Were We Wrong to Doubt the New Playoff Structure?

MLSCup 215x300 Were We Wrong to Doubt the New Playoff Structure?

The MLS cup is up for grabs

During the 2010 MLS Cup game, Commissioner Don Garber went on the ESPN halftime show to answer some questions about the state of the league.  The major issue circulating in the media was the playoff structure – a team from Colorado had just been named the Eastern Conference champion and, with two more teams entering the league next year, fewer than half of the teams playing in MLS would qualify for the playoffs under the existing format.  Garber announced that MLS would change the playoff system for the upcoming year to reflect the criticism coming from U.S. soccer fans and to ensure what had happened during the 2010 playoffs (i.e., a West Coast team winning the Eastern Conference) would not happen again.

In February, the playoff plan was finally announced.  The top three finishers in each conference would get into the playoffs as seeded teams, while the four non-seeded teams with the highest number of points would make the wildcard round.  After those four teams played each other, they would become the fourth seeds in each conference and the playoffs would proceed as 1 v. 4 and 2 v. 3 in each conference, with at most one of the four teams coming from outside the conference.  The chances of a Colorado-type run became that much harder, according to MLS’s thinking, but it did require that the number of teams making the playoffs to exceed 50%.

The decision was roundly criticized, including on this website.  What kind of league has over half of its teams make the playoffs?  Was MLS serious, or a CYO league?  And what happens if a strong team like Real Salt Lake is one of the wild cards and gets placed in the Eastern Conference playoffs?  Then it is 2009 all over again.

However, with mere weeks left in the regular season, the new playoff structure is looking quite brilliant. As it stands, there are two Eastern and two Western conference teams in the wild card if the season ended today.  Of course that is faulty analysis, as the teams have yet to play the same number of games.  However, the reality is that almost every fan base has a reason to root hard for its team in the closing weeks.  Realistically Vancouver is not in the playoff race but mathematically they are only eleven points (or four victories) back from the final playoff spot, with eight games to play.  More realistically, teams like DC United, Portland, and Chivas USA are definitely in the playoff race despite the late stage of the season.  That means 13 of 18 teams are in the playoff race and can certainly tell their fans they have a shot at postseason play.  Compare this to Major League Baseball, where at roughly the same point in the schedule about 15 of the thirty teams are arguably in the playoff race, although the actual number of real competitors is less.  New York Mets fans have had no reason to see their team play since June.

This is especially beneficial to the weaker Eastern Conference.  In a single table, first-place Columbus would sit fifth and second-place Kansas City would be sixth.  Instead, both are sitting in prime position to make the playoffs.  The Chicago Fire, a team that has been mired around last place for most of the season and is the record-holder for most MLS draws, can get hot over the next six weeks and play their way into a playoff berth; that’s a pretty good reason to remain interested in your team if you’re a fan.  Even a team like DC United now has a crowd draw; they can with a straight face tell fans that the upcoming home games against Chivas USA and Portland are critical to make the playoffs.

The Western Conference race is even more intriguing, as playoff positioning is critical in the conference.  As it stands, Seattle and Dallas would face off in the Western Conference semifinals; as the season progresses does it make more sense for Dallas if it is out of the Supporter’s Shield race to drop into fourth in the conference and enter the wild card round, where you could play a Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew, for example, instead of a Seattle Sounders?  In addition, teams like Colorado and Real Salt Lake, who have struggled this year but are arguably among the most talented in the league, still have a chance to qualify as wild cards if they stumble down the stretch and have a chance to prove themselves in the playoffs.

In short, I think the excitement of an expanded playoff race may force us to rethink the stupidity of a ten-team playoff race.  Maybe, just maybe, MLS knew what it was doing.

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143 Responses to Were We Wrong to Doubt the New Playoff Structure?

  1. Alex says:

    Ehhh, I think mls should just get rid of conference champions. They are stupid and they result in these types of problems. Mls should just have single table qualification, top four from each conference qualify or just do away with playoffs and instead just have the number one east play the number one west in a home away final.My biggest problem is that sometimes the worst team that qualified goes to the finals and wins. I think mls has a good amount of parity for single table. At least mls should prioritize its incentives and rewards from the top bottom instead of the bottom up. That way that can result in more intense games for higher position. Mls should also do away with neutral finals instead do a home away finals

    • Alex says:

      I also hate garbage garbers sorry excuse for conferences. To build up rivalries. Rivalries should develop naturally and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the closest club to you. You want to compromise the way clubs go about playoffs just to manufacture rivalries and when teams play equally with everyone? 3 years in a row we had geographically confused clubs. And it seems mls always wants to fix things the hard complicated way.

