MON, 3PM ET
HUL2
WHU2
TUES, 2:45PM ET
BVB
ARS
TUES, 2:45PM ET
LIV
LUD
TUES, 2:45PM ET
REAL
BAS
TUES, 2:45PM ET
ATL
OLY
TUES, 2:45PM ET
JUV
MAL

MLS: Why Not Some Forward Thinking?

ronaldoDM2204 468x583 MLS: Why Not Some Forward Thinking?

Why not in this country?

I am a football convert. Being in my mid-30′s, I actually remember being exposed to the second season of the English Premier League. That’s not because I cared, but because in my sophomore year at University of Rochester (NY), I roomed with a fellow who reffed for travelling youth leagues during the summers in Western New York. He loved the EPL, but as was the case even up until recently, you could only watch a game a week if you were lucky. Nowadays, if you have Fox Soccer Channel, you get upwards of 4 matches to watch here in the states per round. That’s not even counting La Liga, Serie A, or the Bundesliga if you’re so interested.

Anyway, back to my story. I balked at the sport back in those days. It wasn’t until the 2010 FIFA World Cup that I realized the splendor that is football. As I watched with work friends during our lunch hour as Landon Donovan stroked home a rebound in the waning moments to defeat Algeria, I was hooked. I’ve been an ardent follower of the EPL ever since. While I also enjoyed watching the rest of the Philadelphia Union’s campaign in 2010, this offseason I decided that I needed to lend my support both to my local team, as well as the domestic league.

I include this prelude because today, MLS President Mark Abbott clearly stated that the league has no inclination to make any moves in having MLS convert into a European-style league. By Euro-style, I mean the institution of promotion and relegation, as well as the consolidation of all teams into a single table, with the top finisher being the MLS Champion.

Below the fold, I’ll discuss my views on this subject.

Promotion and relegation are tricky subjects, especially in the current model. In a way, Montreal will “promote” to MLS from NASL in 2012. That is not a merit-based promotion, but rather a financially-based promotion. The Impact will be paying an exorbitant price to receive the rights to run an MLS franchise. This is much like your local entrepreneur paying a price for the right to open a Subway. There’s nothing wrong with this model, because American sports typically run by this model.

The problem is that in the big sports of this country we are kings. We don’t have to worry about Japan coming over and luring away Ryan Howard or Albert Pujols with ludicrous amounts of money. Our baseball market is tops. Same goes for the other Big 4 sports in this country. In those sports, our economic system dictates the world’s prices, because we have the market to support this system.

In association football, that is not the case. I follow many different views on Twitter, but one that is fascinating is a fellow who goes by the account @SoccerReform. Many MLS followers consider this guy nuts, and while his unbridled criticism of MLS and its practices borders on obsessive, he does have a point.

English Premier League viewership in this country is on the rise. The biggest difference between the leagues is, obviously, the talent level. People tune in to see the best league in the world. The issues Mr. Abbott essentially blew off today are secondary; I don’t believe Americans watch the EPL because they like promotion/relegation, but rather because the football is better.

The problem for MLS is that our system is set up not to fail. And at this point in the life of the league, that’s not such a bad thing. We don’t have a D2 or D3 with the money-making potential of the lower English leagues. To have a team like the 2010 DC United drop to the NASL would certainly cause financial problems for the club, although it’s not as simple as that. Let’s say that Fort Lauderdale were to be promoted on merit. They would basically purchase DC United’s franchise rights. So while there would certainly be a loss in annual revenue from tickets, merchandise, and television monies, they would have impetus to build the best team in order to return as quickly as possible…while receiving a buyout from Fort Lauderdale.

At this point, relegation makes little sense anyway. Counting Montreal in 2012, we’re still at least one team short of 20 which is a reasonable single table. With our geography and population, we could actually expand a lot. The problem is getting that population to buy into the sport.

And that’s where the labor situation comes in. MLS has a stranglehold on salaries. Again, this is a safeguard to protect against a collapse similar to that of the NASL of the 1980′s. But let’s be frank about this: soccer is in a much different place in this country that it was in the 80′s. The national team was terrible from the 50′s through the 90′s, and without world-class players being produced domestically came the need to purchase big names such as Pele. Gate receipts and poor television viewership couldn’t recoup the funds spent. The communications platform was miniscule compared to what we have available at our fingertips today. This growth in communications has facilitated the explosion of European soccer in America, which now resides as the dominating force in club soccer interest in our country.

So MLS is in preservation mode, but this same philosophy prevents investment that would bring the domestic league further in this country. What if a guy like Roman Abramovich, who owns Chelsea FC, was interested in purchasing an MLS franchise? He never would. Why? Because he can’t use his resources to make it the best in the world. He has a huge market potential in many different cities and states. Apart from the restricting regulations enforced by MLS, Abramovich could purchase players and plant a team that could blow away Real Salt Lake. Forget relics like Juan Pablo Angel or David Beckham. Let’s say players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Nani or Andy Carroll saw the potential of American television exposure (it’s not unprecedented, remember professional golf before some fellow named Eldrick Woods laced up the spikes?). For a hefty price, I’d bet they could be lured to try to become the Dallas Cowboys or New York Yankees of America. Do you think fans would come out to see a team like this? You may say no, but I’ll bet Ken Venturi thought the same thing in the late 80′s when Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara were the PGA’s calling cards.

To close, I am fairly disappointed (but not at all surprised) by Mr. Abbott’s proclamation. MLS has seen success thus far, but to rule out an open pyramid and single table pays homage to the closedmindedness of the downward-ticking clock and 35-yard offside rule that “dumbed down” the game for us fickle Americans. That attitude stunted growth in the 80′s, back when the NASL didn’t need to worry about teams like Manchester United and Liverpool sending teams on North American tours to showcase a better product. I still love the domestic game, but there are some in this country who aren’t as quick to ignore these issues. It may become a question of priority. If Joe Cleveland or Patty Phoenix has time to watch one soccer match on a Saturday, will they put off their errands until the afternoon to watch a European ubershowdown? Or will their patriotic love for the domestic product be enough to have them open their schedule in the evening to watch a lower quality product? That’s where I feel that Abbott and MLS need to reexamine their not-so-progressive attitudes.

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

144 Responses to MLS: Why Not Some Forward Thinking?

  1. Ray Racine says:

    Similar story.

    Since 2010 WC and with EPL access available on FSC I’ve been hooked. There is a noticable difference when you are watching MLS vs. EPL. Worse I’m down in S.Fla so the nearest franchise is … well really far.

    Knowing the Strickers could get promoted would make that local team more exciting to get behind. Inevitably a deeper base for soccer would be built lifting the sport for all.

  2. Chris says:

    I am very happy you are now a fan, it takes people like yourself to help the sport grow in this country. As for your points, well….there is the picture you see and there is reality of what MLS faces not only from competeion from the “superior” EPL/BPL (which I don’t agree with, I like to see all teams with a chance to win) and from sports leagues here in the US. We are in America, whether you like it or not, the way things are done here have grown MLS sigificantly in ONLY 15.5 years. Give the league at lest a generation for it to be judged. I try to be respectful to you as some might not.

    P.S. Those clubs are not coming to showcase better soccer. They are here to play reserves for a half and make money.

    • Michael says:

      I agree with Chris, it’s nice to see someone fired up about the Beautiful Game, always.

      By the same token, though, it’s hard to keep explaining to someone new to the sport, or who hasn’t studied their history, not only why it’s impossible to do here and now, or what makes it possible in Europe and other countries, or even why it can be demonstrated to be BAD for top-level soccer. (e,g., the same revolving door of clubs get alternately “punished” and “rewarded” while the same few clubs keep winning the league while bleeding cash to keep up with each other.)

      But that aside, let’s say you could convince MLS owners to vote to put their relatively meager revenues at extreme risk. I’d be curious how you’d impose pro/rel here:

      -Give the MLS owners back their franchise fees/cash-call monies (up to 15 years’ worth)?

      - Further increase the capital requirements of NASL club owners so they could afford $50-100M in stadium upgrades (right now they barely have enough solvent owners by even USSF standards to have a recognized league)?

      - Allow NASL stadiums to be declared sufficient for MLS?

      - Hand out large payments to relegated clubs like the Premiership does, so they won’t just fold upon relegation?

      I await your answer.

      • CoconutMonkey says:

        Well, one possible solution would be to create a two tiered MLS which maintains the single entity structure.

        But even then, clubs still run the risk of taking a revenue hit (how big is debatable) if they were to get relegated to some kind of MLS2. Can’t imagine the owners would been keen on signing up for that.

        That said, and despite the Don’s comments to the contrary, I like the idea of a 2nd division in MLS. Not every city can support an MLS team, however, I think there’s plenty of small and mid-size cities that could support a smaller club.

        Even without a pro/rel, a 2nd division under the MLS umbrella might just inject enough cost certainty to help it grow.

      • Andy says:

        i think division 2 would have to be an MLS league. Relegated clubs would still have their identities as MLS clubs. This would soften the blow of relegation. Clubs wouldn’t have to change their whole identity, stationary, logos etc etc. The casual spectator attending a live match may not even know that they were a Div2 team. They would still be MLS. If they were in NASL you might lose some fan base who identify their team as an MLS club. You could have a pyramid like this:

        MLS Premier
        MLS
        NASL
        USL
        NPSL
        PDL

        I wouldn’t give MLS teams back their franchise fees. But I would give them free entrance into MLS Premier. Then I would start filling up MLS with clubs that qualify. They must have a ground that could hold around 15k and they must have financial stability. Once MLS was filled up with 20 teams with SSS then you could institute pro/rel between the two leagues.

        promotion and relegation between Div 2 MLS and NASL would have to meet the same requirements. NASL clubs would only qualify for promotion if they had a SSS that could hold 8k.

        setting up this structure may take a decade or two. Plenty of time for current MLS teams to make their initial franchise fees back.

  3. Fabio says:

    Well, that’s so obvious: this is cultural.

    Franchises, salary cap, team budget… these are a real CANCER to soccer. There should be real clubs associations instead of franchises, presidents instead of CEOs… you know what I mean? Relegation, lower divisions, best and worst teams… it all helps the growth of the sport.

    Unfortunatelly, I think it’s pretty late to change it.

    • alaboston says:

      I’d actually disagree and say it is too early to change it. As of my last knowledge, there were only 2 profitable MLS teams –though that number may have changed since that information came out. Until MLS is stable and most, if not all, of the teams are profitable, it is hard to look into pro/rel. That and the lower divisions are an absolute disaster. I follow the Silverbacks in Atlanta, they just didn’t play for two years, because they made no money.

      Let MLS become profitable, then work on getting NASL/USL/Whomever else there is in the lower divisions stable, and then we can discuss pro/rel seriously.

  4. BT says:

    As for pro/rel, the constant requests for this are ridiculous. You can’t have pro/rel unless you can actually support lower divisions, and this country cannot currently do that. We are barely keeping a 2nd division going right now. The teams that are left in the 2nd division cannot afford the cost of running a first division club without some extreme additional investment.

    As for EPL being better soccer: Poopycock. Stuff and Nonsense. A few teams have spent more money than they will ever recoup buying up really good players. That model is not at all sustainable in a country where soccer is the number 5 sport.

    Of course this has all been argued to death, but the opinions that ,matter most are those of the people who have money on the line–the owners. People have been willing to invest millions in MLS because it works the way it does. Unless you can find hoards of millionaires(or Billionaires for an EPL level of spend on ‘quality players’) willing to invest in a ‘European’ style pro soccer league, you are SOL.

