English Premier League to the Rescue of American Soccer

Since the founding of Major League Soccer in 1993, American soccer has faced an uphill battle against a public that really does not embrace the sport. Facing the already established and popular sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, and car racing (mainly NASCAR), it’s been a tough sell. It was not until 2004 that MLS turned a profit. In 2009 there were only two profitable clubs: the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC — down from three the previous year.

For the future, I have an idea of how MLS sides can increase their revenues during each summer. For the record, I think the English Premier League friendly matches that take place during the pre season of English soccer season have been a step in the right direction in helping to maintain and create a strong fan base for Premier League sides in the United States. However, I suggest a new approach — different than the World Football Challenge — in making soccer more popular by giving fans something to really look forward to during the summer. My idea is to create MLS and EPL tournaments instead of the traditional friendly matches.

There are currently 18 MLS teams, soon to be 19 with the addition of the Montreal Impact and a future addition of one more club to make it 20 clubs. With the teams scattered across the United States and Canada, it offers great possibilities for creating regional EPL and MLS tournaments. So, I think replacing the friendly matches which really don’t offer much more than a nice chance for your local MLS team to play an English top flight club, the regional tournament could offer so more to the sport. However, there needs to be an incentive for both parties. Nothing motivates individuals more than money, I think a cash prize for the club and the players would be necessary. This could be done through sponsorship. In addition to the cash incentive offer piece of silverware, a trophy for the winning team to instill further pride with the club and fans.

I think the most constructive approach would be to host regional tournaments. There is the possibility of doing an east coast tournament with D.C. United, Philadelphia Union, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact once they begin playing. The same could be done on the west coast with Chivas USA, Los Angeles Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, Portland Timers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps. Something similar could happen in the mid west or central part of the United States with FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew. Perhaps Real Salt Lake could move into the west with the Colorado Rapids placed in the central or mid west tournament.

I think another possible approach and perhaps a better one would be to have smaller regional tournaments. For example, I think a Pacific Northwest tournament with Portland, Seattle and Vancouver and perhaps an all California tournament with Chivas, Los Angeles and San Jose could be a real possibility. It could be titled The Barclays Premier League Major League Soccer California Cup 2012 or The Barclays Premier League Major League Soccer Pacific Northwest Cup 2012, for example. The same could be done with other parts of the United States and Canada.

As far as which EPL clubs participate, I think it would be best to have some sort of rotating system or have the clubs volunteer for the events. I think since Tottenham Hotspur is an affiliated club with San Jose, Spurs could participate in the west coast or California tournament more specifically. This could also forge stronger links with MLS and EPL clubs as well.

How would the event proceed? In the case of the one in California, you have three MLS clubs and invite three EPL clubs to participate in the event. All sides are paired and play one game with one club with the winner advancing to the next stage, since there would be 3 clubs remaining the one team with the best record in the series would get a break while the other two face each other and then the winner of that match would face the rested team for the title and cup. More matches could be added but the time factor may be an issue. I think this would really create an atmosphere of real excitement and give the clubs something really to play for and provide the fans with a wonderful event.

I think for the early stages the big name English clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Liverpool would be strong candidates because of the strong name recognition among the American public. But certainly attracting other clubs would be very desirable as well. Currently Newcastle, Bolton, Manchester City and West Brom, for example, will be playing friendly matches during the summer in the United States. So other clubs are interested in playing in the United States. I think the friendly matches have had an impact on soccer in the United States but more can be done and should be done. They are fun events; In fact I attended the San Jose and West Brom match. Plus I’ll attend the Seattle and Manchester United match this month. But more can be done in my view.  Even though many MLS clubs have soccer specific stadiums which hold around 18,000 to 23,000 individuals, there is no shortage of large athletic stadiums whether they be professional or university facilities, so accommodating fans will not be an issue. Another possible idea is to schedule one or two regular EPL matches in the United States.

Starting in 2007 the National Football League played its first regular season game outside of North America when London hosted the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. The NFL calls it the International Series.  Since then the NFL has decided to continue to host at least one regular season game in London and perhaps other cities in the world. The objective of the NFL is to strengthen and create greater appeal for American football in Europe and around the world.

I think if MLS is going to be serious about soccer in the United States and further the national team, there needs to be more creativity in marketing of the sport to the American public. I think the idea of MLS and EPL tournaments and the hosting of regular season EPL matches could be a real boost for both leagues and for soccer in the United States.

141 thoughts on “English Premier League to the Rescue of American Soccer”

  1. I think the basic idea is good, but intentionally creating a six-team tournament is not so good. Since it may cost quite a bit to get the English sides over here, it might be better to start with three MLS teams and one English side in four-team tourneys.

    Alternatively, we should recognize that there are lots of other non-English teams with quite a bit of name recognition in the US, including Italian and Spanish sides as well as several Latin American clubs.

    So, I imagine a different structure. I see a Great Southwest Invitational featuring the Dynamo, FC Dallas, Galaxy, and Chivas USA, and invite one of the top clubs each from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and one other Latin American or CONCACAF country (using some sort of rotation or random selection). A Heartland tournament with KC, Colorado, and Real Salt Lake could invit two English teams, one Scottish club, and two German sides. The Northwestern tournament could include Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, San Jose, a Japanese club, an Australian club, and two Spanish sides. The Midwestern tournament would include Toronto, Montreal, Columbus, and Chicago with a French team, two Italian teams, and another English side. Then, a mid-Atlantic competition could include DC, Philadelphia, NY, and New England with two Italian teams, an English club, and an Irish side.

    1. Scott, I think you have some good ideas. Since I am half English I tend to look to English sports but some your ideas I think would be great to explore. Way to go in keeping the discsussion going.

  2. That’s all we need. A worthless tournament instead of meaningful ones. And for God’s sake, pick a better league than EPL at least. Maybe La Liga or Serie A. Even better, IF we were to do this, how about South American and Mexican clubs. That would be much better in the long run for us.

        1. Maybe Serie A although Spurs ripped apart their best and when you look at La Liga you have Barca and R. Madrid maybe Villareal and A. Madrid. My argument isn’t with the top clubs it is what level the Leagues are top to bottom. For me it is Bundesliga that is best top to bottom at a high level. Though I do like the idea of seeing clubs from as many leagues as possible over here

          1. Ripped apart? 1 goal was scored total in both games. Milan did not play at their best. Even Barca was beat by Hercules last year.

  3. I think this is an awful idea. Hell maybe we should scrap mls alltogether and just have the u.s. clubs play in your meaningless friendly tournaments all year round.

  4. If you want to talk about a joke tournament just look at the CONCACAF Champions League, no one attends those matches, the stadiums are ghost towns.

    1. They are also not well-marketed and sometimes not taken seriously by MLS teams. That needs to change, but the tournament itself is a great idea. So your idea is to get rid of CONCACAF Champions League in favor of friendlies? You cannot be serious.

      1. If you read what I said, I made not mention of scraping the CONCACAF Champions League. I was just making a response to other comments about what I suggested as being a joke. I was making a comparsion. I just think it would be interesting to add some spice to American soccer and plus I think it is needed. That is just my view and I think what I have written might help in that by bringing US soccer closer to the rest of the soccer world and I think England would be a good start. The common history background is helpful as well.

      2. For it’s third year there were decent crowds for the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League. And it counts for something. The only thing that friendlies count for are the amount of cash made and amount of branding by the visiting club. I’d rather see a serious competition, where both sides try their best and play their best players to win. If there were a serious competition that involved teams from other continents I would enthusiastically support it. Anyways, with all of these clubs coming to the US there will inevitably be “friendly fatigue”. We’ve seen it with the big Mexican clubs and we will see it with the Euro clubs (they can go to Asia to give us a rest and make some more money/do branding while they are there).

        1. What I am saying is doing away with the friendly matches all together and replacing them with the idea I have submitted.

          1. Ah, I didn’t really get that from the article. I think that once you get outside of 6-8 EPL teams, the interest would wane. I would love to see a tournament with the top 3 MLS sides that don’t qualify for CONCACAF take on the three new teams who qualify for the EPL from the Championship. But no one would attend. I think promoting our own tournaments is the best: CONCACAF and the US Open Cup

    2. I like that CONCACAF Champions League, the final few rounds this year were pretty compelling, and the finale was tragic for Salt Lake, but good overall. I would rather them make it a one game neutral site game like the UEFA version, but its still a good tournament… As for attendance, what do you want, it’s only 2 years old or so. MLS and the Mexican league are gonna be getting closer and closer over the next 10 years, and pushing each other to greater heights, and hopefully that will help elevate the tournament, or possibly lead to an All America’s Champions League, which would be tough geographically, but if it could be worked out it would be great

  5. While its heart is in the right place, this is not a good idea for the following reasons:

    – There is nothing in it for the EPL teams. ManU brought 50k+ to Gillette because they are ManU. They would do the same playing a college team.
    – This would happen right in the middle of the MLS season. Nobody would want to risk injury. It would be right before the start of the EPL season. Nobody would want to risk injury.
    – It would make the MLS teams look bad, which would not grow their fanbase. WBA goalkeeping aside, EPL teams don’t tend to lose their friendlies very often.
    – Interest in the non-League competitions, Charity Shield and FA Cup included, is waning. Creating a new cup is not the answer.

    If anyone, MLS should reach out not to the Premiership, but the Championship teams. They are the ones who need money and exposure. Offer a cup for the three newly promoted teams. Or even the relegated teams. ManU, Liverpool, Arsenal, and so on could care less about MLS. But the Rangers, Swans, and Canaries? They could use the income and new fanbase. Same goes for the Hammers, Tangerines, and Blues.

    1. If there was nothing in it for these teams they wouldn’t be coming here every year… Of course there’s something in it for them: money; branding; anonymity for their players to relax, which is like gold for most of these guys; and decent competition to get ready for their seasons… I think there’s a lot of good reasons why for MLS teams, not least of which is good money. At least in the short term it’s probably a good idea

  6. I don’t like to rain on your parade, but I need to join in the chorus of people telling you this is a lame idea.

    For a start, all you’re really advocating is creating some mickey-mouse tournament rather than one-off individual exhibition matches. But plenty of pre-season games (such as the World Football Challenge, the Amsterdam Cup, the Emirates Cup, etc etc) are already billed as part of some kind of trophy-competition. So what you’re suggesting is really already in place. These pre-season tourneys still aren’t taken particularly seriously, for the simple reason that they’re just pre-season games. No-one wants to get injured, no-one really cares about the result, everyone just wants to get do a bit of running and brush off the cobwebs. Giving the series of games a silly name and handing out a trophy afterwards isn’t going to change this.

    Secondly, on the subject of silly names: The Barclays Premier League Major League Soccer Pacific Northwest Cup, really? Could you possibly come up with a name that is any more unwieldy? It hardly rolls off the tongue.

    You say there will be some prize-money at stake…really, I doubt MLS could offer enough money to be more than a drop in the ocean to most EPL teams. That’s why they’d be happier to just maintain the status quo – playing one-off exhibitions, getting their share of the ticket revenue and taking the chance to promote their new shirts and merchandise.

