FC Dallas vs. #5 Columbus.

Of course top of the table would automatically advance into the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League of next year but the next round would have the LA/SJ winner face against the NY/SEA winner and the next round would have another goal aggregate series, with the final as a single match.

I’m glad Don Garber and their competition committee realizes that something is broken. This current set up has failed all of us who follow our league. I want to see competitive soccer just as much as you do, but right now it’s a joke and the conferences must be thrown out completely for the regular season and the playoffs. One single table is the way to go for the future. The conferences are useless in the regular season and the playoffs. It’s time to use common sense with this problem and for MLS to grow up.

67 thoughts on “Why MLS Cup Playoffs Are A Joke”

    1. Why is a DC fan even talking about playoffs? It’s not like it matters to you what happens.

      To everyone else: MLS is not going to change itself into the “American Premier League”. Get over it.

      1. @ Matt: Asking for a single table has nothing to do with the Premier League. I love the playoffs. I think Daniel would agree that playoffs are awesome, when done correctly. But right now MLS is not doing playoffs or conferences correctly. MLS is going to grow and change a lot in the next 25 years. Everyone has an opinion about how they should go about it. Get over it.

      2. God forbid we have clubs whose owners first concern is quality of play, not market share, or protecting other sports properties, or the 1000 other agendas that drive MLS. Thanks for standing in the way of progress, and making a ridiculous copycat argument to cover for an MLS for which quality is job #153.

      3. Talking about pro/rel with MLS single entity die hards is like talking to Soviet citizens in a bread line…

        ….Der is noooo vay we will get Saveways or Ralfs here. Be a good citizen, stand in line, shut mouth… Our glorious leader Garberchev is doing best he can.

    2. No. I’m not mad because of that. RBNY lost it all on their own. The Quakes deeserved to advance. I just think that it’s silly now to have these wild cards and now it’s all four sides from the West in the Semis fighting for two different Conference Finals.

      It’s time to make this make more sense.

      1. What also doesn’t make sense is that a team is rewarded for simply being located on the east coast. LA and RSL have much better records than Columbus and New York, yet they have to face Dallas and Seattle while Columbus and New York face lower seeded teams (even though it didn’t actually help them).

        1. Raza excellent point. Also, why must a MLS club be granted based on City population!? If a town/city can support a club let it happen. Open up the league!

  1. I agree that the playoffs are whack. What is the point of having conferences if they playoffs can be so goofy? We have an even number of teams in both conferences, so why not just do the top four teams in the west and the top four in the east. Sure the third and fourth in the East sucked balls, but the playoffs would come across as more organized, logical, and professional than the joke that we have now.

  2. How would a single table be different? We would still have four West teams in the final four if we go by the example above (LA, Dallas, Colorado, Seattle). The only difference is that we would not call it West Conference teams anymore. I guess east conference teams fans do not want to be shown as part of a week MLS region anymore. Can we find a better topic to talk about? Go LA Galaxy.

    1. Agreed Bola. It doesn’t make sense to me to complain about which teams got in to the playoffs when the exact same 8 teams would have gotten in under your proposed changes.

      Yes, the matchups would be different, but if you accept that the only title that really matters is MLS Cup champ, and not some conference champion, then it doesn’t really matter.

      What’s interesting is that a lot of NBA fans would love to have a playoff setup like this, where the playoff contenders weren’t limited by geographic location and the best teams actually got in. Meanwhile, MLS fans here seem to be complaining that they get to watch better teams because the geography doesn’t make sense.

    2. Bola, I agree with you.

      I think it is a very good topic that is just aout of focus. This play offs system got to go! I dont think anybody is arguing that anymore. The question should be:

      -do we need play offs at all ?
      instead of the :
      -how do we make play off better ?
      that we are getting.

      If you think about it ,it is the same MLS pattern. Not to ever deliver the real soccer product. We dont have clubs, we have something like that; we dont have a real US Open Cup,we have something like that; no real 2nd div but a “reserve league”(something like that), we dont have real conferences but….guess what,something like that.

      Would it be acurate if I say that we dont have a real soccer league but……….something like that ?

      1. The MLS authenticity gap is huge, and at the root of every problem the game faces in this country. It’s Epcot Center soccer. We get scarves and a nice little stadiums. We’re not supposed to notice that it’s structured more like Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus than EPL.

        It must have seemed like a good idea to embed D1 soccer in our domestic sports establishment in 1994. Here’s where it gets weird: We gave them the ability to put their costs first, but we couldn’t imagine they’d purposely cripple it.

  3. Funny that the fan of the team that got the biggest break is the one complaining.
    This comment comes from a fan from the team that got the biggest screw job.
    Just do like I am doing and think of them as random seeds.