    Anyway, good to know last summer’s world cup brought some more people around to the game in this country.

  5. Gazza says:

    Are you advocating for a system in which an Abramovich comes in spends $1b on player transfers and salaries at one club in effect making them the Harlem Globetrotters? And you think that would be good for the league?

    So the other 18 clubs will play the role of the Washington Generals?

    • Earl Reed says:

      I would expect at least three ownership groups taking a chance, if the regulations were dropped. In the open market, investment happens.

      • Gazza says:

        In an open market when clubs rely on each other to survive it is not wise to outspend each other into oblivion. Which is what you have in the top European leagues. Barca and Real have revenues around $500m a year and are both still losing money.

        You are right in at least 3 owners would take a chance if the regulations were dropped. Actually the number might be even 8 to 10. What now do we do with the other 10 clubs?

        • Michael says:

          Essentially you’d either have to burn MLS down to do pro/rel, or find owners with MLS-level cash to own NASL franchises.

          Just thinking out loud: what if NASL decided their goal was to FORCE pro/rel, develop the same solvency requirements for their ownership and same SSS standards as MLS. Solve the extreme problems of pro/rel by becoming a LEAGUE that aspires to be in MLS, and one whose owners can afford the stadium upgrades and cash calls that MLS membership entails.

          At that point, MLS would at least have to think about it – NASL could even threaten to use our unique anti-monopoly laws to become a second major league, if it didn’t happen.

          But all the responsibility would be on NASL. If and when NASL is up to something even vaguely resembling the above, maybe then we can take pro/rel seriously.

          • RSLnPortland says:

            USL did try that. Up to 2008 or so, they were all talk about how they wanted to compete with MLS, be the best league in NA. How did that turn out? There aren’t markets for it. There aren’t investors for it. NASL barely made it as a league into this season. It’s completely unfeasible. Abbott is right – Pro/Rel is not something that is even on the horizon at this point. The US to too geographically large and soccer is not popular enough.

  6. Earl Reed says:

    For the record, I don’t think MLS could survive that kind of approach at the moment. My problem is more with the absolute ruling out of the idea. He pretty much said that he didn’t see it happening. This after they half pitched it in the days before the WC 2022 decision as a possibility. Lip service, as usual.

    • Michael says:

      Even on that level, there’s absolutely nothing on the US soccer landscape to indicate that pro/rel will ever be feasible. Our 2nd/3rd divisions seem to be going backwards, while MLS franchise fees are getting higher. Basically, for the foreseeable future, relegation from MLS would amount to bankruptcy for that club.

      I’m not sure what you wanted…the ability to say the Jim Carrey line, “so you’re telling me there’s a CHANCE!”?

      • Andy says:

        the reason D2 and D3 are unstable is because there is no possibility of promotion to D1. Pro/rel would create instant stability in D2, D3

        i’m very much for pro/rel but realistically it would take about 10 years to create a stable D2 so any D1 relegated clubs wouldn’t go bankrupt.

        • Earl Reed says:

          You wouldn’t even need to institute Pro/Rel now, you could say that there is a 10 year long-term plan. Once you do that, investors throughout the American soccer landscape can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It opens the door for NASL, USL-PRO, and even the PDL to begin talking about how the D2 through D4 leagues would shape up, and when to begin the implementation in the lower tiers.

          But America is the land of self-preservation, and MLS doesn’t care whether NASL and USL-PRO fail or not, as long as their investment is returned. Not a crime, but just another sad end to the US Soccer Pyramid.

          • Charles says:

            Light at the end of the tunnel ?

            Most of these guys have doubled their tens of millions of dollars and you think they view it as a tunnel ? Seattle guys have probably tripled it…in 2 years.

            It is a tunnel for you and others that want/are obsessed by a Pro/Rel system…and for you only. For us enjoying the league and for those that were smart and kind enough to invest in it….not so much.

  7. Adam Kuebler says:

    I don’t think it needs to be an all or nothing approach. Like you said Earl, it doesn’t need to be done now, but he shouldn’t completely rule it out. As far as Gazza’s thoughts, no that wouldn’t be ideal, but it isn’t unheard of in American sports. Look at Baseball, the American pastime, look at college football, and look at Golf. There are a few top flight teams (or individuals in the case of golf) that are always competing for the championship. Every once and a while you get a cinderella story and it is great.

    Over time the salary cap will be raised, more teams will enter the league, the game will become more stable, and it will move closer to Euro style. Everyone laughs at Garber talking about slow growth, but it really has been. It is built not to fail and they are slowly opening up to more risk as the league shows that it can handle the risk.

    • Gazza says:

      I agree with you Adam about Baseball. The NYY and Red Sox dominate the spending and revenue in MLB and I think that’s a bad thing. Teams like the Royals, Pirates, Brewers and my Blue Jays have no chance or maybe they catch lightning in a bottle for a season but that to me is not how to run a league. It is the main reason the NFL has surpassed Baseball. Green Bay has the same chance to win as the NY Giants. That doesn’t happen in 99% of the Pro/Rel leagues in Europe. Granted it’s not all because of pro/rel.

      Pro/Rel doesn’t seem to me as a solution to any problem MLS has. All the good D2 clubs have been or will be promoted to Major League Soccer (Toronto, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal) and this will continue to occur for the next decade or two. Is there someone in Bozeman, Montana who is pissed his rec league side is not in D1?

  8. Derek says:

    What pisses me off about the statement is not that he says no pro/rel which I am very for, in the very distant future, it is the fact that he basically says screw a balanced schedule because we want rivalries. An unbalanced schedule only dilutes rivalries by making them play so many times it is meaningless. And it completely ruins the supporters shield. We might have great business men running our league but it is obvious that they know very little about the beautiful game. Moving away from a balanced schedule is going to be the stupidest thing the leadership ever does, and I for one hope it ends in them getting fired so that we can have people who have a clue about real football running our domestic league.

    • Dave says:

      It’s called soccer over here.

    • yeah says:

      An unbalanced schedule isn’t all about rivalries. It is also about lowering travel costs, which will continue to rise with the rise of gas prices.

      • Charles says:

        Dont you think it is also about setting a stage to a single non pro/rel league that would be big enough for the US…..aka 20 teams is definitely not enough for that scenerio.

  9. Bolacuadrada says:

    Promotion a relegation will kill our league. Of course, fans who do not like our league would like MLS to try it. If it folds, they do not care. I like the current way of doing business in MLS. The league will grow and will be here for a long time if we continue to be cautious. I want a league where all teams can compete. The major European leagues are great but I do not like the idea of knowing who the champion will be even before the season starts. BTW Madrid fans start celebrating the 2012 La Liga title now if you want. There is a reason why I love the NFL and the Brasileirao. They are not two or three team leagues.

  10. Andy says:

    MLS is the worst thing that has happened to domestic soccer in this country.

    By setting up a closed single entity franchise model in the beginning they have basically made it very difficult to transition to a promotion/relegation structure. They’ve already made owners fork over millions in franchise fees. There’s no way those same owners are going to vote for pro/rel.

    So we’re stuck with a joke of a league. I refuse to watch it anymore. Everyone who wants pro/rel should just stop watching MLS. Maybe the ratings get so bad they will consider major changes.

    Another problem is the incestual relationship between USSF and MLS. The USSF President is also the President of the New England Revolution.

    Pro/rel in this country would be massively popular and would create a soccer culture in this country. I understand why current MLS owners don’t want it. What I can’t understand is all the naysayers on Bigsoccer and some that post here that are against pro/rel. They never make a coherent argument.

    • Dave says:

      When Real Salt Lake wins the Champions League for MLS, I’ll be thinking of jackoffs like you.

      Your attitude is why any sane person in this country laughs at pro-rel. And why bigsoccer laughs anyone off there who mentions it. If you were reasonable about it instead of making mindless statements, maybe some would take you seriously. But you have no coherent argument. All you can do is bash MLS and whine like a little girl.

      The fact that you came to a MLS fansite also shows you are a phony. You are not even a good Eurosnob. The Ted @SoccerReform approach is only going to get you branded a wacko like he is. No one wants to be that guy spending all day rambling like a mental patient on twitter. People laugh at him. He is only good for humor.

      • RSLnPortland says:

        +1

      • Andy says:

        dave,

        keep watching your joke of a league. MLS fans are the least educated when it comes to football.

        pro/rel works everywhere else in the world

        not having pro/rel was one of the reasons we lost the 2022 world cup

        • nick says:

          Or the fact that Qatar gave fifa more money. I’m happy we didn’t win the world cup Fifa would have probably pushed for changes in mls if we did win. And least educated? It seems like all the EPL fans here started following it after the 2010 world cup and will soon forget about it until 2014, but are still positive that the NASL model of having one good team would work in America if we just gave it a chance.

        • Alan says:

          If you think that MLS is a joke league, why are you on MLS talk? I just don’t understand.

          • Andy says:

            yes, one of the reasons we lost 2022 was because we don’t have pro/rel. FIFA wants us to have pro/rel. The first question Sepp Blatter asked President Obama was about pro/rel.

            FIFA doesn’t consider MLS a proper football league.

          • Alan says:

            There is no FIFA requirement for pro/rel, fall-spring schedule, etc. That same guy also wanted first division leagues to drop to 18 teams at one point. This comment doesn’t answer the question, why are you on this blog if you think this league is a joke?

        • Charles says:

          MLS fans are the least educated when it comes to football.

          I will keep watching thanks, because I am the least educated.

          BTW, why didn’t you point out the errors in Earls article like I did as you see to know more than me ?

          We lost the 2022 World Cup because of pro/rel ?!?!? What the heck is wrong with you ?!?!

          • Robert says:

            What’s goign to happen to RSL when the players want more money? They are going to go abroad and improve the other leagues quality and not RSL!

  11. rbny4me says:

    i’ve always thought its interesting that in america, an extremely capitalist country, the sports leagues are very socialist in terms of revenue sharing and limits on spending. whereas in europe, which toys much more with socialist economics, their sports leagues are very capitalist (eat or be eaten).

    i really like the idea (i think this is what you were saying) about promotion/relegation OPTION. maybe ONLY the club that finishes in last place in MLS and the club that finishes first in NASL is eligible for this– they can negotiate a price for the NASL team to enter MLS and the MLS team to be sent down. if a price can’t be agreed upon, there is no pro/rel. if it is, the newly promoted team wins because they get better exposure, and the newly relegated team wins too because they have a large sum of cash to work with.

    i suppose the only problem with this would be a team that had 1 bad fluke season and agreed to relegation being “locked out” of the league for a very long time because no last place team wants to give up their spot.

    • RSLnPortland says:

      If by “very capitalist” you mean running a mortgage-crisis-like gamble, then yes, I would agree. But MLS is being run like a business should be. They are aware of expected losses, they keep their budget tight, they expand gradually, and they are working to get from the red into the black. So far, they have been successful. Pro/rel is a waste of time and brings nothing to the table except for a huge window for league-wide failure.
      If Pro/Rel in our country was in any way a good idea, MLB, NFL, & NBA would do it. It’s not and they don’t, nor should we.

    • jkrdevil says:

      “i’ve always thought its interesting that in america, an extremely capitalist country, the sports leagues are very socialist in terms of revenue sharing and limits on spending. whereas in europe, which toys much more with socialist economics, their sports leagues are very capitalist (eat or be eaten).”