    Also, it’s funny how you just include the throw-away line “or maybe they could play a couple of regular season EPL games in the US”, without any further discussion of all of the pros and cons of that crazy idea, and with no acknowledgement that the idea has already been discussed to death last year, and thoroughly criticized.

  7. This is a terrible idea and probably one of the worst post/ideas i’ve read in a long time. I’m getting sick and tired of the excuses that MLS competes with the big 4 american sports and we need to convert American fans to soccer fans. We have a ton of soccer fans in this country but refuse to support this joke of a league. Our Regional Tournament (CCL) starts in a few weeks and Sounders have a match a few days before the ALL STAR GAME!

    1. So there are tons of soccer fans in this country, that maybe true or maybe not. Better yet how can you support that idea, do you have numbers to supports or statistics? Soccer doesn’t come close to the viewership that the NFL, MLB, NCAA sports, NBA and NHL. Auto racing is the second highest view sport in the county next to the NFL. If you are so sure about what you have said then why not have MLS play during the same time of year as other leaques in the world. The All Star Game in reality just another friendly match So, you think MLS is a joke, what do you think should be done. Of course you could write you own story and offer your own insight.

      1. The us world cup committee issued a study that said there is a estimated 100 million avid soccer fans based on tv ratings for soccer games and ticket sales to soccer games. Only a small fraction of a small fraction of that number takes mls seriously. And with good reason, its hard to take mls seriously on soo many levels. That has to change.mls should start catering to real soccer fans instead of creeping on casual fans.

      2. Brilliant idea Matthew!! I get it!

        Try to make the friendlies look like they are not friendlies!
        It is like simulated meaningfull games! Which is very much in tune with MLS menthality. Franchises are, after all, simulated clubs!

        Garber even said one time “….If you let us host the REAL World Cup, we may implement simulated promotion and relegation”

        It all about simulation!

  8. No. More friendlies mid-season is exactly what legit MLS teams don’t need.

    MLS gets bigger every year. We don’t need to appeal to casual sports fans. Let people come to the game naturally. It’s already happening. Average attendance for the league is growing. Teams are becoming more entrenched in their host city’s sports culture.

    Relax. It’s working. Have patience.

  9. If Toronto FC never plays another friendly against an EPL team in the middle of a heavily congested schedule, I’ll be a happy man.

    These games are pointless cash grabs.

    1. I think people are saying that any friendly is pointless, even in a tournament format. While numerous people disagree on this site about many things, I think we all agree that the focus should be on making the regular season mean more, the US Open Cup mean more, the CCL mean more, and maybe even eventually a Copa Libertadores that means something. Not some meaningless way for EPL to make a buck in their off-season and another reason for MLS to neglect the season, the US Open Cup, and the CCL. Almost every MLS fan and non-fan alike agree on this.

      1. It wouldn’t be just the EPL making a quick buck it could provide a way for MLS clubs to make money and enhance their position in the world. The simple fact is that the world doesn’t associate soccer with the United States, people can disagree with that all they want but it is the truth. There is no shame in seeking outside help to build more support in the United States. Look at what the NFL is doing by playing at least one regular season game outside the United States and they are hoping to expand that idea.

        1. Matthew, your idea sucks and friendlies suck as well. Here is how you get outside help. Win the CCL so the franchise can go to the Club World Cup.

    2. You can call it a tournament all you want. It doesn’t change the fact that they’re friendlies.

      Seriously, the EPL sides don’t take the League Cup all that seriously. Why would they care about a bunch of 2nd and 3rd rate footballing sides from Major League Soccer.

  10. I think that we are focusing on something that is not going to happen. We are not going to make MLS popular overnight no matter what we do. There is NO WAY that there are 100 million soccer fans in the United States that are willing to take league play of any kind seriously yet. They get World Cup fever and that is it. It is going to take time to build real fans and a soccer culture in the United States. The competitions that actually mean something need to mean more. Pro/rel fanboys, parity supporters, single table supporters, and single-entity supporters ALL agree on this. We just disagree on how we go about it. Youth development needs an overhaul for one thing. There are a lot of meaningful things that can be done to change soccer in the United States over time. We need to be realistic and realize that it might take another 10, 20, or maybe 30 years for soccer to be anywhere near as popular as it is in other countries. Just trying to rake in the cash is totally the wrong approach.

    1. You took word from my mouth….I think soon or later head of UEFA will realize that American market is very interesting…and that participating of American MLS champion in Champions league(!)could be great financial gain.Of course not yet but within 10-15 years…who knows.After all who are the greatest sponsors of Ch.League but American companies.Coca-Cola,Ford,Nike,Playstation.

  11. I think everything is ok as it is. The MLS has gradually growing in popularity with the expanded coverage of football on ESPN. (My only complaint is that MLS highlights should be shown on Sportscenter). Support for the National Men’s and Women’s team has been through the roof in the last few years as more Americans are starting to become captivated by international matches. With the MLS, I’ve been to matches in NY and Philadelphia and both teams have great stadiums and solid attendance rates. The best showcase of MLS support is the Pacific NW with Seattle Sounders and Portland timber fans. Across the country, its becoming obvious that MLS will surge past hockey and become the the 4th most popular sport in terms of attendance rates and tv ratings.
    As someone who just went to Gillette Stadium to see Man United and the Revs, it was an awesome experience and I feel the friendlies are a fine addition. (Newsflash-Marketing is actually a positive step forward). This idea of a tournament is way too convoluted and as a whole, things are looking bright for football in America.

  12. Worst idea ever. You can call it what ever you want, but all it would really be is more pointless friendlies in the middle of a very congested season. You can call it the Super Euro-merican bowl cup tournament and it would still be pointless friendlies.

    1. We should really have a contest!

      Who comes with the better name for such tournament!

      here is mine.

      Transatlantic Epic Galactic Euro-North American Supersonic Summer Series.

        1. Ok Matthew.
          Let me give it a try! On a serious note this time.

          I was been sarcastic because I think your idea is “more of the same”. It is like taking us to another level, on the same wrong direcction that we are heading. Preseasson games are friendlies and no amount of marketing is ever going to change that.

          This is my view of US soccer. Straight to the point.
          I think that the three main reason that we are stuck on neutral are, the USSF, the media, the fans.

          1) The hart of the problem is the USSF. Our head institution has been kidnapped by a small group of powerfull lawyers and sport speculators with too many links to the “american sports elite”. To make soccer pursuit its true potential in america is not in their best interest. It is called “conflicting interests”!

          2) The media. Never asking our “leadership” the hard questions.
          Why no promotion/relegation?
          Why 10 teams play-offs?
          Why single entity?
          Why friendlies in the middle of regular seasson?
          No other league on planet earth does that!?
          What does simulated pro/rel means?
          Why a comissioner trasplanted from a different sport and with no knowledge of soccer culture?
          Why an USSF President involved on an MLS franchise?

          Without a knowleageable soccer media that does its job, and promotes smart debate, they act with impunity!

          3) The fans. Yes we the fans!
          It takes time to develop a militant fans culture, I know. Our fans have not realize, organize and use the power that they have.

          Example: The LA Galaxy decided last year to rest key players to play a friendly against Real Madrid days before an important CCL match against the Islanders…………Poetic Justice….they got knocked out!
          What did the Galaxy fans did about it! Not much. Arena is still there. No consequence!
          Our lack of militancy, let them get away with it.

          The first step is to take the USSF back from the cartel (Fifpro nailed it!)! In order for that to happen the media has to do its job and the fans have to wake up, organize and fight!

          To think that any meaningfull change will ever happen with our actual leadership is NAIVE! It is going to take a fight! They are not getting out of there voluntarily!

          I would like to know what you think about my view.

          Is it somewhat intelligent?

          1. I think your view of US Soccer is far from intelligent. How people can say US Soccer is stuck in neutral I have no idea. They obviously haven’t been watching the USMNT or MLS in the last ten years.

            I’ll ignore points 1 and 3 to focus on 2. The media not asking leadership the hard questions. I’m still waiting to see the “hard” questions because what you wrote were absolutely Grade 2 level. Let me answer them for you.

            Pro/Rel is stupid and will never be implemented in MLS.
            Playoffs are exciting.
            Single Entity is genius and a great sports structure for any league.
            It’s up to each team whether they want to play friendlies (my club TFC does not)
            Not really concerned with other leagues on the planet especially when they are billions in debt and have zero competitive balance
            Simulated Pro/Rel means Blatter ‘kiss my ass’
            How does Garber not have knowledge of ‘soccer culture’? Seriously this is a stretch. Are you the judge on soccer culture?
            The USSF President is involved in the New England Revolution – they stopped being an MLS franchise a few years ago.

          2. Simulated pro/rel can be a penalty of some sort for finishing at the bottom of the table, such as being disqualified from the playoffs the following year or something of that nature. Not really that hard to understand.

          3. Gazza single entity is a great sports structure but only for the owners it hurts players and fans. Thankfully single entity is not immune to anti trust laws forever, especially with the league expanding and owners starts to make decisions for themselves rather than for the league they can’t claim to be acting as one whole company and then come next cba players will hopefully expose it and subject mls to anti trust laws, and if they want to continue this league they call “major” they’ll give players free agency. Even if mls will never be legally obligated to renounce single entity, for the good of the game single entity has to go. It does nothing but hold soccer back, fool fans and treat players bad all so owners can save a dollar or two and bank on .

            Example on how single entity is not for the long run. Did you know that NFL has been running on single entity since the 1970s? Or atleast they have been trying too. Look at all the problems NFL has constantly with the players union over trying to keep a single entity status. Now you have a lock out. Albeit NFL first started off as a collection of independent clubs and mls was designed as a single entity from the start and own and control all teams in mls, sooner or later the same thing will happen. to mls. No matter how you package single entity, its never a ideal structure for a sports league. Never. How many soccer leagues do you see running on single entity? None. How many leagues under the club model have ever failed? None. How many leagues under a closed shop structure have. failed? A lot. Single entity was genius for the first 16 years, now its just a ticking time bomb. Trust me I used to be a avid supporter of single entity, but once you read more about it (i read both the legal review on frader vs mls and a university study on how single entity is setting up mls and NFL to fail by northern Illinois university, so I’m not basing this on fanatical crap) you start to realize that its not ideal for soccer.

          4. I think it’s generous to say the USMNT has been stuck in the neutral the last decade. Nine years ago, we were beating Mexico to head to the quarters of the World Cup. Look where we are now. Is there any hope for significant improvement on the horizon? Not if the performances of our younger players are any indication.

            MLS has been inching forward the past decade as well. For them, however, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. They spent the past decade focused on becoming sustainable and building a stronger fan base with new stadium construction and teams in well-chosen markets. But we are getting a point where they are going to have to start making the progression towards being a legitimate soccer league going forward. Pro/Rel is such a long way from being viable but, as I have noted elsewhere, a Euro-style calender with a long winter break would improve the quality of transfers and the league as a viable TV product in the US.

            Two other things I’d change:
            Ten playoff spots is way, way too many in a league this small. I’d like six with a two-legged wild card round, then a two-legged conference championship, then a one-off final. Maybe one incentive for teams lower than sixth could be participation in a summer friendly tournament like the World Football Challenge for, say, teams finishing seventh through eleventh.