      • Rex says:

        Yes, the best rivalries are built naturally but that takes generations. We cant wait generations. And you are completely wrong about location. Location is 90% of a rivalry. Plus most of the things you are complaining about are the things that were addressed by the new format.

        • Robert says:

          Tell me why Cowboys and Eagles hate each other? Last i checked Dallas is 1,500 miles from Philly.

        • Preston K says:

          Rex look at NFL and NBA. they have great rivalries and it didnt develop in hundreds of years. i understand we live in the “want it now” generation but come on. i dont want any hormones in my soccer if you know what i mean

    • Rex says:

      With the new structure you will never see the worst team win it all. It would take 4 wins in 10 days 3 games on the road.

    • Tim says:

      You keep the conferences for league expansion. Say 2 12 team conferences that play 22 in conference, 6 home and 6 away out of conference.

  2. SSReporters says:

    Let’s allow every team into the playoffs! If by some miracle the Whitecaps take out LA, Seattle, Columbus, and Philadelphia in that order we’ll see parity at work because every team should have a chance to “win it all!!!!”.

    The playoff system is terrible.

    Here’s what they should do:

    Top 4 teams for each conference qualify. 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 at each side. THAT’S IT. Do not complicate things by having western teams win the Eastern Conference. No wild cards, no nothing. A hardline 8 team playoff.

    • Alex says:

      You better watch your parity talk or you’ll summon Charles the troll.

      I like your playoff idea. Frankly any idea is better than mls. Mls always wants to work around the problem to preserve its ridiculously high parity and to force rivalries that don’t exist. 10 clubs! Ten freaking clubs! It doesn’t matter to be number one. The mls cup is a invitation there you just waltz in. Explained all the ties we get. Imo while I think playoffs can work if the execs at mls can find their brains but imo the amount of parity in mls is perfect for single table. But as parity, hopefully, loosens up playoffs is good but mls has to make it work. It’s hard to take mls seriously if our system remains broken

      • Robert says:

        Lets not forget the idiot playoff format. playin=1 match, playoff two-leg, semi-final one leg and final one leg. WHAT THE hell?!

    • Charles says:

      Yeah, Alex I am a troll. You watching the USOC tonight or just going to spend all night commenting on how MLS stinks ? rhetorical question…don’t respond I don’t need another post “building yourself up by ripping on MLS” to ignore

      The whole reason they have 10 teams make the playoffs is the trolls like Robert and Alex don’t support soccer in the US. Period.

      IF they had a decent level of support they would go with a more normal 1/3 to just under 1/2 level. The less support the more teams make it. NHL more than baseball and football. MLS now more than NHL.

      Someday hopefully soon, it will be less.

    • Sancho says:

      Just make the conference semifinal to be a 3-legged-best-of-5-points series and the regular season would matter even more.

    • BamaMan says:

      How about a compromise?
      No conferences.
      6-team playoff. Two-legged all the way to the final. Seeded with higher seed getting second leg at home.

      WC Round
      #4 v #5
      #3 v #6
      Semis
      #1 v. (#4 v #5 W)
      #2 v. (#3 v. #6 W)
      Final

      Getting a bye to the semis AND having a seeded playoff would give teams a bigger incentive to not just make the playoffs but make as high a spot as possible.

      Rivalries are going to develop independent of conference play, in my opinion. They’re based on regional and often political conflicts. Making regular season rivalries count is going to do more to develop them than trying to shoehorn them into the postseason.

  3. SSReporters says:

    Here’s the thing. I like parity and I also like pro/rel. Shockingly, it’s possible to like both. That’s why I’m a huge NFL fan and I’m a huge EPL fan.

    MLS takes it too far. It’s too muddled and allows too many mediocre teams a chance to “win it all”, which largely defeats the purpose of a good regular season performance.

    The only reason they have more teams is because they want to make more money.

    • Charles says:

      Ummm, SSReporters, the EPL season was decided 4 weeks ago already and it started three weeks ago……

      How exactly do you like parity AND the EPL….and you read SAH, so you already know the parity co-efficient of the EPL ( dang close to zero ) ?

      • SSReporters says:

        Charles, this may shock you, but there are other things besides the title at stake. There’s playing in international competitions, Cup fixtures (which, shockingly, can be won by teams such as Birmingham and Portsmouth), and relegation to a lower league. The entire table has to play for something instead of tanking it for a draft pick.

        I don’t particularly like the fact that only 4 teams really have a chance to win the PL title but you act like MLS is the only league with parity. Go watch Bundesliga for an example.

        By that inane logic of “the league sucks because there isn’t any parity” I guess we should allow Mississippi Valley State to compete in the BCS.

        • Robert says:

          Charles loves mediocrity. Charles is a Sounders Fan and perfectly fine subsidizing NE Revolution so the Revs can have a chance to beat his beloved Sounders in MLS Cup Final.