      I think this is where the cultural viewpoints in sports is different between Europe and North America. To put it in business terms in entity isn’t the individual teams themselves, it is the league as a whole. An individual team can’t produce a sporting event themselves. They need another team. The product is the league itself not the individual teams. They can’t exist without each other and thus have to ensure each others survival (much like different branches of the same company).

      Furthermore the more competitive on the field it is the better product the league produces. Thus the rules in place to ensure competitive balance. Especially in a place like the US where the sports market is crowded and the different league basically have to compete with each other. If a team is a perennial loser it is likely to lose fan support as those fans choose to spend their money on another sport. That hurts the league as marketing wise the teams are all partners not competitors.

      MLS is an American sports league. The way the league is set up and run is going to take its cues from the established sporting culture of the country (or in this case Countries with Canada included).

  12. Kyle says:

    Pro?Rel is a bad idea and if folks would just stop putting their energy into crowing for Pro/Rel and actually support MLS and NASL, instead of whining on the internet about it, we may actually get to the point of being able to move closer to the euro style. in the meantime all the bellyaching is just your typical eurosnob garbage.

    • Andy says:

      once again an MLSsnob gives no coherent argument why pro/rel is a bad idea.

    • Earl Reed says:

      I’d like to agree with you Kyle, but the talking head from MLS just said that pro/rel is not in the future. So no matter how much MLS grows and pro/rel becomes a viable option, it won’t happen.

      I’m an in-between kind of person. I accept that Major League Soccer has planted a vision based in the reality of the moment. There are theories about open economics and pyramid, but those are only theories. The same people who complain about Eurosnobbery detracting from MLS are the ones who come out and say, “Promotion and Relegation and single table are not in MLS’s future.” It’s nearly as frustrating as the two party idiocy currently infecting our government.

  13. Dave says:

    Is this really forward thinking? Basically you are saying MLS has to have clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man U, and Arsenal or no one watch. You want an American EPL. Clubs with $500 million dollar budgets. That’s what you are saying. Would you also like MLS to jump to the moon and back? That would be easier. You are not being even remotely realistic. MLS has only been around for 15 years! Every league has to be in survival mode during its initial stage. MLS was actually on thin ice about 8 years ago. People forget that.

    All those clubs in Europe are in debt. They spend more than they make. They are not the models you want to follow. The Americans buying into the EPL probably prefer a NFL model. One where every club has a chance to win instead of just four. Or two in La Liga’s case. Europe will change before MLS ever does. The Eurosnobs will have a heart attack. Perhaps you guys are not the forward thinkers?

    My plea to the Eurosnobs. MLS is not even done expanding. It will get to 20 with the Cosmos and then stop with a goal of 24. It will probably take at least 10-15 years to get 24 teams. Teams like the Florida Strikers will get in and not even need pro-rel. Can you guys wait till then? Then we will see where we are when MLS is at 24 teams. If MLS wants a MLS2, then we can go from there. But you guys are obsessed with destroying MLS before it has a chance to really bloom. Look at things like Real Salt Lake’s CCL run and be happy. The level of play is higher then you think. The cap will go up. Betters players are being developed in the academies. There are tons of great things happening in MLS.

    “This growth in communications has facilitated the explosion of European soccer in America, which now resides as the dominating force in club soccer interest in our country.”

    Explosion? Not really. Americans are still very xenophobic people. Don’t confuse a small niche with any popularity. European clubs would have to move and play in America to truly be accepted. But then they wouldn’t be European clubs, would they?

    • ExtraMedium says:

      “Is this really forward thinking? Basically you are saying MLS has to have clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man U, and Arsenal or no one watch. You want an American EPL. Clubs with $500 million dollar budgets.”

      Look at the TV ratings. *AMERICAN* soccer fans want superclubs.

      • Robert says:

        EXACTLY! Look at all the merch that is sold after “X” team wins the Superbowl! I saw so many people sporting Green Bay Packers Jerseys in SAN DIEGO! Or how about in the 90′s where everyone was a Dallas Cowboys fan! All you MLSnobs have your head in the sand and if MLS doesn’t improve viewership ratings your league will eat it self. Garber’s league can’t survive on expansion fees forever.

    • Earl Reed says:

      “Explosion? Not really. Americans are still very xenophobic people. Don’t confuse a small niche with any popularity. European clubs would have to move and play in America to truly be accepted. But then they wouldn’t be European clubs, would they?”

      Comparatively speaking, EPL vs. MLS television ratings? Internet broadcasts? EPL had very little exposure on basic cable until the last couple of years. MLS has been on network television as well as ESPN for many years.

      • Alan says:

        Let’s be realistic here. Will crossover fans get behind MLS or EPL IF they crossover? I get into this discussion/debate all the time with NFL and NHL fans. They think a lot of things about soccer, and whether they are true or not, I know more people that voice these opinions than actual soccer fan (which I know a lot of). First, the 100 million people that watch the superbowl (ok, realistically, half of them really care about it, but that is still 50 million) LOVE the way it is set up. They love the playoffs and they love the parity. Do you REALLY think that these people will care more about foreign soccer than domestic soccer if they had the choice? Do you honestly believe that they would like to see pro/rel in any of the top 4 sports or do you think that they would say it was a stupid idea? Do you really believe that the EPL ratings (which in a nation for 350 million people are quite small too) reflect what the potential fans think? Are we really worried about gaining a couple of Eurosnob fans or are we worried about gaining the masses? The MLS is a work in progress and it will take years and years to get it where it needs to be. Flipping the magic “pro/rel” switch is not going to bring over the crossover fan when they are perfectly happy with how things are in other sports and will be more than happy with that when/if they become soccer fans.

  14. CTBlues says:

    I think Earl is right, the league shouldn’t just write off Pro/Rel. Once the league gets to say 20, 22, or 24 teams they should say we are going to institute pro/rel in 25 to 30 years, so NASL, USL, etc. get your acts together by then and we (MLS and USSF) will be setting up how we plan on having pro/rel work.

    • Derek says:

      Completely agree. Just let them know that in 20 years if there is enough investment in the lower leagues they will begin to implement pro/rel. Just don’t say it is never going to happen.

  15. Alan says:

    Earl,

    Let me start by saying that it is nice to see a halfway intelligent post on this subject. I really applaud you for it, even though the subject is way overplayed. Regardless, it was a great article.

    I have given my opinions before on why I don’t think it will work. Regardless, even if I believe that it won’t work, I would support MLS if they have it. I am not a pro/rel hater, but I am VERY concerned about some of the negative effects that pro/rel could bring to the league. I get really tired of the MLS trolls that discount that fear with pointless arguments instead of looking for common ground. Here are my concerns that I would like to see addressed before any such system was ever implemented. First, a two or three team league would absolutely suck. I don’t care that much if the European leagues have it because I am not invested in a team like I would be a team in this country that I can actually go watch and support. Seeing the same 3 teams win every year is no fun. A lot of people bring up the Lakers or the Yankees, but there is an anger towards these teams as well, and people love these sports in America. Even so, these teams have still not even come close to winning like Manchester United and Barcelona have (well, maybe the Lakers). What is the point of a league if your team will never have a chance to win it? I am all for teams being able to pay players more money (as they should be payed), but a team should never be able to buy a championship every year. If pro/rel can be implemented with some sort of fairness standard, then I would see it as an option. Until then, I NEVER will. One thing that I have thought of is a forced relegation if a team goes into debt from overspending on players. That still doesn’t stop some rich guy coming in and just pumping more and more money into the club, so there should be some sort of cap. Second, there needs to be a way to support a second tier or third tier club on TV. Right now there is not. If my team sinks to third tier, I personally would be ok with that as long as I can still watch them and that they have the same chance to eventually win the MLS Cup as any other team has. Third, there needs to be enough fans that support Tier 2 first. That is something that the pro/rel crowd does not understand. Show the MLS that having multiple tiered MLS is not going to stop people from watching. All of the teams that are Tier 2 that get over 10 thousand fans showing up regularly have ended up in the MLS, or are on their way there. If the haters supported the leagues at all tiers, then more teams would end up in the MLS. This would increase their chances of pro/rel happening. As it stands right now with franchise contracts, the league cannot stop at 20 teams and just start pro/rel with NASL. The MLS would have to expand into multiple tiers to have any chance of doing that. To expand to multiple tiers, they need more teams in the MLS. But, they won’t support the league because the money is not there to buy more players. If the league was better supported, then the salary cap could be raised and more teams could be a part of MLS, and thus pro/rel could happen for them one day. Until then, it just won’t happen since they are franchisees that are contracted to play in the MLS, not NASL.

    • Alan says:

      Also, just a quick question. If you team (I think it is Red Bulls?) were not one of the lucky 2 or 3 to own the championship and you knew that your team would probably be denied ever winning the championship because of this, would you still support pro/rel if that is what it brought to the league? If not, what would be your ideas to implement pro/rel and stop this from happening at the same time? None of the MLS haters want to answer this and go so far to say that it is for the better good, so I hope you take the opportunity to do so.

      • Roger says:

        @Alan

        Your question, wich is very typical from anti promotion/relegation people, shows your ignorance of how assoc. football culture works. Assoc. football is a reflection of live ( I know I have said it a trillion times), clubs goals are different depending on their size.

        Real Madrid’s goals are to win la liga, copa del Rey and the Champions; but for Cadiz it is to gain promotion, or avoid relegation, and to win their derby against Jerez. Madrid and Cadiz are on diferent levels.

        Life has levels. assoc. football mirrors life. It is that characteristic , one of the things that make this game special, and the actual system takes the capacity to reflect life out of the equation. Therefore , making american foot a synthetic, atypical, fake product.

        What realistical chance do RSL have to win the Fifa Clubs World Cup?
        Does that makes its fans less exited about the dream of trying it?
        Why would Haiti try to qualify for the World Cup?
        Do you think haitian fans are naive enough to think they could go al the way and beat Argentina, Germany, Brazil , Italy….?!?!?

        One of the beautyfull things about this game is the phylosophy it has implemented, at the clubs and also the national level.

        The United Nations count 192 members. For the last World Cup, 208 nation participated. What does that tells you?

        It is not only about wining, it is also about the dream, it is about the rightfullness of granting everyone a chance, in spite of what realistical chances do they have to win it.

        • Alan says:

          I think RSL has more of a chance than you think. Second, if you actually read what I wrote, you would see that I am NOT AGAINST pro/rel, but that I not only think it won’t happen (not the same as being anti-pro/rel for the intellectually challenged) and that it has potential downfalls (also, not the same as being anti-pro/rel). I specifically said that these are things that I would like to see fixed before we even think about implementing such a system. This is why I have zero respect for YOUR ignorant opinion. Once again, misrepresenting me or anyone else’s opinion just shows your ignorance, not mine.

          Also, comparing the World Cup to club competition doesn’t make any sense. This is a battle against nations, where talent is developed not purchased. Also, why can’t Cadiz have the chance to win La Liga one day? In the current structure they do not have that chance, making promotion pointless. Why would a lower level team need to need to be promoted if they have no chance of ever winning the MLS crown? Pro/rel is pointless unless this is fixed.

          Please, do me a favor. Do not address my posts if you want to be ignorant and misrepresent my position. Let the grown ups talk now. Please, and thank you.

          CoconutMonkey, thanks for being intelligent enough to actually understand what I said and not re-interpret what I said into what you want me to have said. I appreciate it.

