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Is Major League Soccer Heading In The Right Direction?

 Is Major League Soccer Heading In The Right Direction?

A simple question, but it’s probably a complicated answer. Is Major League Soccer heading in the right direction or not? MLS commissioner Don Garber revealed several upcoming changes to MLS during half-time of the 2010 MLS Cup Final last night. But the final itself left a lot to be desired and possibly was an indication of the opportunities that MLS has to improve the game in this country.

But what do you think? Vote in the poll and share your opinions 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 →
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35 Responses to Is Major League Soccer Heading In The Right Direction?

  1. Charles says:

    Can’t wait to hear the no votes reasons:

    They should install pro/rel topping the list.

    But let me cast the first stone 10 playoff teams ? Did he say that ?

    • Alex says:

      Charles: dude i know its a free country but ur comments really get on my nerves. not every person that has a critic or anything thing to say about this league is a full blooded eurosnob who have a agenda about pro/rel being instituted right now. im a huge fan of MLS but i strongly disagree that we are going in the right direction. why? an no its not because of pro/rel

      first off why dilute a already flawed playoff system by adding more teams to the playoffs? if anything either keep it at eight or cut it down to four. a 7th place team is MLS champs for christ sakes. the irony of this is that garber said that he knows the playoff system is out of whack. now half the league gets to qualify for the MLS cup. thats stupid. being number one doesnt have a meaning or incentive anymore. you just have to do the bare minimum to get to the playoffs.

      second this whole thing about conferences vs. single table. look im a proud american but fuck american traditions. they dont work in soccer. im not saying scrap the playoff system but if we play a balanced schedule they what the heck is the reason for conferences? i know the league is going to expand more in the future but the cap is going to 20 and i dont think we’re going to see a 21st team till atleast 5 years after new york city comes in. and by then we are going to be a balanced schedule so why have a western team be a eastern conference champs? why have 4 different champions? i think there should only be two champions. Supporters shield (the real champion) and the MLS cup champion (the official champion). single table is the way to go. have the top eight or top four teams qualify to the playoffs. also he wants conferences so that clubs can have more rivalry games? if anything that is going to kill the league’s already manufactured rivialries by watering them down till they drown in mediocrity. i dont want to see Seattle vs Vancouver or Portland 5 times a season. plus what if DC United rebuilds into a power house club and Portland also becomes a powerhouse but they dont get to play at all because of a unbalanced season. what then? i didnt order plastic with my MLS Direct Kick.

      lastly i still cannot get over the fact that garber said that he “does not understand soccer culture”. he says MLS clubs are the ones that regulate tix prices but he says that MLS are going to enforce rules about how clubs should regulate their fans both home and away? eh? he wants to put a cap on fans and only let them be wild for the cameras? no no. let fans be fans and let the league worry about their financial books. thankfully our country established a line between church and state. the league should do the same with their clubs. let the league worry about official stuff and stop getting in the way of clubs (or franchises if it floats ur boat) from being clubs.

      does the league have momentum? yes of course. is the league heading in the right direction? possibly but is the league heading in the right direction to truely become a true league? i dont think so. I know garber has done much to establish soccer as a respected league in this country but now we are at a crossroads. i think garber is good for another 4 years but after that we need a soccer guy. we cant have a NFL exec with nfl special interest running the league in the future.

      • Charles says:

        Well I am opposed to the league going to 10 team playoffs. I said so below.
        I do like that 8 teams make it. I am hoping my Seahawks become the Rapids of the NFL.

        Many of us do not want the boredom of the Euro league format.
        The playoffs were awesome this year. Colorado was not my first choice to win it all either, but if the Red Bulls, barely a better record had won barely anyone would have said a thing.

        Cut the NFL special interest crap, that is the stupidest theory of all time. The Sounders-Seahawks are all but the same club and the biggest NFL connection MLS has and they are thriving beyond what anyone thought three years ago.

  2. GI Joe says:

    The league is growing in the right direction, the thing is that all american fans believe that their league is on the top 10 in the world when they are on the top 25. The league is not mature enough, the quality of play has to improve a lot, managers have to change their view about tactics, players need to play in foreign countries to have a new perspective of the game…
    The league isn’t going to improve if your discussions are all about play-offs, pro & rel, single table. Time to time you always will have a dark horse making huge things, that is normal, but I rather watch that dark horse win playing great soccer, than what I watched yesterday (the game was painful) and that is what MLS should change.