          He is perfectly fine having the Sounders play in a tarped off field during the reg season and smaller stadiums for Open Cup.

          • Charles says:

            If by mediocre you mean beating Monterrey in Monterrey with your teams subs, yeah, I LOVE mediocrity.

            You should start to loving mediocrity….
            Tijuana with 5 points 1 win 2 ties and 3 loses.

        • Charles says:

          There is plenty of parity in college football….
          My Huskies were the best team in college football, along with Miami, both teams have been abysmal. Plenty of other examples. USC didn’t win a Rose Bowl for decades after the 70s.

          Bundesliga would be great if we could recreate that. Bring back Soccer Made in Germany, I would watch in TV.
          But they have parity because all the teams make a lot of money.
          Not so here.

          • SSReporters says:

            How can you have parity when the champion is determined by some retarded computer system? Between that and the way recruiting is handled the top schools always benefit.

            Real parity is March Madness in basketball.

          • Tim says:

            SSReporters, BCS is a novel system. It used to be decided by humans and performances in bowl games

      • Dave C says:

        Charles, how was the EPL decided 4 weeks ago? Especially since it only started 3 weeks ago?

        Honestly, I know that you don’t really follow soccer outside of MLS, and yet you still allow yourself to make stupid observations about things you don’t understand… but please, at least make your comments have some kind of internal logical consistency. How is the EPL decided already?

        I admit it’s hardly a parity league, and teams like Bolton are obviously not going to win…but are you seriously saying that after three games, with the top four (none of whom have played each other yet) seperated by two points, and each team still with 108 points yet to play for….are you seriously saying the winner is a foregone conclusion? And if so, how much money have you staked on the result, since you’re obviously so sure of the outcome?

      • Preston K says:

        charles do you even read what you type? whats your wife’s name, parity? i am on the same boat as SSReporters, i like EPL but i also like watching MLS. its not a crime. and it doesnt make me or him anti mls trolls. i havent seen you comment a single time on your outlook on playoffs. you just troll around for anyone who doesnt share your views. the only persone remotely close to your views is Alan and he is more rational than you.

    • BamaMan says:

      You and I are on the same page. I’m curious to see what will happen once UEFA Financial Fair Play rules kick in properly. But I also think that an American Soccer league that combined the relative parity of the NFL with the drama of pro/rel would be an awesome thing to watch.

  4. Rex says:

    The current set up is great. The problem is that it is crammed into only 10 days.

    • Charles says:

      If I am reading what you mean correctly, 100% agreed.

      IF they are going to have a playoff ( and they are )
      and
      They are going to have that be The Champion ( and they are )
      then
      Don’t make it an after thought to the season.

      Make it EPIC. When the NBA existed the playoffs seemed to last like 3 months.
      MLS does not want the boring EPL, champion already decided and mathmatically decided 3-4 weeks before the season ends.

      It wants it decided in the last game of the year !

      So get the exciting moments and more of them. We are Americans !
      I am still crying over a Hail Mary playoff loss from 46 years ago and celebrating the triple OT win from 25 years ago.

      Those are the moments that EVERYONE wants in sports.

      • Robert says:

        Try telling that to Swansea City fans and see how fast you get laughed out of the bar with your Sounders Scarf between your legs.

        But you prefer a system that rewards owners paying off MLS. Montral Impact is joining your Crap MLS next year and is sitting second to the bottom in a 8 team league. Tell me why Carolina and its fans don’t deserve to be in MLS next year?

        • Alan says:

          3000 average attendance. Not a big enough market there. That’s just the way it is. Get over it.

        • Alan says:

          …and who cares about Swansea? They will probably be relegated just as fast as they got promoted because of lack of money. Regardless, I will go ask their 3 fans in the US. Seriously. I’m sure they will make good whipping boys for Man U.

          • Clampdown says:

            Careful, Alan. Swansea is the Gaffer’s club.

          • Alan says:

            I thought he was a Gooner like me?

          • The original Tom says:

            Usually only 1 of the 3 promoted teams gets relegated. Swansea fans won’t win the league, but they get to see the best teams in the world come to their provincial town. And their team will probably beat one of the top six. I’d take it.

          • Alan says:

            So wait, the point of being promoted is to get to see the big club come to their town, and MAYBE grab a win? Plus, every single site I have read have the 3 promoted teams as the favorites to get relegated. The point of being in a league is to compete for the championship. Swansea will never win the championship, ever.

          • Robert says:

            Alan,

            You’re an Arsenal fan?

          • Alan says:

            When I watch EPL, the only team I watch is Arsenal most of the time. Believe it or not, MLS fans do watch foreign soccer and still think playoffs are a good thing.