            A one-year pilot run of instant replay on goals with a replay official in the booth. If we are giving the finger to Blatter, why not do it on the issue where he is out of step with soccer fans all over the world?

            On single-entity, I’d prefer it be a single-entity more the like the NFL instead of sort of strange way it’s constructed in the MLS. The salary cap is a great development in my opinion, however although I’d like to see the current DP rule replaced by an allowance for 1 uncapped player/transfer per squad per year.

  13. How about focusing more attention on making CCL and the Open Cup don’t mean more. Figure out why clubs like New York and Los Angeles don’t care about them and fix it.

  14. To be fair the US Cup has been around for century. How much longer do you need to promote this tournament? As of right now the Champions League matches are just so boring and no one cares about them. If people think my idea is a waste of time then that’s really a waste of time. No one attends the games, the stadiums are empty.

        1. Matthew, you are starting to sound like a Eurosnob who is willing to bend over for EPL teams. No friendlines during regular season and ditch the All-Star game.

        2. So if you follow that logic, when somethig has proven to work.
          Doesn’t it makes sense to do it?

  15. HOrrible idea for many reasons

    1. You are replacing preseason friendlies with a preseason friendly under a different name. I know how to improve taco sales in America. Let’s rename tacos “pizza”.

    2. Who would take this tournament seriously? Fans didn’t care much about SuperLiga, and that was having big time Mexican clubs playing in good Mexican markets. But it was their preseason. Beating Chivas in July means nothing. What club, or fan, would really give a shit if Chicago beat Man City in July? Whether it was preseason friendly, or a friendly with the name tournament hiked on, nobody will care. And how would that help soccer in America grow?

    3. You attack the CONCACAF Champions League, but put this turd out there? Yes, CCL matches have low attendances now. But this event is still fairly new. It is helping our clubs FAR more than some silly preseason tourny against EPL sides. When MLS does start winning consistently, and getting into that Club World Cup, that will help even more.

    Here’s a hint: competitive matches in a legitimate competition against other in-season clubs is THE best way to improve our clubs AND grow our reputation regionally and globally.

    4. Slow steady growth is what MLS understands will help soccer “make it” in America. Some odd tourny that the players, managers, and fans don’t care about will not.

    Right now, MLS is having it’s best attended season since year one, if not ever. I’ve even read several articles that put MLS average attendance above NHL at this moment. No, we don’t get near the coverage, ratings, or popularity as the NHL. But it’s a slow process. Where was NASCAR twenty five years ago? Where was the NBA in the early 80’s?

    Your idea, whic h is horrible, will also not address your own primary question. That’s why it’s bad. Slow, steady growth over many years will see MLS get to where it can be.

    Playing Everton in July in a glorified “tourny” will do nothing. Nothing beyond selling the same tickets that the friendlies sell now.

  16. When you add silverware and more important a cash incentive it is not just another pointless friendly. I really think some of you really don’t get it. For example, in Europe clubs want to get into the Champions League so they can be the best in Europe and play top teams. However, the real attraction is the money; the clubs really want the money. At the end of the day players want money and they is what and they play for a paycheck. It is not say they don’t love what they do but money is a huge part.

      1. Matthew, we get it. It’s just not a good (or original) idea.

        Sure, the clubs may value the Champions league primarily because of the money…but why is there so much money at stake? Because the fans like the Champions League (therefore there is a lot of TV-money and gate revenue involved). Why do the fans like it? Because it determines the champion of Europe.

        Why would fans pay attention to the Pacific North West MLS-EPL Cup? You think there is any fan interest in seeing who is best out of three random EPL and MLS teams?

        1. I think at the end of the day MLS needs something to make it more exciting. To be honest it’s kind of a dry league. Any really talented MLS player will go overseas to play. Sure it will attract players from Europe and elsewhere when they are close to retirement and the clubs will pay the insane wages. For example, Beckham was brought over to add life and style LA and league and they were willing to dish out a ton of cash. At the end of the day it is an idea and great you don’t like it. However, the real challenge is taking that leap to try something new different. Two MLS teams made a profit last year-down from three the previous year. English clubs are popular in the US. It seems to me to further exploit that popularity. Why is Manchester so successfully, because they became the masters of marketing their club and they took Beckham and made him into star player but a pop icon as well and they flooded the world with their merchandise.

          1. I don’t think Man Utd “took Becham and made him into a star player [and] a pop icon”.

            Beckham did that himself – no one at Man Utd was fixing him up with gillette deals, underwear deals, sunglasses deals, etc etc. He was a self-promoter. It may have helped Man Utd sell more shirts, but they showed when they sold him that they had more important goals than that.

            If you ever read interviews with Ferguson, he has a strong dislike for the modern cult of celebrity around footballers, and that’s arguably what led to his fall-out with Beckham in the first place. Fergie would much rather have a team full of modest-living, no-nonsense men like Scholes, Keane, Butt, Fletcher, the Nevilles, etc etc.

            Man Utd are undoubtedly masters of marketing the club as a whole, but I don’t think it’s right to say they promoted Beckham in particular to anything like the level of popular recognition he achieved.

    1. And no amount of money that the MLS can put up will compete with the EPL / FA Cup/ UEFA cup money that these EPL teams would be putting at risk by playing with any seriousness in their preseason.

  17. Matt,

    I applaud you having enough of an interest to write down your idea, regardless of how much heat you are catching for it. :-) Like many of the other readers, I don’t think this is a good idea. First, there’s no way we would really be able to do it. I doubt English clubs would allow their best players to play in these matches, and despite the niceties, the clubs are already getting paid for these. At the end of the day, I think we just need to concentrate more improving what we already have. In addition, I think one thought has escaped everyone: MLS has developed exponentially (in every respect ticket sales, quality of stadium, player skill, etc.) the last 2-3 years.

    Someone further up asked several questions about MLS, some of which are worth answering.

    >Why no promotion/relegation?
    Because deep-pocketed investors weren’t going to put money into a club that they thought could drop to 2nd division and the US 2nd division has historically been unstable. Only this past year did NASL request to become the official 2nd division and there are only around…what 6 clubs?

    > Why 10 teams play-offs?
    Everyone hates this. Me too. The only thing I think is that it generate more interest, but the bottom 4 teams will need to play a mid-week and play again 3 days later, giving the 1st and 2nd ceded team a significant advantage.

    > Why single entity?
    Because when they started the league, there was no way to get enough investors to start these clubs. You were essentially asking investors to take a massive gamble and few investors will agree to that.

    > Why friendlies in the middle of regular season?
    > No other league on planet earth does that!?
    Because the rest of the world plays a different schedule and there’s no way you’ll convince ManU, Barca AC Milan, or anyone else, to risk their players’ health around the middle of the season. They do it now because it helps European clubs to identify which players they want to keep on the field and make a little $$$. But in November? Nope!

    > Why a commissioner transplanted from a different sport and with no
    > knowledge of soccer culture?
    Because his job is to keep the league afloat economically. I haven’t seen him make any cultural changes that he wasn’t advised to make by someone else.

    I think we just need to keep pushing for continued improvement and we will get there eventually. In the meantime, all the goons that that think there is any 1 specific thing that someone can do that would make a dramatic improvement in MLS, I’d like to hear that argument laid out as clearly as Matthew tried to do in this article.


    1. Thanks for the feedback. Of course it’s just an idea. I just really love English football and I think it would be great to further extend the alrealy created partnerships with MLS.

    2. @Erick in DC

      The one you refer to as “someone” is me. Roger, I think that the name shows on top of every one of my posts.

      Those questions were used as examples. The point is that we do not have the type of soccer journalism that touch the hot topics,follows up and generates the open debate that wee need.

      The things that happens on US soccer, the inpunity in wich our “leadership” makes whatever desicion they feel like, no matter how bizarre they are (10 teams play-offs), would be huge scandals in countries that have a knowledgeable soccer journalism.

      A good example happened right here on this site, on Mr Robert Hay’s article “If you were the comissioner , what would you change”
      In the article’s pool, even though “single entity” and “promotion and relegation” were thrown into a mix of many other issues, they both got 25% of votes each(more than 50% combined)
      10 teams play-offs got less than 1%, yet it was implemented!

      What happnened after……..total silence!

      I totally disagre with your point about promotion and relegation and single entity, wich is the same:
      …………”not enough investors, and investors not willing to take a gamble of been relegated”
      It is one of the most popular forms of manipulation the we are submitted to. It is what I call reversed logic.
      Single entity is not a result of “not enough investors”, but the other way around!
      “not enough investors” is a result of single entity.
      How many investors did you expect with a $40 million price tag?

      By granting investors MLS franchises with the security of no posible relegation, they sentenced the cities left out, to years of soccer limbo that last until today. They sold our game like they owned it!

      About Garber, he is just a symptom of the problem!
      Your coment..”Because his job is to keep the league afloat economically”, is a good example of it. It is american sports menthality at its best! A strong emphasis on the business aspect of the sport, and total understimation of soccer culture, history and values.

      ……….”It is not necessary that the commisioner knows about soccer!! what diference does it make?! it is just a sport!, it is all about money..marketing, marketing, mucho mucho marketing!”…….

      That is the kind of mentality that leads to 10 teams play-offs, and friendly tournaments in the middle of regular seasson. The system in place is the reflection of our leadership mentality, wich takes me back to point #1. The hart of the problem is the USSF, wich you decided not to touch.

      A league will never satisfy the soccer needs of our big nation, it can only be accomplished by a club soccer structure. That is the USSF responsibility! Not MLS’s!
      An open system with promotion and relegation can accomplish that!

      “The most important thing… is not winning but taking part”
      Pierre de Coubertin.

    3. Promotion and relegation is simply not viable in the current US Soccer climate. For those who are interested in eventually getting to that point (myself included), I think the focus should be on making the NASL, USL, etc. more stable and sustainable.

      But an August-May calender could be implemented now with very little negative effect. It would align the MLS with the international calender, allowing the league to feed off World Cup success instead of undercutting it. It would align the league with the Mexican Premier Division and the CONCACAF Champions League, bringing a stronger component of the US-Mexico rivalry into the league game. I believe, contrary to others, it would make it easier for the league to obtain transfer fees for players from UEFA leagues. And it would allow the league title chase to finish in a month without any other major title competitions. Take a month long winter break during the NFL playoffs. As the NFL does, use some creative scheduling to avoid home games if possible in the coldest spots during the worst part of winter and the hottest spots in the worst part of summer. And it would allow July friendly competitions like the World Football Challenge to have some space for themselves. They say they don’t want to compete with the NFL; well, we play our playoffs and MLS Cup during the the heart of the NFL season. We play our regular season during the height of baseball season. And we open our season during the middle of March Madness. Play the regular weekend slate of games on Saturdays and midweek games on Tuesday/Wednesday to avoid head-to-head competition with the NFL. It’s not that hard.

      Unlike others, I don’t think the idea underpinning your proposal is a bad one, but it’s a bit too convoluted for its own good. EPL v. MLS competition is win/win in my opinion because it raises the profile of both and allows MLS teams to play top flight competition. And I’m not sold that a July tournament pitting top EPL teams against top MLS teams wouldn’t be a great draw, but I’d make it more manageable and streamlined. The best format would be a simplified version of the World Football Challenge.