    All three of the favorites have lost so far…..

    Single table, pro/rel ?……..“I’m laugh­ing, I’m laugh­ing some more, and now I’m laugh­ing on the floor uncontrollably.”

    1. Laughter is the best medicine. Indeed, it’s better than letting a cabal of quasi interested billionaires control the quality, and the parameters, of first division soccer to shield the rest of our domestic sports establishment, and their portfolios, from soccer.

      Joke’s on you.

  4. If teams are playing each other and traveling anyways, there is no need for conferences.At ther end of the seasson the team with more points have been clearly the best! The problem is the show mentality, “play offs are exiting” so we have to have them.

    The system implemented doesn’t make sense because is not design to make sense . MLS is way too artificial and fake , and sooner or latter it will have to be realized that is the reason why so many fans like me are having a hard time swallowing it.

  5. MLS should have never implemented conferences as far as I’m concerned. There has never been enough teams to justify having them. This year they played a balanced schedule with all 16 teams, but used the conferences to award some off the playoff spots. It makes no sense to do that. I personally hate the use of unbalanced conference and division based play in other sports. As an avid MLB, NBA and NHL fan I wish they would just play home and home vs. every other team for the regular season and award playoff spots based on that. I love the playoff system but it loses some luster when teams get in via such a screwy system.

    However they will need conferences once the league goes beyond 20 teams, which is fine, as long as it makes sense. Top 4 from each conference getting in would work. They could stop at 24 teams and still play a balanced single table though, just like the FA Championship, League 1 and League 2 do in England.

  6. No one has given me a good explanation about what’s wrong with the playoffs other than a naming issue with the conference champion. So either San Jose or Colorado will be th Eastern champs? BFD! I say this as someone who was cold and wet screaming for another goal at RBA on Thursday. Given how well SJ and COL have done, would you have wanted KC or CHI in the playoffs? Someone above mentioned that people are complaining about having the top 8 teams in the playoffs. What more do you want? The games have been exciting and close-everything you want in a post season.
    As a Red Bull fan, I am proud they finished 1st in the East. It is a recognized accomplishment in any American sport. Finishing 3rd? Not so much. It had some traction in the local media particularly with the Yankees losing. It’s too bad they lost.

    1. “No one has given me a good explanation about what’s wrong with the playoffs other than a naming issue with the conference champion”.

      I’ll give it a crack:

      -It’s unfair to the teams. 3 out of the top 4 teams are on the same side of the bracket.

      -Its unbalanced (which makes it more unfair). 2-leg quarterfinal and single leg semi. I realize the idea behind this setup is to give fans a chance to see at lease one playoff match, but also reward better performing teams with home field advantage in the semis. HOWEVER, since the seeding is wonky, a team like Dallas (50pts, 3rd in West) may not be able to host a match, while Colorado (46pts, 5th in West) will. Basically, the system did the opposite of what it was meant to do.

      Kudos to you for making it out to the match though. I’d be lying if I said this year’s matches haven’t been exciting (the 2nd half of RSL v Dallas was especially awesome). But the goal of a post-season isn’t just to produce entertainment IMO, it’s also for rewarding teams (and fans) for a successful season, crowning a worthy champion/CCL representatives. Right now, we’re 1 for 3.

      1. Colorado and San Jose did superbly, but in fairness they were rewarded for finishing behind Dallas and Seattle, both of which had to play better teams than Colorado and San Jose.

        If you look at the single table format above, RSL-Dallas was #2 vs. #4, and Columbus-Colorado was #5 vs. #7. Teams in Dallas’s and Seattle’s position might need to think about tanking games late on next year.

  7. MLS is a joke. Its been well over a decade and most of the stadiums were empty and it was the playoffs for fucks sake! Garber, stop expanding the league and focus on getting those stadiums packed, fix the playoff system and merge with USL! Give soccer fans a proper league and stop trying to convert American Sport fans into soccer fans. I can barely sit through a MLS match anymore because I am so frustrated with this league.

    1. Don’t worry Robert. For every ten fans that have gotten frustrated with MLS, ten new fans have taken their place. This is called treading water, and it’s what MLS does best. They’re the only Division one we have. They bought it. They figure we have no other choice but watch.

      Don’t worry though, Don Garber recognizes the problems. MLS is under no pressure do much about them, though.

      1. soccerreform,

        What happened to A League/USL FIRST division ?
        I would think that you would have loved that league. Why didn’t it succeed ?

        Sounders CHOOSE A League OVER MLS for more than a decade !!!!
        Don’t think that MLS wasn’t courting Seattle, they were BIG TIME. The owner of the Sounders, like you, didn’t like the MLS structure.

        So why did MLS succeed where the A-League failed ?