          • The original Tom says:

            Alan- The point of being promoted if your Swansea is to see the big boys come to town and maybe get a chance at beating one of them. The point of being promoted if your Newcastle (2 years ago), or Leeds (it will happen), is to get back to glory and one day win the league. The alternative if your Swansea is to not have a team, or one that plays in a regional or minor league. Rochester was once a great NBA team.

            The sites you read are written by idiots. I would not predict the 3 promoted teams to go straight down, that has not happened since 1998.

          • Alan says:

            Newcastle winning the title? An honest question. What do you believe the odds of that are happening within the next decade or 2? Seriously. Actually, what do you think are the chances of anyone not spending like Man U, Man City, or Chelsea are of winning the title in the next decade? The EPL is a money league too. In MLS, you pay a fee to play and still have a chance to win. In EPL, you buy the chance to win a championship.

          • The original Tom says:

            Alan- Newcastle winning the league in the next two decades? Reasonably possible. The chance of someone winning who doesn’t spend like ManU or Chelsea or ManCity do now? Less possible. But, of course, it is possible that Newcastle gets an owner to spend like that.

            The Red Sox and the Cubs have large, rapid fan bases despite long years of not winning championships.

        • Charles says:

          So the guy at Swansea would rather watch their team go down to the 4th,3rd, 2nd divisions and then get crushed in first division
          OVER
          WINNING IT ALL LIKE COLORADO DID?

          Give me a break. That is the single stupidest thing I have ever read from all of your dribble.
          Even if Gaffer himself posts it, I don’t believe it. EVERYONE wants their team to win.

          AT BEST: Maybe it is rooting for the best in a bad situation. And it would be a ton of fun getting promoted.

          I was huge fan of the 1980-90s Mariners ( no money to compete )
          I understand rooting for a team with no chance.

          • The original Tom says:

            Charles- Swansea would never get a chance to win it all- a town that size would not be in the top division. Colorado won a cup (we were the 7th in the regular season table), it was great, as a fan I loved it. Swansea could win a cup, Birmingham did last year.

            I agree that the EPL is not perfect, the economic disparities and predictability are a problem.

          • SSReporters says:

            You are a glory hunter to the extreme.

            The goal is just to get there. You have no idea how the soccer structure elsewhere works.

            And furthermore the English system has not been that way forever. Go read up on Leeds, Derby County, Everton, and countless other teams “winning it all”.

            Swansea could win the FA Cup which gains them entry into European football. Yes, it’s not all about the league title.

          • Alan says:

            Wait, you are a Man U supporter accusing someone else of being a glory hunter?

          • SSReporters says:

            Oh the Toronto FC fan from DAY ONE is a gloryhunter?

            Yeah lots of glory to pride myself in.

            I’m also a Seahawks fan so the glory just follows me where I go.

          • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

            on club soccer WINING IT ALL is to win the Fifa Clubs World Cup!

            MLS is just a chapter on the international soccer clubs structure.

            How are we going to WIN IT ALL with a salary cap?

            Do you know what was the cheapest roster on the Mexican Primera last year? Forget about the EPL for 3 seconds!

            Queretaro’s 16 million dollars!

            How in heaven are we going to WIN IT ALL with a salary cap?

        • Tim says:

          No fan base, no strong owner, no in place system (are embedded into the community), no stadium plans, owned by Traffic, doesn’t own the stadium, etc.
          Also Montreal gets a nice expansion draft and first pick in the main draft next year.

          And not to be a debbie downer to your post, but the Impact are within 3 points of a play-off spot.

  5. Sancho says:

    The problem is less the playoff rules then the league-wide balanced schedule. Teams should play more games within their conferences. I expect this to be implemented with the 20th team.

    • The original Tom says:

      I hate these types of schedules. I don’t want to see Portland twice in Colorado, but not see New York at all. Dallas and Houston are in different divisions, they should still play twice. Same for Vancouver and Toronto, and Colorado and KC.

      • Sancho says:

        Imagine this (Cosmos are the 20th team just because I want it to):

        Conference ‘A’
        East: Red Bulls, Cosmos, Revs, Union and United.
        West: Dallas, Dynamo, Quakes, Chivas and Galaxy.

        Conference ‘B’
        East: Impact, Toronto, Crew, Fire, and Sporting.
        West: Caps, Timbers, Sounders, Real and Rapids.

        A team plays: 4 games within the division (4×4=16); 2 games within the conference (2×5=10); and 1 game against interconference rivals (1×10=10). Total: 36 games.

        You would see any team in your town at least once every two seasons…

        All 4 divisional champions would be in the playoffs (as Conference #1 and #2). The 4 teams with better record within the conference would get a wildcard berth (#3-6). One could keep the actual format.