      1. I must say it is nice to have a little support in my idea. However, when I first wrote story I knew most would hate it. I found your ideas and comments very interesting unlike most on here. I think it is great that people disagree but I just would like some people to use their brain, just a little and make an intelligent well thoughtout argument.

      2. I am not a big fan of supporting arguments that we (MLS) should adjust ourselves to the European calendar. In the past I’ve argued vehemently against it. But the last year or so I’ve started to change my mind on this issue. BamaMan makes alot of good points here. The most important of these I think is about the transfer windows. Right now, the transfer windows tend to work against our league. A player who’s just finishing a season in Europe isn’t ready to join a club in the smoldering heat at the toughest part of the season. Look what Thierry Henry did last year; he was underwhelming. It takes a while for guys to become acclimated to our league and phyicality. So with that idea in mind, I think a switch in the calendar might not be all that bad.

        I still refuse to believe we need to change other aspects of our league. I support the weird salary cap because it allows greater parity. I don’t think we need to limit the league to 20 teams. And I don’t think our referees need to know the rules of the game…okay, the latter was just a joke. :-)


        1. Yes, the transfer issue is a problem but the bigger problem to me is that the schedule has undermined efforts for the league (as a TV property) to build off the increasingly mainstream support for the US MNT and the EPL.

          Totally agree on the salary cap; I’d prefer that it be structured a little more like the NFL deal with players getting a set piece of the revenue pie, but it’s not all bad as it is. The MLS has done a heroic job of containing salary costs and thus preventing a downfall similar to every new “major” league in the US in the past half century. I hate, hate, hate the entirely arbitrary nature of how the DP rule has been implemented. In my perfect world, you’d have wages/transfer fees capped at 50% of turnover/revenue plus one uncapped player/transfer for each team. That might be a little high since most teams have to at least partially finance their stadiums, but it should be a formula like that.

          On having more than 20 teams, I’m not sold on it. I’d prefer to see expansion over 20 teams be focused on building up a secondary league to pave the way for eventual promotion and relegation because I very much like the balanced schedule. English Championship teams play a 46 game schedule in a 24 team league. I don’t see how the MLS could do that and continue to play a summer schedule. And I certainly don’t see how they could play more regular season games than that. The alternative is an unbalanced schedule which I like even less and I think would alienate soccer fans just as much as countdown clocks and overtime.

          1. September to May schedule is an even worse idea and would make me stop going to any games between November and Mid March. The last thing I want to do is to freeze my when it is
            10 to 20 degrees out in the snow. I have heard people suggest that we have the winter matches in the warm states. Really? Away games for 3 months. As far as a winter break, it would have to be December to February for it to work. Then you basically have the MLS season as it is right now. I’d rather have friendliest than that crap. Of course, if you got rid of friendlies you could accomodate the international calendar for the national team better and make a bigger deal out of CCL and USOC matches.

          2. About the 20 team thing…I think you’re correct to some extent. But but I’ll tell you what I think Garber has sort-of in mind. Mind you, I don’t know the guy or anything and I don’t work for the league. But I have heard him talk about this a few times before.

            I think he’ll go for around 24 teams. Then I think they’ll look to bolster a few of the NASL teams. Then over these, he’ll superimpose a game schedule that will be some sort of a play-off tournament kind of thing. The point will be to develop a…well…don’t call it a SuperLiga…where the best teams from the previous year get to play. By doing this, they’ll attempt to simulate promo/releg. Clearly, the idea is only half-baked, but I think this is the general direction Garber may want to go. How that works out in terms of financing, or what incentives there are for teams to buy off is anyone’s guess. To some extent, this is where I think the single-entity issue in the league will work against the league.

          3. Considering that we have 3 Canadian teams as of next year, we could reasonably go to 23 teams, with 3 of those teams being NASL that qualify. They would have a chance for a year to win the MLS clubs. They could even receive a bye to the final NASL tournament, making it a 6 team tournament (the 3 that played in MLS and the 3 that played in NASL that year). The top 3 teams would be MLS teams the following year and the winner of the tournament would be NASL champion. That could be a conceivable way to “simulate pro/rel”, not break any contracts, etc. People have to think creatively if they want this to happen. I also like the idea of having a 4 team play-off for the bottom 2 teams in each conference. The 3 losing teams will not be able to qualify for the MLS Cup play-offs the following year, but still play in MLS. Maybe even make it a higher standard that they would have to meet, like placing in the top 2 in their conference to be able to qualify for the play-offs. Maybe these are all stupid ideas (quite possible), but it is much better than whining about something that is never going to happen like pro/rel. Either figure out a solution that is legally possible or quit whining about it. Maybe just trying something different will take off with fans and encourage the MLS and franchise owners to change course.

          4. That all seems like a convoluted and roundabout way to go about it. Why not simply focus expansion beyond 20 teams into the NASL, turn it into “MLS2” or some such, and, once it gets to 20 teams as well, start promoting and relegating between those two leagues? Maintain tight stadium standards for both leagues so that you essentially have a 40 team major league with two tiers. Going from MLS to the current NASL would be like falling off the face of the earth, but if you had an MLS2 with a tv contract and 19 other teams in big markets, it wouldn’t be quite the same hit. That seems like something that could be achieved within a decade. Further down the ladder, on the other hand, is going to take a lot longer.

            MLS and USSF need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Like the wacky playoff structure for next year, they continually try to split the difference between what soccer fans want and what they think casual fans want and come up with bizarre solutions that appeal to no one.

          5. Legally and contractually, MLS teams payed their way to be able to play in Division 1 MLS. MLS2 is not possible right now. Maybe years down the road if franchise owners find it to be a good idea to allow it to happen, but not now. All of these bozos saying that a fan revolution will change that are smoking some really good stuff.

          6. If MLS became itself a two-tiered league, promotion and relegation between the tiers wouldn’t be a breach of contract. That’s what I’m arguing. Splitting MLS into two tiers is the only reasonable way to accommodate expansion much beyond 20 teams and Garber has made it clear that’s a goal of the league.

          7. I think you are confused on how MLS franchises work. The franchises are guaranteed to play in division 1 MLS soccer. Division 2 MLS is a breach of contract. The current franchises cannot be relegated to a lower division. You might get away with mid-season relegation to another division 1 conference, but what would the 10 teams in the loser conference have to play for? I think this is slightly silly. IF we have to have pro/rel, then maybe we can get creative on how to legally implement a solution by taking the 2 things people always complain about. Giving lower tiered clubs a chance to play in division 1 and making there be consequences for a poor season while allowing for less teams in the playoffs. If someone can think of a better, legal, and realistic solution, then I’d love to hear it.

          8. How can a two-tiered MLS, which has never been tried and is a long way from currently happening, be a breach of contract, but being legally prohibited from making the playoffs not be? If both tiers were contained within the single entity structure, my guess is that it would be legal. If you started forcing teams out of the MLS, that’s a different ballgame. I would rather have no promotion/relegation than a convoluted system that pleases no one as you have promoted and I think most fans and eventually owners would agree. But, should MLS expand much beyond 20 teams, an eventual 40 or 42 team 2-tiered MLS makes a lot of sense both for teams financially and in terms of expanding the league’s footprint. And, as I said, if all teams remain part of the same legal entity, I don’t see how it’s a breach of contract. Both leagues could be deemed by USSF as branches of the top level of the US pyramid. Stranger things have happened.

          9. Two-tiered = Division 1 and Division 2. MLS franchises cannot be relegated to Division 2 status no matter who owns it. It’s not that they can’t be relegated out of MLS, its that they can’t be relegated out of first division. Their franchise fee and contract allow them to ALWAYS play in first division. I have no idea why this is so hard to understand. It is simply not legally possible. There is no thinking required. It is not possible. Done. End of discussion. IT CANNOT HAPPEN.

            Anyways, since we cannot go past 20 teams in a Tier 1 league, all you can do is simulate pro/rel. That is the only possibility, whether people like it or not. Either find an idea that works, or forget it altogether. I am not even sure you can invite Tier 2 teams up and still be within 20 teams quite honestly, but you can make “relegation” a disqualification from the playoffs the following year, or make the standard higher to reach the playoffs. There is absolutely nothing convoluted about that. 4 team play-off at the bottom of the table, and the winner can still qualify for the playoffs the following year. Very simple.

          10. Alan, do you have the specific language in the contract that specifies that teams are guaranteed to play in the top level of MLS even if MLS were to split in two? I don’t mean language guaranteeing teams to play in the top flight; as I stated, all that would take it USSF certifying that both tiers of the MLS were simply tiers of the same top flight league. It’s not been done elsewhere, but neither has a lot of things the MLS has done. You say it would violate the spirit of FIFA rules; I agree, but so do non-guaranteed player contracts. FIFA will turn a blind eye if they think it helps grow the sport in the American market. And USSF is always going to do whatever the MLS wants, ultimately.

            Because you seem confused too; you suggest that expansion beyond 20 teams is impossible and Garber has made it clear that’s a goal. Again, FIFA will acquiesce if they think it helps grow the sport in the American market. I have no inside information; I’m simply going off of public statements by Garber and others.

      3. BamaMan
        I agree that promotion and relegation is not viable right now. Also, making our “lower divisions” stable and sustainable is the way to go.

        In my opinion, the questions should be:
        -Why isn’t pro/rel viable now?
        -What is the best way to make our lower divisions stable and sustainable?

        On the first question, we have to go back to the origins of MLS. Fifa had stated that we had to have a professional league in order to host the 1994 World Cup. We ended up hosting the WC with the promise that we will get our league going soon thereafter.

        Of course Fifa wanted to “open” the north american market for the game. What did they get in return? Mayor Lie Soccer! A system wich is in total oposition of what a World Cup represents!

        They fooled Fifa; ignored the fans, an essential part of the game, wich were never taken in consideration; and sold our game to a private club!

        From the very begining, MLS is essentially a lie!

        1. I say this very respectfully. Don’t get more upset. I think you are looking at specific factoids about soccer in the US and making assumptions based on them. Your comment above is highly opinionated and other than throwing out accusations, you aren’t making any clear point. Why do you think MLS is a lie? What does that even mean? MLS is 1st division because FIFA says so. If you don’t like that, I’m not sure what you can do about it. Now 1st division in a country that has at-best a sporadic history with soccer (back in the early 20th Century and then in the 70s with NASL) isn’t saying much. You can complain all you want about selling the game to a private club, but the generation in their early teens now know more about the game from watching MLS, than anything else. Sure, Barca and ManU are on TV almost weekly it seems, but the rush that a kid (or this adult) gets when attending a live game is way better than watching on the boob tube.

          I’m glad you think emphasis should be on 2nd Division, because USSF has started working with NASL and now count ONLY NASL as 2nd division. Economically, to be in NASL, you need to have enough cash to operate your team and remain solvent. This only started last season, so it is a work in progress.

          About city sizes (below): It doesn’t matter unless you are personally willing to start these thousands of clubs. I don’t know why you think that that would be better than trying to coordinate our current efforts.

