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Why the English Find MLS a Strange Experience

easy the sun Why the English Find MLS a Strange ExperienceAs our owner and head honcho The Gaffer highlighted last week, The Guardian podcast snubbed MLS deeming it not a ‘Major league’. Quite ironic for the satirist’s amongst you given it’s name but that’s irrelevant.

Now before I reel of a list of reasons, let me state this as de facto. I like Major League Soccer. A lot in fact. The following article is in no way a justification for their comments. It’s merely an explanation for why those in England (since I’m British) and maybe Europe find the concept of MLS so perplexing.

First off, the salary cap. A staple of American sports that stops the likes of Portsmouth and, lower down, Plymouth Argyle ever becoming a reality in the US. To some, though, it removes the excitement. For certain purists it’s brilliant. Imagine Manchester United having the same budget as Blackpool and forced to cut their cloth accordingly. It evens the divide and makes sure that no one stretches out. It keeps the league competitive.

In turn though it means you won’t see a team establish true dominance because they can’t just go out and sign all the best players. The situation at Man City would never happen. Nor Chelsea for that matter. To an English journalist used to seeing both ends of the financial spectrum in a league table, the concept of money boundaries is alien.

Then of course there are the playoffs. Now while the Football League does adopt a playoff for the third promotion slot, it does not give it to those in first and second so that is ignored. In some instances I do see their point. After all the team that finishes highest doesn’t always win the MLS Cup.

It almost spits in the face of the league season if all you need to do is qualify and then perform in the knockout rounds. A bit like a World Cup in some senses. To an American audience, this is fine. However, they’ve grown up with it. Yet to European football/soccer fans (delete where applicable), it can seem almost like cheating.

The distinct lack of relegation. Just as much as the English media likes to revel in champions, they love to pan the cameras, to the tearful fans of those unlucky relegated trio. Be it children or grown men balling their eyes out, the worst teams are deemed not fit to eat at the top table and must earn that right by fighting it out with the other peasants in the Football League.

The fact MLS doesn’t have a tiered league structure with promotion and relegation makes it unique in soccer. Even South America uses it, albeit on the most confusing and slightly irrational three season add-points-divide-by-three-pull name-from-hat method they use.

The best analogy I can come up with is two boxers. The loser is carried away and then a new contender is brought in. If the same two boxers just fought, it would end up the same result, in theory. I say in theory to protect myself from a barrage of abusive responses.

Personally I don’t think they take too kindly to the idea of ‘Designated Players’ either. One star per team? What about Real Madrid? I think they almost perceive it as one good player alongside 9 cloggers. And the best DP wins. Of course, the designated player is really an attempt by MLS to diversfy and bring in quality without losing teams in a financial fireball of destruction.

Of course, cynics of the league would also say that any league in which Juan Pablo Angel can score a flurry of goals in can’t be special. Now I will admit JPA wasn’t always clinical in England but that could be down to the pace of the league more than his personal quality as a player. The flurry of lower league Englishmen joining won’t strengthen my case, but Andriy Shevchenko scored for fun in Italy yet couldn’t in Italy. Does that mean Serie A is a tin pot league? No because we accept it’s a slower league with a different tactical mantra.

MLS is less than twenty years old. While the Premier League was birthed in 1992, professional soccer in England has been around for well over 100 years. It’s future is guaranteed because it has a market and a secure fan base. I’d bet in the early years of the Football League in the 1800’s, it wasn’t the streamline behemoth it is today. It probably had flaws. After all, it took over half a century to outlaw the backpass rule, and longer to decide on three points for a win and one for a draw. These things take time.

America is still trying to grow the game and from my recent trip to Northern Virginia I’d say it’s gaining popularity. Those in charge are walking the tightrope of producing a legitimate league that appeals to an American market.

With so many European leagues, I appreciate it’s difficult for the likes of The Guardian to devote time to every league, but cut MLS some slack. It’s still in its infancy and it requires an embrace from those in Europe, not a patronizing shun. After all, last summer proved quite clearly those American’s can kick a ball quite well. Plus I’m pretty sure Tim Howard wouldn’t have spilled that shot over the line.

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343 Responses to Why the English Find MLS a Strange Experience

  1. If you ever want some British input on these sort of English-perspective articles, given that I run MLS UK I’d be happy to contribute a quote or two.

  2. Alan says:

    Neither system is wrong. They work for where they are used. Pro/rel will NEVER happen here for one simple reason. Americans only like the “best” for the most part. Sure, you get some turnout for minor leagues and stuff, but not a lot. Pro/rel is not going to get anyone here excited about the game other than eurosnobs that HAVE to have it or it just isn’t real soccer. What you will probably see is a bigger second and third division acting as feeder leagues to develop players as well as a first tier league with over 30 teams and real conferences. MLS has its flaws, but so does EVERY league. MLS needs to worry about the quality of play on the field (which is improving) and getting people to show up/watch a game on TV. It doesn’t have to be the best league in the world, but how do you classify a league as being the best. Is it the one that attracts the best players in the world? If that is the case, then it isn’t EPL. Most of the best South American players either stay in their home country or play in La Liga or Serie A. What about the South American leagues? They are good too. It is all a matter of opinion. The fact is that MLS is getting better, but who really cares what someone else thinks of our league? It doesn’t really matter as long as the quality is there and real soccer fans in North America watch it. By real soccer fans, I mean fans of the game where the ball is being played, not fans of it just for pro/rel.

  3. Cavan says:

    Thank you for the well-reasoned article.

    I think many MLS fans understand why it’s a unique league. I don’t think that the English sporting press really cares to understand the differences due to American expectations for playoffs in a sports league, emphasis on fiscal responsibility due to memories of the NASL, the stable yet niche profile the league inhabits, American fans’ intolerance for sports leagues where their team has no chance to build and win, etc.

    The English sporting press can make so much more money by just dismissing it because that’s what their audience wants to hear. Why take the time to do research? Why not just spew jingoistic drivel and take the ad dollars (sorry, pound sterling) to the bank? The average English soccer fan seems to just want to hear that the EPL is the greatest and that’s that. Most don’t know and don’t care that the frenzied pace of the EPL and the extreme financial inequality doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s automatically the best league. They further don’t want to hear the truth that it’s impossible to precisely compare entire leagues. Last I checked, there’s no league vs. league competitions, only soccer team vs. soccer team.

    The USA could win 5 World Cups in a row and an MLS team could win 5 straight Club World Cups and the English sporting press would continue to dismiss it as “not major league.” While their small-minded scoffs might come from a position of unfamiliarity, it’s bolstered by self-righteous ignorance. You’re a rational British soccer fan. From my anecdotal experience, you’re also a minority.

    • Alan says:

      Not that it is important, but do the English really hate our league that much? Maybe Glenn Williams can give us a REAL perspective. For the record, I don’t hate EPL but it is not the best league in my mind and it has its issues too. That’s just my opinion. I fully respect anyone for liking the league for the right reasons.

      • Jason says:

        I don’t think the English “hate” it, they just don’t respect any outside the Big 5, and barely respect the French/German/Italian/Spanish leagues (there’s a reason for the “Barcelona are good, but could they do it on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke?” meme).

        I remember one writer (was either from the Times or the Telegraph, I forget which) looked at an MLS game shortly after Goldenballs signed, turned up his nose, and proclaimed that the quality was on par with the Conference.

      • The best way to get my perspective is to visit my site. That’s not a plug, but obviously over the weeks and months I’ve been covering the league and sharing my views, which is more extensive than what I could post here.

        But in short, I love MLS. I like it much more than my own league. Because it’s a better league? No. Because I find it exciting and entertaining, and that’s what matters. While United and Chelsea win the league each year, I can’t see a whole lot to be thrilled about in regards to the EPL. Meanwhile MLS is growing and I feel like I’m following that from an early age for the league. Anyone can win the championship, and that’s exciting.

        Believe me, your average British football fan doesn’t hate MLS. Perhaps worse, the case is that they’ve never given it a chance. There are some who hate MLS without watching it, but for the most part it’s ignorance rather than dislike. Everyone I’ve ever converted to MLS has been shocked by the quality and impressed by the league, as is being reflected in my Diary of an MLS Convert feature every week.

        It’s the British media who are worse than the fans. They ignore MLS continually, despite the presence of Beckham and Henry, yet cover boring leagues like the French and Portuguese divisions. Things are changing though; MLS was once outright mocked, then mentioned with something of an amused smirk, but now MLS has a level of respect. Sky Sports News often gives some coverage to the weekend’s results, while printed press often report on rumoured transfers to and from America.

        The growth of MLS is nothing but good for soccer as a sport, and no real soccer fan wouldn’t welcome the ever-improving presence of MLS. You’ve certainly got my support, it’s a damn fine league!

        • Alan says:

          Amazing response, and I appreciate it. I figured most everything you said was probably the case. It is good to hear it from someone with some knowledge.

        • soccerreform says:

          Glenn, you’d really trade the imposed mediocrity and quality limits of MLS for the world beating clubs of EPL? Is limiting quality and insulating a league from competition in a global marketplace really appropriate? Did you notice a lot of Chryslers in the UK? They adhered to the same isolationist, limited quality, and domestically focused business model MLS does. They believed that entitled them to a share of the American car market. They’ve survived on bailout after bailout.

          Limiting quality sucks. It is a pathetic device to protect wealthy MLS owners from the competition they richly deserve. Without it, we get a league that can’t innovate, can’t draw interest, but can survive indefinitely on control alone.

          Complain all you want about the English game. MLS is rigged for parity in the same way a slot machine is. Their outlets have little incentive to develop players. Under their domination, the US has only managed to sell – maybe – one player in the last two years.

          MLS is not designed to grow soccer in the US. It’s designed to control the growth of soccer in the US, and direct the proceeds of that growth to a few wealthy individuals whose asses we’re supposed to kiss for allowing us professional soccer.

          Nevermind that it was the FIFA mandate for a US D1 that got us our 1994 World Cup, and gave us MLS. These guys wouldn’t have moved on a league without it, or demanded the single entity concessions for bankrolling it.

          So, do you really want to see Chelsea and ManU quality limited for the sake of a more exciting league? You really want to send them into international play handicapped by domestic quality controls? If you answer affirmatively, at least you’re consistent. But if you think we’re the only country that deserves limited outlets in the place of unlimited, autonomous clubs, I say stop belittling us.

        • Cavan says:

          Glenn,
          I checked out your site and bookmarked it. It’s a really fun read! Thank you for recognizing the difference between the English soccer fan and the sporting press. The gap between the two is as large as the gap between most U.S. Citizens and our corporate TV press.

          I’m glad you’re having fun watching our league. I actually enjoy watching the EPL when the game involves two middle of the table teams and it’s hard to predict who wins. I think the frenetic pace brought on by the wet grass and mild weather often makes for fun soccer. I also love Mexican league games too. Lots of skill. I want to like La Liga in Spain but I can’t because it’s more like the ending stages of a game of Monopoly than a soccer competition.

          I hope you can make it over. The Barra Brava would love to host you for a DC United game. The website is http://www.barra-brava.com. Check out the supporters’ club experience. From what I understand, our take on being an “Ultra” is uniquely American with influences from around the world. We’re all very non-violent and fun and actively police ourselves. We also work with rival supporters to weed out troublemakers because at the end of the day, we’re all there to enjoy the same game and league. We’re also aware that there are still plenty of old cumudgeons who didn’t grow up with the game and still try to claim it as alien in our own sporting press who salivate at the opportunity to trash our sport and league by linking to the pre-Taylor Report tragedies in England.

          I’ll keep reading your page. Have fun watching MLS! I hope to see you at a tailgate (I’m a Barra Brava member) sometime!

    • Clampdown says:

      Well, interestingly, last summer Spurs and Man City came over and both played Red Bull NY. Tottenham squeaked by and won 2-1, though did not dominate (except for Bale, who was the best player on the pitch by a mile). City, though not playing several starters, did play several seasoned EPL players and got beat. The reality is the disparity in talent was not evident, and several RBNY players looked better than many of the Man City bench players. I actually felt bad for Bellamy, and thought how much better he would have been had he been able to play with Lindpere and Kandji that day.

      To a certain degree, I think you’re right. Too many of the English come across as provincial, not just on this site but others. It’s pretty clear the average football fan is not familiar with other leagues and players, unless they play in the Champions League. I remember quite clearly so many letter writers to F365 insisting Fernando Torres would fail at Liverpool. Of course, hardly any of them had seen him play. Why would they watch Atletico? They are neither English nor in the CL.

      But, I know several Englishmen who live in the US who are giving MLS a chance now and are pleasantly surprised. I hope this continues.

      • This is something I don’t understand; MLS, its players and teams consistantly perform well against EPL opposition, whether it’s in all-star games or friendlies, and yet some people will INSIST MLS is of a poor quality. I’ve heard suggestions MLS is of an English non-league level. Really? Non-league teams beat the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Everton do they?

        I grew up watching Spurs and have been a Red Bulls fan for the last five years, and when the two met in NY Challenge and Tottenham won, I was disappointed. That was the day NY became my number one team, and that’s only grown as time as gone on.

      • Andy says:

        you do realize that when euro teams come to the U.S it is their off-season and they are not in regular season form.

        • Clampdown says:

          So what? If the gap was as large as so many claim it is, the MLS clubs would always get killed. They don’t, and they often win. You’re telling me that a team with the players on Man City’s roster, or Juventus’ roster, shouldn’t beat the Red Bulls, even in summer? Did they forget how to play in the two months since their season ended? Have they spent those two months doing nothing but drinking on the beach?

          • Andy says:

            you have a whole team out of fitness vs a team thats fit and in the middle of their season.

            i don’t think it’s a huge gape between NYRB and the bottom of the EPL table. It’s still a gap though. I think the NYRB could probably win the championship league (or at least make the promotion playoff).

            the gap between Man U or any of the other clubs that come over for their pre-season training and MLS clubs is massive tho, regardless if MLS wins some of these matches.

  4. adam says:

    I love how MLS UK is doin g a diary of 7 brits following MLS starting this season and posting weekly.

    http://www.majorleaguesocceruk.com/2011/03/feature-diary-of-mls-convert-week-one.html

  5. Andy says:

    Kristan,

    there are a lot of Americans that have the same criticisms you do of MLS. It’s not true that American soccer fans want playoffs for their domestic league. Some do, surely, and they are supporters of MLS. But there are a lot of American soccer fans that refuse to support the league because of these silly playoffs.

    Same goes for pro/rel. Of course pro/rel would work here and I would argue it would be welcomed by the majority of soccer fans in this country. Yet we hear again and again from hardcore MLS fans that pro/rel wouldn’t work. Of course they never back it up with evidence or reasoned arguments.

    • googlebot says:

      Why would someone hate a league solely for the way it decides a Champion? Play-offs are engraved into our culture. Just because they do it one way in Europe doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to follow suit. Some basketball leagues across Europe follow the single table, no play-offs system, but are they wrong because they do not follow the NBA format? No, it’s their culture which decides the best way to win the title. Only Division 1 FBS football is the only sporting league in America which decides its champion without a play-off and even that could be considered a one game play-off.

      But let us approach your pro/rel statement.
      Pro/Rel would be welcomed in any sport by fans. People enjoy watching teams that perform poorly get punished rather than rewarded. But then you state the people who snub the pro/rel idea support it with no facts.

      First let me state that it is quite the opposite. When a pro/rel hardcore supporter like yourself comments, they utilize the reasoning of “everyone else does it” or something of the like. Andy, if everyone jumped from the Empire State Building, would you? The pro/rel hardcore supporter never sees the whole situation, but rather their issue and that the only way to gain their fandom is if their issue is addressed. They do not recognize the slew of issues which pollute the pro/rel belief.

      First is investment. To start a sports team in the modern day, one required a large amount of capital. Now, very few individuals or collective of individuals have this capital. Now say these individuals want to invest in a sports team. There are two reasons for this investment: love of the game and/or to make a profit. American sports teams are very profitable items and if they take in losses, are very useful come April 14. Basically, Top Tier sports teams allow investors to continue to make money. In a pro/rel setup, they will take in more losses and will be less likely to invest unless they are making returns. A relegated team would not draw in fans, would not garner sponsors, and would not be on tv. This would drive the team downwards into oblivion. The reason SUM and the single entity were created was to protect the investment of the owners and allow them to make money from the venture. Without SUM and the single entity, it is very unlikely there would be a solid league in America.

      Second is history. America has no history of pro/rel, and while it is a good idea, it is tough enough explaining how teams can participate in several different competitions to the casual fan. Only when soccer rises above its niche dwelling will there be potential for pro/rel as more people win understand it.

      Third is stadiums. Another reason to invest in sports teams is the real estate. Owners and investors of teams get a nice portion of land and steel and concrete do rent out and utilize to make money. Most of the time it comes with a struggle to justify the expenditure to the local government. Now how can someone justify a 20k seat stadium for a second division club? It’s a lot easier to convince the powers that be for a top flight club to get a stadium. Of course you will say, well the team should win and get to the top flight. The issue is that they need money to get to the top flight with players, but the only way to get that money is getting a stadium.

      If I can think of any more reasoned arguments, I’ll get back to you.

      • Andy says:

        I’m not one of these people that says our domestic league must go pro/rel tomorrow or even in 5 years. For stable pro/rel you would need a 10-15 year plan. This would include building up a stable D2. You couldn’t activate promotion and relegation until you had a D2 that was stable enough so a relegated D1 team wouldn’t fold.

        How long would it take to get investment for D2? No one knows really. It could take just a few years or it could take longer. Right now you have investment in D2 and D3 without pro/rel. With pro/rel those lower division clubs would have more value and get more investment. It would also open up the gates to organic club growth with clubs being founded and joining lower leagues.

        The fact that America has no history with pro/rel is not an argument against pro/rel. If anything, it’s an argument for pro/rel. MLS needs to differentiate itself from other sports. Also, the largest demo of soccer fan in the US that MLS has yet to win over is the traditional soccer fan who is in favor of pro/rel.

    • Tim says:

      Why would someone hate a league solely for the way it decides a Champion? Play-offs are engraved into our culture. Just because they do it one way in Europe doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to follow suit. Some basketball leagues across Europe follow the single table, no play-offs system, but are they wrong because they do not follow the NBA format? No, it’s their culture which decides the best way to win the title. Only Division 1 FBS football is the only sporting league in America which decides its champion without a play-off and even that could be considered a one game play-off.

      But let us approach your pro/rel statement.
      Pro/Rel would be welcomed in any sport by fans. People enjoy watching teams that perform poorly get punished rather than rewarded. But then you state the people who snub the pro/rel idea support it with no facts.

      First let me state that it is quite the opposite. When a pro/rel hardcore supporter like yourself comments, they utilize the reasoning of “everyone else does it” or something of the like. Andy, if everyone jumped from the Empire State Building, would you? The pro/rel hardcore supporter never sees the whole situation, but rather their issue and that the only way to gain their fandom is if their issue is addressed. They do not recognize the slew of issues which pollute the pro/rel belief.

      First is investment. To start a sports team in the modern day, one required a large amount of capital. Now, very few individuals or collective of individuals have this capital. Now say these individuals want to invest in a sports team. There are two reasons for this investment: love of the game and/or to make a profit. American sports teams are very profitable items and if they take in losses, are very useful come April 14. Basically, Top Tier sports teams allow investors to continue to make money. In a pro/rel setup, they will take in more losses and will be less likely to invest unless they are making returns. A relegated team would not draw in fans, would not garner sponsors, and would not be on tv. This would drive the team downwards into oblivion. The reason SUM and the single entity were created was to protect the investment of the owners and allow them to make money from the venture. Without SUM and the single entity, it is very unlikely there would be a solid league in America.

      Second is history. America has no history of pro/rel, and while it is a good idea, it is tough enough explaining how teams can participate in several different competitions to the casual fan. Only when soccer rises above its niche dwelling will there be potential for pro/rel as more people win understand it.