        Supporters Shield would be given to the team with better record in each Conference.

        • Sancho says:

          P.S.: But, yeah, you would see Portland twice, and no NY at all every two seasons!

          • The original Tom says:

            Sancho- I’ll grant you that is better than most, but I’d rather see conferences and no divisions, or divisions and no conferences; or, best of all, single table. And, importantly, one bracket for the play-offs. The best teams should be kept apart in the early rounds, and, any two teams should be able to meet in the final.

          • Sancho says:

            Brazil had a 24-team-single-table league with playoffs for (like) a decade. It was good. Everybody played against each other once, and the top-8 went to the finals (This is a simplified version, reality was more complicated). It was extremely fun to watch.

            Then, they changed for a 20-team league, without playoffs. We have it since 2003, and it is still boring to me. And it will become even more boring after clubs decided to not have any kind of parity rules anymore.

          • theakinet says:

            “Then, they changed for a 20-team league, without playoffs. We have
            it since 2003, and it is still boring to me. And it will become
            even more boring after clubs decided to not have any kind of parity
            rules anymore.” 6 different clubs have won the title since 2003.
            Big clubs Corinthians, Gremio and Vasco have been relegated. The
            Brasileirao has parity. @theakinet

        • Alan says:

          That is probably the way that the league will be going. The problem is having a bigger and better post-season, and I don’t mean more teams. I mean more games. 8 teams is all that is needed. I would say 31 games, 1×5 opponents from opposing conferences. You could even change conferences each year to keep it interesting if you really wanted to. Another idea is to increase the importance of the US Open Cup by increasing the likelihood that cross-conference teams will face each other. Overall, I like your idea though. I would love to see “divisions”.

          • Sancho says:

            I don’t see tehm being as radical as I am. Probably, the conferences will be defined geographically.

      • Dave C says:

        I’m the other way round – if you’re going to play ever team an equal number of times, what’s the point in having conferences? Just have a single table!

        Personally, if there were 20 teams, I’d like to see four conferences of five teams each, with maybe the top two from each conf going into the play-offs (similar structure to the Champs League).

  6. LateNite504 FC says:

    I like having the Supporters Shield and the playoffs. Teams have multiple trophies to shoot for, and must allocate resources effectively. This is similar to soccer around the world. Rather than having one ultimate winner – like NFL or NBA — there can be more than one claimant to the throne. (I miss all the college bowl games on New Years day too.)

    As far as the playoff format, I think they got it about right. From the beginning, I thought the biggest problem was the lack of a 2 game semi-final. Other than that, and the tight schedule for wildcard winners, I think its great.

    Those of you who don’t want wildcards and want to make it just the top 4 in each conference are being silly. Would you really think the playoffs settled anything if philadelphia, ny, columbus and kc are in while Colorado or RSL are out?

    If I had a magic wand, I would make 2 divisions of 20 teams with relegation/promotion and single tables. But for many reasons, I don’t think it can happen here. No one is going to pay $50million for franchise rights and build a stadium for a new team that could get relegated. I think MLS is headed for 26 – 30 teams with two distinct geographic conferences and an unbalanced schedule. Maybe, if all goes well for soccer in the U.S., they can work out relegation/ promotion in 2036.

  7. The original Tom says:

    They should go to a 12 team play-off, with the regular season conference champions seeded 1 and 2, and everyone else qualifying and seeded by regular season record regardless of conference. In the first round, seeds 9-12 play away at seeds 5-8. Then the winners play away at seeds 1-4, then semi-finals at home of higher seed, and final.

    This system would give the league league conferences without them meaning too much. It would clearly incentivize lots of teams- 1-4 getting a home play-off game and first round bye, 5-8 getting the home play-off game, 9-12 getting into the play-offs but no home games. Plus, the two best teams can meet in the final, and, the good teams avoid each other in the early rounds.

  8. Sancho says:

    Points per game Standings:

    Western Conference
    1. LAG, 1.96
    2. SEA, 1.78
    3. FCD, 1.70

    Eastern Conference
    1. CLB, 1.54
    2. PHI, 1.42
    3. SKC, 1.38

    Wild Card
    7. RSL, 1.63
    8. COL, 1.46
    9. HOU, 1.30
    10. DCU, 1.29
    ————-
    11. NYRB, 1.23
    - POR, 1.23
    13. CHV, 1.15
    14. CHI, 1.04
    15. SJE, 1.00
    16. NER, 0.88
    17. TFC, 0.86
    18. VAN, 0.81

  9. WSW says:

    @Charles “The we are Americans” mentality killed soccer off for decades in the U.S. so look at history

    • Charles says:

      Riiiiight. I lived it WSW don’t try to revise it.
      Teams like Seattle, Vancouver and NY were VERY successful.
      But you can’t have a 3 team league of foreigners and draw fans.