          • Roger says:

            Favor denied! Insulting language ignored.
            Here I come to address your post.

            -it wont happen
            -potential downfalls
            -things about prom/rel have to be fixed before we even think about it

            for someone who is not ” being anti-pro/rel for the intellectually challenged” , you sure used some of the popular arguments among anti pro/rel people.

            “Also, comparing the World Cup to club competition doesn’t make any sense”
            yes it is comparable because wheather it is a nation playing a continental world cup qualifier, or a small club trying to be promoted to a higher division , or RSL trying through the CCL to make it to the Fifa Clubs World Cup, it is the same phylosophy. A system open to ALL, nut just a selected few, where promotion/qualification is based on merit and not the closed door decision of a selected few.

            Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Antigua and Barbuda, T&T, Martinique, Guatemala, El Salvador.. just to name a few on our own back yard (forget Europe for two seconds), can suscessfully practice promotion and relegation but ” it will not work here”!?

            How tough is it to realize that the evidence that promotion and relegations works is overwhelming?

            Besides the many arguments that could be used in favor of promotion and relegation, there is a very basic one. It is the only way to link all of our clubs to the international clubs soccer structure.

          • Alan says:

            I’m glad you recognized that the reason I used insulting language is because you used it. Please refrain from calling me ignorant. Instead, try to understand what other people say. That is why no one takes trolls like you seriously.

            First point, it doesn’t matter if my opinion is the same argument used by the “anti-pro/rel” crowd. What I say is what I say, so please address it as such.

            Second point, just because other people do it doesn’t mean it is right for us. Lame argument. Also, legally we can’t just yet because of contracts and franchise fees. This, despite what you say, is not up to the fans. By all means, make your voice be heard, but if you are not even going to support the league in the first place, no one will take you seriously. You need to be a supporter to be taken seriously, not a hater.

            Third point, we are already linked to international club soccer, with RSL being really close to qualifying for the Club World Cup. Other teams will follow as quality in the United States development will improve.

            The ironic thing is that realistically for pro/rel to work, you need to support a larger MLS, with maybe as many as 32 teams and a REAL conference structure. Once it gets that big, MAYBE you might have a chance of seeing MLS break into 2 divisions. This is because of contracts that make being relegated from MLS not possible. So, how about investing some of that hate into supporting US Soccer, MLS, NASL, USL, etc. instead of whining about something that will probably not happen until you do so.

      • CoconutMonkey says:

        Alan

        I think you’re over assuming here. A pro/rel system doesn’t necessarily mean blowing up MLS’s financial/competitive structure or that the pyramid would mirror a typical European country.

        • Alan says:

          I agree. I am trying to make the point that in order for pro/rel to work, this needs to be taken into account. We are on the same page here.

          • CoconutMonkey says:

            Oh, ok. Carry on then. lol

          • Alan says:

            I haven’t heard any solutions to have pro/rel and address the concerns that have been addressed by those of us that don’t think it is necessary, and that it can even be potentially harmful. I’m not saying that they have to be tied together, but that they are tied together in Europe and that seems to be what everyone is shooting for.

  16. Roger says:

    No only was “single entity” implemented without ANY consideration of the fans, it was done knowing that it was not compatible with promotion and relegation ini the case we ever decided to go the soccer way. They sold the past and complicated the future at the same time, like they are the owners of the game.

    Nobody should really be surprise about this coments. MLS and this USSF, wich is really the rooth of the problem, will never implement promotion and relegation voluntarily. It is up to the fans to realize their power, get organized, and use it.

    • Gazza says:

      @Roger

      “No only was “single entity” implemented without ANY consideration of the fans, it was done knowing that it was not compatible with promotion and relegation ini the case we ever decided to go the soccer way.”

      Sure Single Entity didn’t consider the 4 million fans that will watch a live MLS match this year. Which is 4 m more than watched Division 1 football in 1995.

      The league is SE because they couldn’t get enough/any
      business people to invest in pro soccer in the US otherwise. And if you tell yes there were …….. Name 3?

      • Roger says:

        What number of potential investors should you spect when you set the price at $40 M?
        The number of investors is the result of the system in place! not the other way around!

        If you take in consideration our “leaders” many ties to other american sports, the implementation of single entity, the reluctancy to even consider promotion and relegation; dont you think there is a chance of conflicting interests preventing the logical growth of our game? Just a chance!

  17. Alan says:

    Let me also throw this idea out there about promotion/relegation. What if a team that wins the second tier is not better than the team that is at the bottom of the table of Division 1? Maybe a better way (gasp?!?) to handle promotion/relegation would be for x number of teams at the bottom of the Division 1 table and x number of teams at the top half of the Division 2 table to have a competition to fight for the Division 1 spots? For instance, the top 3 of Division 2 and the bottom 3 in Division 1 have a single table competition with the top 3 winning the right to be in Division 1. It could really be any number of formats. This makes way more sense to me as it would allow the best teams to be in the top tier. It would also make for an even more interesting post-season.

  18. Roger says:

    Some loose thoughts about promotion and relegation

    *of course it will work

    *I trully believe it will happen in north america. It just makes too much sense.

    *MLS will never implement it voluntarily

    *it will have to be implemented on several phases

    *the debate focuss too much on the MLS/div 2 part of it. The bigger impact of pro/rel on american soccer will be on the life it will inject to our divisions below div 2, especially the PDL.

    *at the begining, it dont have to be like the typical euro pro/rel (3/4 automatically promoted/relegated). It can be used as a regulating valve, it can be play-offs instead of automatic. It can be 1 autom prom + 2 play-off. We could “play with it”, use the type that makes sense taking in consideration different factors like the quality and economical gap between divisions.

    *when we decide to implement it, we do not need to wait untill all div 2 clubs are promotion ready, like many say here. We just need to make public the necesary criteria needed in order for clubs to be elegible. All clubs wil not grow at the same speed. Practically, it only takes a few clubs to be ready for pro/rel to work.

    *it will happen when the fans realize their power and use it.

    *the USSF is “in bed” with MLS.

    *we need to take the USSF back. It is not pursuing the best interest of the game in north america. The body is the reflection of the head, we need soccer people on top. People that understands and respects our game. This is essential!

  19. Roger says:

    @Alan
    If you go back and read my post, you will see that I did not called you an ignorant. There is a difference, I said that “your question……….shows your ignorance of how soccer culture works” . It was not my intention to offend you.

    To the juice!

    “Second point, just because other people do it doesn’t mean it is right for us”
    I agree to a degree. It is not just “other people”, it is almost everybody else! So I think we have to consider that as a factor; there have to be a reason why almost everybody else is doing it!
    In other worlds, we dont have to do it because “other people” do it, but if the number of “other people” is overwhelming, if it is working for them, it only makes sense to think that it may work for us too! Dont you think ? And it will also put us on the same page with the international soccer comunity, and that is something to be consider as well.

    “Also, legally we can’t just yet because of contracts and franchise fees”

    There I agree with you. Out of all the arguments used against pro/rel, I think this is the only valid one. The biggest hurdle, but it will have to be done because what we have now, makes no sense.

    “despite what you say, is not up to the fans”

    Totally desagree, if the fans organize, get creative, realize their power and fight, they will not be able to keep postponing pro/rel forever like they are doing now.

    Yes, RSL and the other MLS franchises are linked to the world soccer club structure. Promotion and selegation will link all the others.

    “Other teams will follow as quality in the United States development will improve.”
    Another classic! this is what I call reversed logic! The implementation of pro/rel and the competitiveness that it will bring, since clubs will be playing for relevant goals, will increase the quality. Why should we wait for our lower divisions quality to improve if they are playing on meaningless leagues?

    The irony I see is that, we have the number of clubs. We have 3 independent run leagues, plus USASA. We have all the pieces to the puzzle! All we need is a USSF that does its job! Do what is best for soccer in america!! As simple as that!

    If the actual contrats are in the way of the right path for our game, they need to be renegotiated it! Our game should not be the private property of a group of investors. And the people that implemented “single entity” without any consideration of the fans, and without any respect of the values of our game need to be KICKED OUT like the SHOOT OUTS!

    This game is one of the biggest loves of my life. I do support and want the best for soccer in america but……..this is not my league, it is theirs!

    • Alan says:

      As far as other people doing it, there are a lot of things that other leagues do like August to May schedules that would not work for us. This is not a good reason to do it.

      As far as it not being up to the fans, there is only one way that the fans can have a voice, and that is to support the league. Nobody takes a troll seriously.

      Improvement CAN happen without pro/rel. Players in the lower divisions will want to get picked up by divisions higher than them. It happens that way in every other major sport here. Are you really saying that quality can’t and hasn’t been improving over time? I love how you say irrelevant goals, yet you talk about soccer reflecting life. How is being the best Division 2 team not a reflection on life, but getting promoted when you might not even be better than the relegated team is a reflection on life? Also, why even have promotion when that team doesn’t have a chance to win anything? It is pointless. It is not pro/rel that I am against, but the shortcomings that some people refuse to acknowledge and fix to make their system work better. No, I don’t think we NEED pro/rel, but if you want to have it, you should fix some of the things that need to be fixed. Being a snob about it doesn’t help anybody.

      So this is not your league, huh? Why are you here? Again, nobody cares what a hater thinks anyway. Either you are a fan or you are not. There is a reason I am not on EPL Talk telling them that there are things wrong with their league. Its because I am not a fan of the league, and doing so on their blog would be complete and utter nonsense regardless if I am right or wrong. You can support a league and still want things fixed and/or changed. Its like a non-NFL fan telling the NFL how their league should be run otherwise they won’t support it. The NFL fans would tell the non-NFL fans to stick it. Its completely ridiculous. Too bad you can’t figure that out.

      • alaboston says:

        Well put. Let’s let the league get stable before we rehash this debate. I cannot believe that the President of MLS would bring this up for no apparent reason.

        • Roger says:

          I do think there is a reason for them to do this. They want to stop the promotion and relegation debate from gaining momentum.

          “Dont bring it up!” “you will loose your time!”

          I really think they are scared, they can not afford the pro/rel debate to get to the surface.

          To prove my point, I just made a search. I wanted to post a link on this post, to a pool done on this site a while ago ” If you where the commissioner , What would you do”. pro/rel and single table where the big winners.

          Guess what?! After a few searches, it is not coming up! They removed it from searches!

          Its writter, Mr Robert Hay i think it was, never made a coment. No follow up! Under the carpet it goes!

          They are scared.

      • Roger says:

        I have never said that we have to do it because other people do it. I have allready answer that on a previous post.
        I hope you realize that to say “other people” when it comes to promotion and relegation on club assoc. football is a HUGE understatement!
        Even though “other people” do it is not a reason on itself, it is a fact that points at the reasons why we should. When “other people” is the overwhelming majority ( as in almost 100%), it makes the “but it wont work here” argument absurd. The definition of insanity kind of proves my point.
        “there is only one way that the fans can have a voice, and that is to support the league”
        Really?!
        If fans start taking BIG BANNERS to games (example), specially in places like Tampa and Rochester. Do you think is going to be easy for our “leadership” to justify that keeping hundreds of cities un-link to the club soccer world structure is the best think for the game in north america?