      Third is stadiums. Another reason to invest in sports teams is the real estate. Owners and investors of teams get a nice portion of land and steel and concrete do rent out and utilize to make money. Most of the time it comes with a struggle to justify the expenditure to the local government. Now how can someone justify a 20k seat stadium for a second division club? It’s a lot easier to convince the powers that be for a top flight club to get a stadium. Of course you will say, well the team should win and get to the top flight. The issue is that they need money to get to the top flight with players, but the only way to get that money is getting a stadium.

      • soccerreform says:

        Limiting competition make sense to any investor. The problem is, it really sucks for sport. Your response is well reasoned but the premise stinks. It belabors the obvious. The open competition exemplified by independent clubs, promotion and relegation may not be the safest investment for investors. It is the system in which club soccer thrives.

        We are trading safe investments for billionaires for soccer-in-a-box.

        • nick says:

          Are you saying billionaires don’t thrive in the European buy it don’t earn it model of sports? salary caps make leagues more competitive. How many teams do you think have a shot at winning EPL in 5 years? probably 5 at most. In the MLS smart moves by any team can make it an elite within 5 years.

        • Tim says:

          It sure has sucked for the most profitable and viewed league in the world (NFL)

          Another issue to take in hand is the overall lack of popularity of soccer in America hinders pro/rel and the independent club system. People that don’t watch the sport aren’t going to be drawn in unless their club has a chance. People in America do enjoy punishing bad teams, but want their team to be competitive at the same time. The independent system would hinder that and lose the casual fan.

          • Andy says:

            “The independent system would hinder that and lose the casual fan.” How about an argument to back this up. This is one of the sillier any pro/rel statements I’ve heard.

            I live in Rochester and want my club to have the chance to be promoted to the top tier. What’s wrong with that?

          • soccerreform says:

            When MLS is the only soccer league of consequence on the planet – like NFL is with “football” – you can compare the two. Until then, we’re the ones with the dicked up system in which clubs fail 90% of the time.

            And your overall lack of popularity in soccer is a myth. We bought more WC tickets than the citizens of any other nation – twice. EPL passed MLS in ratings last year. Roughly the same number of Americans and Brits tuned into the ’10 World Cup.

            Stop blaming soccer for the unpopularity of MLS. It’s wrong.

          • Alan says:

            It won’t matter anyways because 1 of 3 teams will win the league.

          • Tim says:

            Ted, we bought more World Cup tickets because we are the third largest nation in the world. If 300K people in America bought tickets, 1% of the nation would in turn be buying tickets. If 300k in England bought tickets 10% of the population would be going to the WC. Relativity is HUGE when you quote stats.

            EPL ratings passed MLS because of two items. First the quality of play and marketing departments are much better over there. But look at the teams that drive ratings, it’s not the Boltons or the Evertons. It’s the Big 4+2. Second is the ratings system has long been flawed in our country, it’s just that Neilsen is the bully on the block that hasn’t bothered updating their system that came before the Networking of America. I refuse to trust any ratings from that company because it is very selective by representing less than .01% of the population. Soccer is shown by census data to be the #2 competitively played sport in America, but #6 or #7 in terms of viewed. Soccer is popular to play, just not watch. It will grow, but for now soccer has to play second fiddle to several sports with established interests in America.

            Additionally, there are several American Football and Basketball leagues out there which run an open system, yet cannot garner the popularity of the NFL and NBA. They run an open league system and by the logic you have presented over the past few years should be improving faster than the American system.

            Andy, you are looking at the league from a global perspective and not an American perspective.

          • soccerreform says:

            Tim – My arguments are based on that relativity. We can have the same quality of club soccer as any European nation, because we’ve got a market the size of the entire EU, and roughly the same number of supporters as any European nation. Therefore, even if the game is 1/5th as popular here as it is in the UK, but since our market is more than five times larger, we should be able to field a comparable league.

            Soft bigotry of low expectations holds us back.

          • soccerreform says:

            The MLS promotion relegation opposer willingly trades mediocre teams and massive failure rates for the great independent clubs that drive the sport. In their eyes, the threat from great unlimited clubs is so massive, every team should be a Padova, a Reading, or a Sporting KC.

            Thank goodness soccer didn’t go their way. Madrids, Milans, and ManUs made this game. Mediocre MLS never would have.

    • Roger says:

      The was an article on this site
      http://www.majorleaguesoccertalk.com/you-be-the-commissioner-what-would-you-change/10911

      the results speak for themselves!
      Did anybody saw a follow up article?!
      Whay would you do a pool loke this and jut NOT COMENT after the results?!

      Under the carpet it goes!
      I totally agree with soccerrefor when he said that it will take a revolution for promotion and relegation to happen. The private club that owns our game in america wont do it voluntarily, it will have to happen in spite of them and this USSF.

      Fans on places like Rochester, Charlestone, Tampa, Detroit etc are fundamental for this fight!
      They win by polluting this debates with nonsense and sweeping the argument under the rug. We win be realizing our power , the power of the fans. If we organize and fight they can not stop change!

  6. Clampdown says:

    Kris,

    I really appreciate your contributions to this site. They’re always interesting and well thought out. I wish you would write the flip side of this article for EPL Talk, in other words, why MLS shouldn’t seem that strange and why it is interesting and worth watching. I watch both leagues closely and despite their differences I enjoy them both.

    Interestingly, the EPL (or BPL) is known for its pace and power, and yet not many people outside of North America know it’s the same here. There is no time to waste with the ball at your feet in MLS. Watching Marquez adapt to MLS has made it apparent that he was used to more time on the ball in Spain. While the quality of play and skill level are far superior in Spain, the speed and effort in MLS leaves little time to make decisions and benefits those that can make the right decision quickly.

    It is a bit ironic that America, as such a strong supporter of free markets, embraces what is essentially a socialist system in its sports, yet Europe is the opposite.

    • Dave C says:

      I’ve often thought the same thing about the irony of capitalist America with its “socialist” sports environment, and vice versa in Europe. I wonder if there’s any underlying reason for that? I’m clutching at straws, but perhaps its an escapism thing?

      • Alan says:

        I don’t think most Americans are happy with Wall Street execs making more and more and the lower guy on the totem pole making less and less. Most all Americans love capitalism, but they want to see the system regulated somewhat so that everybody has a chance to make it to a certain point based on talent, skill, education. Nobody wants it handed to them, but in the current capitalistic system with no control they keep falling further and further down. No, I am not advocating socialism in sports or anywhere, but I am not advocating an uncompetitive environment either. When a team like Fulham or Everton has a reasonable chance of winning EPL within a couple of years, or at least be in the top 3, then they will have fixed their problems with their league.

      • soccerreform says:

        Baseball anti trust exemption ruined it for soccer. Club soccer thrived in open leagues, and died repeatedly in our centrally planned closed leagues. Now you are supposed to kiss MLS’s ass for keeping the game alive in our sports model, where great clubs are prohibited, quality is limited, costs are tightly controlled – because wealthy MLS owners investments are safer when competition is tightly controlled.

        That about sums it up.

  7. tlas says:

    Take it what you will but according to this the EPL is currently the top league in UEFA: http://www.xs4all.nl/~kassiesa/bert/uefa/data/method4/crank2011.html

    But I’ll leave it there. It seems to me that people are more and more curious about our own “sh***y” league in the States, even if to ridicule it. If MLS is really that terrible it would be more ignored than the WUSA. However, and I may be overshooting myself here, it is rising in profile, slowly but surely.

    • Alan says:

      That has to be based on the top clubs, not the league. Either way, there is no real way to measure the best league. Those that claim that EPL is the top league, I’d love to hear a reasoned comparison of EPL to Argentina’s or Brazil’s league, or Turkey’s league. I’m betting they have never watched those leagues, and I have not either. You can’t reasonably compare all the leagues in the world, and one person’s favorite league might suck for someone else.

  8. Alan says:

    I like pro/rel, but not in the United States because it will not work here for a very long time, if ever. I can give a great explanation as to why it won’t work, but I am not going to type a lot of paragraphs to a blog troll. Quite honestly, I don’t think they will ever want to hear it. It would be a waste of time, just like them. I will give you a partial clue as to some of it. Being from Michigan, I can’t wait to drive 6 to 8 hours up to the Upper Peninsula (population 19,000 goes to the biggest city) to go see an MLS team that got promoted in a High School stadium. They will make no money while FC Dallas plays Nowhere Arkansas in the third tier and lose fans by the hundreds. I can only imagine how much the struggling Detroit Lions would lose in money if they were playing tier 3 American football. Trust me, they would barely get half the turnout. American football fans would go watch University of Michigan. Investors in that franchise that paid their way into the league would be pissed and get out. There might even be a lawsuit.

    • NC says:

      You don’t get it: Over long periods of time, the teams with better attendance (created through a better product combined with larger markets) bubble up on top because they have more money. The teams with less attendance go down to the second (or third) league — it’s a self-adjusting system. No guess work “do we need a team in XYZ” producing stupid results like Hockey in Phoenix (!!?) — the market takes care of it. Free enterprise. + Relegation fights are very exciting, they have as much as or even more emotions than championships.

      • Alan says:

        Right. And add to that the teams with the most money will buy the championship every year and create a 3 team league. A strong and stable second division can test the waters in new markets just as well and be converted to first division franchises.

        I thought pro/rel had to do with punishing strong performing teams based on talent and hard work, but they are being rewarded for making more money? No wonder Man U practically own EPL. If the pro/rel guys can fix that problem first, then maybe come talk to me. NO fan here wants to see one team win every other year. Heck, the yankees win every 5 years or so on average and they hate it. People in the US actually LIKE baseball. We are trying to convert new fans. One of the common complaints that I hear from non-soccer fans is this.

        • soccerreform says:

          You have any evidence that Yankee dominance is hurting the game of baseball, or ManU dominance is hurting EPL revenues?

          Our lower division clubs are failing at 75% rate, not theirs. It is possible to draw any other conclusions from this besides unsavvy investors or soccer unpopularity?

          • Alan says:

            The Yankees have won 2 World Series in the last decade. I hear people complain about them all the time, but Man U wins all the time and I hear a lot of soccer fans complain about it. They also complain that Barcelona and Real Madrid win all the time. Its easy to buy a good team if you have the money.

      • Tim says:

        Quick question, who would own the teams that get relegated?

        • NC says:

          What does it matter? The better org bubbles up on top, the lesser sinks down. There are plenty of clubs owned in the US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_soccer_pyramid

          Sometimes rich guys pour money into a lower-level club to bring it up (see: Hoffenheim), and sometimes a poorly managed club get’s relegated down due to bankruptcy.

          Free Enterprise. We should try it once in a while, it works.

          • Alan says:

            Its a sports competition with real athletes, not an industry. You don’t decide who wins and loses based on money, or shouldn’t like you decide if a corporation is successful based on money. This whole “socialism capitalism” thing is a lame argument.

          • Tim says:

            So you suggest to strengthen a league which struggles with popularity, we make it financially unstable?

          • Tim says:

            Alan, it is an industry. From Manchester United to AFC Wimbledon realize that to improve the club, it must be treated as industry rather than pure sport. The real athletes are paid, stadiums have to be built, TV satellites must be put into the sky. To enjoy sport it must be an industry.

          • Alan says:

            No, I get that Tim. My point is that it still can be without it being an uncompetitive sporting environment. Some teams will have more money than others, but that shouldn’t decide who wins and who loses like in a regular industry. Athletes should get paid well for performing good and better stadiums should be built, but one team hoarding all the best players every year because they have more money is bad and makes it hard to enjoy the sport. It is easy for Americans to enjoy EPL with the system that they have rather than MLS if it had the same system. We aren’t really connected the same way we would be if the club was in our own back yard. If San Jose had no chance of being competitive, it would be hard to be a fan and watch. I can watch the top 3 in EPL or any other league because I’m not attached in the same way.

            By the way, EPL and La Liga should be the last thing we want to model things after. If anything, wouldn’t Bundesliga be a better choice. Sure you have Bayern, but other teams actually have a competitive chance.

        • soccerreform says:

          Tim – how much value do D2 clubs gain when their futures are unlimited via promotion? If MLS owners panic at the appearance of real competition, perhaps they shouldn’t be owners.

          • Tim says:

            Then who is going to own the teams? You ‘reformers’ dodge it everytime I ask.

          • soccerreform says:

            Tim, I secretly hope MLS fire sales their clubs when our newly independent federation lives up to it’s responsibility to advance soccer in the United States, and not just protect one league. The club failure rate in our lower divisions is 75%. The investors are there.

            You really think it all just collapses one we remove the MLS single entity feeding tube? God forbid they face the same risks club owners face in Egypt or El Salvador.

    • soccerreform says:

      Oh no! A lawsuit! MLS has already fended off a couple of those.

      I’ve got a transition plan that protects MLS “clubs” from relegation for 13 years, while harnessing the power of promotion for our suffocated lower divisions. It even includes stadium standards for each divisions – which I hope will be set above most high school stadiums. As for the troll thing… gosh – I feel like I’m making sense. I know it’s heretical, and I’m supposed to just STFU and accept some twisted non-competitive reality about sports in the US, and believe wee little soccer couldn’t make it without the kindly old NFL/NBA guys at the helm of MLS…

      I just can’t.

      • Alan says:

        No, but you “soccer reformers” can stop ruining every discussion and turning it into a pro/rel argument. Start there. The lower divisions can thrive without pro/rel.

      • Tim says:

        You mean the NFL and NBA guys that propped up soccer in the beginning of the 21st century and are the reason we get the World Cup, Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN’s coverage of soccer.

        • soccerreform says:

          Tim – I guess I just don’t credit the success of the hugest sport on the planet to the some paternalistic theory involving NFL and NBA owners. I think it might be just fine without them.

  9. Mike says:

    meh, the English for the most part are in a bubble. They don’t really care about any other leagues, bar the superclubs that are perennially in Champions League.

    Just look at the abuse foreign managers get from the press. Ancelotti won the double last year, yet he was mocked the entire year with his diamond “not enough width” as if the English way is the only way. They don’t care that he won a tonne in Serie A, that’s irrelevant.

    Look at the heat Benitez took over zonal marking ….. yet there wasn’t any such attack on Martin O’Neil and Mark Huges for using ZM. I wonder why.

    Add this to the “horror” of having a track around the pitch at the Olympic Stadium (not that uncommon around Europe), or even the thought of a groundshare.

    You shouldn’t be surprised they don’t care for MLS.

    • Dave C says:

      meh, the English for the most part are in a bubble. They don’t really care about any other leagues, bar the superclubs that are perennially in Champions League

      Are the English in a bubble any more than anyone else? I doubt it.

      My guess is that most casual English fans are interested mostly in their own league, followed by the Champions League, and perhaps could name most of the line-ups at Real, Barca, Milan and Inter. I imagine that the situation is pretty much the equivalent for casual fans from Spain, Italy, etc – they’re knowledgeable about their domestic league, followed by the Champions League, plus a little knowledge of other superclubs.

    • Dave C says:

      Add this to the “horror” of having a track around the pitch at the Olympic Stadium (not that uncommon around Europe), or even the thought of a groundshare

      Those things are often hated in Europe too – hence why Juve don’t play at the Stadio Delle Alpi any more.

  10. Clayton says:

    A salary cap is nowhere near as annoying as listening to one of your British managers blame a loss on everything but their players or themselves. It’s either the “pitch” or the refs or that the other team doesn’t play pretty enough football. Great sports psychology you clowns have. Your weak mentality is why the US topped the group and England got annihilated by Germany.

    • Dave C says:

      Yeah you’re right, because American sports coaches never make lame excuses.

      And the American mentality is so strong that they crushed Ghana and went on to win the world cup…oh no, wait, that’s not right – they got to the exact same stage in the WC as England did.

    • Michael says:

      If blaming referees means your team is weak and bound to lose I must have imagined Spain winning the world cup beacuse this sort of thing happens there just as often in England and perhaps more. And I must also have imagined Ferguson and Mourinho and other managers who readily blame referees being successful as well.
      This is not to condone abuse of officials or say it makes you successful but to point out that the England team has bigger problems than managers blaming referees.

  11. NC says:

    I see a serious issue with the whole franchise systems — no relegation + salary cap. Let’s face it, it’s all fake teams, with evened out competition. They even have fake names: Real SLC? Really? What royalty is there in SLC? Kudos to the Crew — original, American, good!

    Back in the day in Europe, I remember the best seasons were the ones when fighting for survival. What ever happened to Ur-American, good-old market forces, may the better one win? Can’t have it, because it’s a franchise, don’t want to see the investment go down the tube.

    Total BS.

    • Tim says:

      We have enough competition without pro/rel: MLS vs. MLB vs. NFL vs. NBA vs. NHL vs. MMA vs. WWE vs. Minor League Sports vs. MLL vs. AFL vs. UFL vs. CFL

      No other region in the world is saturated with so much sport competition. Most European countries feature 2 or 3 large leagues while America has 4 and several others that garner attention in stadiums and TV ratings.

      It’s the battle for the all-mighty dollar and MLS should play it safe considering several of its opponents have been in the game for 3 to 4 times the lifetime of the league.

      • Robert says:

        Tim, MLS can’t even attract soccer fans. MLS should worry about that before converting NBA MLB NFL fans.

        • Gazza says:

          So the 5 million people who will attend MLS matches this season aren’t soccer fans?

          • Tim says:

            “Nope they are uneducated and uncultured people that do not understand the beautiful play of Barcelona or Arsenal.”
            -Guy up at 4:45 AM to watch a team he has never seen live, but heard about them from a friend who went to London for a semester.

        • Tim says:

          It’s not a question of converting fans, its a question of where an individual who is a fan of MLS and two or three other league would spend their money and what channel they set their TV to.

        • Andy says:

          gazza,

          the hardcore MLS fan shows up

          but look at the ratings. They are horrendous

          tell me this…why can’t MLS get soccer fans to watch? they get some, but the majority of soccer fans aren’t interested.

          • Clampdown says:

            Andy,

            While you and the other guy may be staying away from MLS because it doesn’t have promotion/relegation, the vast majority of people who haven’t supported MLS haven’t done so because of a perceived lack of quality. In fact, I’ve never had a single person in NY tell me they don’t go to MLS matches because the league doesn’t have promotion/relegation. Not one. It’s always about the quality of play or the location of the stadium.

            It took me many years before I was willing to support this league, and even after I did I sat through awful match after awful match. I now find the time I put in was worth it.

            The challenge for MLS is winning over soccer fans who previously saw very poor quality to come check out matches now. The league has improved dramatically over the past 5 years. MLS does not have to win over those obsessed with promotion/relegation or single-table, or any other feature that they may think is superior overseas. Incorporating such a system is not going to get people here to watch it on TV.

            MLS is not going away, and neither is the franchise system. If you choose to stay away because you just can’t bear to have a league without the features you desire, then so be it. But the league will continue to grow, albeit slowly.

            I hope the relatively few of you who are so passionate about it are doing more than complaining on message boards. I hope you are involved with a local club and trying to support as best you can. That’s what a true soccer fan does, right?

          • Andy says:

            clampdown,

            Yes, I do support my local USL club.

            I also agree that your average fan in NY probably doesn’t make a fuss about their not being pro/rel. They already have a team.

            What pro/rel does is open up the whole country to the sport. It has the potential to create a soccer culture where instead of there just being 20 cities with a bite at the apple, you would have 50 or 100 cities with clubs in a promotion/relegation pyramid. The best clubs would rise to the top, which would make for a better top league, and the lower divisions would have clubs that have the potential to reach the top tier, which would increase the fan base across the country.

            pro/rel will eventually come to the U.S. Garber has hinted at it, mostly just to throw a bone to FIFA, but Garber won’t be around forever. The next Commish may bend to FIFA’s wishes.

            the transition to pro/rel should be a careful one though. I would love to see MLS stop at 20 teams then start building up MLS 2, then give MLS 2 about 10 years to build up with SSS and financially stable economic conditions. Then you could implement pro/rel under the MLS brand. You could even keep D2 as MLS and call D1 MLS Premier. Relegated clubs to MLS would still have their identity as MLS clubs, which wouldn’t hurt them with the casual spectator sport fan. I do agree, that if USL or NASL were to be a D2 in a pro/rel system it would fail, and many clubs wouldn’t survive relegation.