        1. MLS is the only soccer league in a major soccer nation that openly conspires against it’s own teams. Because they are a majority owner of each, it only makes it easier.

          While I’d argue MLS hasn’t succeeded at providing us authentic D1 soccer, is a feeder league of players and supporters, and is designed in large part to protect the US domestic sports establishment from soccer, and suffer from stagnant and falling TV ratings as a result, they draw bigger crowds for one main reason: They are first division, and the transition was played like promotion. Same will happen in Portland and Vancouver.

          You know the ridiculous part, though? MLS calls this drama and excitement a honeymoon. When a team exceeds the growth curve, they say it’s not sustainable. That’s how they rationalize average attendance records languishing in 1996.

          The world over, first division games draw much larger crowds, on average, than second division. Promotion is always exciting, even when it’s artificial. Another way we’re the same, and different.

          Lower div experiments with pro/rel are not an accurate representation of anything. Few care when a AA minor league baseball team goes AAA. It’s getting to the show that matters.

          Just remember, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. Your big early crowds and excitement isn’t sustainable. MLS isn’t building big enough stadiums to handle it. The slow growth curve must remain unchallenged in order to keep soccer young and fragile enough to justify the fast food business model MLS imposes on it.

          Keep judging MLS by financial solvency, and you should expect nothing less. In ’98, MLS sent 22 players onto World Cup rosters. In ’10, including Findley, that number dropped to 5. Big crowds and excitement are just irrational exuberance. Bob Bradley was kept on as USMNT coach, after ridiculous dog and pony show with Klinsi.

          MLS is happy to manage your expectations. Saves them a ton of $.

          1. Thanks for the post. You bring up good points.
            I am a huge proponent against the small stadiums, like those are the end game or we are going to have to start over.

            You didn’t answer the question however.
            Why didn’t the A-League….Your type of league….Thrive or at least survive and compete ? IF it is a better way to go, why is it failing ? Or is it still going to ?

          2. The failure of our lower divisions is an indictment of the system in which they are trapped. USSF bears that responsibility.

            Our lower divs don’t do well because, in the US pro sports mindset, unless the top league has an interest in the lower leagues (minor leagues) they are viewed as competition, and are either killed or absorbed.

            It’s a caste system, and if the lower castes don’t fall in line, they are generally crushed. US lower soccer leagues suffer from minor league stigma and are trapped underneath a closed MLS that insists on slow growth.

            I never said MLS didn’t have a brilliant plan. USSF are to blame for letting them get away with it. American sports leagues do one thing really well: They crush, subdue and absorb competing leagues, and we are conditioned to believe that it improves the game.

            MLS, as part of the US pro sports establishment, adopts a similar divide and conquer approach, on a sport that rejects it. It seems to me that this US pro sports strategy works under three specific conditions: The league is globally dominant, the sport is domestic, and the teams aren’t exposed to international competition.

            Of course, this is the opposite of soccer. Even the best leagues are not powerful entities, endowed to control clubs. They don’t openly conspire against one another, or their own clubs, like MLS does. Seems to me that this is why soccer thrived as an export, while efforts like Don Garber’s Euro American Football circus die a painful death.

            Under conditions in which MLS has financially stabilized D1 soccer in a place where the majority of US supporters can’t watch – who is going to watch the minor league game? In their minds, this is all good thing. Potential competition from lower divs is tamped down, and an anemic form of soccer is in place that protects owner pocketbooks, and doesn’t pillage fans from their higher revenue sports.

            It is a conspiracy – but at the same time, it’s an accepted way of doing business for our entitled, protected, and insulated pro sports owners. Nobody pays a bigger price than our lower divisions, and it’s USSF who bears the responsibility for their 75% fail rate. There are hundreds of investors out there, diving into a system that can’t accommodate them. Unfortunately, USSF has responded by means testing D2 owners, and threatening to relegate teams whose majority owners aren’t worth more than $20 million. So not in the spirit of soccer, where accessibility triumphs in every country, for every player, and every club.

            When conspiracy and status quo merge, reform is needed. Hope that helps to answer your question. The problems are systemic, and depend on the stigma of soccer. Our lower divisions bear the brunt of the MLS strategy to slow the growth of the game, while USSF quietly acquiesces.

          3. You still did not answer the question, you avoided it by saying USL/A-League was second division.
            It was NOT second division. It was another first division.

            It became second division when teams that could make A LOT more money in MLS left. Vancouver, Portland, Seattle will be HUGE successes in MLS.

            MLS is NOT dying a slow death like you said, they have $120-150 million being invested in it in the next two years, with franchise ( I love that term ) values going through the roof.

            USL ( your type of league ) is dying a slow death….even considered 2nd division now. And as I have and many others on blogs like this said, Second division will never be supported in the US enough to make sense.