      You know better though right ? It was The Shootout, etc that killed soccer interest ?

    • Tim says:

      Not financial mismanagement, a team of massive stars with the rest of the league being poor, teams picking up and moving every year?

  10. Enrique says:

    I think that eventually they will listen to the fans but for now if you are investing money in a team that plays in a league with a short tradition and small fanbase(compared to other sports), it does not make any sense to change completely to more traditional leagues. Soccer in this country is in transition, it will continue to happen that way for years to come until financially we can rival other countries or even other sports in this country. Unfortunately the majority of lower division teams in this country could not prosper in mls, there is too much money to invest to make the promotion a success, that’s why teams like portland, vancuver and montreal are willing to make the jump. Mls has to first have it’s feet firmly planted and make choices that make sense financially before they make choices where it may lead to financial trouble. The majority of leagues in the world have teams that are losing money and these leagues have little competition from other sports, the current model for these leaues is unbalanced and it affects the country as a whole. As fans as much as we would like to see the changes that make to us it just has to wait because soccer in here has a completely different landscape.

  11. Alan says:

    I am not so sure the MLS got it right. 8 teams would really be plenty. Conference champions should be in that conference, period. Sure, a team like RSL might not make the playoffs with a tougher conference, but they will have to compute harder within their conference. Right now, they can be 7th in the conference and still make the playoffs. Plus, I think having a 4th or 5th place team from the east is better than a 4th or 5th place team from making it to the playoffs. There is less of a chance for the eastern conference team to win it, which eliminates the typical complaint about a team like RSL having a bad season but getting it together when it counts. Keep it simple. 4 from each conference (or 5 if you must with 4 and 5 playing to qualify), 1 plays 4, 2 plays 3 in each conference. The REAL conference champions have at least a 2 legged game for the cup.

    I would take it a step further and have 2 divisions in each conference, with the top 2 in each division making the playoffs. Division champions would be single-table, then have the winners of each division take on the OTHER runner-up in a series, then the winners of those series have a series for the conference championship. The conference champions go at it for the cup. Will the best 2 teams always make the finals? Of course not, but that rarely happens in most tournaments.

  12. Michael says:

    Headline: “MLS TO TACKLE PROBLEM OF TIES.”

    You know what? Letting clubs with losing records into the playoffs makes ties more valuable.

    FEWER PLAYOFF TEAMS – TIE PROBLEM SOLVED.

    • Sancho says:

      You can call it “playoffs”, but the wild card round is actually a ‘play-in’. The real playoffs have 8 teams.

  13. quentez1 says:

    I have mixed fellings on the playoffs in MLS.I say have a season open cup with the top 2 teams with the most points,pro/reg,and single table in MLS 1
    conferences in MLS 2 with 18 teams.Plus we need a another domestic cup so canadian teams can get their ass kicked…

  14. Flacotex says:

    It’s obvious that the three best teams are in the west and as things stand now, the western conference champion has to beat two of them (or all three if they are a wildcard) in order to play an inferior team in the actual final. Keep things as they are but when the playoffs begin reseed according to a single table. If that is done, the two teams that have the best record in the league are rewarded and it isn’t based on what conference they are in. The idea of conferences and unbalanced schedules are stupid unless you have more teams then games played. Why does MLS have to complicate things?

  15. Robert says:

    MLS-Fan Boys,

    Portland Timbers are in tied in points with NYRB but guess what. Portland Timbers have a -9 Goal Differential. This team has a shot of becoming MLS Champion with a -9 Goal Differential. Why is this ok?

    • Sancho says:

      Why not?

    • Alan says:

      As it stands right now, Portland is not in the playoffs. But, New York is not guaranteed anything yet this early in the season. They still have to fight and Portland still have a chance. Man U and Manchester City are already competing to see which one will win EPL, even though Man U has probably already won. Why is that ok? The season just started. Why is it ok to base who can win a title around how much money they spend instead of how much they improve as a team and win when it truly counts? Why is that wrong? Why is it ok to be a troll on a blog for a league you hate?

      • Robert says:

        ANSWER THE QUESTION! Timbers have a shot to be MLS Champions with a negative Goal Differential.

        • Alan says:

          Then they need to work on that if they have any hope of winning this year so they are at their best when it counts.

          • Adam G says:

            The Cardinals won the World Series with a negative run differential in 2006. I think the Twins did the same in 1987. These things can happen.

      • Clampdown says:

        Sorry, Alan, but I don’t believe for a second that Man United have the EPL title wrapped up. I think the top 4 this year will be very tight. Also, as much as I hate United their success is aided by money but it is definitely not the central reason for it. Fergie is one of the greatest managers the sport has ever seen and he is exceptional at identifying talent.