        “Are you really saying that quality can’t and hasn’t been improving over time?”
        I think it has improved, but is nowhere close to what our true potential is, if we do things right. Japan is a good example. “Compare now with how bad it was before” so you should be happy, is another type of manipulation that we have been submitted to.
        The job of the USSF is to do what is best for the sport within their boundaries. Look what we have now! A new club in LA that is going to be traveling to the caribean, while another in San Antonio is going to be traveling to the east coast. It is the result of being in two independent leagues with no relationship to each other.
        -Isn’t it the USSF job to fix such crazyness? Of course it is!
        -Do they have the power to fix it? Of course they do!
        -Why aren’t they doing ANYTHING about it?
        Because they are totally in bed with MLS!

        “I love how you say irrelevant goals, yet you talk about soccer reflecting life. How is being the best Division 2 team not a reflection on life, but getting promoted when you might not even be better than the relegated team is a reflection on life?”
        That is two diferent arguments, and take two answers.
        On life there are consequences, there is reward for sucess and punishment for failure. You work hard because you want a promotion, you study because you want to “get ahead” on life. Substantial goals is what keep people, countries, companies motivated.
        There are ways to make sure that a better team dont get relegated, while a worse one is promoted (play-off pro/rel). In any case, on the very extreme case that something like that happened, guess where would the promoted club will most likelly end next seasson?

        “Also, why even have promotion when that team doesn’t have a chance to win anything?”
        Because it is not ONLY about wining, it is about the right of being able to conmpete. Why would Haiti, Monserrat, Faroe Islands, Solomon Islands bother to play the World Cup Qualifiers?

        • Alan says:

          You forgot to answer the last question I asked. I will post it again.

          “So this is not your league, huh? Why are you here? Again, nobody cares what a hater thinks anyway. Either you are a fan or you are not. There is a reason I am not on EPL Talk telling them that there are things wrong with their league. Its because I am not a fan of the league, and doing so on their blog would be complete and utter nonsense regardless if I am right or wrong. You can support a league and still want things fixed and/or changed. Its like a non-NFL fan telling the NFL how their league should be run otherwise they won’t support it. The NFL fans would tell the non-NFL fans to stick it. Its completely ridiculous. Too bad you can’t figure that out.”

  20. Tim says:

    While when I saw the title of the post I knew the trolls would be out in full force, I will add my two cents.

    The EPL getting increasing ratings not only has to do with the quality of football, but the switch many EPL clubs made by hiring AMERICAN businessmen involved in sports. These are the same kinds of businessmen the trolls hate. They transformed EPL sides into marketing machines. They saw the reach of Jordan and the Bulls and realized that this could be done with any winner. It’s why Manchester United has the furthest reach out of any club in the world, by transforming a club into a franchise.

    • The original Tom says:

      I think you overestimate the value the Glazers have brought to ManU. The growth of the world followings of super-clubs came with the television companies and the seperation of the Premier League from the lower divisions. This was before the American owners of ManU, Liverpool, Aston Villa, etc… Some of this growth was due to TV packaging, but it also had to do with technology. The internet made it a lot more fun to follow European soccer, not to mention satellite TV. The Americans recognized and bought a growing clubs, they did not make them grow.

  21. Midnight Marauder says:

    A downward ticking clock makes no sense because 0 doesn’ t end the game, which is why it’s gone. It makes no sense. MLS doesn’t have single table because the timeframe in which MLS can play a balanced (or close to balanced) schedule is pretty much the Beckham years until possibly when team 20 actually plays in the league. MLS has instituted the use of the traditional clock and will adopt demands by the Militant Traditionalists (like the soccerreform dude) when it makes sense. However, MLS will not bow to their demands because they are roughly similar in size of viewership with each other even if you ignore overlap. 610k watched Chelsea v Arsenal early January and 604k watched Seattle v LA for first kick. Garber would love to have all of these Militant Traditionalists, but as a group they’re just too small.

    Earl says with the expanded communications options, that Euro soccer is the dominant club soccer force in the country, but undoubtedly given the choice, the Don would rather assimilate the Mexican fan (http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2009/04/20090427/SBJ-In-Depth/Tapping-The-Passion.aspx) as thirty-four of the 35 top-rated sporting events on Univision in the 2008/09ish featured teams from the Mexican league, with audiences ranging from 750,000 to 3.3 million.

    If DC uses the money to rebuild their club, what funds do they use to repurchase their spot back after a period of time in a less attractive league? I get what you are saying Earl, that in its current form, MLS is playing it too safe and has drawbacks in not having top talent and in here I do see you vacillate between your EPL desires and MLS reality. But remember that soccer is not as established here as in other countries and we don’t treat our local soccer team like our NCAA football teams.

    My disagreement with the Militant Traditionalists is that they believe if we follow their tenets, football will have finally arrived. They don’t address the following:

    The limited appeal to Americans of only the same three or four teams winning the title.

    The limited appeal to Americans of payroll and team success being too closely correlated. Note that the Yankees and the Red Sox don’t win it every year.

    The financial shocks of yo yoing between divisions up or down.

    The limited appeal of second division soccer in large markets and yet they want to cap the league to 20 teams. A giant 40 team MLS will create more profit than an equally divided 1st and 2nd division.

    Their expectation that fans of small clubs will be content with their team’s lot in life in beating local rivals and possibly winning league. Those long existing teams have left an indelible mark on their cities and that type of following will take decades to match here if ever.

    Multiple teams in top 15 US metro areas might cause facility redundancy when interest in public contribution is at an all time low.

    9 out of 18 teams are expansion teams and they think they’ll allow more teams in the league without an expansion fee just to have a true interlocking soccer pyramid.

    High level of financial losses throughout many levels from the Euro countries most admired (EN/SP/IT) save Germany.

    At the expense of talent, the league has invested in infrastructure with stadia and youth teams, so would these ambitious projects exist in realized form if individual teams weren’t certain they’d be in the top level?

    League interest is concentrated at the top and the bottom while the 2nd quartile fights for UEFA cup spots. Here, there are fewer cup spots for MLS to offer in lesser tournaments and playoffs gives the vast middle class something to shoot for at the expense of the bottom.

    Militant Traditionalist views work where football is 1A and 1B. But the US is not one of those nations. It is undeniable they love soccer but only their way and don’t provide FEASIBLE solutions using existing infrastructure. They would rather blow it up and start all over. As a Rational Expansionist, I say let clubs in the lesser leagues self promote and self relegate as they see fit to ensure survival and let MLS, who are more stringent in ownership group selection continue on their path of permanence which fosters investment from both owner(s) and fans.

    If the real post contraction expansion teams SL/HOU/TOR/SEA/PHI/POR/VAN continue their success and the Wizards model works and gives a proven model for the 1.0 teams to emulate, the league will become a monster and will only be more inviting to new investor/owners. I favor any city that can pull 15k during bad times and more during good times in MLS and if that opportunity is there, I’m sure a group will emerge.

    • Alan says:

      An amazing comment.

      Might I add that pro/rel does exist with players instead of teams. This makes way more sense in my book, but whatever. I will support the league no matter what.

      I’d personally love to see a 32 team league like the NFL, 2 conferences based on geography, and 4 regions based on geography as well (regional rivalries). I also think they do playoffs right too, except I would make them 2 legged. For the record, I personally hate American football, but I will give credit where it is deserved, they have the format right.

      The lower division clubs, youth clubs, and colleges would act as “minor leagues”. It works for our top sports, why not for MLS? We are on our way to having clubs in international competition. If the argument is that we don’t have a club like Barcelona or Man U, I say thank god we don’t have a club (or franchise) winning all the time. It makes leagues BORING and meaningless when I can just tune into the champions league and see more competitiveness. Isn’t that the point of a sport? Competitiveness?

    • Roger says:

      Thank you very much Midnight Marauder for using the term “Militant Traditionalists” to refer to fans like me and many others. I would like this debate to exclude the name calling, but we have definitly been called worse.

      I agree with you that a downward ticking clock makes no sense! It is of course a good thing it is gone!
      I think there is an important part that is missing in your analisis. The fact that we implemented a downward ticking clock, and shootouts, and 10 teams play-offs more recently, points to a reality. Our game is controlled by a small elite that have shown their true colors since day one.

      * Allways ignoring the fans opinions. The last comments by Mr Abbot are a good example.”It is our way or the highway!”

      *a STRONG inclination to do things the way they do it on traditional american sport, ignoring that our game is gobern by a totally diferent phylosophy (universality, open doors, inclusion)
      -were does our commish comes from?
      -franchises instead of clubs
      -conferences
      -play offs
      -salary cap
      -allocation
      -dratf
      -no promotion and relegation
      -meaningless All Stars game
      -downward ticking clock
      -shoot outs(no ties)

      *Arrogance

      *Lack of knowledge and respect of our game rich history and values. A downward ticking clock and shootouts should HAD NEVER EVER been implemented if they had it.

      “I say let clubs in the lesser leagues self promote and self relegate as they see fit to ensure survival and……………………………..”

      SURE! Do we have cake? Give them cake!
      Does that means that we need a soccer revolution?!
      I THINK WE DO

      • Alan says:

        Lets see. Ignorant, arrogant, militant. Yes, militant fits right in to your comments. So does self-righteous.

        There is NOTHING inclusive about the system you love. If you can afford to buy up all of the most talented players you get to win championships? If you can’t then you get relegated to some lower division? MAYBE if you go into debt buying up enough talent you get to play in our league? Sounds real inclusive to me. Get over yourself, and stop the name-calling. No more ignorant, arrogant name-calling please. Thanks.

      • Midnight Marauder says:

        When I was young I had a toy in the shape of a ball and individual pieces of different shapes. The point of toy was to fit the shapes along the ball’s shell and when all the pieces were finally inside, pull the ends and the pieces fall out, then repeat.

        I am not engaging in name calling. Name calling is if I called individuals Poopoohead or Stinkyface. I use the term because of the world is flat and that is that type of thinking and for your group’s insistence to fit your triangle shaped piece into our star slot, not because of any violent tendencies, so the name is apt. But then, you’re the one who mentions revolution.

        Still, it is proof again that you would rather blow it up and start over even though that would be the worst thing that could happen to professional soccer in this country because the wealthy who could be convinced in owning a team will believe that their money will be going down the drain.

        It looks like all you read was the Militant Traditionalist term and the first two sentences that I wrote. You don’t give any feasible solutions to the issues I mentioned. I named myself a Rational Expansionist which means if you can address the issues I mentioned well enough in a way that team owners would go for, then I can accept promotion/relegation, but a league without solving the issues I mentioned would stunt the growth of the game as a spectator sport in this country and that is all I care about.

        Winning all of you guys over might double the audience (31.5 million fans of international soccer versus 29.2 million of MLS fans from the SGMA survey) when there are more numerous and easier to reach hanging fruit out there. Also, while the fans of the league lack numbers, it skews extremely young as its largest fanbase is between 18-34, (http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2010/06/Issue-185/The-Back-Of-The-Book/Fan-Demographics-Among-Major-North-American-Sports-Leagues.aspx?hl=mls%20hispanic&sc=0) which is promising since it exists only for MLS.

        You didn’t address my list so I’ll briefly touch yours:

        Franchises: Fortunately for leagues you like, clubs predated the league. Here, we had to form the Justice League before there were super powered beings and the (clubs) super heroes that existed before were too feeble.

        Conferences: A country with this physical size should not be limited to 20 teams.

        Playoffs: If league title is settled too early in the season, there’s no reason for fans to watch or go to the remainder of games unless they follow the #1 team. What do poor and mediocre teams and their fans do when it’s 40% into the season and they realize they can’t win it.