  8. i dont think we can ever achieve a perfect balance between the proven world standard stucture and traditional american elements into a soccer league. i believe you cant run a soccer league like a american sport just like you cant fit a cube into a round peg. im not against the playoff, i actually like it but i believe conferences and playoffs are out of whack in MLS. its turning MLS into a joke, as if isnt already. MLS cant keep rigging and changing playoff structures to satisfy east/west conference franchise club ratio. we been basically running on single table branded with conferences. i cant believe garber is so stupid to not realize it. we play ever club equal number of times, there are equal number of clubs in each conference so whats with conferences? its only making us look foolish and its dead weight. its time MLS dumped it and just let clubs compete. if a majority of western franchise clubs qualify to the playoffs then so be it. it just means individual western franchise clubs are better than eastern franchise clubs. its called competition and it can exist without conferences. maybe americans are ignroant.

    and MLS single table wouldnt be a move to look more like european clubs (even though it is used by countries other than european countries) renaming franchise clubs from kansas city wizards to sporting kansas city or from dallas burn to fc dallas is a move to look more like euro clubs. you wont complain about that but for something that would benefit the league you would? but i have been thinking of ways MLS can do to improve and make conferneces relevant if they choose to continue to be ignorant, they can have the top 4 franchise clubs from each conference qualify to the playoffs. then you have two playoff tiers one for eastern conference franchise clubs. you’ll have true east/west champions. or you can a longer season by completly eliminating playoffs instead opting for the #1 of the west play a final game against the #1 of the east at the end of the regular season. only problem with that is that a franchise club thats not #1 from one conference can have more points and be a better franchise club that the #1 franchise club from the other conference. therefore more controversies. but i think its time for mls to put on some big boy pants and grow up not for the sake of looking like the premier league but to actually improve the league. i think their problem is that they are too proud to let go of their NFL ways. but idk. real soccer fans know better than nfl fans dressed up like soccer fans.

    1. All we have to do is settle for nothing less. The beauty of independent clubs and pro/rel is that quality is priority one, owners aren’t joining together to control everything, allowing hundreds of non quality agendas to intervene.

      MLS remains in the same rut it was born in. It’s the only league in the world that could conspire to limit quality of play, and protect the US pro sports establishment. No other league in the world has the power to conspire against it’s own teams. That’s the fact.

      I think Garber does recognize the problem, and doesn’t want to go down in history as the commissioner of the first soccer league in the world to measure success by financial solvency alone. Problem is, he’s paid a lot of money to do very little about it.

  9. As MLS expands to 19 and eventually 20 teams, first and foremost the term “playoffs” needs to be abolished.

    There should be a single table with the ultimate goal being to have the most points to win the Supporter’s Shield and qualify for CONCACAF. Teams 1-8 then make the post-season MLS Cup tournament to determine the other CONCACAF spots. Make each round a home-and-home, aggregate goals with away goals weighted, leading up to a single match final at the neutral site of MLS’s choice. Done and done.

  10. At some point we have to consider, that there is a slight posibility, that MLS pattern to do things certain way is not a coincidence.

    I have heard a few journalist mention that NFL related interest got involved on the old NASL and play an important role on its fall down.The old NASL was having big crowds,and it was costing the NFL money,so they decided to destroy the NASL from the inside.

    Association football is the most popular sport on the planet;we are a country full of emigrants; soccer leagues as a general follow a philosophy of universality and inclusion wich is completly oposit to the monopoly style that NFL is conceived. In other words,have no doubts that our game is a big threat to some interests in american sports. Dont be fooled,it is a silent war.

    Look what we have,a comisioner that comes from NFL.A few “investors” of the league also have NFL links,some own NFL teams. We have “leaders” that never tell us to dream big, or that they have big plans for the game in north america. They tell us that they want it to be entertaining instead.

    Small is the number of clubs compare to the size of the continent.Small is the number of traveling fans they want to allow to travel.Small is the salary cap.Small are the rosters. The design of the league makes it look very amateurish.Maybe small is the way they want to keep it!

    I have never believed on conspiracy theories,however they are sometimes real; and faced with so much nonsense,at some point we have go like…”hhummmm what’s going on here !?”

    someone that designs a play off system like that is either very stupid, or very smart. Either one makes a good case to get rid of them.Dont you think?

    1. No I don’t think. The amount of interest overseas is very overblown.
      Sounders already have mid EPL crowds.
      Third highest in LaLiga.

      NFL style league would demolish the leagues they have in place right now.

      Who were the NFL interests in the NASL ?
      Huge NFL fan and huge NASL fan, didn’t realize there was a connection ? Is there really ? Name names !