  3. Joe says:

    It depends on what you mean by “the right direction”. I’m relatively new to MLS, but based on what I’ve heard and read, the quality of play overall is certainly improving. But both attendance and TV ratings went down from last year, and this is a World Cup year, where the opposite should have occurred.

  4. Charles says:

    Gaffer,

    You are always bringing up questions like is MLS going well.
    I like the discussions that result, so it that is the purpose then go for it.
    But it seems like you don’t think it is ? Maybe I am reading to much into your constant posts.

    Three things for those who voted no.

    The attendance, even at the “pathetic” attendance cities is so much better than the attendance during the old NASL days because it is consistant and wider spread. The Cosmos, Whitecaps and Sounders drawing well, while everyone else prayed game to game wasn’t going to work. I am doing this from memory, sorry if Ft. Lauderdale or someone was left off.
    Second, the stadium situation is much better than when MLS started. I hate the small stadiums, but the MLS had to do that to capture all the revenue….and it is working out great. That has been accomplished since its inception and insures that the owers can make money, essential.
    Third, look at the team values and make your votes based on that. As much as people like to call their franchise a club. This is a business. Again look to the NASL, headed in the right direction, lots of fun, ooops bankrupt.
    Fourth, look at how many are trying to put up $40-50 million to get in. They are probably not blogging, but maybe that is who joined me for the 8 yes votes. ;-)

    • sergio lima says:

      Yes, let’s compare nothing with what we have today and for sure, today is a lot better. First of all, let’s start for what you believe being the strength of the league. MLS is a business and must make money. WRONG. NONE, and I mean NONE soccer team in the world makes money. OK, they are not designed to do it, but many of the major brands in the sport are loosing money. Soccer is a business where only the federations are making money for the last thirty years and a very important consultant company recently came to a sad conclusion, besides all the passion, soccer it is not a good business overall. Barcelona? Loses money (badly). Real Madrid? No profit. Bayern (Germany)? No profit. Inter Milan? Loses money. Milan? Loses money. Boca? Loses money. Sporting (Portugal)? Loses money. Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Internacional (Brazil)? No profit. So, do you really think that MLS, with no market share on any large TV market in US or in the world will make money and be a legit contender in the world while producing one of the worst soccer shows in the earth? How? You can’t have it all. Do you know why those clubs are all not making money? The level of investment is gigantic. They must pour million and millions into the team in order to keep up with their competition in the UEFA Champions League. Because if they don’t make to the finals they are all screwed. So, who are we kidding here? MLS is a lab league mixing two or three well paid professionals with amateurs who want to be pros. I do believe they are going in the right direction but in some moment; teams will have to invest in players and salaries in order to bring more audience, better TV numbers and then try to get a decent contract. But don’t come here and say MLS has a good product. If you have a good product you would be able to, at least have one good team beating the weak Mexicans in order to participate in the FIFA world cup for clubs. Some people may like MLS and some people will like anything but anyone who knows a little bit about soccer knows MLS is not a option. I have been talking to a lot of people who work with soccer and many kids who play and they all like the idea of having a league here in US, many of them told me they had even bought t-shirts and other merchandise but only one kid, among more than two hundred I had the opportunity to talk told me he was a real Galaxy fan. The worst thing is that the majority of them watch soccer on a regular basis, just not MLS and like me, they had give it a try more than once.

      • Charles says:

        “but anyone who knows a little bit about soccer knows MLS is not a option.”

        I guess I don’t know anything, sorry. Well I am glad that I know you…at least I know someone that knows a little bit about soccer.

        Too bad those owners don’t know you, they are wasting $50 million every time. They seemed so smart with all their money and all. Probably thought the Sounders were making a ton of money.

        Ps. I was in a fourth grade classroom last week and 4 out of 30 kids were wearing Sounder’s gear. The number jumps much higher for the kids, if you are talking boys that I coach in baseball, soccer and basketball.