          • soccerreform says:

            Andy – there is no way McDonald’s, Burger King or MLS will “evolve” into promotion and relegation. Our federation is going to have to find the balls to make that call, just like the FA did in 1894.

            No doubt some English clubs would have preferred to be entitled to D1 status. Good thing they didn’t win out. Locking their lower divisions in a caste system like ours may have produced the same malaise and casualty rate ours enjoy today.

          • Alan says:

            The top teams would rise to the top and stay at the top. That is not a fair sport. Even people overseas acknowledge that this is a problem. Once you can make sure that this will not happen then I might take your argument more seriously. I’m sorry, but no lower level EPL has a chance of overtaking Man U. What is the point of a pro/rel pyramid if they can only get to mid table status at best. That is what is limiting. What is flawed in your argument is that clubs are not rewarded for doing well as much as they are rewarded for buying the best talent in a way other clubs will never be able to. That is what limits a league, not our system.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan – your solution to the problem of high quality teams is to limit the quality of the game. Your defense of the concept is eloquent, magnanimous, and absurd. Whether you use a Ginsu or a Wusthof, you’re still cutting off your nose to spite your face.

            Clampdown – in every real world measure, the quality of MLS play has not improved. If an MLS team made the Club World Cup, or won a game in Mexico, perhaps you’d have a shred of evidence that the longstanding pattern of malaise, control, and imposed mediocrity at MLS was breaking down.

            If TV audiences grew, that might give you another speck of evidence that a perception of improved quality was growing.

            Meanwhile, anyone can point to success in the real world of soccer, in which teams are not mediocritized to save money and randomize match outcomes.

            Perhaps the random match outcomes at MLS have become a much more debilitating form of predictability than any repeated top four in any soccer nation. Perhaps insistence on the US Soccer caste system continues that debilitation, and leads to the 75% failure rate we currently enjoy below MLS.

            Perhaps the cultural component of our adherence to closed leagues is our continued acquiescence to the needs of a tiny group of investors whose goal is to control the growth of soccer in the US for their needs.

            What if we just stopped acquiescing?

          • Alan says:

            My solution is not to limit quality. That’s just what you say it is without a single fact to back it up. Sure, we might never have a Man U or Barcelona, but I would never want to see that. I would like to see some of those players that are bankrupting Man U to play on other teams. There is more quality to that than seeing Chelsea beat the tar out of West Ham. YOU are imposing quality limits, not me. The only games that are fun to watch are some of the bigger games. The lower level games are ok at best. The same with La Liga. That’s why I rarely watch those leagues unless there is a big game is on. I used to, but it wasn’t fun anymore.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan: Let me get this straight: You found it boring to watch lower end La Liga matches, but found even lower end MLS matches more exciting?

          • Alan says:

            Did you even read what I wrote? Where did I say that? You read into every statement what you want to and not what was stated. Let me lay it out like this. I watch world soccer to see the big monopolies play because that are good. There is no denying that. I could care less about the leagues because there is no reason to. Man U will win every other year and that is that. Barcelona and Real Madrid will swap championships and that is that. The game is exciting, but the league is boring. I could care less about relegation and Europa League. I care about Champions League and the game play. For foreign leagues, I watch Serie A and Bundesliga but I hate one or two team dominance because it is fake. Bundesliga is getting better about it with their 50+1 rule. Serie A is starting to get a little bit better but they have a ways to go. I just like their tactical play. In EPL and La Liga, the bottom teams have no shot at doing good. There is no point for them to be there other than for Barcelona and Chelsea to score 6 points in one game against them. The play is not exciting to me.

            I NEVER said anything about the worst teams in MLS playing each other. If it were my team, then yes I would be into it. I would want to see them improve regardless of their ability to make the play offs. I would love to watch my team play a great team and I would hope that my team is playing well. If they are not, then I would want to see them work hard and improve. I don’t want to see them practically go bankrupt buying talent to be the best. I would want to watch them work hard, make trades, pick up talent, and work hard as a team to succeed. If it is 2 teams that I don’t care about in MLS vs La Liga, I wouldn’t want to watch either. Does La Liga have better quality teams overall. Of course. They are one of the top leagues in the world. Does the league still suck? Yes, in my opinion. I want to see a fight for the championship, not one team walk in and own it. The bottom teams have zero chance at anything except not getting relegated. Not exciting to me.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan – I’m not the one who placed salary caps on MLS, or assigns allocation money to undersupported, underachieving teams. I swear. I’m also not the one who traps lower division teams in their castes.

            I can’t cite an independent source for this, but you’re going to have to trust me: These are not my limits.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan – How are great teams monopolies? Last time I checked MLS was the league that owned every team. EPL isn’t a series of soccer outlets, entitled to D1 status, under a single majority owner.

            Just because someone is powerful, or you think they’re too good, doesn’t make them a monopoly.

          • Alan says:

            If you can issue one comment without trying to twist someone’s words into something else they didn’t mean, say, or feel, then I will be truly impressed. You will never win over anyone just by being a tool. You lose so much credibility like that regardless of whether you are right or wrong. It doesn’t matter what I say because you will just tell me what I really feel and meant. Regardless of what happens with the system in the MLS, I will watch. Plain and simple. Thats what supporters do.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan – If I’m misrepresenting you, I think you could elaborate on that more quickly than resorting to sanctimonious name calling. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. I gave you too much credit.

          • Alan says:

            Have you listened to yourself? Not only do you misrepresent me, but you also don’t give me any credit and never did anyways. If all you do is purposefully misrepresent people every chance that you get without truly listening to them, then you are being a tool. It gets old after a while and why I gave up talking to you.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan, I’ve been reading this thread intently for a week. It has become a novel on the current state of affairs at MLS. I’m paying very close attention to what you write. Your defense of MLS is eloquent and well reasoned.

            I’m still curious as to how I misrepresented you, and know you’re capable of elaborating in detail. With your proven ability to express your thoughts in writing, I’m sure inconvenient truths wouldn’t cause you to resort to name calling.

          • Alan says:

            If you can’t reread the tens of posts and actually see it, then me wasting my time explaining it is not going to help. You will never see it. Ever.

            I will give you just one of the MANY that you have thrown out there, only because I don’t have time.

            When explaining that I think any league that has one to two teams on top is flawed, you said my solution is to limit the quality of the game. Me saying might calculate in your brain as saying that, but I never said that quality should be limited. You might believe that, but I never said that nor do I believe that to be the case. What I personally believe you could see is more competitive games with the same talent involved. Instead of seeing a 6-0 Chelsea victory over Wigan you might see a 4-2 win over Wigan, and maybe a league where Everton or Fulham have a CHANCE to rise to the top and win the league. Just a chance. What they do with that chance is the fun in watching. The misrepresenting is saying “your solution to the problem of high quality teams is to limit the quality of the game”. Again, you believing does not necessarily mean I believe that. Bundesliga is an example where they have started to encourage a more competitive atmosphere not limiting quality. Teams have a more chances to beat Bayern now but they are still a top team. Just my opinion.

  12. hendrix says:

    Why would anyone want pro-rel added to a league that doesn’t have it? You’re telling me you’d want the chance for your team to be relegated?
    I never want to see it — ever — in MLS. The last thing I want is to see my team go down and have to play second division clubs for a season.

    • Alan says:

      Second division clubs aren’t even on TV yet. That will be fun for the fans that don’t live near a club to support. In England, you are within 5 hours of any club. Here, you are 5 hours from nowhere half the time, let alone a club that you can’t even see on TV or the Internet. Pro/rel in the US is a fantasy.

    • soccerreform says:

      Stop measuring our second division clubs trapped in a caste system. I know it’s safer for MLS if they’re just kept there, and investments are always safer when competition can be controlled. Still, competition is pretty important in sport.

      When we get promotion and relegation, second division promotion battles will draw more viewers than Hair Club for Men infomercials – which occasionally outdraw MLS.

      • Sena says:

        We will never have pro/rel in MLS so you don’t have to worry about it soccerreform. It’s a dumb idea and every person with money to invest in soccer in North America agrees.

        If YOU have money then please step up and start your own first division league so we don’t have to read your drivel anymore.

        • Andy says:

          sena

          actually, yes we will

          because in 5 years or 10 years when MLS looks at their numbers and sees they are still getting beat by women’s volleyball they will wake up and realize all the soccer fans in the country that shun their league demand a proper soccer league.

          We lost the 2020 World Cup because we don’t have pro/rel. This is a fact. The first thing Blatter asked President Obama about was why we didn’t have a pro/rel system.

          the day will come when MLS can’t continue to be a league that ignores the rest of the world.

        • soccerreform says:

          I could care less that it’s safer to invest in a company that is entitled to shield itself from competition. Our federation should be independent enough to make the calls that will advance the American game, no matter how risky that makes the investments of a few MLS owners.

          Promotion and relegation is not a league matter. It comes from a responsible, independent, and courageous federation. Unfortunately, we don’t have one.

  13. LI Matt says:

    I think Americans worry too much about what the English think.

    This is our league. It is what it is. If people in another country don’t like it, they don’t have to watch.

    • The main thing is that you guys enjoy it. If you watch it and are entertained, that’s the main thing. It’s your league, after all. MLS is still expanding in US, it can’t be expected to be making a huge mark in world football at the same time. It will do one day, but the league is still young. The main focus is growing a home fan base, and that’s working; bigger crowds, better draftees, new expansion teams.

      • Robert says:

        Glenn, its obvious that MLS fans don’t even enjoy this league. MLS Cup got beat out by women’s college volleyball. MLS has so many factions while MLS Executives are still trying to recruit sports fans rather than soccer fans.

      • Andy says:

        I wouldn’t assume that American soccer fans enjoy MLS. This is anectdotal, but out of the 20 people i know who are soccer fans, maybe 2 of them are MLS fans. When I ask them why they don’t support MLS they say because its too “Americanized” with playoffs, franchises instead of clubs, no promotion or relegation, designated players etc.

        Just look at the ratings. No one is watching MLS in the U.S. The playoffs got dismal ratings. The final got lower ratings than women’s volleyball.

  14. Alden says:

    Worth reading to help the Brits understand the Yanks, from a expat.

    National pastime: How Americans play baseball and the rest of the world plays soccer

    This is the story of two great sports. One is Americas game, while the other is the worlds game. What draws fans to one game is often a mystery to fans of the other. Despite superficial differences, however, the business and culture of these sports share more in common than meets the eye. This is the first in-depth, cross-cultural comparison of these two great pastimes and the megabusinesses that they have become. National Pastime illustrates how the different traditions of each sport have generated different possibilities for their commercial organization and exploitation. It pays special attention to the rich and complex evolution of baseball from its beginnings in America, and traces modern soccer from its foundation in England through its subsequent expansion across the world. It illustrates how Victorian administrators laid the foundation for Major League Baseball (MLB) and soccer leagues such as the English Premier League, Italys Serie A, and the European Champions League. The book shows how the organizers of baseball and soccer have learned from each other in the past and how they can continue to do so. Both sports are rich in tradition. In some cases, however, these traditions often arbitrary rules established by long-defunct administratorshave obstructed the healthy development of the sport. By studying the experiences of other sports, it might be possible to develop new and better ways to operate. For example, soccer might benefit from greater cooperation among teams as in baseball. On the other hand, MLB could learn from soccers relegation rules and more open system of ownership, thus avoiding some of the excesses (competitive imbalance, uneven team resources) associated with monopoly. National Pastime does not advocate the jettisoning of all tradition to adopt wholesale the approach of another sport, of course. In an era of globalization, where business interests are increasingly looking to transplant organizational ideas in order to maximize profits, the authors argue that fan-friendly reforms may be necessary in order to avoid something worse. Ultimately, they propose no simple solutions, instead suggesting specific reforms to the organization of baseball and soccer, drawing on each others experiences. Lively and accessibly written, this book is essential reading for business analysts, journalists, policymakers, and managers of both sports. Most of all, however, it will appeal to baseball and soccer aficionados, whether they root for the New York Yankees, Manchester United, or Real Madrid.

  15. People forget that MLS is just starting it’s 16th season. It’s still growing up, trying to convince girls to let it kop a feel and hoping its voice breaks soon. The European leagues have been around for 100+ years, and over that time they have evolved into the subcultures they are today. MLS is in several ways a false construct, a league designed by committee to ensure maximum excitement (and yes, profit) with the minimum risk of teams bankrupting themselves.

    I’m a Brit living in the US and even in the 5 or so years I’ve been here the quality of MLS has markedly increased. That’s not down to half a dozen designated players (although they’ve helped) – it’s thanks to 15 years of having a soccer league; pre-MLS there was no domestic league for soccer playing kids to aspire to, but now there is a legitimate league that they can earn a living in, even if they’re not all Leo Messi. Ok, so some of the salaries are awful, but I’m sure many players will see MLS as a stepping stone to ‘better’ (i.e. more lucrative) leagues, most likely in Europe. Whether or not that’s what American soccer audiences want is debateable – you guys are so used to the league in various sports being the ‘best’ (read: only) in a given sports, I’m not sure how the sporting public as a whole would feel if MLS became some kind of ‘feeder’ league.

    That said, my English team is one that wallows all the way down in League 2, so maybe that notion isn’t as alien or unpleasant to me as it is to fans of Premiership teams.

    Anyway, I’ve not had as much fun watching football on TV for years as I did last weekend for First Kick. Maybe it helps that I picked a team to support (and Glenn, didn’t ask me to write about it, natch ;) ) but football/soccer is supposed to be fun. MLS offers that unpredicatbility that most Euro leagues can’t. Colorado (or RSL previously) winning MLS Cup is akin to a Bolton or a Newcastle winning the Premiership; something that is not likely to happen, at least until satan skis to the office.

    • soccerreform says:

      If MLS ever reaches 50, the same tiny minority of MLS supporters will still excuse poor ratings and quality by saying it’s 100 years younger than EPL.

      How many leagues have to die, clubs fail, and billionaires placated with competition controls before we just admit that our system fails outside the confines of dominant leagues playing domestic sports?

      • Ted, are you flirting with me? ;)
        It seems that you are always nearby in these situations. I’m starting to get a little concerned.

        In any case, I don’t really think an article about how british audiences perceive MLS is really the right place for your anti MLS stylings. There is a place for discussion, don’t get me wrong. This just isn’t it.

        • soccerreform says:

          If promotion and relegation wasn’t featured in the original entry, I’d refrain from comment. But I do find you oddly attractive.

          I know the premise of the entry was on how Brits turned up their noses at MLS. I could give a rats ass about what they think, but, in my opinion, it’s unfair to tag the Brits for feelings many US supporters share.

          Where are they? Why don’t they rant like me?

          Because they can just skip the angst and turn the channel. Indeed, where I live, there are far more Mexican league matches on free TV than MLS matches. As I’m sure you know, nationwide, EPL passed MLS in ratings last year.

          Don’t you get the feeling that MLS, per usual, is remarkably unconcerned about these things? I’m a big supporter of cool disaffection and all, but this satisfaction with second class status just gets me down.

  16. Dave C says:

    No offence to the writer of this article, but it seems like a pretty lame attempt to stir up the same kind of nonsense as the Gaffer’s article on the Guardian stirred up.

    Firstly, I don’t like the use of the Sun to illustrate the article. It’s obvious that that headline was referring to England’s WC group, so it has nothing to do with English attitudes towards MLS (they may or may not be similar, but I don’t think conflating the two issues is fair).

    Secondly, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say English people find MLS a strange experience. Perhaps some of the British ex-pats who have any awareness of the MLS find it strange. But I think the vast majority of English football fans in general just pay no mind to the MLS. They don’t care about it’s lack of relegation, it’s playoffs, it’s salary cap, etc etc. They just don’t know anything about the MLS. And why should they?

    For what it’s worth, as an Englishman in America, my views on the typical MLS bashers’ issues are as follows:

    (1) It’s not a “Big League”. It’s not comparable to “2nd tier” leagues like Holland or France either. But that doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t have to be the best to be enjoyable.

    (2) I don’t see why people have a problem with play-offs per se. I don’t like the fact that in the current set-up, they’re kind of redundant (since everyone plays everyone else anyway), and too many teams get into the play-offs, but I have no objection to the idea of play-offs themselves.

    (3) I’m not sure why anyone would think a salary cap is a bad thing. Granted, right now it’s too low to form strong teams, but in time that will change if the league ever makes enough money.

    (4) I’m not sure on the issue of pro/rel. In a perfect world, I would like to be able to dream that some small town team could rise through the ranks. But for practical reasons, I don’t think it’s possible for the foreseeable future.

    • Alan says:

      I agree on pretty much everything you said. To address your fourth point, it works great in countries with the geography for it. It will not work here for many years. Either way, a very reasoned response I think.

      • Dave C says:

        Thanks – I try to be pretty rational, rather than the many trolls here (on both sides of the arguments).

      • Roger says:

        Could you please tell me how is the geography from Russia, Bolivia, Denmark, China, Japan, Honduras, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Nigeria, Faroe Islands, Scotland, Switzerland, Israel, South Africa, Colombia, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, DR of Congo, India, Argentina…etc , etc , etc , good for promotin and relegation but ours is not?!

        • Alan says:

          First, and this is important to what comes next, soccer is not going to be as popular in those other countries anytime soon. And I mean like 10 or 20 years, if that. We just need to face those facts. In those other countries you listed, it is one of the most popular sports. They treat soccer like we treat our most popular sports in the “big leagues”. They go to games, they watch them on TV, they go to away games sometimes (not that often though). They want winners, and support those that might have a shot at winning it all right now, not IF they get promoted to the top league. Hardcore fans even. In a metro area of 5 million, we have a tier 4 team that gets 500 people on average. Now, this might go up if they go higher in the league, but it will also go down if they get regulated. It just will. How do I know that? Common sense.

          Here are some reasons geography matters:

          Travel to go watch an away game is not the same as it is in England where there is a soccer club every 10 miles (I’m exaggerating, but not by much). Most are at least 4 hours away. What if Columbus got relegated and the closest club to them in Tier 2 was 10 hours away? This is feasible and will ruin away games. Not only that, the fans probably will not even be able to watch them.

          Expenses for teams in tier 2-4 to pay to travel unless it is regionalized.

          The financial disaster for the league if a city with around 100,000 people not near a bigger city where no one will go to watch it gets promoted. This will be quite comical seeing an empty stadium for 15,000 people in Saginaw, Michigan but a tier 3 team in Detroit. Even funnier will be seeing them on national TV on a regular basis. Do you actually think this will happen? What if the city was in the Upper Peninsula? Wow, that will create quite the turnout and TV ratings.

          The fact that the Red Bulls will NEVER fill their stadium if they end up in tier 2 and the fans will start to abandon them. People here want to see a winner, not someone in the tier 2 mid-table. Sad, but true. This will mostly be the casual fan that starts to get bored with it.

          I remember going to BWW to see the US play in the world cup. That was an absolute blast. People were there going nuts. It was PACKED. Soccer had arrived. Then, they lost. I went back to watch the World Cup finals. There were 2 people there and they had another sport playing. So, my friends and I found a place to watch it finally. It was a sports bar that caters to soccer fans. One of the very few in the Detroit area. There were 15 of us total. People want to see a winner or someone that has a chance to win (whether it be the national team or local team). They wouldn’t have turned out to watch if it was World Cup tier 2.