      1. Jorge Ramos mentioned it on a recent entervew with Giovani Savarece about the Cosmos coming back to life.I also remember Andres Cantor mention it a few years ago.

        My point is,having listen to such rumors,and looking at MLS style of doing things, and noticing their multiple NFL connections, it will be naive not to consider the posibility that , maybe they never get things right because they dont want to.

        Look at their pattern of sssllloooowwwww growth,allways thinking little, and scaring us all the time with “if we grow to quick it will be so bad” “if we get to big it will be so bad”.Huge area of the country completly neglected. What vision or plans have they put in place for assoc. football beyond MLS? Are we ever going to develop a football clubs structure design to cover all those cities without MLS franchises ?When are we going to have real clubs that have the economical freedom to compete(forget about the premiership for two seconds)with Mexico’s?

        I do have no proofs,but when the rumors plus the evidence point in the same direction,we have to be open to the question..what if ?

        I do feel a lot unconfortable about MLS’s comisioner coming from NFL.

    2. MLS poses zero threat to the NFL regardless of the popularity of the game around the world. Any suggestion to the contrary is delusional.

  11. Also, you must not have followed the NASL at all. NASL was NOT drawing big crowds. NY yes, Seattle,Vancouver ok, the rest were spotty and beyond pathetic.

    1. NASL started from ground zero. They returned top flight pro soccer to this country after a 36 year absence. Cosmos were outdrawing Yankees and Giants.

      What happened when the Sounders were on the cusp of outdrawing Sehawks and Mariners?

      They shut down season ticket sales.

      1. I am well aware of the history of NASL from Kyle Rote Jr. on. I was attending games then.

        First of all, I attended every game in the last two years of the Sounders. No one needed seasontickets to go the games. I never had them and noone kept me/restricted me from going to the games.

        Second of all, sorry but you have NO idea what you are talking about. Sounders had higher attendance than the Mariners by a factor of 4.
        I went to 30 games or so for each for many years. That was if you were stupid enough to believe the Mariners attendance numbers.
        The Sounders were never close to the Seahawks outside of a playoff game against Ft Lauderdale and the original game in the Kingdome.

        Just answer the question for Roger and I guess yourself….
        Who is “THEY” that allegedly shut down season tickets ? The NFL ownership or the MLS ownership ?

        1. Supposed to read MLB ownership not MLS…but while we are on conspiracy theories…maybe it WAS MLS.

          That is a good theory as AEG, Hunt Sports etc, have made 10s of millions of dollars !!!

          BTW, I hope they make billions. Anyone that invested in soccer/brought pro soccer in this country has my vote for getting filthy rich !

          1. It’s a trade off. They brought top flight pro soccer back to the US, and embedded it into a US pro sports establishment more interested in jamming it into a restricted niche than giving it the freedom to grow in quality, ticket buyers and viewers, not just via expansion.

            It’s time to say thanks, but we’ll take it from here.

          2. If Seattle opens all of Qwest, and averages double the capacity of brand new mini MLS stadiums, it would be too big of an embarrassment to the league. The league is the entity. It must not be embarrassed.

            Also, if Sounders average as many fans as top teams in the world, some may wise up and wonder why the league limits their team to Costa Rican first div quality.

        2. Since MLS owns all their teams like Denny’s owns all their restaurants, MLS shut down Sounders season ticket sales. The rest isn’t really an alien autopsy. A guy that was tasked with exporting NFL single entity to Europe is the commissioner, his loyalties are easy to detect. Then you have the Krafts and Hunts, the Leweikes, and the other dozen or so former NFL guys draped over MLS like a leisure suit.

          We all know there was league decision to mandate new stadium sizes at a fraction of NFL stadium sizes. Today, Seattle averages more than new mini MLS stadiums can hold. What a slap in the face to MLS plan it would be if they averaged 50k. Maybe not impossible if season tix sales weren’t cut off three months before opening day.

          No tighter family than US pro sports owners. Nobody wants to see MLS take market share from NFL. Superbowl commercials are going for more than the MLS salary cap. Can’t have a sport with no commercials take away from that racket.

          That would be bad for business, not a conspiracy theory.

          1. Sounder season ticket sales weren’t cut off…in fact they didn’t sell all season tickets this year. It was close, but not complete. But don’t let the facts stand in the way of your nut-case ramblings.

          2. Oh Bobby, did you really think that press release the Sounders sent out in January telling the world they were cutting off season ticket sales didn’t have something to do with limiting season ticket sales?

            Sorry, didn’t mean to go all “Loose Change” on you. Well tried with the discredit, man, but in this case, the truth is out there.

            Here’s another simple fact for you: MLS “slow growth” strategy is designed to “slow growth”. I know, this is like freaking Close Encounters for some of you, but you’ll notice that those two phrases actually match up letter for letter.