        • sergio lima says:

          Hey, Charles. Maybe the Americans will teach the world how to make money in soccer playing poorly and getting paid close to nothing to have their games broadcasted. You can say whatever you want and those guys can put as much money they want, but numbers DON’T EVER LIE!!! And yes, you don’t know anything about soccer, sorry.

  5. Michael Heinz says:

    It’s impossible to deny that the League is growing financially, and Don Garber deserves a lot of credit for that. The quality of play is also improving, and the rise of academies and the return of the Reserve League will definitely boost progress on that front.

    However, I doubt I’m the only one who feels an immense frustration with this commissioner’s vision for MLS’ competition format. That’s one of the really only two gripes I have with Garber (the other being a seeming unawareness that ESPN controls what sports fans think in this country, and therefore the fewer NFL games you go up against on a given day/night the better). Wishing for promotion and relegation anytime within the next 30 years is ludicrous, that’s not the kinds of things I’m talking about, I mean realistic things that should be addressed.

    Major League Soccer has an opportunity here to appeal to both hardcore soccer fans (whom they must appeal to to survive) AND casual sports fans (whom they must appeal to to grow), and they’re missing it with these poorly constructed tables and playoffs, which are satisfying neither of those two target audiences.

    Conferences, unbalanced schedules, and Cup tournaments to determine League champions alienate the core fans, the people necessary for the League to stay afloat. After seeing the 4th place and 7th place teams play in a one-off game to determine the League champion, at a neutral site in front of a not-exactly-sold-out crowd, taking place with just one week for fans of FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids to make arrangements to go to Toronto, seeing Commissioner Garber announce that we’ll actually be INCREASING the number of playoff teams next year was just the icing on the cake of all-around embarrassing night for Soccer in the United States and Canada.

    I have never been more sure of our need for our League competition and our Cup competition to be separate entities. Why? It is because I believe the following format is what can best showcase the game we love:

    Not sure anyone will read this this far down the comment listing, but here is MY vision for top-flight soccer in the United States and Canada (don’t stop reading just because you see the phrase ‘single table’, hear me out):

    – 20 teams, single table (with playoffs, read below), balanced schedule, February to October. MLS regular season should have a specific structure, not games ‘whenever’. One game a week per team (something like 1 Thursday night game, 4 Saturday early afternoon games, 4 Saturday late afternoon games, 1 Sunday night game, so long as there’s a rhythm to it). Use MLS All-Star Break to allow adjustment for midweek fixtures that would be necessary in a 38-game schedule, finish those by the end of September.
    – Cap expansion at 20 teams and focus on building a viable 2nd division; many, many years later, when that 2nd division is profitable, we can begin to THINK about promotion and relegation to give teams at the bottom of the table more to fight for.
    – Top team (1st place) at the end of the regular season is the League Champion, they and the runners-up (2nd place) get automatic Champions League group stage berths (be they US teams OR Canadian teams)
    – The 8 other teams (places 3rd through 10th) in the top half of the table playoff for the third Champions League berth in the preliminary round (US or Canadian)
    – National cup winners gets the final CL preliminary berths (US-only and Canadian-only)
    – End SuperLiga, and use the financial backing behind that tournament to support the US Open Cup, our national championship. Rebrand the “US Open Cup” with a new name and 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 (perhaps called the “Soccer Bowl” as an homage to the NASL era).
    – Use the lack of sporting events the week of the MLB All-Star Game to showcase the League’s biggest rivalries on ESPN’s family of networks

    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 and will best reward the teams that play superior soccer over the regular season, dramatically increasing the quality of the product on the field.
    – It will allow even MORE teams to have something to play for (and therefore more things for fans to be interested in) without cheapening the MLS regular season or League championship.
    – It will simultaneously raise the profile of both our national cup and continental competition, only increasing the revenues from sources the League and US Soccer aren’t generating any income from.
    – It will decrease the impact of fixture congestion somewhat, and an earlier start to the season taking place in February (the dullest month in the American sports calendar) will allow MLS to have a bit of a spotlight to start momentum for the year.
    – And, finally, it will allow for a significant amount of time between qualification for an event (some five weeks between the US Open Cup semifinals and the Soccer Bowl, two weeks between qualification for the CL playoffs and the beginning of the playoffs themselves) and the actual event itself for teams to market the game and sell tickets. This is crucial for creating atmospheres necessary for the ‘big moments’ Garber is looking for (imagine a Soccer Bowl where the crowd looks like a college football bowl game in a respectably-sized stadium, with half the crowd wearing the Rave Green of the Seattle Sounders and the other half wearing the Orange Crush of the Houston Dynamo for example).