          I am not against having pro/rel if it worked, but it just won’t here. It will do more harm than good to the fans, the owners, the revenue, and the players who will bail to other clubs or take a pay cut eventually if they don’t get promoted. No top talent will want to play in the lower level leagues here. Even worse, we might end up like EPL and have it be a three way battle between the Red Bulls and the Galaxy every year.

          • Roger says:

            Alan, I dont have any intention to be disrespecfull, but for real, my blood boils when I have to read so much manipulation an nonsense.

            One of the common techniques used against promotion and relegation, is to use the actual reality of US soccer, to make an argument against it. If Colombus was relegated, and we had about the same number of clubs in our lower divisions that we have now, yes they will probably have to do a long travel. Here is the flaw on your argument, we have the number of clubs that we have now because we do not have a system that incentivate the creation of clubs. If we had pro/rel, it is only logical that there would be a lot more clubs on our lower divisions that we have now. Therefore, comon sense will tell you that travel distances will be considerably reduced.

            “a team on a small city ,that nobody watches, somehow gets promoted, and the people in such a city,
            ( wich in america most probably means that do not have a team of any other sport), just do not get exited about their local club sucess???? It will be a disaster!! Be afraid! Be very afraid of the terrible consecuences of pro/rel!!

            “people here want to see a winner” Of course, we all know how much the rest of the world loves loosers!?????

            “people here like to see a team that have a chance to win” ….Well, how can your team win when it does not even have the chance to be a part of the league? Yet there are fans in Rochester, and Tampa and Charlote and Montreal and so on!

            And where in the world top talent want to play in the lower leagues???

            And it will be a terrible thing if somehow we end up with a league like the EPL, where a few of the best clubs in the world play! It will be a disaster! Can you imagine the damage it will do to american soccer if we had clubs like Chelsea and Man U (next all-stars oponent), and Arsenal, and Man City battling for the title each year?!

            “It will harm the players that will have to take a paycut…..”ARE YOU INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            “I am nopty really against pro/rel. It will just not work here”

            What a post Allan!! Really, a classic!

          • Alan says:

            Wow, you have some serious problems. Is it really the end of the world? Is this really something that serious that needs to get that worked up about? So I don’t think that pro/rel will work here. Big deal. Get over it. I didn’t manipulate anything, and I am not against pro/rel. I just don’t think it is a good idea. You ask for an honest answer, you get it, you turn into a jerk. Man, I hope not all pro/rel trolls are like you. Otherwise they won’t win anyone over.

            Techniques? Dude, I voiced my opinion. We already have lots of clubs in the US at all levels. Well over a hundred, but they are in different leagues. Therefore travel is not necessarily reduced with our geography. As for small cities, they can already be successful in the smaller leagues. Smaller city, smaller league to suit that smaller city. Rochester and Tampa are a part of leagues that they can win already. They can also become MLS clubs because the MLS doesn’t have to stop at 20.

            Yes, I do believe it will be terrible for the league to see 4 teams, no matter how great, battling it out for the top spot every year and no other team having a shot. If I am a Columbus supporter and they will never have a chance, then yes, I might as well sit at home and watch EPL and see the same thing. People want to see a winner, as in someone that has a chance. Not many people would want to see LA Galaxy win every year other than their fans.

            And no, I am not against pro/rel. If you don’t believe that, then tough. I don’t care. It is simply an opinion. Sorry that I have one. I am done trying to discuss this issue with people that go off the deep end over NOTHING!

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan – You exhibit a flaw common to many promotion/relegation naysayers in your line of reasoning: You glean data from our current, stunted and failure ridden caste system to predict outcomes in an open system.

            When an D1 team is relegated, it won’t fall to a patsy NASL or a stunted USL. For all intensive purposes, these lines disappear.

            You may question the ability of Americans to understand this concept, but I think RBNY supporters, are worth their salt. They will either rally to their club in order to help stave off relegation, or to help them regain D1 status thru promotion. If there is anywhere in the USA where fans ready to become full fledged supporters and investors, it is NYC/NJ. They live in the cradle of American soccer, and I give them full credit for understanding “the essence” of the game – promotion and relegation – according to FIFA.

            Perhaps a more damaging perception to RBNY – one that may cause a real exodus of support – would be that the team is just the tool of a soft drink company, in a chain of corporate owned soccer outlets, and is not committed to bring the highest quality game to a region that is sophisticated enough to know the difference.

            Your doomsday scenarios of Yoopers achieving promotion to D1 in a high school stadium are based on our current stunted reality. With a proper transition, teams built for promotion will not come from backwaters. Investors are going to jump on metropolitan areas in markets from which they can draw the support to build a top club, and the facilities that club will require to play at the highest levels.

            Suffice it to say, you can’t use the outcomes of an 18th century Indo-Pakistani style caste system to predict what will happen in a 21st century America that adopts an open system. When we abandon permanent arbitrary distinctions between leagues and the teams trapped in them, the system will be fundamentally changed.

            And no, reincarnations of the Timbers, Sounders et al do not constitute movement between castes. They may use the same label, but they are not the same entity.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan, by many measures, soccer IS extremely popular right now in the US. Stop smearing the game with MLS unpopularity. Do you think beer is unpopular because Schlitz doesn’t sell well?

            MLS may prefer that we judge the popularity of the game by their numbers, but how far out of whack does it have to get to make you wonder if they are only an accurate measure of their own problems?

        • Alan says:

          You forgot to mention New Zealand. Soccer is not one of their most popular sports. They have playoffs and no pro/rel. Australia’s A-League has 9 teams total and is not the country’s most popular sport. They also have playoffs and no pro/rel. I guess they just haven’t tried pro/rel. It will fix all of that, right? South Korea is also missing from this list, but it is their most popular sport. Go figure.

          • Roger says:

            Alan. I really think that to debate and disagree is a good healthy practice. I do respect your opinions. However, some of the arguments used in that particular post……….come on man!
            come on!
            lets just say that it was not your best!

          • Alan says:

            I disagree. I just don’t think that you understand what I am saying. You are too hung up on things being a particular way and can’t see past it.

    • Dave C says:

      Also, not a big issue, but the Guardian never said MLS was not a “major” league. They said it was not a “big” league, so the irony you suggest in your first paragraph was never there.

    • Sancho says:

      I can be mistaken, but I believe the only example in the US of a small town team that is competitive nationally in a big league is the Green Bay Packers.

    • Andy says:

      4) I’m for pro/rel but i agree its not possible in the immediate future. I would say that it is possible in the foreseeable future though. They would have to announce that pro/rel was going to be implemented in 10 years and then allow the lower divisions to build up.

      I have family in the UK and you’re right that they don’t pay attention to MLS (why should they?). But when they come to the U.S they want to go to MLS games. They just like watching football. My cousin wasn’t even aware that there was no pro/rel in MLS or that MLS had end of season playoffs to decide a league regular season winner.

    • Roger says:

      While you dont see promotion and relegation possible for the foreseeable future; on the present, 208 nations played the last qualyfiers for the World Cup. TP Mazembe Engelbert from the DR of Congo made it all the way to the Fifa Clubs World Cup Finals.

      Our system put us totally out of touch with the values of our game!

      Something that is allways ignored on the pro/rel debate, is that promotion and relegation is not an end on itself, it is just a tool to implement a phylosophy of open doors that have made our game the world’s greatest.

      To give EVERY city, to give ALL fans, to give ALL nations the chance of been a part of it, is the important thing! Promotion and relegation at the club level, continental qualyfiers at the national level , are just the best practical ways to accomplish the real goal. With that goal comes a message of universality, humanity, fearness, brotherhood. NOBODY SHOULD BE EXCLUDED ON OUR GAME!

      We should be practicing promotion and relegation even if MLS quality of play was equal to the best world leagues! We should give promotion and relegation a try even if there was a chance that it could fail. We should implement promotion and relegation because it is the right thing to do!

      • Sancho says:

        Actually, there are unlimited ways to be inclusive. For instance, France’s soccer pyramid do not include the DOMs (as Guadaloupe, Guyana, etc.). So teams from these places play at their own league. What includes all of them is the Coupe de France. Just like USOC in the US.

        About the rest of the world, in Japan, there is no relagation form the second division to the third, and promotions depend on a lot of different criteria. One might say, the Japansese league is as closed as MLS, but is organized in 2 tiers instead of 1. Australia has a closed top tier in the same way as the US. The trick part is that in Australia there was several popular soccer teams on state level, what is unheard of in the US.

        Please, let’s just stop calling Western Europe as WORLD.

        • Roger says:

          Guadalupe is to France what hawai is to the US. How can yu use that to make an argument to exclude Rochester and Charleston and tampa and others alike?
          If France would use your logic they would exclude Dijon , Caen etc! But they dont!

          Lets go to your Japan point. This is from Wikipedia(exact text)

          ” Currently, there is no relegation from J2(3rd level) to JFL(2nd level). Since 1999, a total of twelve clubs from JFL were promoted J2, two of which were expanded into J1. Currently, J1 has 18 clubs and J2 has 20 clubs. The division two will keep expanding until it has 22 clubs and afterwards there will be regular promotion and relegation.”
          Of course there have to be stablish criteria in order for promotion and relegation to work. There is regulating critertia on every country that practices promotion and relegation.

          The evidence in favor of promotion and relegation is overwhelming! Undeniable! It is the most popular system used by far on EVERY CONTINENT! I would like to repeat that……..EVERY CONTINENT, even in our own Confederation.

          What other deep and profound arguments do you have against promotion and relegation Sancho?
          I am sorry if I sound so irriteted! It may be because I am irritated with so much non-sense. I do not buy that you guys bringing this Mickey Mouse arguments against pro/rel are real soccer fans. I dont buy it!
          You can fool some people some times……………..

          this is what we are missing:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9NB5stYnZY

          • Alan says:

            You’re right. We aren’t real soccer fans. You got us. We totally take you seriously now.

            Now since you are on an MLS blog, do me a favor. Say 3 really positive things about the league. Not backhanded remarks, but really good compliments. Teach us non-soccer fans a thing or 2. If you can, I will be impressed. If you can’t, then why are you here?

          • soccerreform says:

            I’m not saying you aren’t a fan. By the looks of it, you are part of a small minority of fans who prefer their game micromanaged and watered down into a chain of soccer outlets. Judging by TV ratings, you’re in a pretty small group. That doesn’t make you a fake fan. It just puts you way out of the mainstream.

            In light of your radical views, your dismissive attitude towards those who don’t walk in lockstep with your unique agenda feels a little odd. To most fans, MLS represents division one soccer in the United States, and US Soccer – under their interpretation of FIFA rules – sanctions them thusly. Perhaps we’re here because we think MLS, in it’s current single entity incarnation, is a horrible representative.

            As usual, you’re hitting on an important point: We’re all soccer supporters in this discussion. Why are you so quick to dismiss those who disagree with the radical way MLS does business? I know MLS is designed to survive on very little interest – but is dismissing large swaths of potential supporters the right way to grow the sport in the US, or does it just serve to protect the special business model MLS owners enjoy?

            If MLS decided to forfeit that D1 sanction, you might get some traction with your “love it or leave it” MLS argument. Until that day, some of us are going to see MLS as an illegitimate stand in for a proper first division, and will continue to express our opinions in Division 1 forums like this.

          • Charles says:

            I don’t need an arguement against Pro/Rel it is the stupidest idea I have ever heard of and I don’t care to argue it.

            It creates travesties like EPL/LaLiga which are the worst run leagues in all of sports.
            PLUS IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN HERE….EVER !

            Is that clear ? Do I need to say it one more time….
            PLUS IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN HERE….EVER !

            Two scenerios, MLS makes it and we are happy,
            MLS does not and we go back to watching games in High School stadiums with football lines on the field.

            Alan, you are wasting your time, the key is about this group.
            They don’t watch MLS…at all. They NEVER post on soccer, go check other posts on this site…..they just post on how much they dislike MLS. They don’t watch or like US based soccer at all.

            They didn’t go to games when NASL was around, they didn’t go to FC Seattle games when there was no real league, they didn’t support USL or MLS and they still don’t.

            Ignore them it a way they really are not here anyway.

          • soccerreform says:

            Charles, I get it. If you think MLS is the only standing between us and a D1 collapse, your defense makes perfect sense.

            Still, doing soccer our way has produced a mammoth club failure rate, while the system the rest of the world embraced has proved stable and extremely popular. No open league has ever collapsed with all it’s teams the way ours do. In fact, from 1996 through 2010, MLS had a higher D1 club failure rate than any other in the FIFA top 20 – 9.5%.

            Under proper leadership and management from US Soccer, who can follow a long line of successful examples, our open leagues will explode – in popularity and quality.

            Perhaps that’s what the US pro sports establishment fears most.

  17. Sancho says:

    About South America, I would need to check, but I believe the “promedio” for relegation is restricted to Argentina (three years), Colombia (three years) and Uruguay (two years).

    What is really common down here? The so-called “short tournaments”, that are played in one semester. Only Peru, Brazil and Ecuador (changed recently) have one tournament per year. In all others, there are, at least, two championships per year (in some, the champions face each other to unify the crowns).

    By the way, when I say South America, I mean Conmebol countries.

  18. Alan says:

    I would like to see some proof on this whole idea that teams “don’t try until the playoffs”. I have yet to see this happen. Teams like Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake won the leagues by improving over the season. Look at Real Salt Lake now. In 2009 they were mid-table, in 2010 they almost took the Supporter’s Shield, and now they are a threat in the CCL and the favorites to win the league. So, in 2009 they didn’t try for half the season and in 2010 they tried really hard even though they were already going to qualify? This is poor logic.

    The play-offs, as poorly organized as they currently are, give a team a chance to improve over the year and still have a chance to win. They are not being lazy and waiting until the end of the season. If anything, a team that is in first would be the one that is prone to being lazy, but there is no proof of this. RSL last year had already qualified, but they still fought for the Supporter’s Shield. LA Galaxy fought to hang on to it.

    Neither system is bad or wrong. The bad part that I see about the European system is the uncompetitiveness it creates in the league as a whole. A team that is a mid-table team has no chance of winning based on pure talent unless an investor comes in and buys up a bunch of players to win the title with. Seeing the 6-0 scorelines at the beginning of the EPL season is not thrilling. It is boring. Soccer is a sport first and foremost, it should not be about who has the most money. On the MLS side, they need to improve some things too. Both systems have things that can be improved upon.

    • Alan says:

      Oh yeah, somehow I have a feeling that the Rapids will be at the top of the table this year. Maybe they will just have decided to try harder at the start of the year. Sigh.

    • Dave C says:

      @Alan – I see we’re both pretty reasonable guys, despite our disagreement about the relative quality of EPL vs MLS.

      I agree 100% with “Neither system is bad or wrong”, and I can’t believe the amount of passionate nonsense spew on either side when they argue about play-offs vs single table. I don’t see why people have such problems with either method.

      You’re also right about the lack of parity in the EPL (and other European leagues). I wouldn’t want all teams to be almost equal, but I do wish that more than 2-3 teams could compete for the league. I think the EPL may be gradually getting better in this respect (Man C and Spurs are improving, Liverpool will surely turn around next season, while Man Utd and Chelsea seem to be in slight decline). However, as things stand, even many English fans (especially of teams in the bottom half of the EPL) are kind of bored of the situation.

      • Alan says:

        No, I actually do agree that MLS is equivalent to The Championship. But, I also believe that some of the teams from the Championship could compete at least in the bottom of the table in EPL. I think that the one advantage that MLS has is that it is growing, and while it will probably never be EPL any time soon if ever (never say never), I think that the quality will get better and better as the league grows, more people watch it, and more players can make more money at it. I’m not as optimistic about the parity in EPL as you are. Maybe Bundesliga, Ligue 1, or Serie A, but EPL and La Liga have a long way to go and need some sort of intervention. All the clubs you mentioned will be in the top 7 of the table for a long while. When Everton or Fulham or Bolton can have a reasonable run at the title, then there will be a reasonable amount of parity.

        • soccerreform says:

          MLS is not equivalent to any league in the world. Indeed, they are more equivalent to Chili’s and Chick-Fil-A than the Championship.

          • Tim says:

            It’s posts like these which show the level of idiocy you possess and the reason very few people take you seriously.

          • soccerreform says:

            Tim, I gotta say, just because people disregard your arguments doesn’t mean they take you seriously. I fully realize that it’s in MLS’s best interest if I’m ridiculed. Hasn’t stopped me yet.

            I take your arguments seriously. I just think you’re wrong.

    • Andy says:

      from this article on pro/rel where they quote several MLS players.
      http://www.goal.com/en/news/1884/north-america/2010/05/28/1946430/goalcommentary-will-relegation-ever-work-in-mls

      “I think it would be good,” said New York Red Bulls rookie midfielder Tony Tchani. “It would motivate teams to go for the championship, but also to stay on top of themselves for each game. There are some teams that don’t really play hard because they know that, even if they lose, they are still going to stay in the league.”

      Tchani’s teammate, midfielder Siniša Ubiparipovi?, agreed with the sentiment. “It would bring another level to the game,” Ubiparipovi? said. “Every game would mean something.”

      Kasey Keller believes pro/rel would make for a stronger national team.
      “Your contract [in Europe] is written that this is your Premier League contract and if you get relegated, your contract goes down between 30 to 50 percent,” said the 40-year old. “It’s absolutely horrible, but I’ll tell you one thing though; we would have a stronger national team if guys had to go through that. It would motivate most guys to play at their best.”

      • Alan says:

        You must not have read the rest of the article where Keller talks about how being relegated would devastate the fans and the owners in Seattle. You know, probably the biggest soccer city right now in MLS. What would that do to San Jose, Dallas, or Kansas City?

    • soccerreform says:

      MLS has garnered little to no national interest in a country that has embraced the game of soccer. Perhaps you could start by embracing that reality.

      • Alan says:

        And pro/rel will solve every problem I suppose. It will turn it into as big of a draw as baseball and basketball, which don’t have pro/rel. I’m sold.

        • soccerreform says:

          When MLS becomes the dominant league in a largely domestic sport, feel free to make random comparisons with MLB and NBA.

          Soccer is a global sport that thrives in open leagues of independent clubs. It has an incredible track record where leagues aren’t rigged for domestic parity, when clubs are allowed to grow to their full potential.

          You can keep trying to stuff the game into the same model of artificial scarcity and limited quality that our other sports embrace – the one that has failed US club soccer since 1930. You can wish MLS owned, controlled, or ignored international governing bodies like our domestic sports do.

          If people continue to subscribe to this la la land approach, I suspect we’ll still be left with a unpopular niche game that US pro sports execs are committed to isolating from our domestic pro sports – and their dramatically larger profit potentials.

          • Alan says:

            I am a huge Clint Dempsey fan. When do you think Fulham might be in contention for the EPL title? If only we could break them free from the shackles of Man U, Chelsea, and Arsenal spending sprees they might actually have a chance. Now that’s a closed system. Sorry, got a game to watch. Keep unshackling in la-la land.

          • soccerreform says:

            Can’t you just go out to Chuck E. Cheeses, instead of insisting that D1 soccer should be run like them?

          • Alan says:

            Yeah, that makes tons of sense.

          • soccerreform says:

            Let me be more succinct on this point: I am also a Clint Dempsey supporter. I would never limit ManU to give him a chance.

  19. Charles says:

    Can you do the same article for Brazil ? Argentina ? Italy ?
    There are at least 7 countries more successful in soccer over history, at the National team level than England.
    IF, IF, IF, we are going to worry about garbage like this…..we already beat England for pete sake…lets worry about countries above us.

    I am joking ( sort of, I don’t get the English obsession, but that is another post )….Why would I care about what ANY of them think about MLS ?!?!?

    I am not worried about garbage like this. Who cares what they think ? Do you think they care that I think the English national team looked like crap in 2010 ?