        Salary Cap: NASL, some EN/SP/IT clubs
        Allocation: Not a topic I’m informed about.
        Draft: With youth teams, this will be less of a factor.
        Prom/Rel: See my first comment.
        All Star Game: I don’t care for it, but it does publicize the league which could use all of the publicity it can get in a crowded environment.

        Don Garber’s NFL background: Not sure why you make him out to be some sort of double agent but his background in trying to grow a market that traditionally did not follow the NFL is akin to what he is doing in the MLS. At least he is not a total tool of the owners like Bud Selig or Daniel Stern. He was instrumental in getting the owners away from solely depending on youth soccer. Would you prefer a FIFA crony? Which country paid the most for World Cup rights again? Soccer is grass roots is fine and dandy but even FIFA won’t fund your revolution, so who will?

        You offer little in solutions besides raze it all down or something that is simply too distasteful for current owners who have invested tangible buildings that mark the league’s existence. It’s not like when the Cosmos died where 95% of it was stuffed in Peppe Pinton’s closet. I ask for alternatives and instead I get whining. Interestingly, two of the topics you mentioned were eradicated from the league during the previous century.

        Once upon a time, the NFL, MLB and the NHL had single table standings. Abbott is just saying the features you want are not in the cards at this time. I’m open to switch over if you give me good reasons and is a win for current owners. I just need more than this: if MLS changes its structure away from single entity into a proper league, everything will be rainbows and poofy clouds.

        • Alan says:

          Once again proving that the best arguments are those coming from those of us that don’t think pro/rel is necessary and dont think it will add anything to the game in MLS.

          Will it include more clubs? Yes, if you can pay for the talent.

          Will those promoted clubs be able to win the MLS cup? Probably not, and probably making my rooting for the Earthquakes pointless. The odds of them being one of the privileged 3 or 4 clubs is unlikely.

          Will it be the answer we need to improve talent? No, better development programs and more supporters will do that. With better attendance and ratings, the salary cap can go up for all clubs.

          Will we ever be able to beat Man U, Barca, or Inter in the club world cup if we don’t implement pro/rel? Maybe not, but then again Mexico and almost every other club in the world with pro/rel in their leagues aren’t able to beat them either in most cases.

          Dreaming is great, but a sport is a competition, not a fantasy world. The point is to win, not to fantasize about winning.

          The above comment explains why the current system is shaping into the perfect system for the US. The question is whether you want to be a supporter that actually goes to games in your own country or if you want to only watch a league on the other side of the world. Both are fine, and you can do both, but there is no reason to conform to those that hate the league anyways. I will continue to watch both and appreciate them both for what they are, like most soccer fans in the world do.

        • Roger says:

          I think the cultural aspect of the promotion and relegation debate is very important. We are kind of going in circles here. You claim that I dont address your points, and I can claim the same!

          The most important point I think I made on the previous post, is that assoc. football follows a totally diferent phylosophy that american sports do. Therefore, when we mimic american sports, we are going on the oposit direction that our game is.

          By ignoring the fundamental diference between assoc. football universal aprouch of inclusion, universality, open doors, and the games they come from, the system they IMPOSED on us is wrong on its core.

          Synthetic parity takes away the capacity of our game to reflect life. By having franchises instead of independent clubs, they treat a game wich is magic, rich on its symbolism and meanings, like it is a fake show. What we have now is the reflection of our “leadership” mentality.

          When you talk about the owners, you refer to the ones that made it in the private club. What about the ones that are outside?
          But there is more, a “soccer system” is open not only to one type of ownership, but many.

          Sometimes Universities administer/own soccer clubs
          -Universidad Catolica ( Chile)
          -U. de Chile (Chile)
          -Universitario de Deportes (peru)
          -UNAM (Universidad Autonoma de mexico)
          -Tigres (Universidad de nuevo Leon, Mexico)
          -Universitatea Cluj (Rumania)
          -Universitatea Craiova (Rumania)
          -Politehnica Timi?oara (Rumania)

          Other times companies own soccer clubs.
          -Comunicaciones (Comunications, Guatemala)
          -Cobreloa (mining, Chile)
          -Petrolul Ploie?ti (Oil Co, Romania)
          -SKA-Energiya Khabarovsk (Energy,Russia)
          -Emelec (Empresa Electrica ecuatoriana)
          -Luch-Energiya Vladivostok(Energy, Russia)
          -Lokomotiv Moscow ( Ministry of Transportation , Russia )

          Armies, Air Forces, Police Academies also operate soccer clubs.
          -Espoli (Escuela de Policias, Ecuador)
          -FAS ( Fuerza Aerea Salvadoreña, El Salvador)
          -CSKA (Central Sports Club of Army , Russia)
          -PFC CSKA Sofia ( Central Sports Club of the Army, Bulgaria )

          Other times it is groups of imigrants that create clubs
          -Deportivo Italia (Venezuela)
          -Union Española (Chile)
          -Audax Italiano ( Chile)
          -Portuguesa Fútbol Club (Venezuela)
          -Oakleigh Cannons FC (Greek imigrants, Australia)
          -Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras(Italians, Brasil)

          Some times assoc. football clubs are owned by the fans
          -Real Madrid(Spain)
          -FC Barcelona(Spain)
          -FC United of Manchester(england)http://www.fcunitedofmanchester.co.uk/
          -Germany. the majority of clubs are 51% owned by the fans

          What about those potential owners, wich our actual system excludes because our “soccer lords” come from a sport culture that is not familiar wich such openess?

          “The point of toy was to fit the shapes along the ball’s shell and when all the pieces were finally inside”
          All pieces? I think we are leaving LOTS of pieces outside our soccer puzzle!

          You ask me for solutions. Well, that depends on what do I think the rooth of our problem is!

          I think it is the USSF. It is its job to do what is best for the game on the nation, no focuss only on one league, since it is mathematically imposible just for one league to include the literally thousands of cities of our continent.

          It is only by creating a geographycal divisional web of linked leagues, that we could achieved our true potential. How is the USSF going to do its job, when its president is the intelectual creator of “single entity”? A system wich is by essence in total oposition to our game openess phylosophy!

          My solution? The fans. They have a power that they have not realized yet in our nation. They/we need to develop a soccer conciousness, organize, and fight. The system is polluted and it will not be unpolluted by itself. It will take a fight.

          Sometimes in order for you to put all the pieces to the puzzle together, you first have to make some pieces fall out, then repeat!

          • Alan says:

            This explains nothing. Its just a lot of words. The system you describe is exclusional. If you don’t have money, then you will never win the championship that you seek. If you have money, then you win them all. Simple. Who cares who owns what if they can’t win anything? Second division is for smaller markets and their top prize is the second division championship. The players can try to prove themselves and get picked up by MLS clubs.

            Soccer is not about a philosophy. There are 2 systems in sports that are used. One is the North American model and one is the European model. That is what they are referred to. The NFL, for instance, uses the North American model, but IF they choose the European model tomorrow, then so what. You can argue about the system, but the game is the same. The same is true with soccer. They are just systems. Soccer is a sport that can be played by anyone with a soccer ball. Any country can have their league have any system they want it to have. They can use any calendar they want it to have. Germany can have its 50+1 rule regardless of whatever any other country thinks. As long as the MLS meets the standards necessary to compete internationally, who cares? All of those people you mentioned (universities, military, etc.) can have clubs at the appropriate level. They will never win the MLS cup under an EPL or La Liga system because they don’t own the wealth. This is the OPPOSITE of openness. There is nothing open about restricting clubs from the opportunity to win a championship. Say what you want, but Everton, Fulham, Bolton, Sunderland, and Aston Villa do not have the opportunity to win the championship. The same 3 or 4 teams will win it every year in England. In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid will own the championship for years, maybe decades. Clubs like Everton and Fulham are just there to help Man U, Chelsea, and Arsenal determine which one of them will be champions. What else are they there for? Europa League? Relegation battles? Come on! Nobody is going to care about that. They want to see their team win championships, and unless you are one of those select teams, you will not win one. That is a closed system. The NFL (as much as I hate the sport of American football) has an open system for the fans. One of their teams in the state they live in can actually win the championship. That is one of the reasons why it gets 100 million viewers every year for the Super Bowl, and 20 to 30 million viewers for each regular season game the according to the pro/rel crowd does not mean anything.

            Just to reiterate, the US System is open. Any team in the MLS can win, and there can be countless teams and divisions that are linked to those teams. Those players on those teams can get promoted based on their talent. Those teams can have realistic championship expectations and have a fair shot at winning every year.

            Heck, I will even throw the same idea out there that I threw out there a while ago. Pro/rel CAN exist in the US I think in a post-season series of matches between the top team in each second division conferences and the bottom team in each MLS conference. Maybe they play 4 games, 2 at each location, with the better team either staying or moving to the MLS. IF the second division can better the MLS team, then they get promoted. I’d be much more for that system then the automatic pro/rel crap where a better team might get relegated. The chance is there, as well as the encouragement of the team doing a great job at the bottom of the table, but the forced punishment is taken away. I am not convinced that is a good idea, but it is certainly a better idea in my opinion. I know, I know, that is not soccer because soccer is the current system supposedly, but come on.

          • Alan says:

            I’ll go one further. Take the above system, keep all of the other stuff that MLS currently does, expand the MLS to 32 teams and 2 conferences, and grow NASL to at least 24 teams before even worrying about such a system. That way, you have your pro/rel, we have our league, and we don’t have to listen to more crying. Win-win.

          • Midnight Marauder says:

            No, you miss the point. You would never fit the piece you have into the space to begin with. It is a mistake to believe what works one place will work somewhere else.

            Look at McDonalds. A foreign McDonalds will have some favorites but they only became successful internationally when they tailored their menu for the country where the actual store is located. Kylie is big in other countries, especially where her soap opera was shown. Not so here as that opportunity was not available for her.

            It’s pretty clear that your only answer is to blow it all up and then pro soccer in the US will go through another dark age. It probably won’t be as long as the period between the NASL and the MLS but if you think that owners are not going to be even more conservative with spending in the next cycle, you’re
            mistaken.

        • Roger says:

          “No, you miss the point. You would never fit the piece you have into the space to begin with. It is a mistake to believe what works one place will work somewhere else.”

          I think that you are the one that don’t get it.
          The assoc. football philosophy of universality, open doors and inclusion, is not like just another piece of the puzzle, it is more like the ball’s shell. The core. The essence. Without it, there is no way we will get it right.

          • Alan says:

            Open doors and inclusion? How can you say that if only 3 teams have a chance to win? Its definitely not an open door to win a championship that you are talking about, because that is in the MLS.

          • Alan says:

            You present 2 choices. Have a league in which only a couple of clubs matter, or have a league where all clubs can matter no matter which tier they are in. I’ll take the latter.

          • Midnight Marauder says:

            I am confused with your interpretation of this philosophy. You state: “it is like the ball’s shell. The core…..”

            How can something that is sizable be both its perimeter and its nucleus at the same time?

            I guess you’ll continue thinking that soccer in the US will grow under the Militant Traditionalist one size fits all promotion/relegation scheme and you are just too inflexible to reason with. I pointed out some problems in my first comment that are unique to this country that you haven’t even addressed. Here’s an article that shows some problems with the very system you champion:
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/apr/21/the-breakdown-rfu-championship

  22. A. Ruiz says:

    Let me get this straight, you’ve liked soccer seriously for 9 months and were supposed to listen to you? That’s barely one EPL season. We’ve had this discussion ad naseum in MLS circles for more than a decade.
    Please wake me when you have something original to say, as they say on the internets”lurk moar”.
    I’m not saying your article is badly written and that you’re a talentless hack. Just that please…please….don’t write about stuff that’s been beaten to death. I know your aim is to get hits and nothing get hits like the low-ganging fruit of pro/rel. But please, we need more writing like Run Of Play, In Bed with Maradona or Pitch Invasion less bleacher report and bigsoccer repeats.