    Listen, I’m not a business expert. I intend to go to grad school so that I may break in to the soccer industry and make a real impact on the game I love and its status in my country, but right now I’m just a fan. This is what I see to be the best way to go, and I acknowledge it’s pretty difficult for the executives working hard to raise the profile of soccer in the US and Canada to listen to the fans, but I feel strongly about this, and would love to see this circulated to get some general feedback form the hardcore soccer blogging community.

    • IL says:

      Those are some good and ambitious ideas.

    • Clampdown says:

      These are some great ideas. Bravo on the thought put into this.

      I, too, would like to see the US Open Cup and the winner of the league over the season have greater prominence. I don’t have a problem with having playoffs, but I think there should be a system that favors the teams that finish in the top 4 spots.

      February might be a little too early to start, though. I can see lots of problems for the Northern teams, even all the way down to DC.

    • Charles says:

      You lost me at single table. ;-)

      Seriously this is just the boring Euro leagues in America.

      FIRST you start out by saying the second division will not happen in the next 30 years, then you propose…the second division.
      Repeat after me the pro/rel and second division is NEVER happening. NEVER !!! EVER !!! We can agrue all we want, me saying it is the dumbest idea in sports and business, you loving it….it is NEVER happening !

      SECOND, the moment Don Garber gets up and proposes this, I cancel my season tickets. Not because I can’t live without my vision of soccer in the US, because the Sounders and 1/2 of the teams out there, including Colorado were out of this by the All Star Game. Why would I buy season tickets. You and I can complain about 10 teams in the playoffs and we will, but Don is doing it for a reason. To make every game count. Very much UNLIKE the Euro league format you are proposing where almost NONE of the games count.

      Speaking of which isn’t the LaLiga championship today ? At midseason.

      • Clampdown says:

        But, Charles, at what point is it meaningless? 10 teams saying they have the hope to claim what exactly? That they got hot at the right time, when everyone knows they were the ninth or tenth best team in the league? I think most of us would say parity is good, but credibility is an issue.

        Every fan in every sport has to go through seasons where their team is awful and is out of it early. If you’re a fan, you still go out and support the club. Believe me, sitting in an empty Meadowlands to watch an awful Red Bulls team last year was torturous, but I didn’t abandon the team or the league.

        Do you think enough weight and credit is given to the Supporters Shield winner? I don’t, and I think it’s a shame. I’m in favor of retaining the playoffs, but there has to be some better way of rewarding the team that finished first.

        • Charles says:

          I hate the Supporters Shield so I am the wrong person to ask.
          They are going to blow past 20 teams in MLS and then they will have to go unbalanced, so now you have given all this credit to Supporters Shield, where does that leave you ?
          Changing who won MLS retro actively right ?

          I would rather baseball only has two or four teams make the playoffs but money dictates otherwise
          So when MLS said 10 teams in the playoffs noone was more upset than me, but there is a balance between having a viable league and having credibility.

          I would still be a Sounder’s fan don’t get me wrong, I have been for 30 years and sometimes I was sitting all but alone, but there is only so much time and money to go around, and I would be less of a fan I guess ;-) because I would not be going to every game in the second half of a season where every game is worthless.

      • sergio lima says:

        Single table works everywhere in the world. With all due respect, American soccer doesn’t need fans like you. That is the problem, guys who only go to the stadium when their team have a chance to win. What kind of fan is that? Stay home and don’t show up. Real soccer fans like the team no matter what, winning is consequence of a lot of things. And by the way, every team must have thousands of fans looking for tickets and if they have a team capable of giving a good show, people will buy tickets and the spoiled cry babies will then regret not watching their team, the one without a chance of being the season champion destroying the championship hopes of their rivals. Soccer is fun, my friend and, by the way, if you like to win so much you should not like soccer in this country, because in the world of soccer your national team only get beat 8 out of 10 times, so, what is the point? Do you watch you national team play or not? Ohhh, I think I got you. You will keep watching games of your team, pal, you are hooked already Single table is the only solution even if American soccer wants to be respected all over the world. If the league one day is thinking about selling TV rights to international markets it will need to change to a single table and include relegation, if not, keep the MLS the way it is today, an obscure league where only international players at the end of their soccer careers will be willing to play.