    • Dave C says:

      we already beat England for pete sake…
      Hmm…I thought it was a 1-1 draw. Or are you still talking about 1950??

      lets worry about countries above us.
      Not sure what you mean by the countries above us. I’m not really a fan of ranking systems in international football, but its the nearest thing we have to an objective system of saying who is “above” the US…and according to FIFA, England are 6th in the world while the US are 20th. Or do you have a better reasoned methodology to show how England is not above the US?

      • Sancho says:

        The only thing I could think of:

        Group Stage – USA finished 1st; England, 2nd.

        • Dave C says:

          On the basis of goals scored (not even goal difference)- so basically the most arbitrary tie breaker available. But still, if that’s a source of pride for some people, then who am I to say otherwise.

      • Charles says:

        We won the group. Anyone can win one game, isn’t that the arguement for the anti-playoff guys.
        So we are tied….Still look above.
        You can poo-hoo goals scored, but it is not like they beat us.

        And again, why England ? If I am going to care what others think, there are waaaaay better choices.

        But again, why do I care at ALL what they think ?

        I don’t AND I shouldn’t.

        • Dave C says:

          I agree with you that you shouldn’t care what English people think of the MLS.

          I just think it’s funny that you cling to this sense of glory in finishing ahead of someone on the most arbitrary tie-breaker: goals scored (despite the fact that this also means you were worse in terms of goals conceded).

          It’s almost as bad as celebrating because you finished ahead of someone based on alphabetical order. Or as Homer said: “De-Fault: the two sweetest words in the English language”.

      • Alan says:

        Anyone who believes that England should be ranked 6th needs their head examined. They are top 15 material at best.

  20. Ricky says:

    I’d love to see promotion and relegation in a two tiered MLS and would also like to see the league title gain a better recognition than the playoffs. I don’t like how the 8th place team over a whole season can hit some form late in the year and win the championship. Still, I understand why it is in place in North America.

    Saying that, I do like the salary cap idea and I like the parity within the MLS, how a team can go from bottom to top in a relatively short space of time without having to spend silly amounts of money. Neither system is perfect but I enjoy both.

  21. Totoro says:

    Why do MLS fans care so much about what English fans think of the league? I suppose in general, people on internet tend to look for sleights, but MLS fans seem quite thin-skinned on this sort of topic. Why? If you enjoy the league, and if you say the league is having so much success in regard to quality of play, attendance, atmosphere at the games, why is that not its own reward? Why is the external validation so important, esp. when you’re looking for the validation from a group of people who don’t have much of a reason/incentive to care?

    Would you really prefer is the Guardian made some half-assed comments about MLS, getting half the facts wrong? Or sent some puffy journalistic praise MLS’s way? I can see the next article being, “The Guardian said nice things about us, but god dammit, I don’t think they meant it!”

    I wonder if there are Liga ACB fans posting on internet boards who upset they are that Bill Simmons doesn’t talk about their league in his podcast.

    • Charles says:

      I wonder if there are Liga ACB fans posting on internet boards who upset they are that Bill Simmons doesn’t talk about their league in his podcast.

      Reply: ……or us even. Thank you. A voice of reason. Soccer fans are a bizzarre bunch. This gets 60 posts and counting. It seems the same way with podcasts,

      I had to quit listening to them….because they never talked soccer !!!

      “Should he celebrate a goal he might score against his former team….discuss”

    • Sancho says:

      Perhaps, if someone finds a http://habladelaligadelaasociaciondeclubsdebaloncesto.es, it is there!
      :-)

  22. soccerreform says:

    In 2050, if MLS is still around, their commissioner will still excuse poor quality and lack of interest by pointing to longer histories of NFL, NBA, and EPL.

    To all of you who proclaim love for promotion and relegation, while not believing it can ever happen here, spare us your paternalistic apathy. MLS so desperately wants soccer to work in our local sports system – a system in which >90% of clubs have failed over the last century – they are willing to control access and limit quality in order to insure their survival no matter how unpopular they become.

    They depend on the apathy of MLS supporters, and Eurosnob channel changers, who are eager to proclaim that “promotion and relegation will NEVER happen here.”

    That apathy isn’t keeping it real. It’s keeping US soccer down.

    • Sancho says:

      You really believe that pro/rel means that much?! Brasil didn’t have it for its national league from 1950 (when the league actually began) to 1986 (and 1992/1996/1999/2000). In 1987 and 1993, the big clubs were protected against relegation. We had a (sort of) playoff system until 2002.

      Since 2003, Brazil joined Eurocentrics paradise. We have a single-table-round-robin-home-away league with pro/rel.

      Guess what? It is not better! It is not worse also, but the promised Nirvana never happened.

      Go figure…

    • Tim says:

      Ted, what of the hundreds of defunct English Football clubs? They were in an open system and they no longer exist.

      • Robert says:

        I’d rather have defunct clubs than defunct leagues. Would you rather see NE Revolution disappear or MLS disappear?

      • Roger says:

        Sure Tim, that really proves that open systems dont work! After all there are only about 6400 clubs in England!
        We got it right and the rest of the world( NOT EUROPE, IT IS THE WORLD) got it wrong.
        We better be patient and waaaaaiiiiiitttttttt for MLS to ssssssssssllllllllllllloooooooowwwwwwwwllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyy get better. Maybe next year the Galaxy can beat teams from Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobagos…….well , that may be tough! maybe Tortuga Islands!?

        • Alan says:

          How about RSL beating those teams instead?

          • Roger says:

            Alan look at soccer all around the planet. Notice how soccer reflects reality everywhere. The big clubs in Spain ar in Madrid and Barcelona; not in Badajos and Ponteferradina. The big clubs in Italy are on Milan and Rome, not in Pescara or Campopaso.

            Look at our country. What is the US on planet earth?! Geographically, politically etc. What kind of league do you think we should have? What do you think is our true potential? I think that a US soccer league should be among the best 5 in the world. That is where we belong.

            Ironically, the only thing that we really have to do to get were we belong, is to let soccert be! If we let soccer be, it will do what it does everywhere, REFLECT REALITY!

            We are kept down artificially by a set of rules that we have imposed on ourselves!

      • soccerreform says:

        Tim – open soccer leagues never go bankrupt, or fold with all their clubs. Closed soccer leagues almost always do.

      • soccerreform says:

        Our club failure rate is well over 90%. I suspect we lead England in total club failures as well, and guarantee we do if amateur clubs are included.
        Here’s a partial list http://soccerreform.us/blog/?p=553

    • Clampdown says:

      You know, not everyone who disagrees with you is apathetic. They may just disagree and not be all that bothered by the issue that appears to be your obsession.

      Soccer has never grown organically from the bottom up in this country. What on earth makes you think that would happen now?

      I have my issues with MLS, but the pro/rel sure as hell isn’t at the top of the list. That doesn’t make me any less of a fan of the sport than you are.

      I’ve seen the quality of play in MLS improve significantly over just the past five years. There is no reason to think that won’t continue. IMO, that is what is most important.

      • Tim says:

        If Ted was a sports historian or professor or involved in sports business, I’d take him more seriously.

        • bradjmoore48 says:

          Well, then read Stefan Szymanski’s papers on the subject, among countless other economists and sport academics that all say promotion/relegation is a worthwhile business model. It’s not just some lunatic spouting off, smart people see the benefits in the system.

          • Clampdown says:

            Yes. Such a system makes perfect sense for a league or association of leagues that has grown organically from the bottom up. MLS was not formed that way and it’s not going to change. And guess what, no one else is going to pick up the mantle and create such a system in the US. That’s the reality.

            Get over it. Or not.

          • soccerreform says:

            I need to stop being amazed/enraged when people believe shielding a company from competition is a fundamentally sound idea – especially in an open global market. It just leads to my outrage when they insist entitled monopoly like MLS is limiting the quality of their product for the very survival of the game.

          • soccerreform says:

            Wait a second, do you think promotion and relegation is MLS’s call? Just because they don’t want it, we won’t get it? That’s the apathy I’m talking about.

            You think everyone in England wanted promotion and relegation in 1884? You don’t think a few teams would have preferred to be permanently crowned D1?

            You think it all just sprung up organically in some kind of Candyland consensus? You don’t think an independent, responsible FA stepped in to mandate rules of the road for the good of the game – over the objections of those who would have preferred the entitlements that MLS owners enjoy?

            I don’t accept that fantasy.

          • Alan says:

            You’re funny, like a walking Anthony Robbins infomercial for soccer. Sorry, I would keep this little game but I have an MLS game from this weekend DVRed. Its the only one I haven’t had a chance to watch. You should try it sometime. Break yourself free from the shackles of apathy and Candyland and embrace the entitled monopoly that is MLS. Feel free to watch as the teams take a leisurely stroll through the park and have a picnic until the playoffs start. Then the real teams that are fooling everyone in the mid-table show those not watching the Hair Club for Men infomercial that they have been playing possum and letting the top of the table teams burn themselves out. Let the apathy and shackling begin in Candyland. Whoo hoo!

        • soccerreform says:

          Tim – you don’t need a degree in anything to realize MLS thrives on control and protection from competition, but soccer doesn’t.

      • soccerreform says:

        If MLS has improved in quality so drastically, why did the league send 22 players onto World Cup rosters in 1998, compared to 5 (including Bornstein and Findley) in 2010? Why has no MLS outlet come close to accomplishing DC United’s 1998 Interamerican Cup win?

        If you fight for the closed system, you’re not apathetic. You’re wrong.

        You’re apathetic if you claim to love promotion and relegation, but insist it’s not possible in our little corner of the world because the powers-that-be are opposed to it.

        • Alan says:

          5 players on our world cup team from our domestic league. Man, that sucks. What’s even more shocking is how much Brazil must suck since their World Cup team had only 5 players from their domestic league. They need to hurry up and get some pro/rel right away. Wait, I thought they had pro/rel. I’m so confused.

          • soccerreform says:

            in 2010, MLS Cup on ESPN drew fewer viewers than college volleyball broadcast simultaneously on ESPN 2. I guess that’s because we don’t like soccer, or the league is too young, or nobody cares about Texas and Colorado…. It can’t have anything to do with those go-getters at MLS, trying their hardest to bring soccer to America for the first time – at least since NASL in the 70s and ASL in the 20s.

            Your confusion is justified.

          • Tim says:

            You mean the College Volleyball National Championship in which Penn State had sent emails out the their Alumni encouraging them to watch it?

        • Clampdown says:

          You know, I think you’re right. The more I read from you, the less interested I am in your issue and I am apathetic. I don’t have strong feelings on the promotion/relegation issue, but believe it’s not a possibility any time in the near future for the US.

          Good luck winning people over. Whether or not such a system happens here I will continue to support the professional league.

          • Alan says:

            I agree. I will support MLS no matter what. I’m not for or against pro/rel here but I think it will not work for various reasons. It doesn’t make me not support the league. Listening to soccerreform is starting to make me hate pro/rel though. It makes me not want to see it here even more.

          • Tim says:

            He is the wrong spokesperson for a cause which could get people behind it. Ted should just hand the reigns over to someone who can organize an argument, defend it successfully and not come across as a martyr.

          • soccerreform says:

            It’s going to take a revolution, and revolutions aren’t comprised of people who are satisfied with the status quo.

            If you’re perfectly happy with the state of soccer in the US, and believe that MLS is leading us down a gradual path towards soccer greatness, I’m not surprised that my anger offends you.

          • Alan says:

            No, I will never be satisfied with the status quo because it can always get better. The correlation between better and pro/rel has not been proven to be true. Maybe you should start at the USL level and annoy them. If it works as great as you say it does, it will only be a matter of time before it overtakes MLS. Seriously, the assumption that the thing that builds a strong league is pro/rel is far-fetched at best.

        • Charles says:

          People keep bringing up the 1998 team fielding 22 players

          THAT TEAM STUNK, DID YOU GO TO THE GAMES ?!
          DID YOU WATCH AT LEAST ?!?

          That arguement is just plain stupid.

          Next up from soccerreform: The MLS TV ratings stink…..like that is because the of the way the league is set up.

          • soccerreform says:

            Charles – the core of that ’98 team drove to the semis of the Copa America in ’95, beating Argentina a couple hundred miles from Buenos Aires. Also, a significant proportion of those 22 MLS players that made the ’98 World Cup did so on other national squads.

            MLS has never drawn the interest of the average soccer supporter in the US. How many more years will this go on before you’re willing to examine the unique way they do business?

      • soccerreform says:

        Tim, did you just say that that an e-mail to a Penn State Alumni list was more sophisticated than the marketing for the MLS Cup?

    • Andy says:

      Sancho

      look at the example of Japan

      Japan went pro/rel and the J-league has taken off. It’s become really successful.

      also, Brazil used to be able to keep their best players. Pele played most of his career with Santos. It’s different now. The best Brazilian players end up in Europe sometimes before they have reached their prime. This has nothing to do with pro/rel.

      • Alan says:

        Japan is barely the size of California.

      • Alan says:

        Also, they only compete with baseball and sumo wrestling. We complete with Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, golf, mma, etc.

        • bradjmoore48 says:

          Sports are not zero-sum competitions: it is possible to like baseball, basketball, American football, and soccer. MLS has not understood that, or at least they want that perception out there. Thus, saying pro/rel won’t work because we have too many sports is a moot point.

          • Gazza says:

            Why would MLS want that perception out there?

            I think the league total get that sports are not zero sum competitions. I have no idea what makes you think that.

          • Alan says:

            Not at all. When you are counting on people to support lower tiers, having that many other sports that they support much easier is not a moot point. There are always sports that are ranked 1, 2, 3, etc in every country and the ones closer to the bottom don’t get followed as much. This is a fact. I would love to follow and support 10 sports, but some of us have to work, go to school, deal with families, etc.

      • Sancho says:

        I’m not sure about Japan, sadly as it be, but due to size of the country and everything, I believe pro/rel was the natural consequence of the league success; not the opposite around. With too many teams trying to get in, the league opened a 2nd level to embrace them all.

        I think, MLS, through expansion across US and Canada, has both the option to go European, with a 20-team top tier and pro/rel system, or to copy the Big-4 system, with divisions, conferences/leagues, and playoffs (unlimited teams in the top tier). There is no need to take one or the other, as perhaps it was in Japan, so it is up for discussion.

        My point is that both options have flaws and qualities, both are possible, and both are quite common world ans sportwide.

        I simply cannot agree that those systems would solve the league problems per se, because “this is America and that’s how we do things” or “the almighty-superduper-yammy-megapowered-the-only-way-soccer-should-be-played EPL does just like that“. I just live in a country that the debate is done exactly in these terms, and I feel said that in the US, it is carried as senseless as down here.

        • Andy says:

          if MLS goes the NBA/NFL/NHL route it will be their death knell. You’ll never get the traditional fan.

          • Sancho says:

            They are on this path actually since forever, and, from distance, it seems just fine to me:

            Only two teams have folded since its begining.
            The great majority of teams have its own stadium and a loyal fan base. The quality of the game is increasing fast.
            The quality of the fans is increasing fast.
            The league is balanced and unpredictable.

            Obviously, MLS does mistakes, but it seems they are much less than what it does right.

            P.S.: I cannot believe it that the number of people that would think “now, I’m going to watch it. MLS has pro/rel” is significant.

          • Alan says:

            Every soccer fan that I know personally and encounter on a regular basis like soccer all over the world, but also like other American sports as well. I really doubt the “traditional fan” cares that much what system is used as long as they get to watch the game. Oh yeah, that’s right, there’s a game being played that any traditional fan of the sport will want to watch no matter what system is used. If the “traditional fan” is so shallow that they care more about pro/rel then watching the game and the season, then good riddance. I will take the Glenn Williams-type supporters and the crossover supporters rather than the eurosnob that has to have pro/rel despite common sense that it won’t work here. My friends that watch mostly foreign soccer will watch MLS once they feel that the quality on the field is there (I’m not saying it isn’t). Not one of them has ever said anything about pro/rel. As a matter of fact, they are the ones that stressed to me why it won’t work here and they don’t even watch the league (they are slowly coming around).

          • Andy says:

            they are not fine

            soccer fans aren’t watching. They only get the die hard MLS fan which is a tiny fan base compared to the fan base they could get if they followed european models for the sport.

            i refuse to watch MLS. So do many of the people i know who are soccer nuts. We’re boycotting this bastardization of soccer.

    • Roger says:

      I think it will be inevitable that promotion and relegation happens in the US!
      We have being bombarded with all kinds of manipulation when it comes to pro/rel. But as more american fans get informed about how the soccer world works, how everything is linked from any poor nation lower divisions all the way to the Fifa Clubs World Cup, it is going to get tougher and tougher to manipulate them!

      Promotion and relegation makes to much sense! Plain simple, there is just not any other way to satisfy the soccer needs of the nation. How big can MLS grow? 30 franchises?!

  23. Alan says:

    People in big markets just don’t care as much about second and third tiered clubs. They just don’t. I bet Detroit would get be a decent market for an MLS team (maybe 15000 per game), but the Michigan Bucks in Detroit (tier 4) get like 500 per game. If there were an MLS tier 1 team, do you honestly think that that team would gain or lose fans if they get relegated. They would lose fans. It would be harder to support the team on the road, it would be harder to watch them on TV, and the teams would suffer.

    A much better system would be something like this. MLS gains more clubs as it gains popularity while tier 2 and tier 3 partner with tier 1 clubs for sponsorship and development. The tier 2 and tier 3 clubs are located in smaller markets. MLS itself becomes regionalized (east and west, real conferences) with 30 to 40 clubs. The teams stay within the conferences until the playoffs. As a fan, my closest club is 4 hours away and the second closest is 5 hours away in a different direction. Going to a home game is hard enough let alone going to an away game. If there were 2 or 3 other cities including my own (Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, maybe Indianapolis), I could see home games and go on the road much easier. I could watch it on TV. I could and would also support the tier 2 or 3 clubs in the smaller markets in the states from time to time and other people that live in those markets can support them much easier. This is a way soccer can grow in the United States with our geography, fan support will be easier, and pro/rel of players can happen. The reality is that we will never have an nPower league, a Serie B, or a Bundesliga 2 league as big as these soccer crazy countries. Soccer is not our number 1 sport and might never be. It might be close to hockey but they is still years off. Only the hardcore fans support lower tiers here, or fans that live in smaller markets.

    • soccerreform says:

      Let me guess: You’d argue English lower division clubs wouldn’t suffer loss in popularity if plug was pulled on promotion.

      I’d argue if their D2 and below was locked in a caste system like ours, perhaps it would enjoy the same 75% failure rate our lower divisions enjoy.

      Call me crazy.

      • Alan says:

        I’m not arguing that because it works for them. There is a football clubs every 15 minutes in that tiny country. The Geography is different here. If England were the almost the size of Europe like US and Canada combined I might feel different.

        • Andy says:

          if we implement pro/rel, in 50 years we will rival England for how many football clubs we have in the country.

          it would create a soccer culture in this country that we don’t have

          • Clampdown says:

            That is some wishful thinking.

          • Alan says:

            And you know this how? I am asking about our league specifically, not EPL. For them to be so close together, it would take hundreds of clubs and a lot more popularity.

          • soccerreform says:

            As American soccer fans, we’re supposed to check our optimism at the door. Didn’t you get the memo?

            We’re supposed to believe that implementing the system used by every major soccer nation in the world would be as difficult as landing a man on Mars. Because of this impossible difficulty, we’re supposed to either accept a “league” that hamstrings it’s own teams for domestic parity, or turn the channel to another league.

            Gotta get with the program.

  24. Andy says:

    Keller brought up that hypothetical. But his comment was nonsensical when he pondered if Seattle Sounders would have to move back to a smaller ground.

    If you read the whole article Keller is clearly for pro/rel

    also..if seattle was relegated how much attendance would they lose? are they a Leeds United where the fan base stands by them and they still sell out ?

    seattle would still draw well if they got relegated because the fans would want to get them back to top flight

    • Alan says:

      I guess you and Keller will have to agree to disagree. He clearly said it would devastate things in a big soccer town.