  23. Charles says:

    >>> That is not a merit-based promotion, but rather a financially-based promotion

    Are you talking about MLS or EPL ? Seriously. EPL is completely 100% financial based on who makes it and who doesn’t. I like the THEORY of pro/rel, I just don’t like ( ok hate ) the REALITY of it, that it is financial based on who wins. Man U btw, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.

    ps. Your FORWARD thinking is something that has been in place according to the MLS hater trolls for a hundred years in every country in the world.

  24. Charles says:

    Earl, I went to the 80s games you talk about showcasing BETTER teams….you have no idea what you are talking about. I was going to skip the tourneys, but my buddy was born in London and convinced me to go to the games. I remember fights braking out….of course.

    And I remember the Sounders crushed Man U, but no one thinking it was a big deal. It was a friendly, no one really cared.

    Very similar results elsewhere, look it up.

  25. The original Tom says:

    3 things to point out.

    Everyone here says ManU always wins the title, they haven’t won it the last two years. Promotion is not based on merit but onstead on money?

    Very small clubs, like Blackpool, have been promoted recently; while richer spending lower division clubs have stalled.

    The NFL does not have geographically based divisions. The New York teams are in different divisions. Dallas are in an eastern division. Divisions in US sport are a culturarl phenomena more than a practical one.

    I am an active fan of an MLS team; but if you could have a more open system with pro/rel (even if it was limited to two levels so you could get
    a reduced expansion fee); I’d take it in a minute. The business people like the security- but I’d rather have the entertainment!

    • Alan says:

      People say that Man U is most likely of 3 teams to win the title, the others being Chelsea and Arsenal (Manchester City if they spend more money). And yes, I agree about the NFL and geography. I’d like to see it be geographically aligned for travel purposes, which is different than what they do. I think with the size of our country it is very practical to have an eastern and western conference.

      As far as Blackpool goes, they will never win the title. 3 teams own it. No one can argue it. Blackpool are also close to being relegated, which would be great for them. They can actually win the league in the second division.

      I do have a question. Being that you are an MLS fan, would you support pro/rel with everything else still in place, like salary caps? And if so, would you support a relegation play-off as opposed to an automatic one? Just curious.

      • Roger says:

        Salary cap is a necessity, an adendum of a franchise system. Since they have the same teams every year, they need to have parity so that some markets don’t loose interests. It is not needed on an open system!

        One of the things to consider when we implement pro/rel will be the economical and quality of play gap between MLS and our 2nd Division(NASL). So I would use play off pro/rel and not automatic one at the begining.

        Such gap will be reduced very rapidly, since on a pro/rel system, our lower division clubs reality will be totally diferent of what it is now. They will have a substantial incentive to get better; they will increase their fan base, they will have more potential investors and sponsors.

        One of the most popular forms of manipulation that we face is the…”Can you imagine if (small club like Charlotte) gets promoted to MLS?!”
        wich basically ignores that our lower divisions clubs reality is the result of NEVER being link to the international soccer clubs structure; the result playing for years in soccer limbo, with no substantial incentive.
        In other words, the people against pro/rel use our lower division clubs actual reality, to justify not implementing the system that can change it. It is what I call reversed logic.

        • Alan says:

          Manipulation? Reversed logic? I call it refusal to give a good argument as to why we need pro/rel and why having a 3 team league is a good idea. I got one for you. One of the most popular forms of manipulation amongst the pro/rel crowd is to say “open” when their system is as closed as it gets. Seriously, I give up. You hate MLS. Just go watch EPL and post on EPL Talk. You have a league that is perfect for you. I choose to step away from this just because I totally see why the term “militant traditionalist” was used. You just can’t accept anything other than what you have been told has to work, and that is a closed system.

          Please, you hate the league, go watch EPL. Post on EPL Talk. Why are you here? I haven’t heard a single positive thing about the league from you, and you will never get what you want because you don’t like the league. Nobody will listen to a non-supporter. Speaking of world football, I am willing to bet that even if Brazil or Argentina had a “closed” system, it would not stop them from supporting their leagues whether they liked it or not. I’m willing to bet even if they cried about pro/rel they would still show up and support the players and the teams and have something positive to say.

          I give up on you Roger. You are best to be ignored, just like pro/rel in the United States will always be.

        • Roger says:

          We have right in fron of our faces very good examples that we dont need 10/20 years like some say to implement pro/rel.

          Did you notice the diference between the USL Sounders and the MLS Sounders?
          Night and day right?!
          How long did that take?

          USL Timbers and MLS Timbers?!

          USL Whitecaps and MLS Whitecaps?!

          Next year it will be the Impact. Anybody wants to bet the they will not change on a similar way? Wich is VERY FAST!

          We changed their reality and they inmediatelly adjusted!

          Imagine the result of implementing promotion and relegation, a system that will change the reality of all of our lower division clubs and not just a handfull?!

          Think about the potential that we are loosing! How can you guys justify that it would somehow be bad for soccer in our nation?

          So, in order to protect us from the posibility of a few super clubs dominating the league, your solution is to exclude thousands of potential clubs to be linked to the international soccer clubs structure!
          It is like using a nuke on a mugger! Like soccerreform said one time.

          Am I making a good argument now?

          • Alan says:

            No, but you are making a great case for the way things are going. The MLS can grow to many more clubs than 20 (maybe 32-40). How is the possibility of a bigger MLS denying clubs that possibility?

            You also fail to mention what will happen to the Sounders, Impact, Timbers, Whitecaps (all products of the current system) if they get relegated. Note that under your system only a certain number of clubs at a time can be in the top flight. Note that also under your system a few super clubs will be the ones linked to the international soccer clubs structure. Only the ones at the top of the league can make it to the international scene, like CONCACAF. So, lets see. The same 3 clubs participating in Champions League every year, or lots of clubs having the possibility? Which one links more players to the international scene while also allowing fans the possibility of seeing their home team win a championship no matter which division they belong to? Hmmmm.

            Also, I love this idea of “thousands” of clubs taking root. England has like 130 teams roughly, and they are crazy about soccer. Americans barely care about it and we have about 180 teams, and we are still growing.

          • Midnight Marauder says:

            The USL Northwest teams sure are different than their MLS counterparts. They were fully independent and were pillars of D2, but their owners viewed their respective markets thinking that as impressive as they were in D2, they’d have more support as a D1 market and that has come to pass, trading independence and no salary caps for single entity and salary caps.

            Paying the expansion fee and stadium investment that elevated those teams to MLS appealed to those ownerships from a return on investment point of view. They, along with cheapskate Saputo of Montreal who was really reluctant to pay the fee were happy to leave their independence to join the league and were wealthy enough to make costly changes. If they weren’t they’d be NASL teams right now.

            Thankfully, MLS teams don’t have to worry about relegation. The city of Portland had to approve money for the stadium renovation. Once a team moves up a league, they’re generally labeled relegation contenders. To get the deal done, the Timbers even prepared a pro forma statement and they based it on being in MLS. Imagine how much more difficult it would have been for the city to approve funding for the stadium if that statement wasn’t reliable because they might or might not be relegated. To approve it would have been irresponsible. I hope you realize how hard it was to get this done. Cities won’t build arenas for NBA or NFL teams, what more for division 2 soccer teams.

      • The original Tom says:

        I would support with salary caps or roster restrictions. In a sense, they are going to have them in Europe when financial fair play starts next year. The Bundesliga has loaning and foreign ownership restrictions as well. Personally I don’t like how dominated England has become by the top 3, or 4, or 6 clubs this decade. I prefer England in the 60′s or 70′s, minus the fan violence, racism, and dangerous stadiums. A big difference was the TV money was spread evenly, and I believe away teams got a bigger percentage of the gate than they do today.

        They have relegation play-offs in some countries; I think the Netherlands is one of them. I prefer an automatic one, with the second division having a promotional play-off; but I’m not dead-set against them. One of the things that promotion/relegation provides is three new teams with their new colors, energized fan bases, and new stadiums to look at every year. Plus, it is not a big deal to me if the relegated team is better than the one that replaces it- they can beat up teams in the lower division for a year. Look what Newcastle did last year- one might argue they’ve come back stronger.

        • Charles says:

          Tom, there is NO WAY that you believe salary cap and fair play accomplishes the same thing. No way. I don’t believe you.

          One is there to make sure Columbus can ( and did ) win MLS Cup, while NY has yet to do so.
          The other is there to make sure that no one that isn’t already a winning RICH club wins. If Bill Gates buys Everton or some other team with zero chance of winning, they still have zero chance of winning now.
          Man U needs more titles with Barca and Real Madrid and other powerhouses too.

          ps. Newcastle is one of the haves. They draw more than the Sounders, 10 teams do and 10 do not. Name a team without money that came back stronger.

  26. Robert says:

    Funny to see so many comments both Pros/Cons. Imagine if MLS had Pro/Rel and how much support would be for lower division clubs + MLS clubs facing relegation. MLS risk becoming a zombie league. Exhibit A: NE Revs, EXHIBIT B: Chivas USA. Faux promoted teams have injected life into the league again imagine if these battles were faught year in and year out. Imagine if your hard earned money went to the club you love and not to a league distributing your money to XYZ club due to poor performance.

    • Alan says:

      The Revs and Chivas not only have the possibility of rebuilding, but of winning the MLS Cup much sooner than pro/rel would ever allow them to do. The promoted teams you talk about like Timbers and Whitecaps are still coming and they are a product of the current system.

      • Robert says:

        Pussification of America. Everyone is a winner! Under your logic, MLS shouldn’t even keep score

        • Alan says:

          Wow, MLS fans will really take you seriously now, especially since you are not a fan, never will be a fan, and are just trolling MLS blogs. Under my logic, every team has a chance to rise to the top, including my home team.

  27. sergio lima says:

    Many football fans from other countries do not understand the MLS and their business model and how difficult it is for the league to survive. MLS is financially the equivalent of third division leagues from top football countries. Most of the players make less than one thousand dollars a week. So, let’s be serious here. Nobody can talk about relegation when you are trying to survive and pay bills at the same time you are trying to convince people you will be more popular and attractive. The teams are not solidified as money makers yet, the TV deals from the entire league are ridiculously low, less than what one team makes in Brazil per year, for example, the players are practically amateurs and the teams are often defeated by Mexican teams on almost every important continental competition. Let’s wait until all the teams have good and profitable stadiums and see if a future TV deal brings more money to the table. The teams must be more profitable to be able to raise the salary cap and increase the quality of the players. For now, MLS is trying to grow without compromising the bottom line. It is easy to fold a league and the MLS is doing everything they can in order to be there for the fans in the future.

  28. Robert says:

    All you ANTI-PROMOTION/RELEGATION people need to read this article. Your closed entity system is causing Americans to venture down south. Tijuana has a very short soccer history and with the prospect of winning (not paying, for all you MLSnobs) promotion, the stadium is awesome!

    http://www.thisisamericansoccer.com/soccer-culture/xolos-rising/

    • Alan says:

      If they put an MLS team in San Diego, I’m sure people would watch that too.