        • Charles says:

          Alright so you got me, but you should have used the fact that I am still a Mariner’s fan ! Much easier and much more convincing.

          Single standing is not the only solution however, and I doubt that it will ever be used in MLS, which looks, inspite of what you think, to be the league that will finally survive in the US after many attempts that failed

          • sergio lima says:

            Charles, my friend who doesn’t know anything about soccer, (sorry about that) Did the old leagues had the same organization this one have? Were they playing in good SOCCER stadiums like the ones they have now? Tell me, Charles, in what kind of business the investor makes money before investing a lot upfront? Now, we are talking about profitable businesses and soccer is almost never profitable. So, they must understand that they will have to put up a lot of green before seeing any result if any. And then build a BRAND, an American brand for soccer. Do not copy europeans. Go wild and create crazy, young uniforms. You have no idea how people all over the world love American brands and their way to communicate. So, invest tons of money building good teams, do what the Americans do best, marketing and make the value of your franchising skyrocket. That is the way other people do in US. MLS must open the franchisings to investors. If the owners don’t have the cash to invest they should allow other partners to come with money and build a stronger league. You know and I know that MLS is not a professional league and I understand what they are doing, they are getting by with that in order to turn the teams profitable. But do you think is fair with your public to do that? Build a league where most of the players are making money equivalent of under 17s are making on third world countries? And we want them to make a good show? Please.

  6. IL says:

    I don’t think much has changed in terms of attendance or TV ratings over the last three years. But the league appears to have stabalized which is in it of itself a great improvement. If the trend continues good things will happen regarding attendance, ratings and style of play.

    I don’t like the 10 team play of format. My team did not make the playoffs, and thats a good thing. Playoffs should be reserved for best of the best not half (or more) of the league.

    This appears to be an attempt to increase playoff viewership and attendance but its an artificial fix. It won’t help in the long run. Playoffs should be reserved for the top 8 teams of 20 overall. Makes sense and looks fair.

  7. Clampdown says:

    Gaffer, you say it’s a simple question, but much like political polls that ask the same thing, the answer depends upon which factors you consider most important.

    For me, the answer is yes, primarily because the league has stability and the quality of play has improved (dramatically, I think) over the past 5 years. Soccer-specific stadia, measured expansion of the DP rule, bringing in cities like Philly and Seattle with Portland and Vancouver to come, have all been smart decisions.

    Most of the things Garber has done I have agreed with. However, this 10-team playoff idea is utterly ridiculous. Even 8 teams is pushing it right now.

    People will always argue over bigger issues, such as promotion/relegation (not even remotely realistic at this point), and single table, etc. But those are not the kinds of things that are going to make the league a better quality product. As I’ve stated before, growing this league is a long-term endeavor. We all have to be patient. But a growing influx of money will be needed to ensure that MLS can attract and retain quality players. The salary cap is still minuscule, but just look at some of the fine players the league has attracted over the past few years with even just a slight increase in spending ability (I’m not talking about the DPs).

    The next step has to be better TV coverage. I agree with those who have complained about the lack of a consistent schedule. It’s very odd to see teams play a bunch of Thursdays, then all of a sudden there is a Wednesday or Friday match. Also, I wish they would stop playing Saturday nights and move the matches to late afternoon. This would allow many more families to attend. I have several friends who would love to take their kids with them to matches but can’t as they wouldn’t get home until 10:30.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Clampdown, it’s a simple question to ask (for me) but a complicated answer, without a doubt. I believe MLS is heading in the right direction in many ways, but there are so many ways to improve this league. The next 1-2 years will be pivotal in the history of this league.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  8. jim says:

    MLS is doing ok. They need to keep things slow and steady. The impatient fans think MLS needs to start sprinting, but they don’t realize how quickly things could fall apart. MLS needs to focus on being sustainably profitable. The next 5 years will be huge as the new team buzz fades from the recent expansion teams.