            Ramble on about how MLS is the spunky little league that could, despite the fact that it’s owners conspire to slow it’s growth. Then get over yourself.

        3. It’s really terrific that Sounders can draw so well despite waving fans off, supposedly in the name of artificial scarcity. Why do they need a marketing department at all? As long as nobody actually turns fans away, it’s all good…..

          Yeah, that’s not fishy at all.

          Sounders are getting a little out of hand, and the US pro sports establishment is trying to rein them in.

          1. So you are saying they will never open up the rest of QWest ?

            You are going on record saying that ?

            I disagree and hopefully we will find out.

  12. Daniel, promotion and relegation aren’t goals in and of themselves. It’s the independent, unlimited clubs that necessitate them, and blogger apathy in the way.

    Let’s get realistic:

    It’s also time to stop giving Garber kudos for noticing problems. He can’t fix them. The solution has already been achieved in the eyes of the US pro sports establishment: We have D1 soccer, and they own it. Today, Garber has been so successful insulating it from financial pressure, and from domestic pro sports, that all it needs to do is stay a bit better than the D2 that struggles for breath underneath them.

  13. It’s a trade off. They brought top flight pro soccer back to the US, and embedded it into a US pro sports establishment more interested in jamming it into a restricted niche than giving it the freedom to grow in quality, ticket buyers and viewers, not just via expansion.

    It’s time to say thanks, but we’ll take it from here.

    I could not agree with you more soccerreform!
    I think it is about time.

    1. I cannot believe someone would believe the lies Jorge Ramos says in his Radio Show. He has said the NASL story many times but never backed it up. No one in his show is brave enough to question him. Let me tell you, I am a soccer fan as well as an NFL fan and have read and searched about all those issues. The story of NASL does not make sense at all and as I said, J Ramos is paranoid with the NFL. He forgets that his ESPN gig is financed by the NFL. ESPN would not be what it is today without NFL programming and any american sports fan know that. Jorge Ramos is just an ignorant bastard who cannot be called less than a cry baby. Go LA Galaxy.

      1. Bolacuadrada, you can discredit Jorge Ramos;but what do you do with all the other evidence that is right in fron of our faces?

        MLS comisioner comes straight from NFL,that is not a conspiracy theory! More thatn a few people with NFL links are “involved” on the league! That is not a conspiracy theory either! What do you think about it?

        After 16 years ,what plans do they have for assoc. football in america beyond MLS? What is their vision about hundreds of cities that doesn’t have MLS franchises? Are they ever going to implement a meaningfull structure and not just D1? Everything the league does looks to be done with the intention to keep it irrelevant and “under controll”. They OWN the majority of every franchise! We dont have independent clubs on our “D1”! I am getting paranoid and making all of this up?

        are you telling me bolacuadrada that you are a real assoc. football fan , and you are OK with all this?

        Are you telling me that you are a real soccer fan and you are fine with a narrow group of very dubious interests literally OWNING our game?

        Are you naive enough to think that this “cartel”, wich by this time we should know that have NO IDEA about our game,is eventually going to build something meaningfull, even though 16 years and 4 World Cups latter they have not done it?

        get your heads out of the sand please,the problem is us for letting them get away with it for so long.The problem is us for being so pasive and not realize the power within us!

        1. Roger,
          I will assume that you are a very young fan that still believe in Santa Klaus. What is wrong with a commissioner coming from the NFL? Let me tell you, the NFL is the most successful sports league in the planet and if the commissioner has that experience, then he knows a lot about what success is. We have to be thankful that some of those NFL guys like Hunt, Kraft, Allen, etc. were or are willing to invest in a sport that just does not make enough money. This people are businessmen and it is a nice gesture for them to put money in a sport that will not be profitable at least for now. What kind of league do you want? Let me tell you, the MLS is the only league in the world that is moving up. Give one league that has showed some signs of progress the last 15 years. 15 years ago MLS did not even exist. It is better to move slow than to fold. Ah! you talk about a “cartel.” If you are dissapointed with the people here you must not know about FIFA ha! Do you know who Blatter, Grondona, Texeira, Warner, etc are? You probably do not know how corrupt they are. If you want to know how they operate soccer worldwide I can suggest to read some books about it. Then you will know who the real members of the “cartel” are.

          1. There are a couple of fundamental problems with having so much NFL “pollution” in american assoc. football.

            The first one is that the NFL and real football follow two completly oposit philosophies.NFL is run as a monopoly while real football is characterized by its openess both at the clubs and the international level.UN counts with 192 members,but 208 nations played the qualifiers for the last world cup.The rightfullness of that practice gives our game a sense of purpose and universality, and by implementing it for more than a century all around the planet,it have become part of the fundamental valuesof the game itself. To make NFL people understand that could be one of the more dificult tasks ever!