      • soccerreform says:

        Keller supports promotion and relegation, no matter how much that pains everyone opposed to it.

        • Gazza says:

          Why should anyone care what Keller thinks? Does he have any skin in the game? Has he invested tens of millions of dollars?

          • soccerreform says:

            I get it. Guys who invest tens of millions of dollars would prefer not to face the competition of relegation. Unfortunately, it’s not unique, not American, and not helpful.

            The only thing that stands in the way of anyone existing outside of the envelope of competition are consumers and the governments that represent them.

            Our soccer governing body chooses to represent owners who exist outside the envelope of competition, not consumers. In order to move to an open, vibrant and healthy system that includes the risks and rewards that great club owners around the world face, we’re going to need a federation that represents supporters, not owners.

  25. Sancho says:

    I love the “let soccer be argument”. That’s precisely what has happened in the US since the sport arrival there.

    It produced the US Open Cup, the 3rd place in 1930 World Cup, the victory over England in 1950 and… that’s about it!

    Nice!

    • soccerreform says:

      You missed the 1930 World Cup semifinal run, in which the US made it to the final four undefeated and unscored upon. You also didn’t mention the first guy to net a hat trick in the World Cup, Bert Patenaude, and the guy who set the world record of 67 goals in a top flight club season, Archie Stark. You neglected to point out our hugely successful 1994 World Cup, and failed the point out that the New York Cosmos outsold the New York Giants – in Giants stadium – in the latter half of the 1970s.

      But I agree, US Soccer’s hands off approach has messed us up. In the 20′s they tried to establish some control, but the major league of the day thumbed their noses at the organization, and then collapsed. In the 1970s, NASL ignored US Soccer entirely, and imploded. Now our federation is a virtual property of MLS – complete with an MLS executive at the helm. Not surprisingly, they’re incapable of making major independent decisions that benefit club soccer as a whole, and have chosen to concentrate on protecting MLS owner investments instead.

      Yes, we gotta fix that hands off thing.

      • Sancho says:

        You missed the 1930 World Cup semifinal run

        No, I did not. By the way, your examples just help what I have said above.

        The 1994 World Cup is the launch point of MLS, so I put it in the MLS context.

        The NASL failed, and Garber must have a NASL poster in front of his desk to remind him the mistakes of the first REAL try to stablish soccer as professional sport in the US. In SEVENTY YEARS, the bottom-up system never happened. And, please, do not be mistaken on this. The 2011 MLS is not the 1996 MLS.

        The league is reforming itself. And it is WORKING…

        • soccerreform says:

          Monopolies don’t reform themselves.

          NASL, and maybe ASL, are the only soccer leagues that died from “overspending”. I hope you’re not saying that NASL proves soccer leagues die from overspending, because ours are the only ones that do. Perhaps it’s because we run soccer differently than everyone in the world.

          Anyhow, once you get past that point, you realize that MLS limits quality, spending and even attendance to keep soccer alive their backwards way. Regardless of the myriad of motives behind these limits, their efforts should not be confused with doing what’s right for club soccer in the USA.

          • Sancho says:

            It is not a monopoly. Last time I have checked, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, soccer leagues around US and Canada. MLS is the strongest of them, but it is not a monopoly.

            The US do not run its league differently than the rest of the world. In a lot of places, including Europe, there are standards to be followed if some team wants to play in top flights. Even in England, there are league teams and non-league teams, an it is not only the result in the field of play that separate them.

            Actually, the creation of the Premiership in 1992 is an example of England going the American way (obviously, not entirely, it is still England) because the old system had failed.

          • Sancho says:

            Actually, there is nothing that looks like a monopoly more than an all-inclusive pro/rel system…

  26. zentai suit says:

    Just as much as the English media likes to revel in champions, they love to pan the cameras, to the tearful fans of those unlucky relegated trio. Be it children or grown men balling their eyes out, the worst teams are deemed not fit to eat at the top table and must earn that right by fighting it out with the other peasants in the Football League.

  27. Michael says:

    In reference to the guardian podcast referred to iin the post I don’t think they were being particularly dismissive of MLS they were just honest that its not a league means particularly much to them and I think thats okay. To be honest most football fans in England probably don’t have anything against MLS and would probably enjoy watching it, but when you have a top league like the EPL in your country and La Liga and Serie A in the same sort of timezone where what happens in these leagues can affect clubs in England in the champions league, you’re going to find that MLS is just not going to be a draw for most people. After all there is so much time you can devote to watching football. This is all said as an englishman who tries to take an interest in football around the world.

  28. soccerreform says:

    MLS conspires to limit quality via salary caps, and limits attendance at some games be closing off half or larger stadiums. It’s really no wonder serious fans are dismissive, no matter what side of the Atlantic they live on.

    A handful of MLS blowhards extolling the virtues of imposed parity don’t really change that dynamic.

  29. Alan says:

    Just because you cannot open your mind to see that pro/rel doesn’t need to happen, will not happen, and probably shouldn’t happen doesn’t mean that the argument for the status quo is weak. Invest some of that time supporting the players, the game, and the leagues (MLS, NASL, USL) and spend less time worrying about a fantasy that won’t happen. Using crazy language and pretending that you are superior just makes your argument look weak. I love this thread because hopefully it contains the hardcore pro/rel extremists so that not every thread turns into a pointless pro/rel debate.

    • soccerreform says:

      You’re right, Alan. Pro/rel will never need to happen if your attitude prevails. If we all just accept our places, and the inevitability of MLS control, there will be no need for US Soccer to insist on any changes. If you succeed in your quest to turn the free market business norms in the rest of the soccer world into American soccer science fiction, MLS can continue making soccer safe for the American pro sports landscape, and carefully grooming it in a way that doesn’t take from the profits or status of established domestic sports leagues.

      I love this thread because it is just another example of a minority of American soccer supporters, committed to the US pro sports status quo, standing in the way of progress.

      Most opponents of the MLS model don’t take the time to battle it out with your minority. They can turn the channel from our exhibition games to real world matches. They like it when competition doesn’t stop at the touch lines. They appreciate when their opponents jerseys aren’t for sale in their home stadium. They think quality limits, D1 entitlements, and attendance controls are absurd. They don’t have the time or energy to get upset about it, but do have dozens of other soccer viewing options.

      I don’t support a boycott of MLS – because from a ratings perspective, it looks like there’s already one in place. US soccer supporters are already exercising alternate viewing options in droves. What good would it do? MLS was built on the premise that soccer is an unpopular niche sport. A boycott plays right into their hands.

      Your advice, to keep putting money into the pockets of MLS owners in hopes that they will grant us higher quality soccer, is not a viable option.

      No doubt, quality is an issue for channel changing supporters. Unfortunately, history proves you can’t divorce the issue of quality from promotion and relegation. Every closed soccer league that didn’t limit the quality of it’s own teams expired. I think MLS is right on this account: In order for soccer to survive their way, clubs must be limited.

      Today, MLS insists the league is pushing to be the best in the world, but their parity prerogative means that in order to have one ManU quality team, every other team will have to be near ManU quality. If you think promotion and relegation is fantasy, every team in MLS at or near ManU quality is like unicorns, chocolate rivers, and a million pots of gold at the end of a million rainbows.

  30. Alan says:

    Ok, the United States ties a team the quality of Argentina (ranked 4th) with the US’s loan goal by an 18 year old MLS player. England only gets a 2-0 win over Wales (ranked 116th)? One of the goals is a penalty. Who has the better national team again?

    • soccerreform says:

      If only we could have more friendlies….. Perhaps we could beat Ghana that way.

      Tim Howard possessed the ball in the first half more than any other US player. We’ve been making world class keepers since before MLS, though, so that doesn’t count.

      I’ve got a feeling that 18 year old player is trying to escape MLS. Edson Buddle doubled his salary by moving to a Bundesliga 2 team on the cusp of relegation.

      Thanks for helping keep our little entitled league out of the red, though. Nothing more exciting than a chain of soccer outlets running on the cheap, and nothing better for player development.

      • Alan says:

        That is totally a troll comment. Nothing you said is founded in reality or fact, just hate. Somehow I doubt England could have beat Ghana either BTW. So what IF he wanted to leave MLS. Messi doesn’t play in Argentina’s league. Agudelo is a product of the MLS. You will always have to make excuses for that…

        • soccerreform says:

          Argentina sold 1600 players on the international market in ’09 – ’10. The US might have sold one in the same timespan: Sasha Kljestan.

          Congratulations to Agudelo for standing out in a friendly match that Argentina largely dominated. Perhaps he will become the one player the US is able to sell this year.

          Scream “troll” all you want. I think these points are pretty valid.

  31. soccerreform says:

    Alan, you know I don’t think it’s fair to judge the popularity of soccer in the US by the unpopularity of MLS.

    In the same way, I don’t think it’s fair to judge any promotion relegation supporter by how seriously MLS single entity supporters take her, or how much she might offend their sensibilities.

  32. Sancho says:

    This is soccer, folks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU4oA3kkAWU

    The rest is detail.

  33. It’s good to see Soccer Reform is as understanding as ever of other people’s opinions. Dude, you’ve got a cause and that’s admirable. But as I’ve said before on Twitter, you’ve GOT to take a step back, relax a bit and LISTEN to people.

    You can’t just bark statistics and opinions and expect people to be won over. The opposite will happen, and people who support the topic will rethink because of your attitude.

    The possible push for reform in US soccer by introducing promotion and relegation has to be analysed on a level of whether it will make a good thing better. Your ridiculous argument, which sounds like a broken record, is that MLS is terrible and failing (both false) and pro/rel will save it. You can’t mount a campaign based on fabrication and exaggeration.

    As I’ve said, pro/rel is a perfectly valid discussion point, and no one will disagree with that even if they aren’t in favour of it. But the way you go about promoting the cause is terrible.

    • Alan says:

      Glenn,

      I couldn’t agree with you more. As I have tried to get others to understand, I am not opposed to pro/rel. I am against the reason why they are trying to push pro/rel (basically that Europe does it and that it will save MLS). I think that it has some positives, but I still don’t think that it will work here in the United States. Again, this is just my opinion. I would be more open to hearing a good pro/rel argument if there was at least an acknowledgement that having the same 2 teams win the majority of the championships is a good thing. If fact, if the pro/rel crowd had a suggestion on how to stop this from happening, I would consider it a more viable solution in the United States. I still doubt that it will work due to geography other things, but maybe if they at least could see the concern then maybe I could understand theirs. It doesn’t help either when everything that I say gets turned into “you want to protect corporations, stop competition, not give teams on the bottom a chance, and punish teams on the top”.

      I totally agree. Pro/rel is a valid discussion point. It works overseas for THOSE leagues for the most part, but I would love to see them fix the lack of competition there. My objection is not to Man U or Barcelona being a good team but that barely does any other team have a chance of winning the season. They don’t need to make every team as good, but they need to stop a select few teams from buying titles. It is not good for the games or the fans. I can say for myself at least that I am just a guy that is a fan of the game, a fan of MLS, and a fan of other leagues and competitions around the world. I am not on some crusade to destroy pro/rel, but I also don’t see how a SYSTEM has to go hand-in-hand with a game. Sancho was right. Soccer is what is important. The rest is just details. Those details are worth having a sensible discussion over, and I am glad that you see that.

      • Roger says:

        @Alan
        Promotion and relegation is not and end on itself. It is just the best practical way of accomplishing the real goal, wich is to include all fans, all cities (at club level), all nations (at the international level).

        When you say that the reason why people support promotion and relegation is …….(“basically that Europe does it and that it will save MLS), you are totally misrepresenting our reasons. I have never ever ever seen any pro/rel supportert using that argument.

        Another popular form of manipulation is the assumption that , if we go the pro/rel way, 2 clubs would monopolize the league. There are many positive efects that pro/rel could have on our nation, but you guys choose to ignore them. Even if you were right, even if such assumption was totally true. What is the lesser evil?

        A) 2 clubs monopolizing the league

        B) literary hundreds ( if not thousands on such a big nation) of cities , thousands of fans totally excluded, unlink to the World Club soccer structure.

        Focusing on that argument. If you look at international soccer, you will realize that it reflects reality everywhere. Therefore most likelly we will not get stuck with two clubs monopolizing the league, since we have a few highly populated metropolitan areas that will have clubs which quality will keep a logical relationship with such reality. NY, LA, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Atlanta and a few more.

        …………. ” but I also don’t see how a SYSTEM has to go hand-in-hand with a game”

        Then you are blind. Promotion and relegation wheather you like it or not is allready an essential part of club soccer culture, without it, it would have been imposible to build the giant web that international club soccer is. From the top of the pyramid (Fifa Clubs World Cup), all the way to the lowest division of the poorer nations of the planet, there is that phylosophy of inclusion holding it together.

        I totally agree with soccerreform when he says that our game does not end on the sidelines!

        How can you be a soccer fan and not be exited about the posibility of been a part of such magnificent , beautyfull thing?

        When our clubs play on the Concacaf Champions league, wich is basically a section of the world structure, guess wich phylosophy is been in practice?

        When our national team plays the world cup qualifiers, wich for the last world cup saw 208 nations take part( the United Nations only counts 192 members), guess wich phylosophy is been practice??

        My point is, next time you say….” I also don’t see how a SYSTEM has to go hand-in-hand with a game” …….Just open your eyes and you may see that the promotion and relegation phylosophy

        DOES GOES HAND-IN-HAND WITH THIS GAME !

        • Alan says:

          1. I CONSTANTLY hear the argument from a lot (not all) pro/rel supporters that the system is used by the rest of the world. I never misrepresent any single view that I directly reply to. I also hear the same thing about it saving MLS. Read this blog. It is all over the place.

          2. I object to anyone saying that I am using manipulation. That is a cop-out for a weak argument. First, I personally don’t believe it will work here. That is just my opinion. Second, it has pushed clubs to the top that have a lot of money. If you can solve this problem, then I will take you seriously. Third, IF we have pro/rel in the future, I will support the league regardless. I just don’t believe it will work. I would just hope that it will allow real competition to take place and that those that want it will ensure that it happens. I am a soccer fan first and foremost.

          It IS a system, not the game. Those systems that you have described, like CONCACAF, the World Cup, the Club World Cup, have changed over time, and some of those changes have been recent. It does not go hand in hand with the game. The game is something that anyone can play where anyone can pick a ball up and find a field. It is unfortunate that you have such a narrow, rigid view of the game.

          • Roger says:

            I do not have a problem if we end up with such unfortunate event as having 2 or three of the best clubs in the world dominating our league.Have you notice that we “pack the house” every time they come?!
            I have a problem when you use that as an argument to exclude hundreds of potential clubs to exist in a meaningfull way. I have a problem when you exclude hundreds of thousands of fans from a right that they will have by default if they were in almost any other nation on the planet.

            On your last paragraph I see the phylosophycal essense of the north american promotion/relegation debate. I think it may be a case of subconcious sport cultural resistance; to never admit that the magnificent way in wich this game have spread all around the planet, gives it a diferent dimention! To separate the sport, from the practices that have made posible that it became the most popular on the planet.
            Soccer is a phenomenon that goes far beyond the side lines. Soccer is religion, it is history, it is music, it is philosophy, it is politics. It is its capacity to reflect reality and its symbolism, what puts it on a diferent level, what makes it magic!
            Not only promotion and relegation will give us the chance to link all cities and fans to the world soccer club structure, it also creates an interesting history line, were every new season, just like every new day, is a new chapter of life, and not a meaningless repetition of yesterday. But dont mind me, my views may be the unfurtunate result of having such a narrow, rigid view of the game.

          • Alan says:

            First of all, you are wrong to lump me in to a type. All of my arguments and feelings about it are my own. I don’t have some agenda to stop something. I just have my opinion. Second, I think we can agree to disagree on the effect of pro/rel. You will never see my point, ever. It’s unfortunate that you have this attitude because I totally see your side. Outside of having a select couple of clubs win every year, as a soccer fan I will watch and support. I just don’t believe it will work and I stand by that. To suggest that I am pushing some agenda is ridiculous. I don’t even watch any other sport that follow the American system, but it is not the system I object to. To say that I am doing it to exclude people and clubs is also ridiculous at best. Presumptions like that show how little you open your mind. There is no point in arguing. I’d suggest using this energy to support your domestic league instead of tearing it down. The system will work itself out in the end if the fan base is strong.

    • soccerreform says:

      Dear Glenn:

      Thanks for your insight on my comments and debating style.

      We continue to suffer under a system that has killed club soccer for 100 years. I continue to be upset about it. Please don’t pretend to tell me how to manage that frustration. In my opinion – perhaps now more than ever – it is time to fight back against people regurgitate untruths and abridged histories, whether they do it at MLS’s behest or not.

      People don’t like to be told they’re wrong. Proponents of promotion and relegation have understood that for a long time. They’ve been gently suggesting it, per your suggestion, for a century now.

      Meanwhile, I’ve come to the conclusion that what’s good for soccer is not necessarily good for the rest of the US pro sports establishment. Perhaps, under those conditions, you can see how being nice is counterproductive.

      MLS is a case study for for capitalism gone wild. John D. Rockefeller of the mega monopoly Standard Oil put it best when he said “Competition is a sin”. He stood up to thousands of gentle suggestions that an oil monopoly might not be the best thing for the US economy. It took angry public and a responsible, independent government to rein him in.

      Still, 100 years later, we’re paying the price for the loophole in anti trust that baseball opened, and MLS fully institutionalized. The results are in: Profits are coming before progress, and I’m upset about it.

      If, as I believe, MLS is limiting salaries, quality, attendance to treat the symptoms of a failed system, while promotion/relegation and independent clubs are the cure, a lot of very powerful people are going to proven wrong. But in order to prove them wrong, we need to honest and straightforward with everyone who disagrees.

      I’m not going to sway Alan. Alan is not going to sway me. As a opponent of the status quo, I accept that my arguments will irritate people. It’s a small price to pay for changing the debate.

      I know I’m on the right track when someone I’ve annoyed begins to draw the same conclusions I do, recalls my arguments, and thank me for making them. I also know I’m on the right track when the tone of conversation at the highest levels begins to shift.

      You may be new to this argument, so let’s recap: My burning impatience with MLS single entity supporters pales in comparison to a decade and a half of vitriol and disregard that has rained down on those who suggest we take a look at promotion and relegation. Very recently, that dynamic has begun to change. Like Middle Eastern dictators who talk about liking democracy, and hoping one day to bring it to their countries (when conditions are right) MLS executives and supporters have recently begun to say nice things about promotion and relegation.

      While I think this newfound love for pro/rel marks the biggest sea change vis a vis promotion and relegation in US soccer history, part of me preferred vitriol. When Don Garber puts promotion and relegation it in a far off land of Buck Rogers and light sabers, it annoys me even more than nasty juvenile attacks that preceded it.

      I believe the anger of the promotion relegation crowd, coupled with horrible MLS ratings, helped to move the debate from “never” to “maybe someday.” Still, we’re not there yet. I don’t think it’s time to make nice.

      If you think MLS is on the right track, that relegation isn’t the “essence of the game” FIFA says it is, and that teams should be limited in quality to produce domestic parity, I humbly disagree.

      By the way, you and Alan, for all of urging that I take on a more reserved, respectful tone, are the ones who resort to name calling.

      Try to put yourself in my shoes: Your arguments are the broken record. Fear and misunderstanding of promotion and relegation are the thin membrane that protects the financial interests of a few entitled MLS owners. I’m guessing you can see how that frustrates me.

      Anyway, sorry I’ve driven you off the argument. I’m sad that my stridency has caused you or any MLS supporter to change their mind on promotion and relegation, but I’m glad you’re a minority.