    MLS is headed in the right direction but all those empty seats in the Cup final last night in supposedly soccer-mad Toronto — and the likely very low TV ratings — should give everybody pause. MLS is in a much more precarious position than many realize. Slow and steady is the watchword. They need to avoid any financial crisis cause next time they might not have a soccer-friendly billionaire bail them out. They need to work hard on increasing revenue and controlling costs.

  9. Julian says:

    I only have 2 concerns about the MLS

    1. Maybe I misread into this but It seems as if Garber is not focusing 100% of his efforts in the pursuit of the MLS joining the Copa Libertadores… this is a step league from UEFA and infinitely better then concacaf Get rid of useless tournaments like superliga that merely tire fans and players out and focus on a tournament with international prestige with incredible coverage, a better following and better play.
    2. The concept of a second team in NY…you have the BEST mid sized stadium in the world with some of the best players and you STILL can’t fill up your stadium (ex. Vs. Tottenham it was like 19k) That whole It’s in jersey arguement is bull shit, take one of the millions of forms of public transportation and go
    A league should be representative of it’s country (ZERO teams in south east) The fusion averaged 11k a game years ago…the league has come a LONG way and with a good marketing department and a good DP or two you have an excellent team in miami playing at FIU (20k seats) perfect for an SSS.

    • Dave C says:

      I disagree with you about a second team in NY (or technically speaking, a first team in NY as opposed to NJ).

      The fact that the Red Bulls are based in NJ is a massive disincentive to me as a casual/potential fan.

      I live in Queens (hardly out in the sticks or at the far end of Long Island). If there was an MLS team in the five boros, I would go see them out of curiosity, even without any marquee players. Perhaps if I had a fun time, I would get a season ticket. Maybe in time, I’d become a real NY fan, buy merchandise, etc etc.

      But if the team is in Harrison NJ (an hour and a half away by public transport), I’m much less likely to go see them (I haven’t done so yet, despite being a big soccer fan, and living in NYC for 4 yrs). And even if I did one day go see them, it would most likely be a one-off day trip. There’s no way I would regularly go see a team for whom “home” games are a three-hour round-trip for me. And so I’ll never become a fan, never buy merchandise, and generally never pour any money into the team.

      Having a nice stadium really has no pull for me at all.

      And before any one uses the NY Giants/Jets as a counter-example: Yes, I know they are manage to attract fans to NJ. But there’s a difference – they already have an established fanbase, and they’re performing at the highest level in one of the country’s most popular sports. They’re not trying to entice new-comers to watch sub-standard competition.

    • DCUDiplomat96 says:

      Only if Concacaf and Comebol Merge.

  10. Andy says:

    Few things that are positive moves for the league in my opinion:

    the last two expansions, seattle and philly have been really solid moves

    the next two expansions, portland and vancouver are really going to bring in some history and some true rivalries.

    the return of the reserve division, what were they smoking when they called quits on the previous iteration of the reserve division. also the three division layout for the reserves makes sense

    my two eurocents

  11. GI Joe says:

    If you are redesigning the league, I want to play it too:
    - 24 Teams in 2 Conferences (East – Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, DC, Florida, Kansas City, Montreal, New England, New York (x2), Philadelphia, Toronto; West – Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles (x2), Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, Vancouver);
    - Balanced schedule within conferences, 1 round between conferences (34 Games – 22 within conferences, 12 between conferences);
    - Play-off system: the conference winner is automatically to the conference final against a contender (2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th would play for the spot);
    - International schedule (August, September, October, November, Mid-December – Winter Break – Mid-February, March, April, May);
    - Fixtures: Fridays (2 Games), Saturdays (8 Games), Sunday (2 Games).
    - Stadiums: Every team should have a SSS with at least 18.5K seats (including Seattle & Vancouver).

    • Charles says:

      You do realize that Seattle was built for soccer and for football ?
      You obviously have never been, but it is the best soccer stadium in the world.

      QWest was supposed to have grass instead of turf…to appease the soccer crowd and to get us to vote for it. It worked…but then they pulled the switcheroo.