            The second problem is that businessmen(as you mentioned),tend to be very protective of their business., and it would be naive to deny that the most popular game on earth,is not a big threat! Specially if it implement practices that could send a message to every american city big,medium and small that…”want to joint the real football family,no problem, the door is open!”

            I want a league wich is in tune with the values of our game,and is run by people that understand those values.I want a structure that would give ALL of our cities,not a selected number of them,the same chance that cities all around the world have,no matter how big,small , rich or poor they are.

            “Give one league that has showed some signs of progress the last 15 years”

            Japanese J-leage :(uses pro/rel)
            ignaural seasson 1993 with 10 clubs
            2010:177 clubs on the first 5 levels of their pyramidal structure
            level 6+: 46 Prefectural Leagues(many clubs)

            China.Chinese Football Association Super League(uses pro/rel)
            introduced:2004 with 12 clubs
            -level 1:16 clubs
            -level 2:13 clubs
            -level 3: 2 groups of 5 clubs each
            -level 4:
            League Three includes 44 regional leagues. Most regional leagues have 2 divisions and some regionals have more than 2. Each regional league has at least 12 clubs at top level. Winners of each regional enter the national stage which plays in 2 (northern & southern) or 4 (northern, southern, western & eastern) groups. Top-8 clubs qualify for finals.

            India: I-League (uses pro/rel)
            -started by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in 2007-08
            with 10 clubs
            -level 1:14 clubs
            -level 2:21 clubs

        2. Don’t let them drive you down. A small group of vocal supporters is all MLS needs to perpetuate the myth that they’re doing US club soccer the only way it can be done.

          The vast majority of soccer supporters in the US just turn the channel.

          We don’t owe MLS jack for producing artificial soccer. I just wish all the US supporters that can’t watch MLS got mad instead of just losing interest.

          1. Roger –

            Those examples you use of Asian domestic leagues and pro/rel leave aside a few inconvenient facts.

            1) Straight pro/rel only happens in the J League between Division 1 and Division 2. To come from the JFL, and Prefecture/regional leagues, a team must finish in the Top 4 AND fit financial criteria to be instituted as member associates of the J League. There have been years where a JFL side has won but not been promoted for lack of meeting this criteria. That doesn’t seem like such an open system…

            2) From Wikipedia, on the Chinese Super League:
            “On a more basic level, teams failed to nurture true loyal fans and ties with their local communities are minimal. Teams often change their names from season to season as major sponsors go bankrupt or were unwilling to participate in the overly expensive football market. As a result building a strong brand name remain extremely difficult. In the 10 years of Jia A, only Shanghai Shenhua kept its name to this day, even 7 time champion Dalian changed its name from Wanda to Haicheng.

            Financial viability is almost a non-concern for choosing the locations of teams. Often, a “big boss” buys a team because he loves football. Millions are spent with no sizable return in sight. It is obviously unsustainable. But such teams continue to exist, as the local governments often are willing to offer huge tax incentives to keep a team in the city. This has led to the volatile situation where if the local mayor is replaced, and the policy changes, the team may suddenly become unprofitable.”

            So, these teams in China only stay viable through high paying patronage and sponsorship, not the love of fans.

            This utopian world you believe in where thousands of fans in small towns and cities across the country come out to support their local soccer team, free from corporate sponsorship, doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist in England anymore, it doesn’t exist in Japan, it doesn’t exist here. Complain about the system all you want. If you want to take action, it only costs about $250,000 for a USL team. Or try setting up a regional amateur league, and get as many soccer fans and non-soccer fans out to support you. You can even use the team as your cause for reform. Be active! But if you’re lucky to only get 100 people to your event, don’t come back complaining the low attendance is due to the system. It’s because the sport isn’t as popular as you want to believe it is.

            In short, the league you demonize so much is struggling in a lot of markets just to get people to notice and pay to see their teams, and I guarantee the biggest issue isn’t a lack of pro/rel. The quality of play in MLS has, and will continue to, improve without pro/rel.

            Finally, as others have said before, MLS has only existed since 1996. Before that, where were the legions of people showing up to local team matches who could’ve instituted a pro/rel system? How many people had even heard of pro/rel at that time, and in fact, how many Americans NOW understand how pro/rel works?

            You and soccerreform are delusional.

          2. Take your delusional accusations and apply them to yourself.

            First of all, comparing the rich US club soccer history with China’s recent football phenomenon is like comparing the World League of American Football with the NFL. If you’re using the Chinese experience to justify MLS, good luck with that.

            Second, no the J-League isn’t fully open or perfect, but it’s 100% better than the chain of discount soccer outlets that MLS runs in it’s single entity.