        Finally, competition for various tournaments, top 4 finish, top 6 finish, and the relegation battle are more than enough to make up for a couple of dominant clubs.

        If I remember correctly, you’re a fan of Serie A. Wouldn’t you feel the same way about that league?

        • Alan says:

          Man U and Manchester City were the biggest spenders, and the favorites to win it all. If they didn’t spend as much as they did, there would be more competition. So you think that Liverpool or Arsenal are in the running, or even Chelsea? We must be watching 2 different leagues.

          To answer your question about Serie A, yes, I am a fan and I do feel the same way about them to an extent. I don’t think that our system suits them no more than their system suits ours. I like them for their style of play, which I personally think is the best of all the Euroleagues. Not trying to start a debate about that, but that is simply my opinion. I like tactical play. I definitely think that, like Bundesliga, that it is more competitive overall. Inter did spend a lot of money to win the past couple of years, but now they are suffering for it. There are more teams at the top with legitimate chances to win this year. Milan are the favorites, but they are not a shoe-in. Regardless of all of that, yes, I totally think there should be a cap and that I want to see more teams from the mid-level compete for the championship. One of the things that I like about the league too is you see teams in the 3rd – 10th spot that weren’t there the year before. More competitiveness is better. Mostly I watch because I like their style-of-play. You can like aspects of both systems, just like I am critical of things about MLS.

        • Alan says:

          The difference with me is that I don’t worship one way of doing things for every country and one league like it is the holy grail. Soccer is a world sport, and as such, it should reflect their country and their values. It is not one size fits all. I love MLS and support it, but I also enjoy watching Serie A a lot, and watch a lot of La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and the occasional Arsenal game. I root for San Jose, and still do regardless of whether they make the playoffs or not. I catch Brazilian Serie A when I can, watch every WPS game every week, basically anything I have access to. I also support our local Division 4 side, the Michigan Bucks. If I had access to other stuff, it might be different and I might watch something else. Soccer is worldwide, and each league, flaws and all, is unique and reflects that country’s style and culture. The flaws and anything that is broken should be fixed in any league. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution from the soccer gods that will fix everything for everyone. The difference between me and them is that I am realize MLS is not perfect.

          • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

            Soccer became a worldwide phenomenom as a result of its global aprouch of openess, inclusion, merithocracy. More nations play the last World Cup(208 national associations), than the United Nations has members (192). What does that tell you?!

            Do you think that the club representing Oceania has a big chance to beat Man. Utd. on the Fifa Clubs World Cup? Yet, they are given the chance of trying!

            What are our realistic chances of wining a World Cup? Are we not playing the qualifiers because of our super long shot?

            MLS is wrong at its core because single entity ignores the fundamental values of our game.

          • Alan says:

            Leagues vs countries. The last time I checked, countries don’t buy players, they develop them. When did I post anything about single-entity? I love trolls that try to put words in my mouth.

      • Dave C says:

        Alan, you’re getting as bad as Charles. How is it already determined that Man Utd will win the EPL? Man Utd and Man C are both on 9 pts after three games, and Chelsea and Liverpool are both only 2 pts behind. And there are 108 pts to play for. And none of the top four have played each other yet.

        • Preston K says:

          look at wolverhampton. where are they? the league just started its anyones game up till now. and even if it soon becomes a top 4 club debacle for the championship, the top 4 is a highly competitive group. between liverpool, chelsea, arsenal man city and man u its all very much the same. alan and charles, i respect your outlook on epl but common dont let your ignorance cloud your arguements

        • SSReporters says:

          As a Man Utd fan I hope it’s already been determined. ;)

      • theakinet says:

        “Man U and Manchester City are already competing to see which one
        will win EPL, even though Man U has probably already won. Why is
        that ok?” Because the EPL winner is the best team. I can’t find the
        link, but I read a study explaining that’s why
        non-US/Canadian/Aussie/Kiwi’s are ok with a lack of parity. In
        other systems champion = best team. @theakinet

  16. dan says:

    playoffs is a joke, all it does it make the mls look like a joke. the teams that barely scrape by all season get to be called “champion” Give me a break

    • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

      The credibility issue is big with this league.

      If all the franchises are 51% own by the “league”, is it really a league ? Isn’t it more like a big private group of inversionists?

      Why are a few franchises call FC, if they are NOT Football Clubs?

      Does Kansas City owns any basketball, bolleyball,kayak club? Why are they call Sporting ?

      Why is Salt Lake franchise call Real? Are they the official team of the Timbuktu’s King?

      It makes you think that the more legit MLS team name is the Red Bulls!…………if only they were not on a diferent State!

      How hard is it to realize that this “league” ….I mean entity, is just a LIE!