      • Robert says:

        Well, they put a team in NE, Columbus, LAx2 and no one is watching.

        • Robert says:

          I wouldn’t support a team in San Diego if they paid to play. I want a team and owners that want to win and gain access through performance. We already have a team [Padres] that screwed over the fans we don’t need another cheap imitation soccer out-let.

    • Midnight Marauder says:

      I’m supremely happy for the city of Tijuana. It’s the 28th largest city in the Americas and it’s good that there’s an excellent and dedicated owner for the team. He even funded the stadium all on his own which is culturally different than American owners who nearly universally insist on a public-private partnership.

      It’s hard to believe that a city as large as this in a true soccer loving country with such an established soccer culture with entertwined leagues doesn’t have a long tenured team in the city. I saw the list of teams from the city that were roadkill and was truly surprised that it seemed USL-1esque. Good luck to Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles De Caliente.

      RIP

      Estrellas Tijuana
      Inter Tijuana
      Chivas Tijuana
      Nacional Tijuana
      Trotamundos Tijuana
      Club Tijuana
      Dorados De Tijuana

  29. Alan says:

    So, you hate the league enough that you would not support your local MLS club because there is no pro/rel? Why are you trolling MLS talk then? I just don’t get it. The league is not what you want and you can obviously go to Tijuana anytime to watch “real” soccer. Why do you care enough to post on an MLS blog when things will never be the way you want them to be?

    • Andy says:

      because change doesn’t come from standing on the sidelines.

      no one is watching the MLS-SNOB version of soccer. Your championship game got beat by womens volleyball.

      the league is missing out on a very large amount of fans because of how it is structured. There are millions of soccer fans in the U.S. A tiny fraction of them watch MLS. Why is this?

      single table and pro/rel work everywhere else in the world. It would work here too.

      • Alan says:

        Change comes from supporters, not trolls.

        Pro/rel is not going to fix MLS. And certainly it won’t be fixed by people that hate the league. It works for them because not only are they a soccer crazy nation, they seem to like rooting for the same 3 teams all the time.

        There are millions of soccer fans in the US, but a fraction also watch EPL too. Those millions of fans fell in love with the World Cup, a tournament, not a league. Even if you won over all of the Eurosnobs, the ratings would still be low for leagues. If wanting a competitive league where the same 3 teams can’t buy the championship every year, then I am an MLS-SNOB. However, I do watch many leagues around the world despite what sports system they have. Keep trolling trolls, but the reality is that you are not going to change anything because of just that. You are trolls, not supporters. No one cares what you have to say because you are haters.

        • Andy says:

          your using a word like troll because you have been embarrassed by your weak arguments.

          in your uber americanized system the MLS championship game got beat by womens volleyball. MLS is not getting the American soccer fan like they could.

          single table
          pro rel
          free agency
          no drafts

          and the soccer leagues in this country would thrive

          or

          same old BS and get beat by womens volleyball.

          • Alan says:

            No, I am using troll because that is what you are. You are not a fan, you are a hater, you post on MLS blogs. What is not being a troll there.

            *Yawn* Same boring arguments with no facts.

  30. Alan says:

    Trolls will never answer this question, thus proving they are trolls.

    • Charles says:

      So to recap on this post:

      Guys who don’t watch US soccer like Pro/Rel, and believe that MLS will die and magically the US will start watching Div II and III soccer ( even though it barely happened in Seattle )

      Nice, sorry for you non-Trolls who have legit concerns and ACTUALLY WATCH SOCCER, are you in BAD company.

      MLS Hater Trolls will troll….meanwhile over on the soccer news page, racaps of the weekend, have zero posts.
      The trollers should feel like fools, but they won’t.

      • Alan says:

        Seems pretty accurate. I’d love to talk to some non-trolls. I was really hoping that Earl would give some more input.

  31. Hans "The Gaffer" says:

    If “You Suck Corrales” and “Who Shot Sam ” were here they would say you were all a bit crazy I must say. “The Viper ” would also feel this in a way. MLS Talk, built by Mikita. Cheers, time for The Arctic Monkeys concert.

  32. Erik " The Viking" says:

    “You Suck Corrales” would have had a beer, smoked a cigarette, and told you all to ” Go F@#k Yourselves” by now.

  33. MackemMania says:

    Oi!, Gazza, I thought ya’ drank ye self to death already ye Geordie Wanker! Beat any ya wives lately son. Still have “Fog on the Tyne” on ye bloody 8 track? F@#k off!!!!!

  34. Agoos is God! says:

    What the hell is RedBull New York?! A retail sodapop outlet in Canarsie? The Cosmos are coming to save us again! They will save MLS! Sir Paul Kelmsley, Cantona, Pele, Messing and Chinaglia will show the league how proper football is structured and played. First, New York, then the league, then Cosmos will rule the planet and the universe!!!!!! Guiseppe Rossi, first Cosmos DP will be highest compensated footballer in MLS history, it will destroy single structure entity and salary cap and finally the silly DP rule when the example is set by the Cosmos. Empire Fields model on Randalls Island will outdraw the “Harrison Sodacows” in lovely downtown Newark and the new SS stadium in New York City will average 32,000 per match to watch a proper club, not an advertising gimick. “Football is a beautiful game, it should be played beautifully”. Brian Clough.

  35. Once a Metro says:

    Fair enough Mr. Agoos, by the way, good to see you still know your footie Jeff! The Cosmos should stay dead and buried like the old NASL. Talk about an advertising gimmick, the Cosmos don’t have a club, just a website to sell retro gear, which is downright fugly if you ask me. I mean would you want to wear a green and blue track jacket that someone should put in the time machine back to the late 70′s. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The Cosmos are as tacky as the “Wild & Crazy Guys” skit on the old SNL. MLS is being patient and the structure of the league will change with the increase in financial stability of the league and its clubs.If you guys did some research on the long term business plan for the league instead of mindless bantor and pissing contests ,you would see that ,but that’s obviously beneath any of you’r reading levels. You have to crawl before you can walk and the MLS is not going to make the same mistakes NASL did.This is hoe it is relative to the pro/rel debate.After the MLS is fully expanded, and each club in it’s own stadium, the values of the clubs will increase individually making them more economically attractive to private ownership of each and then the single entity system will be dissolved naturally. Then MLS can structure the legue format properly. A Promotion/ Relegation single table system and seperate Cup Tournaments are something the MLS has not ruled out, just are’nt ready for it yet. The league is still in diapers for gods sake, give ot time.Haters be haters, you are entitled to your opinion and to be honest knowone cares what you think, I’m talking to the Eurocentrics out there, and MLS supporters , just be patient your time will come. Now back to Agoos, the Hudson Derby and the Northwestern rivalries, not to forget Toronto v Montreal starting next year can only push the league forward. Derby matches are vital in association football and we are building towards that, Cosmos can’t be reanimated soon enough, their arrogance is what this league is missing right now. Cheers.

  36. Charles says:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704132204576285090526726626.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

    Same damn arguement that MLS Talk has way too much.
    Should MLS become MLB or NFL type league ( EPL has TV revenue sharing, LaLiga basically doesn’t…hard to say how the NFL agreement would shake out )
    anyone outside of NY and LA should favor NFL, but many don’t.

    • Alan says:

      So to recap. Three trolls post. A bunch of fans that think that pro/rel might be a good idea unfortunately get lumped in with them. Another group of fans that don’t want to see the league owned by New York and LA. I hope that these posts on pro/rel become a thing of the past. They just attract people that hate the league, and the original writer of the post is nowhere to be found. The choice remains clear. If you want pro/rel, you have plenty of leagues for that. If you want to see your domestic league grow, you should be supporting it. Simple.

  37. You Really do Suck Corrales says:

    Harrison Sodacows! Absolute top class! LOL

  38. Borough Boys says:

    Forget the whole Pro/Rel debate for a second. The hatred already displayed by RedBulls and Cosmos supporters is what the MLS needs. Harrison Sodacows,BRILLIANT! Sir Paul should give you season passes on the cuff for the first Cosmos match in 2013 on that thinking alone. You New Jersey Sodacow Supporters and energy drink shills should say nothing. RedBull Arena, the Cathedral of football, What, you kidding me!? The only thing that place has in common with a cathedral is that it is half empty on the weekends. We will have our proper system in place soon enough because the supporters demand it. Now for all the haters, if your an expat, you will watch MLS because aside from EPL, Serie A, and LaLiga, it is the only thing to support here, so don’t hate it ,support it and watch it develop and grow! It beats following the Mets or Islanders. New york Cosmos set to announce kit sponsor, 5 HOUR ENERGY! LOL

  39. I Love Shep says:

    This is terrific!

  40. Borough Boys 2 says:

    “Like a Bridge over troubled Water!” La da ded da!

  41. Dannyboy says:

    At least people are talking about MLS, it’s a start. Why does a a rivalry that does’nt even exist yet get so much correspondence. I mean what do the attempted re-launch of The Cosmos and talking rubish with Redbulls supporters have to do with the pro/rel arguments. To rid us of these bizarre NY Cosmos references can we wait until MLS accepts their application to be the 20th club, right now they have no players, no stadium, and no manager, just a billboard advertisement in Times Square in Manhattan and Eric Cantona selling retrokits. At least the RedBulls have a club and stadium. I still don’t see how it’s relative to how the league is formatted. One positive is the genuine dislike these two camps have for one another, could be great for the sport in the U.S.. But can they go somewhere else to discuss it. Frankly ,glorifying the failure of the original NASL is something MLS should try to avoid. Although Yanks do seem to have an odd fixation with the Cosmos. Interesting.

    • Andy says:

      if there was pro/rel the NY Cosmos would be playing right now in a lower division and working their way up the pyramid.

      another example how our closed league model stifles club development.

  42. steve j says:

    I am a long time American soccer fan, player and referee, having begun play in 1973 and finally hanging up my boots on 2008. I still referee about 60-70 games each year. I have subscribed to FSC almost since it became available. I watch probbaly 4-6 games a week. I spend very little time watching MLS. The level of play is far below an EPL, Spanish or Italian league match and often not far above the early round FA Cup ties. If I am going to spend two valuable hours in front of the TV I’ll watch ManU v Everton or Arsenal v Tottenham before I’ll watch Dallas v RSL. More money for players, fewer playoff matches and a meaningful regular season schedule might cause me to spend more time watching MLS soccer. I understand and support the need for a financially stable and successful US professional soccer environment but a meaningless All Star game and endless play off games coupled with too many regular season matchups between the same teams sucks any interest out of MLS for me. A single table 38 game season coupled with a competitive Open Cup tournament and no post season playoff games is far more appealing to me than the current format.

    • Charles says:

      I quit watching my sons and daughter’s games for the same reason.

      Too many regular season matches in MLS ? There are more in the EPL you realize ?

      This post seems very fake to me.

  43. Sully the Snooze says:

    I wonder if Steve J is actually Kyle Martino in disguise?

  44. You Suck Corrales says:

    Whoever came up with that Sodacow crap better be able to back it up! No, I really mean it!

  45. King Cantona says:

    We are Back! Now, buy a Cosmos t shirt or I will kick you! We are here to destroy “Harrison Sodacows fc”! When I see Soler, I will kick him too !!! I will go to supporters section in Sodacow Arena, and I will kick them!!!!!! Now Cobi, get me my medication, before I kick you!!!!!

  46. Sir Alex says:

    Crikey! I have seemed to have misplaced my flask!!!!!

Leave a Reply

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

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