          Motivation (below). I don’t know what you mean by a substantial motivation, but guys in the lower divisions play because 1) they love the game and 2) they are hoping to catch a scout’s eye [not much different than how the minor league system in baseball works]

          Clarity: I don’t know where you live, but I don’t know anywhere in the country where I’ve seen high school or college soccer to be the most played sport. I’ll buy football, basketball or maybe baseball, but that’s it. It wouldn’t matter anyway though because there aren’t very many great coaches in high schools anyway.

          When you figure out how to give 4-5 million a piece to each of the relegated teams, please let us know.

      4. “I think the focus should be on making the NASL, USL, etc. more stable and sustainable”

        I think that promotion and relegation is the best way to accomplish that goal, if you consider a few things.

        *The size of our nation (travel distances).
        Since a pro/rel pyramid is narrow on the top but wide on the buttom, the economical power of clubs is logically related to their travel distances. The top clubs will be bigger and travel longer, the small ones will be very humble but their travel distances will be very short (reducibng expenses), since the lower divisions are more regional.
        Look at what we have now, Los Angeles blues traveling to the caribean (mayor expenses) playing on a league that is totally un-link to the club soccer world and that will qualify the for nothing! How are they going to be profitable? It is insane!
        As a contrast, there is an equally bizarre, oposit example. Tampa Bay not playing Orlando City because thay are on different leagues. Therefore wasting dollars that could be invested on the game instead of travel.

        *The size of our nation(number of clubs, cities)
        We have some of the bigest cities on the world. We also have lots of medium size cities, and literally thousand of small ones. Pro/rel will offer all of our cities the chance to be linked to the club soccer world structure, at the level and price that makes sense acording to their size.

        What is the goal of playing on USL, NASL, etc now ?
        Nothing incentivates growth as a substantial incentive!
        Promotion and relegation will give our lower divisions a sense of purpose.

        Because on a promotion and relegation system clubs would know exactly what they need to accomplish in order to gain promotion. Examples could be:
        -finish on first (x) places on division
        -have a home field that meets upper div criteria
        -present proof of economical affordability of at least 2 seassons on upper division

        *Fill the gap (youth development) (wasted potential)
        Soccer is the most popular sport at the high schooll and collegue level in america. However, right after that, our young players have a big dilema. They are not ready to play at MLS yet! USLPro, NASL can only acomodate a small procentage of them.
        What I think is the most important US soccer league, the USL’s PDL, is not big enough to fill the gap, and without pro/rel, the ones that decide to continue their soccer career, are never really exposed to the kind pressure that prepares them for the “real deal”
        As a resul, a few adventurous go to small european clubs, but a huge number of them give up soccer as a serious pursuit.
        Pro/rel will fill the gap, by creating a number of clubs proportional to the size of our nation; clubs in wich young players could continue their development, playing for meaningfull important points on every game; an experience they will not get on any academy!

        Promotion and relegation just makes too much sense!

        1. I think the idea of promotion and regulation is a good idea. However, it is a foreign idea to American society. Soccer has an uphill battle; I would argue it is still a fifth tier sport at best in this country. As far as soccer being the most popular sport in high school and college you need some evidence to support that view. When I was an undergraduate and graduate student I can tell you soccer wasn’t the most popular sport on campus and that wasn’t very long ago. As with anything else sports are part of a society and a huge part of the American creation as a nation was to create something different. Look no further than sports in America. Americans and America have always wanted to be different from the rest of the world in everything including sports. That is very tough nut to crack. I think the best way to develop soccer as a popular sport is to better market the sport. In large degree what was the main focus of my essay. Infuse the popularity of foreign clubs in the US and have MLS feed off of that. If you want to understand the lack of popularity of the sport in this country, you need to look at our history. Of course my point of view is coming from a historian.

          1. One of the best comments that I have read in a while (and hopefully this makes up for my disagreement on your tournament idea). Trust me, I would LOVE IT if soccer was the most popular sport in America, but it is very low on the sports totem pole, probably even below tennis and golf (both of which I am a fan of as well) and some other sports. Regardless of whether pro/rel is a good idea or not, it is NEVER going to happen. It can’t happen legally. But yes, we definitely need to do more at the youth and collegiate level to make it more popular. Pro/rel is just out of the question. Sorry.

          2. Soccer is simply not the most popular sport in high school and college; I doubt it will ever be. But it is gaining in popularity, especially among younger Americans. I live in Birmingham, Alabama, not a city that immediately springs to mind as a soccer hotbed (although we have an underappreciated soccer history, more on that later). But we had thousands at a watch party for the World Cup final. Bars in the area were filled up for Gold Cup and Women’s World Cup games. You can’t find a seat in most places for the early morning EPL games and the Champions League. And most of these people are “converts;” they might have played soccer as a kid, but it has become their second sport of choice as a fan (after NCAAF of course) whereas their parents watched baseball or basketball.

            Marketing of the sport has improved a lot; Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Tim Howard are names even the casual sports fan now knows, but now the casual sports fan also knows Beckham, Zidane, Henry, Messi, Rooney, and C. Ronaldo. ESPN’s scheduling of MLS games has been all over the place, but they have done a great job marketing soccer as a whole the past decade. Fox Soccer’s coverage is getting better, but I wish they would leverage it into a basic cable channel like NFL, MLB, or NBA instead of a de facto premium channel that very few non-soccer fans are going to come across. It just has zero awareness among non-soccer diehards.

            On American exceptionalism as an impediment to soccer growth in this country, you are spot on. Hey, I’m as pro-American as the next guy, but the USSF’s continued insistence on tinkering with the things that make soccer soccer hurt the appeal of the game. Countdown clocks, no ties, and other such “innovations” were a huge reason why the MLS struggled to get off the ground. And, while I agree with the salary cap and the concept of a single entity structure, the lack of fully guaranteed player contracts (as are standard in the rest of the world) and the arbitrary nature of how the DP rule is implemented hurt both players and clubs.

            Speaking of tinkering, here is a tinkered with version of your proposal that I came up with and think would be a better version of the WFC. A 16 team friendly tournament in July. 4 groups of 4. Each group contains 1 EPL team, 1 La Liga team, 1 Mexican Primera Division team, and 1 MLS team. Each of the 4 MLS teams would “host” the game in their region (i.e. games would be played at NFL stadiums in the area). Everybody plays everybody once in the group. 4 group winners advance to a semifinal. Semifinals are Community shield rules (no extra time, straight to shoot-out if tied). Same for the final. You could play it over 3 weeks, it would be great exposure for the teams involved. It wouldn’t be a silver bullet but it would be an interesting tournament that would get more American fans of European and Mexican soccer watching MLS games.

          3. Matthew
            You made a very good point on your last coment! I think that a big factor on the resistance that pro/rel gets is cultural.
            You can notice on forums how many times you find the….”it just wont kork here” answer, without any reasonable explanation why!
            The popularity of the game in america is something that I think you are underapreciating though. Dont mix the popularity of MLS with the popularity of soccer.
            You are an historian and I think thats fantastic. As an historian you have to acknowledge the importance of the cause/effect relationship. Soccer became the most popular game on the planet, by practicing a philosophy of openness. Throught the years that practice became one of the fundamentals values of the game. The right to compete!

            Openness and single entity are as similar as Adolf Hitler and mahatma Gandhi! LOL!

            I think that the pro/rel debate usually do not touch one of the most important considerations! The issue of rightfullness!
            The pureness of the sports spirit. Like the founder of the modern olympics said:

            “The most important thing… is not winning but taking part”
            Pierre de Coubertin.

          4. The pureness of the sports spirit??????????????? Being Man U’s whipping boys is a privilege? Competing against a team that will almost always win titles because they spend 10 times more than you? Pureness is not “we outspend you to win”, it is where each side has an equal “chance” at winning. But that is right, I forgot, the lower sides are just happy to be there. They are just happy to get a point or 2 off of them, not to actually win a trophy. They are just happy to not be relegated again.

            There are valid points to be made about parity gone wrong, but don’t act like the European system (yeah, that’s right, that is what it is called) “just makes too much sense”. With that type of implementation, it is a crappy system. A real system would at least have the top 8 as possible contenders. Please don’t tell me that Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham are contenders. If you are foolish enough to believe that, then you are foolish enough to believe that it is just a privilege to be there. Stupid, stupid system.

          5. @Alan
            If you think that the “european system” that is in place in almost 100% of soccer leagues around planet earth is stupid, let me ask you something:

            Why don’t we stop playing world cup qualifiers?
            Why don’t we stop sending our “franchises” (simulated clubs) to the Concacaf Champions League?

            Promotion and relegation, is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. When our US national team plays the world cup qualifiers, we are taking advantage of the game practice of merithocracy and conectivity. When our franchises go from MLS , to CCL , to play for a chance to qualify for the Fifa Clubs World Cup (a higher tournament ) , guess what principle is in practice?

            A trick that is used frequently to manipulate the pro/rel debate, is to separate it from the game. To sell the idea that it makes no difference if we adopt pro/rel or not. NOT TRUE! Promotion and relegation is an essential part of club soccer culture, but it goes beyong that.
            Pro/rel links all clubs within a nation, just like Continental club competitions link all clubs in the continent; Fifa Clubs World Cup link all clubs in the planet; WC qualifiers link all nations on a confederation; and the WC link all nations of the planet.

            208 nation particiated of the last World Cup, more than the United Nations have members (192). Doesn’t that tells you anything?!

            Our game,is about a lot more than just what goes on the field! There is a bigger message of freedom ,brotherhood and fairness, that some of you guys………just dont get it!

          6. First off, if you had half of a brain, you’d actually read. I don’t have a problem with pro/rel. It won’t work here for a LONG time, and it is illegal. ILLEGAL!!!!!! What don’t you get about that? What I have a problem with is the implementation of it in places like EPL. Having clubs get promoted to never have the chance to beat a team that buys championships is pointless. It is the implementation of it that sucks. If it were more fair so that more than 3 clubs could win on a regular basis, if at all, then it is a dumb system.

            A trick that is used by people like you to manipulate the argument is to lump everything into 2 categories. Things are more complex than that, like legal consequences and 3 teams owning a championship. Once those things can be fixed, then lets hear them. Until then, things aren’t as black and white as Pro/rel vs non-pro/rel.

          7. ” It won’t work here for a LONG time, and it is illegal. ILLEGAL!!!!!!”

            When something that have been practiced suscessfully all around the world, for more than a century, is consider ilegal, there are two probalbilities

            either we live on a world full of criminals,
            or there is something very wrong with us.

    4. @ Eric in DC

      Single entity was not the result of not enough willing investors!

      Not enough willing investors were the result of single entity!

      How many did you expect when the price tag was set at $40 Mil?

      Dont you think they knew wich was the potential number of investors going to be, when they sat such high entry fee?

  18. Matthew,
    I posted a comment on this thread yesterday, but for some reason it didn’t appear (it certainly wasn’t due to bad language or anything like that).

    I’m on the same side as everyone else saying this is a bad idea.

    Firstly, there are already plenty of pre-season games that are played in some kind of contrived tournament format, with a flashy name and a little trophy at the end…the World Football Challenge, the Amsterdam Trophy, the Emirates Cup, etc etc. So what you’re saying isn’t really something new.