      Regards

      Ted

      • Alan says:

        Listen to yourself sometime. You try to piss people off by misrepresenting them and twisting their words around and get mad that they call you something as awful as a “tool”. Seriously, I’m sorry. Twisting and distorting someone else’s words every chance you get is so much better. As for pro/rel, it will never happen. If it ever did, I would continue to support our league regardless of how much I don’t believe it will work. Its what we have, and it is fun to watch. A system is not the game. The game is the game.

      • 1) When I did I call you a name. I didn’t. That’s fabrication.

        2) “I’m glad you’re in the minority” – What minority? Based on what stats? You can’t just go around saying things that have no basis if you’re trying to promote yourself as a just crusader for a cause.

        This is what I’m trying to get at – I’m not opposing your views, I’m saying that you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Change your approach and you’d get a hell of a lot more support. I don’t understand why you aren’t willing to do that.

        • soccerreform says:

          I’ll bet you my left thumb that the vast majority of soccer supporters in the world prefer their clubs independent and unlimited. Trust me, I understand your comments on my debating style. Sorry I can’t be more subordinate. I’m truly upset by the situation, and I’m expressing it. Promotion/relegation supporters have tried to be nice about it for way to long. It’s no longer a question of understanding the benefits of the open system. It’s about fighting the interests that keep ours close.

          “In some ways we’re more about the American dream than they are. ” – Guy Mobray on EPL

          http://bbc.in/evVfPI

      • soccerreform says:

        In my opinion, your arguments and their underlying assumptions are typical of those that hold our current status quo together. That is why I am so eager to take them head on.

        If I’m confusing your opinions with the assumptions on which they are built, I apologize. In fact, I think that’s the lesson here – It’s important to keep assumptions and opinion separate.

        I think Americans supporters want promotion and relegation, but assume that it’s either MLS’s call, or that it will endanger club soccer in the USA.

        The challenge for promotion/relegation supporters is to confront these two assumptions. Promotion and relegation is not MLS’s call, and it’s our system that fails soccer, not soccer that fails in the USA.

        To this point, I assume you’ll point to the survival of MLS as proof of success. I’d argue that limiting quality, attendance, and ultimately interest is a failure.

        I think an important part of the game doesn’t end at the touchlines, and that promotion and relegation is at it’s core. I’m also assuming we fundamentally disagree on that.

        • Alan says:

          Soccer has been around before pro/rel so yes I do disagree. Soccer is soccer. The rest is just details. As for limiting quality, I pro/rel is what limits quality in my opinion. There is little quality in a 6-0 blow out or having teams go for a championship they will never ever have a chance at. Fulham and Everton do not have a chance, regardless of how good they are. Not tomorrow, not next year, not ten years from now. If only we can just take the shackles off the league, then we can see some real competition IMHO.

          • soccerreform says:

            Alan, The FA instituted pro/rel in 1898. That makes it 70 years older than red and yellow cards. It is ingrained in the game.

            If you take shackles off a closed MLS, watch for an NASL repeat. I agree with Don Garber – the only way soccer survives in our model is to impose parity on the league, and the most certain way to do that is to run it as a single entity – where the “league” owns all the “clubs”.

            Throwing the shackles off US club soccer = independent clubs and promotion and relegation, not NASL.

          • Alan says:

            Nothing you have said is relevant to whether it will work in the United States. Also, pro/rel does not go hand in hand with the game. Thanks for proving my point. How about some relevant facts instead of rambling about shackles.

        • Alan says:

          Furthermore, if having a lopsided league is what is considered having a quality league, then let’s have all of the best players on one club team and the rest of the players can really have no chance at winning anything. I suppose they can fight for an Europa League spot and fight to not be regulated. That’s just as important as winning the championship, right?

        • Roger says:

          @soccerreform

          “I think Americans supporters want promotion and relegation……..”

          I copy the results of a pool done on this site. Have anybody seen a follow up to this post????????????? UNDER THE CARPET IT GOES!

          What Change Would You Make as MLS Commissioner?
          Adopt balanced scheduling (a team plays every other team twice) 4.43% (23 votes)

          Move the schedule from spring-fall to fall-spring 3.85% (20 votes)

          Create a ten team playoff 0.77% (4 votes)

          Eliminate the playoffs entirely 7.32% (38 votes)

          Move from a two conference format to a single table 26.59% (138 votes)

          Create financial incentives for clubs to advance in the playoffs and/or CONCACAF 5.39% (28 votes)

          Establish a promotion/relegation system 24.66% (128 votes)

          Create a reserve league for young players 10.02% (52 votes)

          Expand rosters to 30 by allowing academy players to not count against the cap 5.78% (30 votes)

          Sign a deal with Versus to be your primary TV station 7.13% (37 votes)

          Abolish the designated player rule 0.58% (3 votes)

          Other: 3.47% (18 votes)

          Total Votes: 519

          • Alan says:

            So, less than 25 percent of the people that voted on this site want to have pro/rel. We have to do it right now. Have to.

          • Sancho says:

            Actually, it’s 50%. Because you need to add those single table votes. Still, those that vote on these things are completely obsessed about it. So, it’s quite unexpected that the result would be like this.

            The main number there is 519.

            That’s a lot of people, han?!

          • Alan says:

            Single-table is not the same as pro/rel. You can have one without the other. In fact, I think that single-table is a great idea if we stay at 20 teams. If we go beyond 20, then it only makes sense to have real conferences that play only within those conferences until the playoffs.

  34. soccerreform says:

    ….”closed” not “close”.

  35. soccerreform says:

    In my opinion, by saving us from the chance that a few world class clubs might dominate domestic league play, MLS is giving us a set of mediocre D1 clubs, and a series of lower leagues teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

    Kinda like using nuclear weapons on a mugger.

  36. Again, if you’re gonna accuse me of name-calling, I’d like you to either back that up, or take it back.

    Secondly, there’s a difference between wanting pro/rel and providing proof that it will work. Relegating teams as they just get started will be disasterous, clubs would fold and there would be no one to promote or relegate, which would completely destroy both the format you so crave and MLS.

    There’s no doubting pro/rel is something to consider for the future, but you can’t have sides entering the MLS and then being dumped out because they haven’t yet had time to form. Give it ten years at least, allow MLS to grow and sides to settle and increase loyal fan bases, and in the meantime put some second-tier teams like Fort Lauderdale on alert.

    With a stable MLS in a decade, introduce a second league, tie it to MLS by exposure and recognition, then a few years later begin the pro/rel process. Win-win situation for everyone.

    • soccerreform says:

      Glenn, can you name a league that promotion and relegation killed? You’ve got it totally backwards: Our closed leagues have the massive failure rate. Whether you’re confused or toeing the MLS line, here are the facts: We have more than enough clubs to begin a transition. In fact, this is our third peak in operating clubs. The first came in 1929, and the second in 1979.

      If Garber and Gulati wouldn’t have abstained from NASL sanction vote earlier this year, they would thrown a half dozen clubs under the bus.

      Obviously, they think we have clubs to spare.

      We’ve got the clubs, we’ve got history behind us, we’ve only got to free US Soccer from the skeevy clutches of SUM and MLS.

      The only reason not to do this is to protect the varied financial objectives of MLS owners. There’s more than one simple formula in which handcuffing the development of US club soccer benefits them financially. While their agendas are difficult to pinpoint, one thing is certain: they do have the power to run the US soccer pyramid any way they see fit.

      I’d suggest you brush up on US club soccer history. Closed shop ASL fought US Soccer, and collapsed. Closed shop NASL ignored US Soccer, and collapsed. Closed shop MLS subordinated US Soccer, and installed a league executive as President. They only way they can keep it from collapsing is to limit the quality of every team.

      MLS can never let the genie out of the bottle, and allow clubs to set their own quality standards, in a closed league format. Without their controls, they’ll collapse like all their predecessors. Stratification will set in. Without relegation, chronically poor clubs will begin to fold directly out of D1.

      It’s happened for a damn century. The system fails the game, but the guys in the system blame the game for failing. I’m pissed because we’re paying the price of hamstrung teams in D1 and lower divisions on life support – just to make life better for a few American pro sport establishment owners.

      Soccer is ready to bust out. What if soccer busting out is a threat to the portfolios of MLS owners? They’d control it’s growth.

      From here on in, toe the MLS line if you want, but don’t use confusion or misread of our history to mask it. They’re not developing soccer for a transition to promotion and relegation. They don’t subscribe to a business model in which clubs compete that hard, and they don’t give a damn whether that negatively affects the popularity of soccer. It’s their way or the highway, until US Soccer grows a pair and ends their little aristocracy, we’re gonna be losing to Ghana.

  37. Roger says:

    “So, less than 25 percent of the people that voted on this site want to have pro/rel. We have to do it right now. Have to.”

    Nice Alan! I love the use of sarcasm on debates. So , let me try!

    No Alan, we should not implement Pro/Rel, since it got less than 25% of the votes. What we really should implement is 10 teams play-offs!! After all it got 0.77% of the votes ( not even 1 % )!! We have to!……….HOLD ON , I THINK WE ALLREADY HAVE!? HAVE WE NOT?

    • Alan says:

      Again, you lose ALL credibility with me. Find me just one statement where I have said that I am for a 10 team playoff, because I am not. Try again, and don’t be so closed-minded next time. Someone can think that pro/rel has no chance in the US and still not like things that the league has done.

  38. Roger says:

    Is it, not caring a rat’s rear end since day one about what fans think, one of the things you dont like about this league? It is top of my list!

    Thats the point I am trying to make. It was not so much about you.

    The important thing about a pool like this, is that it is another example of our leadership’s pattern of imposing their close door decisions on american soccer fans. It is their duty to consult and take in consideration fans positions on the most important issues regarding US soccer! And I am convinced that promotion and relegation qualifies as such!

  39. Charles says:

    This site is a anti-MLS TROLL site ( 283 comments on a Troll comment “Why the English find MLS a Strange…”)…and still only 25% think this pro/rel is THE thing to do.

    THAT IS FUNNY.

    Very few ever comment on MLS games or players, very few seem to even watch the games. They come with an agenda to push…..see the guy runs it, Gaffer as exhibit A.

    And between that and single table, eliminating the playoffs, etc you STILL only get around 50%. Wow.
    I read that poll as almost noone in the US would want it.

    It is a MOOT point. MLS will probably fail because it didn’t institute Pro/Rel. and other “The rest of the World does it” measures.

    What a shame I was really looking forward to a great season too.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Charles, I have no agenda to push. Why do you think I created MLS Talk in the first place and spend my own money to keep it running each month? It’s to promote and grow the game in this country. If you think otherwise, sorry you’re wrong.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Charles says:

        Why did you create MLS Talk ?

        Come on…….$$$$$$$$

        Those ESPN radio and Yahoo ads are not there because you like the way they look. Give me an example of a positive article you wrote on MLS.

        Last time I asked for this, you gave me some article that started out something like ……..
        >>> I didn’t expect much from my first MLS game in many years and I didn’t get much either <<<<<

        And I am not wrong….

        • The Gaffer says:

          Charles, don’t be ridiculous. If you knew anything about soccer blogs, it’s that very few of them make money.

          I’m not a regular writer for MLS Talk. And my writing style tends to be more critical and analytical than flowering praise. I love MLS, but I do feel bitter after what happened when my team, the Miami Fusion, was yanked away from me. If/when MLS returns to South Florida, I’m sure you’ll see lots of articles praising the league. Judging this site by how many articles I’ve written praising MLS is not a fair barometer. I don’t write on this site that often because I focus most of my energies as the main writer on EPL Talk.

          If I had more free time, I would write for MLS Talk.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Charles says:

            Well, I guess if anyone should understand bitter it is me.
            I haven’t watched a minute of NBA action in I don’t know how long ( whenever the Sonics moved ).
            But it does irk me that people, you included, discount American soccer so much….to the point of rediculousness.
            Guys like Donovan and Holden crushing it in England, Ream, Bunbury, Agudulo playing well for the Nat team, etc. show that the league is very good and should be given more credit.

            • The Gaffer says:

              Charles, that’s where you have me wrong. I don’t discount American soccer so much. I give US soccer, when they deserve it, credit when I can. I was one of the few who criticized ESPN for not fielding a US-born lead commentator for its World Cup coverage, as one example.

              Cheers,
              The Gaffer

              • Charles says:

                Thanks Gaffer, I have stuck with your site.

                People need to remember how bleak it was in the 70s and 80s, with almost no US players worth anything, and no real fans.
                We are very lucky to have such a great league, whether you like every aspect to it or not.

                It is a shame more are not smart enough to support it.

                • soccerreform says:

                  This is the sick tradeoff I harp on: Look how horrible soccer has done in the past. We’re lucky to have it today in any form.

                  What if the causes of bleakness in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 80s was the way we did soccer, and the complete lack of federation control? I’d argue that things aren’t too much different today. What if the only way soccer can survive in lockstep with our other pro sports is for one league to subjugate the federation, stack the board, and install an MLS executive at the top? What if the only way to keep club soccer alive in our system is to hamstring it, limit it’s quality, and limit participation?

                  There’s absolutely no doubt we do soccer completely differently than anyone else, save perhaps the Aussies. Why can’t you accept the possibility that our differences go hand in hand with our failures?

                  One of those failures is a “top flight” league that limits their own clubs in a global marketplace.

                  So, you keep looking out for billionaire MLS owners. Say that they are the thin blue line between us and an soccer apocalypse.

                  Fact is, we’ve never had a federation that could stand up and lead, one that could limit the power of leagues and harness the power owners to really grow the game.

                  Instead, we have a federation that scrambles to host World Cups, so that the league can ride their coattails. FIFA did that for us in 1994. What makes you think they’ll do it again? 17 years later, we have a league whose championship match reaches less people. We’ve got roughly the same number of players starting in the EPL. Our international record is mixed. Sure, we outperformed in the Confederations Cup, but as uncomfortable as it makes MLS supporters, our greatest international run in the modern era may have been the march to the Copa America semis in 1995 – before MLS.

                  It’s not our fault. Don’t blame supporters for not tuning in to the MLS Cup. Don’t blame soccer for the problems of one entitled league. Don’t saddle the game with the shortcomings of the system in which it’s trapped.

                  Fine with me if you and Gazza don’t take me seriously. You’ll hear the same things from others for as many years as it takes to pull the game out of the flat trajectory that MLS owners prefer. They say, better financially safe than sorry. I say we’re going to be sorry if our top priority is keeping them safe.

                • Alan says:

                  “Looking out for billionaire owners”? And you wonder why nobody takes you seriously? Again I ask, name three things you like about the league. And by that I mean, why do you watch? Why do you tune in? If you don’t tune it, then I really understand why you are trolling less than your leak argument where you misrepresent people’s views. “Looking out for billionaire owners”? Yes, that is totally why I watch and support the league. That is obviously mine and everyone else’s concern about pro/rel. In the god awful number of posts that have been made, that is what you take from it? That the fans care more about billionaire owners that what is happening on the field? I really do question if you even watch the league or if you grace us with your presence to talk about stuff that happened before you were born.

                • soccerreform says:

                  Alan, nobody is going to program your V chip, so you can pull that smarmy chip off your shoulder. It is as rigged as MLS match outcomes are. Feel free to watch whatever you want. Don’t let anybody make you feel bad that you love the fact that big brother MLS is controlling every club for the benefit of every other club.

                  You gotta fight, for your right, to parity.

                • Alan says:

                  soccerreform, I watch a lot of different leagues. MLS is not even my favorite league, just one of my favorites. You don’t know what you are talking about. Its ignorant comments like “Don’t let anybody make you feel bad that you love the fact that big brother MLS is controlling every club for the benefit of every other club” that prove you just don’t have a brain, nor do you listen. If you honestly think that I think that MLS is perfect, then you just don’t listen. Keep the ignorance flowing. You are just proving your ineptitude as a spokesman for your cause. You might not “name-call”, but you sure do know how to misrepresent and belittle people. So much better, and so much more mature.

                  I don’t blame anyone for not watching MLS. It is their right. If they like another league better and can’t find anything to like about their domestic league, then so be it. Just don’t troll and let those that do support it. It will never be what you want it to be just like EPL will never be what I want it to be. That is fine. There are other leagues that I like instead, like MLS, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Argentina’s league for different reasons. I’m sure other people feel the same about what they like in their own way. I just believe that the league will grow slowly (which is the only way it will in America) going along the path that it is. Is MLS perfect? Not at all. There are many things I would change or like to see different, but I at least support the league. I don’t go and annoy fans of other leagues that I don’t watch and tell them how their league needs to improve. My EPL comparisons are just reasons where pro/rel has failed. If EPL likes it like that, I won’t watch but there are many that will. Its just not the league for me. So what? Its just one man’s opinion and not me ignorantly trying to push my beliefs down their throat.

                • The Gaffer says:

                  Charles, I agree. We’re lucky to have MLS, NASL, USL, WPS and other leagues here. I moved here in ’84 and it was bleak indeed. So I appreciate how far we’ve come. It’s night and day since then.

                  Cheers,
                  The Gaffer

              • soccerreform says:

                And Gaffer, don’t take the George W Bush style threats seriously.

                “So, Two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism”

                - E. M. Forster

  40. Alan says:

    Sooooo, in order to make this happen, they will need to break their contracts with the franchises? Yeah, that won’t destroy the league or anything.

    Again, I ask any of the trolls here to name 3 really positive things about MLS. Guys like Alex Ferguson can do it. Can supposed US Soccer fans do it too? My guess is probably not. Impress me.

  41. I feel like I need to make this sort of declaration whenever commenting in these situations, but I am not anti pro/rel.

    BUT – what evidence, proof or stats are there to suggest it’s the right thing to do? I think some people are mixing up what they WANT with what is BEST. You can’t just slap it on the league. It’s a massive decision which, when given the go-ahead, will take years to ease in.

    I don’t understand the impatience of pro/rel supporters – if you want it so bad, why are you so determined for it to be implimented immediately and haphazardly? Like us neutrals, don’t you realise it’ll be better as a gradual progression? A rushed job is a failed job.

    • soccerreform says:

      Which country’s gradual transition to promotion and relegation would you use as an example for the US? You must have a favorite. You can’t be under the illusion that any one league ever decided on it’s own to open up. No doubt you understand it takes an independent federation to subjugate the needs of any group of clubs for the needs of the entire system.

      You use really nice words to describe continued MLS control, the absurd franchise fees they charge (and survive on) and the continued inability of the US club game to meet even a tiny percentage of it’s potential.

      Just don’t try and pretend MLS is following some time honored gradual transition to pro/rel – because it doesn’t exist.

  42. Alan says:

    So, about 600,000 people at most watch EPL. The rest of the soccer fans watch the World Cup and probably watch other sports that get millions of viewers. I can picture the conversation that I will be having with non-soccer fans already. I can’t wait to explain that their local Division 2 team should be supported to gain promotion but not have a chance to win a championship in Division 1. The top 3 teams will buy up their best players with all of their riches or go in debt trying to win in for the 20th time. I bet they will be excited instead of scratching their head.

    • soccerreform says:

      Alan, let me allay your fears. My promotion/relegation explanation takes about 30 seconds, and generally ends with “why don’t our other sports work that way? It seems much more fair”.

      In fact, you may not need to explain anything to anyone. If we have enough fans to lead all nations in World Cup ticket sales – in South Africa – We probably have enough fans that don’t even need a 30 second explanation.

      Explanations for MLS disinterest can be just as simple. It’s not the fault of dimwitted US supports or an unpopular game. Soccer has been here for a long time, waiting for a federation to provide a fertile growth medium. Instead, our federation remains adhered to the US pro sports status quo and allowed their system to mucking up our game.

      It’s really easy to stop blaming the game for the repeated efforts of our sports executives to fold soccer to their needs. You should give it a try.

      On that positive note, here’s my top three “good things MLS has done”:

      - Built some fine future lower division stadiums.
      - Became first US league to field a team crowned champions of the Western Hemisphere. (DC United – 1998)*
      - Proved that D1 soccer can survive in the US under the most dire circumstances: hamstrung teams, league limited attendance, and a proven inability to draw the interest of the average US soccer supporter.