      So now we stand at the point where any city money has to make a 7% ( or was it 10%) profit per year for the city.
      And I don’t see the Sounder being able to afford a second QWest…So it is close to a 100% given that Seattle will not build a SSS for you, you think MLS should drop the Sounders ?!?!

  12. James says:

    It is sort of interesting. In the US, we always assume that we can be the best if we just try hard enough, set up the right system and see it through. We will never have the best soccer league in the world. We’ll probably never have one of the Top 5 leagues if not Top 10. This will simply be because we don’t have a culture obsessed with soccer. In England they have 21 divisions that connect in some way all the way up to the EPL. The culture of soccer in Europe, the culture that most hardcore fans in the US have grown up with, rewards ties, crowns league champions based on the number of points a team has at the end of the season and keeps Cups completely separate from leagues. This is how I understand soccer to work. Most popular leagues in the world work this way. The US doesn’t have to, but it’s making it difficult for neutrals to care about (as someone pointed out) the 4th and 7th place teams playing in the final of a league that’s set up weirdly.

    We should just be happy our attendance is on par with most Championship and the smaller EPL teams and that we have a semi-strong home league.

  13. DCUDiplomat96 says:

    Listen Single Table with or without Playoff will not succeed because its not favorable or desirable, only the europosing savy soccer fans living in america wants that. Also the Supporters Shield is not the league Champion. american sports fans do not respect you if you have a good regular season record because we expect you to win the championship come playoff time, and if you dont your a choke. ask Real Salt Lake. Ask LA Galaxy they wasnt good enough to make it to the championship. If you dont like how american sports culture in soccer then dont watch it dont buy a ticket dont even bother.

    • James says:

      I think you missed my point. These are the reasons why we won’t ever have the best league. I enjoy going to Earthquakes games because I would support my local team wherever I live, but I understand the structural issues that keep the MAJORITY of AMERICAN soccer fans from watching MLS (and instead keep them watching Europe).

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      @DCUDiplomat96

      Please stop telling everyone what Americans want. Sure, MLS Playoffs are at odds with the traditional soccer world, but they don’t do a very good job of reflecting American sport culture either.

      We don’t have playoffs in America simply because playoffs are awesome and Americans like awesome things. The playoffs also reflect the realities of their own sport/league.

      Imagine if the World Series was a single game. Everybody would say bullshit, anything can happen in 1 game, you can’t say one team deserves to win without fully testing each rotation. Same for Basketball and Hockey, any NHL fan would tell you anything can happen in one game, so you have to play more than 1 for it to be legitimate.

      Then take March Madness, there are 180+ basketball teams in D1 playing in over 30 conferences. It’s straight up impossible to determine a National Champion without a playoff.

      The NFL playoffs are 4 (3 for seeded teams) games. 4 games is 25% of a regular NFL season. That’s actually quite a lot of games by NFL standards.

      Compare that ratio to MLS: 30 matches, 4 games to be crowned champion. And don’t forget MLS is the only league in America with a balanced schedule, a national cup tournament, and international competitions.

      Basically, what I’m getting at is that while playoffs are the norm in American sporting culture, at least the other leagues have ways to ensure that they crown a worthy champion, and properly reward teams for their regular season performance.

      MLS hasn’t figured that out how to do that yet. And until that happens, there’s going to be a lot of fans still saying LA and RSL are the class of the league regardless of what happened last Sunday.

  14. CoconutMonkey says:

    @The Gaffer:

    I humbly request the following option in your poll:

    -For the most part, yes. But the playoff system still sucks.

    • Seybold says:

      Well said CoconutMonkey, that’s the voting option I want.

      My 2 cents is, nix the “wild-card” playoff positions. Four from each conference. Simple, easy to understand for any USA sports fan. It really sticks in my craw that Colorado got to play Columbus when they finished behind Seattle–who had to play the best regular-season team in the league. The Sounders were idiots to not tank their last 3 matches. That’s what MLS will be encouraging in the future.

      That said, well done Colorado.

      And what’s up with Toronto FC fans? Your gripes are reasonable, but the final is the showpiece match for the whole league. You made the whole league look like crap by walking out and leaving all the empty seats. Very bad form.

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