    In all cases, these tourney are not taken very seriously for the simple reason that they are just pre-season games. They’re a chance to get a bit of a run out, get the heart pumping and muscles working, and hopefully not pick up any injuries. Giving it a silly tournament name (and by the way, the Barclays Premier League Major League Soccer Pacific Northwest Cup is a very silly name indeed) doesn’t make any difference.

    Secondly, I doubt any prize money the MLS organizers could stump up would be anything more than pocket change to the EPL teams involved. That’s why they’d happily stick with the current status quo, playing one-off exhibitions and collecting their share of the ticket revenue, and maybe flogging a few shirts.

    Also, it’s kind of funny that you just casually mention “Or maybe they could
    simply play a few EPL regular season games in the USA” without any further discussion of the pros and cons of that wildly radical idea (and neglecting that it has already been discussed ad infinitum over the last year or so). I might be wrong, but it gives the impression that you’re writing off the top of your head without much familiarity about the subject.

    In short, pre-season games are always essentially meaningless. Labelling it as a tournament isn’t going to make a jot of difference.

    1. I have to disagree and I am pretty familiar with the subject matter, plus, I give more credit to other comments on here than yours. You’re good at sounding off without adding any really constructive analysis of the subject. In addition try offering some constructive feedback. The idea is to discuss the merits of what I wrote and if you disagree great but please try to bit more intelligent. I mean really, “oh they are silly names” can you do better than that. I stated one or two regular matches to be hosted in the United States. Please tell me how hosting a regular season EPL match in the US is so radical. The NFL does it and I haven’t heard anyone calling that radical.

      1. The NFL hits cities up for hundreds of millions of dollars for stadiums, I wouldn’t let them define what is “radical”.

      2. I give more credit to other comments on here than yours

        Matthew, most of your replies to most of the criticisms have been pretty condescending:
        “Seriously people learn to read”
        “I really think some of you really don’t get it”
        “You really need to get a grasp of organization and a thought process to your comments”
        “try to bit more intelligent”

        You sound like a kid who’s spat his dummy out because everyone is criticising his idea. So I’m not too concerned whether or not you give me any credit.

        Also, I don’t think you know what constructive feedback means. It doesn’t simply mean telling you soothing things about how to make your idea work.

        It also means offering valid explanations of genuine obstacles to your idea and reasons why it is no good. If an idea is a turd, there is no benefit to anyone in offering “constructive advice” on how to polish it.

        In your case, your idea faces massive problems: firstly, as I and others have pointed out, pre-season games are inherently meaningless, regardless of how you dress them up as a tournament. No one will ever give their all in a game when all they want to do is regain a bit of match fitness and give the new kids time to gell with the rest of the team. Why will the fans care about such a tournament? How is it any different to the existing pre-season tournaments? If teams DID take the tourneys seriously, wouldn’t that just mean they would have to play additional PRE-pre-season friendlies so as to be ready for your tourney? Is there any fan interest in teams outside the top 6 of the EPL? Can the organizers offer enough money to make EPL teams care?

        But you don’t address any of these points. Instead you choose to rebutt the one jokey-comment I made about the name of the tournament being silly. Ok, sorry if that bothered you so much, but what are you going to do about all of the other questions?

        I stated one or two regular matches to be hosted in the United States. Please tell me how hosting a regular season EPL match in the US is so radical. The NFL does it and I haven’t heard anyone calling that radical.

        Seriously, have you not heard this issue discussed before? It was suggested last year, and there was a massive amount of public debate in the media about the issue. If you honestly aren’t aware of this, or why people would consider it radical, that’s why I suggest maybe you’re not familiar with what you’re writing about. I can’t recap the entire debate here, but here are the main problems:

        Would these be additional EPL games (i.e expanding the season from 38 games), or would you just move some of the existing schedule over seas?

        If it is the former, then it totally screws up the fairness of the schedule (i.e. everyone currently plays everyone else twice, H & A). If we add extra games, does that mean teams would play some teams three times? If Man Utd and Chelsea are racing for the league title, how is it fair if one of them gets to play a top-5 team three times, while the other might get to play Swansea three times? The whole beauty of the league table is that it’s totally balanced. Everyone plays the same schedule over the course of the season. No one can claim they had a harder schedule than any one else. Extra games would ruin this.

        If it’s the latter, this is still not much better. Home advantage is a massive factor in football (statistically true more so than any other sport, I think I heard somewhere). So if you take one of your current schedule games and move it overseas, you’re sacrificing that home advantage. So lets say Swansea and Wigan are in a relegation battle. What if Swansea’s “overseas” game is a match that should have been a home game, whilst Wigan’s is an “away” game. So right away, Swansea are suffering because they lose the advantage of one home game during their season, while Wigan actually get an advantage, because they’ll be playing in front of a neutral rather than hostile crowd.

        So the obvious solution would be for each team to have TWO games (one “Home” and one “Away”) out of the regular 38 played abroad. But this has problems – how do you decide the match-ups? Which home and away games? The same opponent for both games, or different opponents? There is just no way you could do this and not alter the fundamental fairness of a balanced, home-and-away league schedule.

        Maybe these things are not a big deal in NFL, where home advantage is not such a significant issue, and where teams do not play balanced schedules anyway (even teams within the same division do not play matching schedules), and where the eventual winner is decided by play-offs anyway (so regular season games are not as significant). But in any of the major European soccer leagues, it would represent a massive overhaul to the fundamental structure and appeal of the league. That’s why I used the term “radical”, and I really can’t believe that you have not heard this issue discussed before.

        1. Home field advantage is critical in the NFL; I guess you don’t follow the sport and yet the NFL still play an overseas game and they might want to do more since they are looking to expand to 18 games. Perhaps their overseas model might worth looking at. The fans love these pre season games; I went to see the Sounders play Manchester United and place was packed. I saw San Jose play Tottenham last year to a packed crowed and just recently saw San Jose play West Brom. The fans love the game, plus you got fans traveling from England to watch. In fact more teams are arriving to play pre season games in the US, so desire is there. Give the fans what they want, bread, wine and circus. I follow the sports news fairly well and I have heard nothing about hosting a regular season game over here but that is on then. Plus, when I made that point it was point of further discussion and hoped people would be interesting in discussing it further, I was wrong. If you were going to select teams you want it to be the ones that would draw in the crowds at first, so Man U. or Chelsea. One could call it a home match and the other an away match. That is just one thought, I had hoped for more discussion instead people went on wild tangents for the most part. I made a point about your petty comments because it sounded so immature. But I take my work fairly serious and my hope this adults would act as adults. I guess I except better from people but understand we live in a dumb down society. When I write or have a discussion about an issue I am respectful of the individual, which is more than I can say for most of the comments that were posted. Sports are like religion and politics it doesn’t allow many to think in a non personal manner. But then again it is the internet and anyone can say anything. What gets under my skin is people don’t use their brain and can’t use proper language for a discussion. If I am wrong I can admit it. You may not know this but when people say or write things they do it for a reason. Think about that for a minute. You are trying to tell me something. I don’t know you personal but I can so much by what you write it is almost eerie. You are saying look how smart and witty I am and not only that I am smarter than most people. You want to feel superior to others when you write comments. If you believe that you say or write things without reason than you have a problem. You are I walk in different circles I can tell, because you don’t know what analysis or critical thinking is all about. I have been a historian for ten years, I analyze and provide explanation as to why things happen in the past based on my ideas but supported with hard evidence. Sorry you may think you have done that but I think you have fallen short in areas. Yes, you wrote more but just more of same or what I call filler or fluff and you didn’t factual answer the questions I ask. Just more of what you think would happen, again just more open opinions. In my line of work I review your style of writing all the time, which isn’t encouraging. What you have done is a classic reversal, which instead of really address my problems with your comments you throw questions at me instead, this tactic students love to do. It reflects responsibility off of them. I really couldn’t care less if you like what I wrote or not. If you read what I said I knew people were going to hate this idea, in fact I was told people were going to hate the idea so it wasn’t some big shock. All the better really, I hate when people agree with me all the time it is boring. I love lively debate one of the reasons why I became a historian we do this sort of thing all the time. As I said in my last sentence agree to disagree. In the end you won’t get the better of me. Out of politeness and civility I have held back.

          1. Hey Dave C. I would very much like to read one of your stories and see what you have to say about soccer. Is that asking too much? Or are you just a comment person?

        2. Good points Dave C.
          The home field advantage being bigger on soccer than on other american sports, is another issue in wich our “leadership” shows their ignorance of the game.

          A good example is how the USOP is designed on one legged series (NFL style), and not the balanced home and away.
          The Richmond Kickers now have to play an away game on Chicago in order to advance. Like it is not enough the natural disadvantage they have, just by been an smaller club that plays on a smaller league! Furthermore, taking away a chance for their fans, to support and see their team home, on their more important game of the year.

          AC St Louis was also eliminated on last year USOC, on one away game at LA’s Coliseum. Their fans did not even get to see one USOC home game!
          How does such practices help to promote the game on our nation?
          Then we get the…..”we will not be ready for prom/rel until our lower divisions get stable”, which is kind of saying……..”lets wait until our restaurant becomes a successful business, then we will hire a good chef!”

          None of our existing leagues, can satisfy by themselves the soccer demand of such a big nation! It is mathematically impossible! It can only be done by creating a structure of regional linked leagues. What is the USSF doing in order to lead us in that direction? What have they done for the past 16 years in order to create a logical structure?
          Not only they have shown no signs of having any clear plans or vision for the nation as a whole, but they allowed MLS to implement a system wich is not compatible with our other leagues, making any future movement on the right direction more difficult!

          MR Sunil Gulatis, the creator of single entity, a practice that makes our first division a privilege of a small number of investors ($40 mil price tag), sits at the presidency of the USSF, the organization wich duty is to promote the growth of our game at all levels, as wide as possible on our nation!

          Don’t you think that it is a very clear case of conflicting interests?

          WAKE UP! As long as the cartel is in charge, we are never going to pursuit our true potential!

  19. What world are you living in? What would BPL teams get out of this exactly? Name exposure? They get that from the friendly games just fine (ie, 50,000+ @ the Man U v. NE Rev game).

    This screams of ignorance re: appropriate rest and recovery (ie, American kids play too many games in too short of a time period – tournaments). When exactly would you schedule these tournaments? During the WFC time frame? OK, except these are warm-up games for the BPL teams, and marketing tools for the BPL teams. So they’d be approaching the supposed tournament idea in exactly the same way as they do WFC. Also, when does this fit into the MLS schedule appropriately? Already you have MLS-wide fixture congestion, now you propose changing the exhibition games and making them a competitive tournament match? On top of USOC, Nutrilite Canada, MLS, MLS Cup, CCL, SuperLiga….

    So let’s say you schedule this tournament, erase WFC, and put in these tourney games in place of WFC dates so that doesn’t change. Except now you have a tournament with teams who are fielding mix-match 2nd stringers asking “what’s the point of this tournament exactly when we treat it the same as exhibition games?”.

    Yer dreaming…..

    1. I am really going to be kind here. You really need to get a grasp of organization and a thought process to your comments. BFL teams, there isn’t a British Premier League it’s called the English Premier League. Plus, maybe you do away with some of other boring tournaments that no one really watches.