      *On MLS being first league to field a hemispheric champion: To be fair, ASL juggernauts of 1920s would have dominated a competition of that scope – if it existed at the time. Aside from Argentina, few countries in the Americas had anything close to a Bethlehem Steel or a Fall River Marksmen.

      • Alan says:

        That is a lame list. Not what I was looking for. Go over to EPL Talk with that stuff.

        How would you explain the breach of contract to the MLS franchises?

        How would you explain to fans that their team is not one of the privileged few to be allowed to win the league?

        The World Cup attracted people to soccer, but not because of pro/rel. In fact, it was a tournament that the US had a chance to win. A small chance, but a chance. Imagine if only 3 teams had any hope of winning. Why would US fans travel to South Africa to see that?

        • Roger says:

          Alan
          208 nations took part in the last world Cup Qualifiers. Only 7 nations have ever won the World Cup! Dont you think that practice of openess have something to do with the popularity of soccer worldwide?

          The beauty of this game is not only what goes on on the field, that open doors practice, the granted right to compete, is at the core of soccer values. Haiti or Vanuatu may never win the World Cup, but FIFA gives them the right to participate, the right to dream.

          How would you explain to fans that their team is not one of the privileged few to be admitted to the league?

          Is it that tough to see that what have been IMPOSED in america is in total oposition to the international philosophy of our game?

          • Alan says:

            First, those 7 clubs that won did not win because they bought the championship. Your point is irrelevant.

            Second, as far as openness goes, lets see how popular the World Cup is with people here if the United States doesn’t qualify. Sure, there will be fans, but they won’t be packing pubs like they did this time around. The process will be as popular to them as a division 2 team that has no shot at winning a championship. Nobody watched until the World Cup itself other than soccer fans. You get the casual/non soccer fan by our chance to win it all. You missed the point entirely. I’m not saying that the system is bad. I’m explaining why it was popular with American fans.

          • Roger says:

            Alan
            Do you think Jaen in Spain have a realistic chance to win La Liga?
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sAFqTPeZOw&feature=related

            maybe Pontevedra or Alcorcon?
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrgkAMyo6uQ&feature=related

  43. Charles says:

    This is like watching Barcelona dismantle Arsenal. I am almost to the point of rooting for soccerreform because I feel sorry for him.

  44. Gazza says:

    LOL Soccerreform : “- Built some fine future lower division stadiums”

    So Red Bull Arena, HDC, and Livestrong Sporting Pack are lower division stadiums eh? So what’s first division stadium cost $1b. No wonder people don’t take you seriously.

    Or maybe you want the US first division to be drowning in debt ……… like they are in Europe.

    • soccerreform says:

      Pshaw, Gazza. You know people don’t take me seriously because they can’t conceive of a world where supporters call the shots, not the uber rich owners of any one league.

      Yep. The 30k stadiums will be great D2 venues if I get my way. Look at the way Seattle struggles mightily to keep their attendance down to soccer specific levels.

      I sell the system short, not soccer. That’s the other reason people think I’m crazy. Yes, in America, “Popular” and “Pro-soccer” may feel funny in the same sentence.

      Imagine if that wasn’t soccer’s fault.

      It’s easy if you try.

  45. soccerreform says:

    You guys keep saying nobody takes me seriously, as if that somehow makes it true. You also keep claiming MLS takes a responsible, stable approach to professional soccer, as if that makes it a fact.

    More people take me seriously than anyone who has ever pushed for promotion and relegation, but to be honest, that was a pretty low bar.
    Our system has proven to be an irresponsible, unstable growth medium for club soccer – everywhere it has been tried.

    Alan, you win the argument about why you watch the league. I give up.

    What if we extend the argument beyond you? How many people do you know who have been following MLS since day 1? The league’s first season still holds average attendance records. Where are those fans now? Would you say it’s a victory that MLS has created fans for other leagues, in the same way you might say it’s a victory for MLS to develop players for other leagues?

    As an original fan of MLS, and a guy the 1994 World Cup buzz turned into a US soccer believer, I can say with certainty that MLS has done a horrible job maintaining supporters. They’ve done a decent job of farming out new ones, but whether you’re looking at ratings or attendance, they can barely keep up with attrition.

    Alan, I’ve spent a lot of ink showing why your worries about promotion and relegation killing a league – and your belief that our closed system is a responsible, stable method to grow soccer in the US – are completely unfounded. In light of all the evidence I’ve spewed in my obnoxious posts, I do begin to construe it as paranoid and delusional. I’m sorry. Even a cursory read of soccer history shows our system is the unstable one where soccer is concerned. It’s not worth wasting much more ink on.

    I may not represent you, Alan, but I think I speak for a chunk of the fans that disappeared along the way. The ones who used MLS as a gateway drug to other leagues. The ones that MLS just couldn’t maintain. It’s not up to bored fans to figure out why they’re bored. It’s up to our league and our federation.

    They’re not doing it.

    Most admit an authenticity gap, but promotion and relegation stands in such stark contrast to the their financial interests MLS PR guys have done a great job painting it as a fringe issue. They deserve a lot of praise for convincing a tiny minority of vocal supporters that pro/rel is some weird conspiracy theory, some pie in the sky fantasy, and some alien threat to soccer in America.

    I think it’s pretty easy to identify why pro/rel has to be cast that way.

    By all indications, MLS believes marketing is cheaper – and more effective – than Messi. They’ve decided player salaries are the enemy of profits. Promotion and relegation keeps the focus on levels of play, not marketing. That’s why it’s is such an alien threat.

    In that light, here’s a list of MLS PR accomplishments that help them in their quest: They’ve done a great job tapping into an old isolationist vein, and exploited the disaffected apathy that a few Americans share when it comes to battling the fringe interests of the super wealthy. In addition, they’ve accessed a slice of Americana who just think pro athletes are paid too much.

    I didn’t always believe this. Continuing down the road of positive analysis, here’s three things I used to like about the league:

    - It’s here
    - It features US players
    - it explored the envelope of play

    Many of these factors are still in place. It’s still here. It still features US players, to a degree. I’d argue that they’re no longer exploring the envelope of play, and our record v international competition backs that up.

    Anyone can base conclusions on theories that sweep our own soccer history under the rug, and ignore the success of the game around the world. Under our first amendment rights, they can continue to announce them.

    All I’m asking is for people to take a real read of US club soccer history. One that goes back further than NASL, and deeper than their overspending. Perhaps then you’ll understand why US soccer does such a bad job exhibiting it. Maybe you’ll wonder why the US Soccer Hall of Fame remains closed, and what benefits are in it for MLS to move it to a location in which they can enforce editorial content.

    Thanks for continuing this conversation. Supporters will decide the future of US club soccer. If they choose not to decide, they still will make a choice.

    • Alan says:

      The only thing this tells me is that you don’t even watch the league, and that nobody should listen to you because of it. End of story.

      • soccerreform says:

        Alan, be honest with everyone. It’s not the fragility of the league, the newness of soccer, the dominance of our domestic sports, travel costs, the lack of scoring, or the importance of keeping D1 soccer alive in places that can’t support it. You’re not really concerned that there aren’t enough D2 stadiums. I don’t even believe you’re concerned about a few good clubs rising above the rest – as not tragic as a great US club or two would be.

        You just think the financial needs of a few MLS owners trump everything else. I doubt you’re even naive enough to believe they have the best interests of club soccer at heart. You just think they own it, they’re rich, and they can run it however they want.

        Why not just be honest about it?

        Really, it’s totally fine if you believe that. If you like it their way, you’re gonna like it a whole lot better when its pried from their needy little hands.

    • Charles says:

      Wow, Game, Set and Match. It lasted a while, but it was never close.

      “Non-MLS watching Trolls are gonna troll” -Charles

  46. Santillana says:

    Why not just model the MLS to the Bundesliga? There is competition and there is pro/rel.

    • Alan says:

      I definitely think Bundesliga is on the right track. One of my two favorite European leagues. The first issue is that pro/rel would breach contract. The second is that I still believe only hardcore fans will show for D2 games. We don’t have enough of those to “force” D1 teams into the possibility of relegation. It just isn’t possible here. I’d watch if my team is D1 or D3 but a lot of people won’t. The funny thing about this discussion is the people that we are trying to please with pro/rel are mostly eurofans that hate MLS. When they start supporting the league, I will see their side a little bit better. I don’t care what system we have as long as it thrives. So far, there is no proof that it will work here. MLS is improving currently and that is more proof than I have seen from anyone else.

      • Andy says:

        Alan,

        there are a tiny amount of eurofans here in the states. That’s if you mean people from europe. People who see the game through a euro-centric narrative is different.

        But the people who will benefit from pro/rel is the soccer fans in Rochester, Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cleveland etc etc. I could name almost 50 cities where lower division teams exist and some where , if there was pro/rel, you would see new clubs being founded (san francisco, san diego etc)

        I think you’re right if you are saying pro/rel wont work in our domestic league right now. But if you are saying it will never work you are just giving an opinion that is not backed up by a cohesive argument.

        My thesis is that pro/rel will not only work but it would be so successful it would create a soccer culture in this country that in 30 years would fill a 5 tier pyramid of professional clubs and raise the level of the national team into the top 5.

        • Alan says:

          Speaking of opinion….

          In all seriousness, I feel that I have given way more fact along with my opinion than most have. Plus, I doubt the MLS will stop at 20 clubs. Garber has already stated this. Regardless, I respect your opinion and understand why some people want to see it. All that really matters right now is that it is not feasible, nor will it happen anytime soon. So lets enjoy the game and worry about things we can control at the moment.

    • Tuttle says:

      Santillana, the club system is even more entrenched in Germany than it is in England. In the DFL, with a few exceptions, a club is legally required to be majority owned by its own membership. MLS franchises don’t even have club memberships as far as I know, while Bundesliga clubs have tens of thousands of members.

      The German system leads to very deep youth development – Manuel Neuer, for instance, has played for Schalke since he was FIVE – and produces ferocious support – only the NFL and Indian cricket (!?) draw more fans than the Bundesliga – but I don’t see the MLS as ever being willing to go down that road.

  47. Roger says:

    27-06-2008. Pontevedra 3 – 0 Lorca. Pontevedra wins promotion to 2nd Div B(not even 1st)

    Compare the vive to our last MLS Cup. This is what we are missing!
    An image is stronger than 1000 words!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdWINQSZjPk&feature=related

    • Alan says:

      Right…. Who do you suppose that will be? The “fans” that won’t even go out to support US Soccer currently but watch The Championship? Will it be all of the Non-MLS watchers that will suddenly go support their division 3 clubs? Will it be the remaining MLS fans of a team that has been relegated from MLS? It’s time to face reality. If people won’t even support the league now, you will never have that at the 3rd division. It is not as popular here as it is overseas. But, I did see an amazing crowd this past weekend at San Jose as they faced Seattle in a meaningless non-pro/rel game. If only they were fighting relegation it would have been that much better for sure. I mean, the complete lack of effort I saw in their meaningless game was astounding. I can’t figure out what those fans were cheering for or why the Sounders fans even bothered to come to San Jose. They could have stayed home and streamed division 3 English soccer instead of getting out to support their meaningless domestic league. What a bunch of chumps. They just don’t get it. Sigh. Maybe they need soccerreformer and you to educate them on the evils of our soccer league. Yeah, that’s it.

      • soccerreform says:

        Alan, reality is escaping you. Soccer is as popular here as it is overseas. You may appreciate MLS baby feeding it to you, but most American supporters have moved on to solid food. You keep watching Dora the Soccer Explorer, though. It costs a whole lot less for MLS to produce that show.

      • Charles says:

        You gotta love the “I dont watch MLS posters” who say people will watch Div III soccer.

        IF they could think, I wonder what they would be thinking ?

        • Alan says:

          All of those people that don’t watch MLS or even soccer currently are just waiting for pro/rel. That is the only thing holding them back from supporting not only MLS, but all divisions. Division III will have more fans than MLS in 5 years with pro/rel. Didn’t you know….

  48. Alan says:

    soccerreform, you have issues. End of discussion. Your comments have reached a ridiculous low. You are so beyond ignorant that I can’t even take it anymore. You don’t know what I watch, what I don’t watch, and obviously haven’t listened to a single thing that I have said about what my reasoning is for my argument. You make assumptions based off of ignorance, pure and simple. Please, for the love of god, keep my name out of anything you say.

    • soccerreform says:

      You avoid the subject at hand, hide from the facts, saddle the game with blame that a system richly deserves, and wrap it all a bogus envelope of American uniqueness. I’m listening, and I hope everyone else is.

  49. tlas says:

    As for me, I just can’t make any emotional investment into any club thousands of miles from home. It’s also the reason why I could never really get into the Mexican or South American club teams when these were the only soccer around on the Spanish-language networks back in the 1980s-1990s. Heck, it was so easy as putting on Channel 41 or Channel 47 on sabado or domingo. Yeah, I’d watch them but never could figure out how you could manage to support a team like Puebla or Sao Paulo unless you have direct connections there.

    There’s also a question of where would we really be without the NCAA. Many soccer-heads like to complain that the NCAA retards soccer growth. However, what would have been the alternative if several colleges didn’t find it worth their time to start up soccer teams, even though they’re part of the non-revenue sports programs? Where would Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain or Tiffeny Milbrett be without having the opportunity to hone their skills at the college level, which they then used at the national team level? Look, I’m not saying that college produces world-class players but where are you going to find bodies to fill up the rosters, if you don’t want to scrape the bottom of the barrel and get them from pub teams?

    • Tuttle says:

      It ain’t much easier getting emotionally involved in a team hundreds of miles away either. Within three hours drive of my home there are three NFL franchises, a MLB team, three NBA teams and, even in the deep south, two NHL teams. But it’s 9 hours to the closest MLS squad. Thus my personal support for American soccer is pretty much limited to FC Chattanooga in the 5th div.

    • Charles says:

      tlas,
      You should be saying the colleges develop world class players because it is true.
      Ream and Booon bur EEEE to name a couple that will be recieving a LOT more caps for the US

  50. soccerreform says:

    It’s clear that you don’t even accept the possibility that a small minority is helping a wealthy few hold back the game of soccer in the US – for purely selfish reasons. Perhaps you don’t believe a “single entity” has much control. Maybe you can’t see the inherent contradiction of an unpaid MLS executive leading a soccer federation assigned to promote the whole game of soccer, not just one league.

    It’s absolutely fine if you support MLS, and It’s great that it makes you happy. In a world where the health and vitality of the American game hinged on your support, everything would be hunky dory. Perhaps, in conjunction with a well funded and concerted campaign, you can make that happen. If you’re able to rally supporters to a hamstrung league that dictates to our lower divisions, and contributes to our soccer malaise, while helping to pull our game out of decade of stagnant corporate control, more power to you.

    All that being said, I have to take issue with anyone who says promotion and relegation has failed soccer. It’s like saying democracy failed America.

    It may benefit MLS to cater to an out-of-touch minority, but I think it marks a failure for US club soccer, and the federation that is supposed to be governing it. Trust me, I’m listening.

  51. ExtraMedium says:

    I understand people arguing that pro/reg won’t happen because of money. But what I don’t understand is people who don’t want it period. Why would you want fewer teams if pre-MLS was so bleak? And why should hundreds of clubs *not* be free of single-entity shackles?

    • Alan says:

      I have no issue with the basic concept of pro/rel. As a soccer fan, I will support my team no matter what division they are in. It would breach contract to implement it first of all. Whether we like it or not, that is our reality. IF somehow it did not breach contract, there are many issues that could happen. Geography is a huge issue. If a team that is a great distance away from a great population, how do you get it on TV? How do you get an area like that to invest in a big soccer stadium? Do you honestly think a country that doesn’t take soccer seriously unless the World Cup is on will go along with this? Money is another factor. Not for the newer clubs, but for the established clubs. If relegation happens, then with the current state of soccer popularity that club could go under easily. I am NOT concerned about the owners here, but the fans. Also, nobody has addressed the flaw often created by pro/rel that only three clubs have a chance to win, rendering getting promoted pointless. If we had the geography to support it, the fans to support it, and a way to ensure that it is a fair race for the title not based on riches, then I would not have a problem with it. And before I get a bunch of ignorant hate from people, these are just my opinions as to why i don’t believe it will work. I am a supporter today and will support the league with or without pro/rel. If you can’t say the same, don’t bother commenting.

      • Andy says:

        actually, there is no causality between pro/rel and super clubs. The reason you have Euro leagues where the top 4 seem to always dominate is because those clubs just have more money than everyone else. That’s another issue.

        you said
        “Geography is a huge issue. If a team that is a great distance away from a great population, how do you get it on TV? How do you get an area like that to invest in a big soccer stadium?”

        I don’t really understand what you mean here. What city in America is so backwards they couldn’t have games broadcasted? Also..if such a city existed then they wouldn’t have a professional soccer team to begin with would they?

        pro/rel is an economic model. The best teams rise up, the worst teams fall down.

        • Alan says:

          Wait. Pro/rel is an economic model but money is a different issue? Explain this. The problem with pro/rel is that money is an issue. As far as geography, I thought the point of pro/rel was so that a club anywhere could get promoted. Also, how many stadiums are being built in the upper peninsula for example? Do you really think it makes sense to put a stadium there from a financial standpoint? Are people going to drive hours to the middle to nowhere to pack it full of people? Probably not.

          • Roger says:

            “The problem with pro/rel is that money is an issue”

            Can you then tell me how do they manage to practice pro/rel in Guatemala and El Salvador, and DR of Congo? But we can not? How many Red Bull Arenas do you think there are on Panama?

            there is a saying in spanish that goes: “No hay peor ciego , que el que no quiere ver”

            wich means: there is not worse blind, that the one that does not want to see.

            If you realize the number of nations that practice promotion and relegation (almost all), you will have to recognize that seems like they have found a way to deal with such “problem”. But we could not??!

          • Alan says:

            You can’t compare a country the size of Guatemala or El Salvador with the United States. Furthermore, if you are referring to how certain clubs do not dominate every year in every nation, I never said they did. Please listen to what I am saying before commenting. What I said is that pro/rel (a financial system) can create a situation where 2 or 3 teams always win the championship. My concern is more about that than pro/rel directly. As far as dealing with the problem, I have yet to hear a solution. Most of those nations enjoy soccer as their most popular sport and generally are smaller than us, making travel to and location close to a big city more likely. All I hear is blind and not wanting to see, yadda yadda yadda. How about addressing the concerns with real ideas instead of cheap comments.

          • Andy says:

            Alan,

            do you dispute this statement?

            pro/rel would make soccer more popular in this country because more cities would have professional teams that would have the chance to make it to the top league.

          • Alan says:

            We already have almost 200 teams and 18 first division teams. How many more do we need before it becomes popular? In the metro Detroit area with 5 million people here, we get 500 turning out regularly. As far as whether I dispute it or not, I don’t dispute or deny it. There is no way to know. IF we implement it and it does, then I would be happy. IF we implement it and it sinks clubs and possibly the league, then I will not. There is no proof either way here in America that such a system will work. While the Michigan Bucks would probably see an increase in popularity with pro/rel if they can get promoted, they would also see an increase in popularity if they join MLS or NASL or even tier 3 USL instead of Tier 4. I am not one of those that will hate the league IF they get pro/rel like those that hate it because we don’t have it. I just don’t think that it will produce the results we are looking for. I think it might have a negative effect by having a 3 team league. If we can eliminate that from being a possibility, then I would be more open to pro/rel and some of the positive benefits that it would bring. Yes, I think there are potentially positive things that it could bring. Somehow, whatever I say will probably get twisted into me being an obstructionist, protecting rich owners, against competition, etc.

            Trolls take note of how I responded directly to what was posted and asked. Now if I can get the trolls to respond to what the other side actually says for once and not what they twist it into…

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