            It’s you with the delusion. Soccer thrives on accessibility, and strong, independent federations to guarantee that accessibility, and produce an authentic product.

            MLS is NOT improving. The league sent 22 players onto World Cup rosters in ’98, and 5 in ’10. Viewership is down again. We’re still 0 for Mexico.

            You can be sick of it all you want, but MLS is a victim of 1000 non-soccer agendas, and your insistence to attach a traditional profit motive to the game makes them all possible.

            The decision to limit labor costs in MLS from a league level, like Burger King and McDonald’s do, is an insult to the game, and at the core of the authenticity gap that widens every year, and the stagnant attendance, and ratings drop.

            The thing is, they have to be maintained, in order to keep the game trapped in our domestic sports model – not to insure the progress and survival of the US club game.

            This crazy Utopia of promotion and relegation produces the best clubs. The Sounders are getting EPL levels of support, but are restricted to Costa Rican quality of play.

            You can cite a few inconvenient truths, but it doesn’t change the facts: MLS conspires to limit the quality of every club in order that the league survives in our closed domestic sports model, and shields owners from financial risk. Without risk, there is no innovation.

            Either examine the ethnocentric need to adhere to a pro sports model geared toward dominant leagues in domestic sports whose teams are shielded from international competition, or just be honest with yourself:

            MLS has been granted too much power. They are not using it to improve the quality of the US game. Today, the New York Cosmos, a club that only exists on paper, is spending twice as much on player development than any single MLS team.

            Do you really expect McDonalds to improve the Big Mac? Neither they, or MLS, are wired to improve the quality of their product. They are wired to limit it.

            Maybe you should stop applying the same profit motive to fast food as you do to professional soccer. It’s retarding the game.

  14. Single table will not work because its not favorable for a league that is georgraphically and regionally aligned. Confernces are here to stay, but I woild suggest renaming them similar to what the MLB and NFL has it as that is National Conference and American Conference. Or maybe MLS can adopt the naming of the older leagues to pay homage …. note the NFL did exatly this when the old NFL Afl merged in 69. The AFC is purporsely set up as it is today to honor the old AFL with the exception of some of the Pre merger NFL teams like Pitt, Cleveland and Baltimore which is now part of the afc.

    Bottomline is Soccerhas to adjustto .american culture to truely be successful

  15. What MLS should do is keep the way it is and just change the teams… Example : Western Con­fer­ence Side should be made by the Top Four Teams and the Eastern Conference Side should also be made up by the Top Four Teams. That way there is a actual Western Conference Champ and a Eastern Conference Champ.

  16. Soccerreform:

    You never answered this question either:

    >>So you are saying they will never open up the rest of QWest ?
    >>You are going on record saying that ?

    >>I disagree and hopefully we will find out.

    As an addendum, and full disclosure to you, who I think is missing a lot of information ( or chose to ignore it ), the Sounders are addressing the stadium size right now. Season ticket renewals are at last years pace ( huge ) and they do have a wait list.


    Easy yes or no question.

    1. If MLS decides to open other half of Qwest, and Sounders try to fill it, they will embarrass the entire structure of the league and the mini stadium mandate. Will they do it? Who knows. They’ve chosen not to so far.

      1. And another yes or no question unanswered…..

        Just to recap:
        You accused MLS of limiting the Sounder’s crowd because they were linked in with NFL and other major sports.
        (Inspite of the fact they had already exapanded capacity twice, from 28k to 32k to 36k…btw this is ONLY the Sounders, Toronto and others have and will continue to expand stadium and crowd size )

        and now:
        you won’t answer a question that requires you to say no to back up your accusation.

        Pretty safe to say at this point, you way off base with your unproven allegations.

  17. It occured to me that maybe one way to award teams for doing well in the regular season would be to cut off two playoff teams and give the conference winners a first round bye.

    Garber would probably not go for it though.

    May not make much difference in end result given the league’s parity. Or when the total teams reach a certain point … 10 in playoffs, with top 2 getting a bye still.

  18. I think they should reduce amount of PO teams to 6. Conf Champs go straight to Conf Final and play one game at home. Then 2 other teams in each conf play once at home of highest qualified team to get conf final.

    At least that way final league position would have a bit more weight.

    So this year would have been.

    Eastern Conf Final
    NYRB v Columbus/FC Dallas

    Western Conf Final
    LA Galaxy v Real Salt Lake/Seattle

  19. the problem with the MLS is that they modeled it after other American sports when they should have modeled it after european soccer.

    end of year playoffs in soccer just don’t make sense for most of us that have been watching international soccer for decades. Neither do silly team names like Galaxy and Earthquakes.

    MLS will always be a joke until they adapt single table and pro/rel.

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