      1. Matthew, once again you ignore the meat-and-bones of what someone is saying, and instead focus on something trivial that you think is an easy rebuttal (like you with my post, where you completely ignored the legit criticisms/questions and instead focused on the fact that I had jokingly poked fun at the names you suggested for your tournament).

        But in this case, you’ve really messed up. Or Epic Fail as the kids say nowadays. The BPL obviously stands for Barclays Premier League. You know, the official name of the league. It’s actually a far better acronym than the EPL, since “the English Premier League” is not the name of the competition, and “EPL” only ever seems to be used on American internet forums.

        If you’re going to try and be a smart-@ss with people, at least get your facts right first.

        1. He called him out him out on and I said I was sorry; problem solved. Maybe if you read his response problem you would understand that.

      2. I’m going to be kind here, Matthew. The English Premier League is officially the Barclay’s Premier League and has been since 2007. While people in the US still call it the EPL, that is not its name.

        1. I have never heard anyone refer to the league as the BFL, that’s on me sorry about that and you called me on that.

          1. Ahh, I’m just being a bit of a knob.

            I’ve heard some call it that over the past couple of years, but still kind of unusual to hear anyone call it the BPL. I also don’t think the English are as fond of acronyms/initialisms as Americans are.

            Though I’m not necessarily in favor of your proposal, I do think it was something different, so cheers to you for putting your name on it.

  20. They had tourneys like this in the US under NASL.
    They were garbage.

    The last thing the EPL teams need to do is EXTEND their seasons. Friendlies suit the big teams fine and lets face it who really cares about the smaller teams ? Close to no one.

    The last thing the MLS teams need is more games.
    You can include MLS teams in the small teams, see my comment above.
    Starting in a week or so, the Sounders are playing for three trophies.

    They don’t need to make it four so the Man U rooting tools living here can have a real game to attend.

    As it is right now, it is a necessary evil. Don’t make it even worse.

      1. I agree! Respect for that Matthew!
        Even though we may disagre, thanks for your article, and generating debate.

  21. Just because you really love the Premier League doesn’t mean that shitting out any ole idea is a good thing.

    These clubs come here to prepare for the upcoming season. Not just EPL, but all the cups and the Euro competitions. They are not here to bust their nuts in some cockamamie tournament that means nothing.

    Plus, you’ve yet to explain realistically how it will “save” American soccer/MLS.

    If an MLS club wins the tourney, what do they get? Victories over preseason clubs?

    If MLS clubs lose the tourney, how does that help our league?

    Beyond just “Hey, I love the EPL”, you haven’t shown in anyway how this would really benefit MLS.

    Trying some crazy new gimmick is not the answer. Slow, steady growth. Intelligently adding new clubs via expansion. Bringing those new fans in. Cultivating rivalries. Signing quality, less-expensive talent mainly, with the occassional big name DP signing. Keeping young American talent here. Clubs wisely using the reserve league to keep players fit and to allow younger talent to grow into pros. Clubs investing in the academy systems more to find local talent, and bring that local kid into the top flight. Competing in the CONCACAF Champions League and eventually winning it, thus getting to the Club World Cup. Building soccer stadiums in the markets.

    Right now, the majority of soccer fans in America don’t give MLS a shot because we have so many options to watch the very best players in the best leagues worldwide. So supporting a Colorado Rapids when you can watch Barcelona/Madrid/Man U/Chelsea/etc seems a step down to them. Most have no real clue about this league. I know many diehard soccer fans who love the sport, but will not watch MLS because when they did watch it back in 1997, it sucked. But I watch every game I can. I have Direct Kick, FSC, and the ESPN networks. This season, so far, has been the best yet, and the quality of this league is vastly superior to what the haters give it credit for.

    Their ignorance of just how far MLS has come, and how strong a league this really is, will not be swayed because we play some EPL sides in a bogus, meaningless tournament.

  22. I think the real issue is time – EPL teams do not have much of a break – similarly with EPL players – they are playing so much these days that they have a hard time just playing in EPL and the 4 cups attached to it – the question is with one more tournament of a serious nature – they will simply collapse – unless they play the reserves or something like that.

    As it is Chelsea is too busy – there are many expectations for the next season – spending time and energy for one more tournament is not wise – but of course as a practice before the season , it is good – but a full tournament is not wise !!!!

  23. I agree with you voicing your opinion and arguing for it.

    But the problem is looking to Europe to already supported teams doesn’t change the fact that Americans aren’t supporting their soccer enough for YOUR taste.

    Look at the morons posting on this site for the A1 prime example….they don’t even watch US soccer. If there is an article about soccer on this site, their names are not in the comment section….EVER. MLS, College, high school is beneath them.

    So bringing in superstar European team is going to get them and millions others to be real soccer fans ? NO. It will bring in casual fans (tools who think THEY are the NON-casual fans ) wearing their Man U jerseys once a year….much like the friendlies do now.

    No thanks, pass. For me and the other real fans, MLS is great the way it is already. Great games coming up this week, both Wednesday and Saturday.

  24. Gaffer, can we have some sort of guidlines as to what gets modded/pre-modded on these threads. Sometimes I post something and nothing will appear at all. Sometimes I post something and I will get a message saying my comment is awaiting moderation. Sometimes I post something, it appears OK, and then after refreshing or coming back to the page, I THEN see the message saying I’m awaiting moderation.

    Is there any kind of logic to this? It certainly isn’t on the grounds of bad-language, since I don’t use bad language on here. And I can’t believe it is simply for giving negative feedback on the article, since that would be a bit unethical on your part, and I don’t believe there is any computer software that can simply recognize criticism.

    Some semi-formal guidelines on this would be nice, because it’s annoying seeing posts go missing for no apparent reason. Most of the time I just post again, but then I end up with double-posts.

      1. It’s really annoying. It really discourages me from posting here (OK, not enough to keep me away, as you can probably tell). But any forum is essentially a kind of conversation…and if the conversation is delayed unnecessarily, people will stop trying to follow it. If my post is held up for a day or two, can I really expect Matthew to come back and respond?

        I would also just like a reason, so I know what lines I have crossed that I should avoid in future. Because it certainly isn’t bad language, and although I’ve been critical of the idea, I was no more critical than everyone else. The only time I maybe got a little personal was when I called Matthew condescending for the insulting manner in which he responded to most of his critics, but that was long after I already started having posts held-up.

        1. I am sorry if you felt I was being condescending in my comments. However, I when I write this stories I do put a great of time, thought and work in preparing them for the blog. I love a good debate about ideas and welcome people who disagree. I am a professional historian I get all the time in my job, so it’s no big deal and I have thick thin. All I really ask for people to make an honest and intelligent comment. If you get personal with me I will fire back but if you attack the idea in a intelligent way then I won’t. To be honest some of the comments were lazy and a little personal.

          1. Matthew,
            I never got personal with you. I gave you honest and intelligent feedback – I told you I thought it was a bad idea, and explained why. The only time I got personal was when I said you were being condescending, which you were – you got pretty hypersensitive to any criticism and accused people of not being able to read.

          2. Meanwhile, my comments still “await moderation” for no apparent reason…

            Is it a word-count thing? They were pretty lengthy.

        2. And now my comments (the ones that were being held for moderation) seem to have disappeared all together, with no explanation of why.

          I’m a little disappointed in MLS Talk, since this whole thread has been dominated by people criticizing Matthew’s idea, but for some reason my posts were not published. There is literally no logical explanation for it – they was no bad language, they were no ad-hominem attacks, the tone was at least as civil as anything else on here (and certainly more civil than the responses from Matthew himself). And even my comment asking for a general set of guidelines is greeted with no direct response.

          1. I posted a response to what you said but it was there for a bit and now is gone. I guess it is a blog issue or something. I think at this point we agree to disagree.

          2. Maybe this will posted but last time. When you make comments like the following “lame” you think the names are “silly” and “doesn’t roll off the tongue well” it is hard for me to take you seriously and I consider them nonsensical comments. When I read those comments my first thought was “my God this is the best this guy can do, what a waste of time and bar room talk.” However, I will move onto a couple of other points. I said I didn’t think the idea was radical in hosting a game in this country and I am just opening the idea again. I suggested scrapping the current friendly system and from my point of view adding a little spice to the system as I see it. You say I doubt it would work but how do you how do you know. Do you have some evidence to support that statement? How do you know there wouldn’t be enough money generate for what I am suggesting? Again where is your evidence? MLS and teams aren’t turning a profit and I think something needs to be done; this is just one idea to help with that. You say they the clubs would be happy to stick with the status quo. How do you know? Sports are a business and clubs want to market their club and generate new fans and sales. More and more English and other foreign clubs are coming to the US to play; there is money and new fans to be made. I all I am saying is try something new and cash in on it. All you’re really doing is stating opinions without providing enough evidence or facts to support your ideas. To be honest I really didn’t see any hard analysis in what you wrote mainly just your opinions and that was it. Perhaps I am demanding too much and not being fair enough. Maybe to you my language sounds snobbish or condescending, that is just my world. I have no idea who you are or what you do. We don’t know each other but I can tell a lot about a person from their writing. I knew this story was going to generate a lot of negative comments and I was told it would, so I knew that going into it. This isn’t the first story I have written for this blog and negative comments are nothing new, so no concern about that. I am afraid we are going to have to disagree on this one.

  25. A problem with this idea is it removes flexibility for European and MLS clubs. I don’t see why ManU or whoever shouldn’t just play where and when they can arrange it. It seems to me the friendlies are an MLS leveler- NYRB, LA, and Seattle can get them and get the money from them, but also have to deal with the subsequent fixture congestion. The Colorado Rapids are don’t have to deal with the games, but don’t get the money or the DP players either.

    And I hate mickey mouse trophies- just play the game to play the game. I like the MLS all-star game- it is uniquely North American- but I cringe when they award that trophy to the winner. I don’t think they do that in the other sports All-Star Games.

    When people contemplate a winter schedule- something I think is a bad idea- I hope they realize that for the Rapids it would have to be daytime games from November to the end of March. We actually get some playable weather in the afternoons at that time, but it is always cold at night. I think a summer schedule is better because the MLS doesn’t have to compete directly with the European leagues, and I love going to games on summer nights; plus I think the weather is an insurmountable problem for an outdoor sport.

    1. “The Colorado Rapids are don’t have to deal with the games, but don’t get the money or the DP players either.”

      Rapids get $ from friendlies indirectly. SUM pays out to all teams because MLS LLC owners = Soccer United owners

      “When people contemplate a winter schedule- something I think is a bad idea- I hope they realize that for the Rapids it would have to be daytime games from November to the end of March.”

      What’s wrong with a daytime Sat/Sun game? Most people don’t work then, so it’s not a logistical issue for fans.

      “I think a summer schedule is better because the MLS doesn’t have to compete directly with the European leagues, and I love going to games on summer nights; plus I think the weather is an insurmountable problem for an outdoor sport.”

      Thanks for ignoring summer in DC, Bmore, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Vegas, Phoenix…I won’t go to DCU games until after Labor Day. It’s been 90+ degrees with 70+% humidity EVERYDAY here.

      1. Have fun with that in Columbus or Chicago. I know I won’t be the between
        December and February freezing my butt off. While we are add it, let’s move baseball and other outdoor sports to a winter schedule. Seriously, the dumbest idea ever. Most people will NOT go to December through February games in cold places, and I bet MLS knows it.

        1. I think if you change the current schedule it will crush the league. You do not want to put MLS up against the NFL, college football and basketball, hockey, NBA and the remaining baseball season. We need undstand that the American sports culture is very different from the rest of the world. I think at the moment you stick with what can work.

          1. I think the problem that the situation as it is right now isn’t working; attendance is being propped up annually by expansion sides. Otherwise, figures are stagnant or down. TV viewership is stagnant despite MNT games showing marked increases in both the WC and the Gold Cup. Playoff viewership figures have fallen off a cliff. People act as though an August-May schedule takes place entirely in the winter. The reality is your access points for casual fans (the season open and the playoffs) would be in great weather and relative dead points in the American sports calender. You could take a winter break for the worst month of year which also coincides with your biggest competition in the NFL playoffs. Would a December day game be any worse than the 115 heat index that DC United will face this week?

            The American sports culture is very different from the rest of the world; I’ve grew up here but I’ve lived quite a bit elsewhere. The American sports culture still does not view MLS as a legitimate soccer league; they see it as a minor league and an ok time-filler when there’s not a MNT or EPL game on. For the first decade and a half of their existence, it made sense not to overreach so to some extent that’s understandable. But now that the league is getting closer to 20 teams, it’s time to start moving towards signifying that MLS is in fact a legit soccer league to the American sports consumer. August-May is a great way to do that.

          2. The winter would be WAY worse for northern states. The 115 degree heat index is not the norm. Outdoor sports are played in the summer. By that rationale it is OK to play baseball during the winter too because of the heat index. Screw the rest of the world. There is not one good reason to make people sit outside in the cold and players play in the snow. Oh, and the typical American sports fan could care less about EPL. The Winter schedule is the worst idea ever. Most people will refuse to go December to February, me
            Included. Did you see the RSL/Columbus game in
            February? Brutal playing conditions and absolutely terrible game because of it. MLS will suffer for it.

          3. Alan,

            I don’t think you strengthen your case by refusing to attend games in poor weather. The NFL has shown us that if your product is quality, fans will not only show up in poor weather, they will love it. The same is true for the EPL whose Boxing Day/New Year’s festive fixture list is the most popular set of games year round. I realize their winters are milder than New York or Foxborough or Chicago. The simple solution of course is to take January off and to avoid home games if at all possible in the coldest cities during the winter months. The weather in LA, San Jose, Dallas, Houston, and DC is not only bearable; it sure beats the prospect of 115 heat index, which is not uncommon in the Sun Belt in July and will only grow more common in the coming years.

            As to competition, I’ve already made the case why MLS would actually avoid more competition from other sports by playing August-May but here’s an even simpler argument. Right now, SUM makes MLS play second fiddle to the World Cup/Gold Cup in June and friendlies with big clubs in July. So what advantage does MLS gain by playing regular season games during those two months? Say they’re only competing with baseball, but the fact is they’re the second most important soccer competition in the US for two months in a row.

            Finally, what was the seminal moment in soccer on American soil the past decade? I’d say it was the Cold War in 2002. In what month was that played? And where? Did fans show up for that game? The big sports in the US don’t treat their fans like babies.

          4. League ends around Thanksgiving. Already competes with those other competitions. March start = March Madness competition.

          5. Yeah, I can’t wait to see Chicago and Columbus attendance plummet. As for quality, I wouldn’t attend any game when it is 10 degrees and snowing like crazy. I am not sure where you live, but that is a regular thing around Michigan, Ohio, Illinois. That is probably why the Detroit Lions have built an indoor football stadium. Why would they do that if everyone will come. Besides, most of the season ends for most people by January. Pretty much every single SuperBowl location has been in the south or in an indoor football stadium. Hmmm, I wonder why that it? As far as people being babies, I agree. They need to quit whining about 115 degree heat indexes. I am getting the same stuff you are, and I go out and run in it all the time. Maybe if you were a real sports fan it wouldn’t matter.

            As far as friendlies, here is my proposal to solve your problem. Eliminate the stupid EPL friendlies. When the US plays a friendly, Gold Cup, etc., take that day off. Play on another day if possible, or just skip that day since we are not wasting time with EPL friendlies anymore. Give some exposure to US Open Cup by having them on the weekends and having a TV deal for them. CCL is not usually an issue, but having some Saturday games might be an idea. Take off World Cup month and start the season 2 weeks early and end it 2 weeks late. Maybe throw an MLS game in there if you must. The reality is that by eliminating friendlies, All-Star games, and crap like that, you can have MLS not play second fiddle to World Cup and other events. Having most MLS games at night during Serie A, La Liga, and EPL season should be enough so it doesn’t play second fiddle to those leagues. After all, the real supporters will watch MLS after those games are over anyway, right? We also have Friday games and late night Sunday games.

            The bottom line is that it doesn’t make ANY sense to play an outdoor summer game in the cold, snowy winter. Even Arsene Wenger thinks we need to switch.

          6. Alan,

            We clearly fundamentally disagree. However, I would still point out that UM, OSU, and other Big Ten schools have no problem packing out 100K+ stadiums in freezing cold weather. The Vikings filled up an outdoor stadium in January that had to be dug out from a blizzard. Perhaps the problem is not that fans won’t come to cold weather games; it’s that some “fans” don’t care enough about the team to do so. Even then, with creative scheduling and a winter break, you could make sure that northern teams aren’t playing home games during the months of December, January, and February. That leaves us in the same boat we’re in now, with teams playing up north and all your concerns about fixture congestion in the summer alleviated without losing revenue. As noted, Columbus not only fills the stadium but provides an awesome atmosphere for US-Mexico matches played in February. Their league attendance this season, however, has fallen off a cliff without any help from the weather.

            I’m with you on eliminating meaningless games from the regular season. The problem is: how do you replace that revenue? With an August-May calender, you could treat those games exactly as what they are: meaningless friendlies designed to make money and get you ready for the regular season. Our USMNT players (those who still play in the MLS) would be able to come into the tournaments rested. You talk about playing Sunday night games head-to-head with the NFL, which is not only logistically impossible but puts MLS head-to-head with the most difficult sports competition imaginable.

          7. Again, you are comparing an established sport with the MLS, which is struggling for popularity. You realize that there are friendlies during EPL season right? Like you said, the real fans will come out no matter what. Even in the heat they will come out. The Columbus game in winter with RSL was awful and the stadium was empty. There is not one good reason to do this. I will be staying at home watching my team from the TV like a sane person because I an not a real fan. UEFA is toying with the idea of a summer schedule. I hope it happens.

  26. To: Dave C.
    I did comment on what you said. However, I will go further. I said I didn’t think the idea was radical and isn’t radical in hosting a game in this country and I am just opening the idea again. I suggested scrapping the current friendly system and from my point of view adding a little spice to the system as I see it. You say I doubt it would work but how do you how do you know. Do you have some evidence to support that statement? How do you know there wouldn’t be enough money generate for what I am suggesting? Again where is your evidence? MLS and teams aren’t turning a profit and I think something needs to be done; this is just one idea to help with that. You say they the clubs would be happy to stick with the status quo. How do you know? Sports are a business and clubs want to market their club and generate new fans and sales. More and more English and other foreign clubs are coming to the US to play; there is money and new fans to be made. I all I am saying is try something new and cash in on it. All you’re really doing is stating opinions without providing enough evidence or facts to support your ideas. To be honest I really didn’t see any hard analysis in what you wrote mainly just your opinions and that was it. Perhaps I am demanding too much and not being fair enough. Maybe to you my language sounds snobbish or condescending, that is just my world. I have no idea who you are or what you do. We don’t know each other but I can tell a lot about a person from their writing. I knew this story was going to generate a lot of negative comments and I was told it would, so I knew that going into it. However, I think being respect even in disagreement was needed, petty words and statements don’t advance the discussion. This isn’t the first story I have written for this blog and negative comments are nothing new, so no concern about that. I am afraid we are going to have to disagree on this one.

  27. Dave C.
    When you make comments like the following “lame” you think the names are “silly” and “doesn’t roll off the tongue well” it is hard for me to take you seriously and I consider them nonsensical comments. When I read those comments my first thought was “my God this is the best this guy can do, what a waste of time and bar room talk.” However, I will move onto a couple of other points. I said I didn’t think the idea was radical in hosting a game in this country and I am just opening the idea again. I suggested scrapping the current friendly system and from my point of view adding a little spice to the system as I see it. You say I doubt it would work but how do you how do you know. Do you have some evidence to support that statement? How do you know there wouldn’t be enough money generate for what I am suggesting? Again where is your evidence? MLS and teams aren’t turning a profit and I think something needs to be done; this is just one idea to help with that. You say they the clubs would be happy to stick with the status quo. How do you know? Sports are a business and clubs want to market their club and generate new fans and sales. More and more English and other foreign clubs are coming to the US to play; there is money and new fans to be made. I all I am saying is try something new and cash in on it. All you’re really doing is stating opinions without providing enough evidence or facts to support your ideas. To be honest I really didn’t see any hard analysis in what you wrote mainly just your opinions and that was it. Perhaps I am demanding too much and not being fair enough. Maybe to you my language sounds snobbish or condescending, that is just my world. I have no idea who you are or what you do. We don’t know each other but I can tell a lot about a person from their writing. I knew this story was going to generate a lot of negative comments and I was told it would, so I knew that going into it. This isn’t the first story I have written for this blog and negative comments are nothing new, so no concern about that. I am afraid we are going to have to disagree on this one.

  28. Applaud your willingness to share and take the abuse. Certainly hit the comment jackpot.

    Absolutely terrible idea for more reasons than I have time to mention.

  29. I find this discussion very interesting. The reasons are as follows :

    1. Does US with all the sports there around the clock need one more sports in the calendar – the question is would there really be a place for one more sport ? When I was in US , I only followed two sports – Basketball and Americal Football – that pretty much kept me occupied and engaged throughout the year. The time in between the seasons was a bit of rest – recovering from the seasons.

    2. Would there be enough people really following football throughout US – or is it really something for some of the places – would Football be able to take the ingrained place of the American sports within the people – or would it be something that just happens and primarily of interest to women and kids as they are growing up !!

    3. In UK and in countries in Asia etc – there is nothing much except Football thus the fanatical following. Would that catch on in US ?

    4. Last but not least – during the EPL off season – would EPL teams really want to get involved in another tournament – I understand they like the money but if you look at the players towards the end of the season – most of the top team players are really really tired – and limping to the touch line – are they going to perk up for another tournament !!

    In short – the football in US should develop on its own – EPL will develop on its own – there will be some interactions ( player movement – off season warm up games etc ) but that should be it –

    I hope this makes sense to the readers !!!

  30. I want to thank everyone for destroying and pissing on my idea. Just kidding, I really enjoyed writing the story and reading almost all the comments and what you had to say. I knew from the beginning it was going to be a very unpopular idea but what the hell. I like to be different at times. However, I thought some were rude and crass but it is the internet after all. I won’t be making anymore comments on this story since I am moving onto new stories to write, some more ideas to get destroyed, so stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

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