      Mayor LIE Soccer. thats the way it should be call!

      • Tim says:

        Wow your post is a bit off based, let’s play mythbusters
        Do you have proof that the league owns 51% Can you buy the shares? Have you seen the financial statements? No, then there is no proof that the league owns 51% of the team. All that is is BigSoccer hearsay. All we know is that every MLS owner is a stakeholder in SUM. Theoretically the NFL, NBA, and NHL all own portions of the teams. It’s called revenue sharing. Roger statement 1: Myth
        Baseball teams in America are called clubs, yet they are in a franchise model. Clubs is a word that can be exchanged for several meanings
        Roger statement 2: Myth
        SKC has been talking about starting a Rugby and lax team
        Roger statement 3: Myth
        Real Salt Lake, you got me. It was the end of the faux euro names
        Roger statement 4: fact
        New York Giants, New York Jets, I don’t see them playing in the state of New York, I also don’t see Manchester United playing in Manchester
        Roger statement 5: Myth

        • Alex says:

          TIM it is true that the league owns a majority stake in each club. Proof? I was reading a Illinois state university study on the comparisons between NFL and mls structures and the study pointed out that its actually 54% owned by the league. You don’t buy shares its a fixed percentage only investors who buy themselves in. Reason for it is so the powers that be can have their thumb on the sport 24/7. Mls has two books, one is mls where they report all their losses so you can feel sorry for them and not question or demand anything the other is SUM where all their profits are at. It’s a clever scheme. But point is its Major entity soccer. There’s no league about it.

          And also about new York all those clubs you mentioned had their beginnings in new York.

          • Tim says:

            Link to this study?

            So I take it NFL, NBA and NHL aren’t leagues either, you know because they join the list of antitrust exemptions too.

            Yet they play in Jersey, why didn’t they build a stadium in the state of New York then. Plenty of land in Long Island and just north of the city.

          • BamaMan says:

            MLS hasn’t yet been subject to an antitrust lawsuit. MLB and NFL have some statutory and common law authority for their models. MLS is on much shakier ground.

          • Robert says:

            @alex,

            HAHAHAH great post and respond. First round is on me Alex.

          • Alex says:

            And Tim you quite cleverly respond by saying nhl and NFL are not leagues as well. Well difference between them and major entity soccer is that those leagues have independent clubs operating under a franchise system. As pointed out in the study leagues like NFL have tried desperately to build single entity from the outside in and So far they have met with scrutiny. Major entity soccer however built it from the inside out but no matter how you dress it it is still a ticking anti trust bomb waiting to explode. In the first lawsuit agsainst major entity soccer the courts actually were whole against mls pointing out all its flaws which almost killed the so called league. Due to the fact however that back then mls had one one or two “owners” the courts legally constituted mls as a proper single entity. But look at it today. Nearly every club is owned by a distinct owner all pursueing their own economic and athletic gains under a single entity model. Next time mls won’t be soo lucky in the courts.

  17. Clampdown says:

    While I understand it may be exciting for some to see several teams fighting for the final couple of places in the playoffs, my mind has not changed and I certainly can’t call the decision to expand the playoffs “brilliant.” It’s still too many teams for my tastes and rewards mediocrity. If you’re a true fan/supporter of a team you’ll continue to support them even if they have no shot at the playoffs.

  18. BamaMan says:

    Why does MLS constantly feel the need to reinvent when the wheel when there is a great example of how to run a relatively balanced soccer league – with a playoff – just to the South of us? Single table; seeded two-legged playoffs. I like the idea of a 6-team playoff, but 8 would still be better than 10. The Primera Division has very compelling playoffs two-legged all the way through the final. MLS should copy this (minus the apertura and clausura). Make the US Open Cup Final the big end-of-season neutral site sponsor-lovefest that the MLS bigwigs want the MLS Cup to be. Play two legs a week (1st on TU/W/TH, 2nd on SAT/SUN) for 3 weeks. More compelling playoffs, more coherent structure. Win/Win.

    I’m ok with a playoff, but there should be a significant advantage for finishing on the top of the regular season. As to giving the teams at the bottom of the table nothing to play for late in the season, that’s the way it is in every other American sport. You can’t fix that problem until to you introduce pro/rel and then the MLS Exceptionalists would all be in an uproar.

    • Robert says:

      *I’m clapping for you at my desk.

    • Sancho says:

      When Mexico changed its structure? It has had a 3-six-team-group regular season for years.

      • BamaMan says:

        Beginning with the 2011 Apertura, teams are no longer being placed in groups for the first stage and the top 8 teams from the single table enter the 8-team elimination round.

        I’d prefer a six team playoff, but I’d definitely take an 8-team playoff modeled on the Primera Division.

    • Alex says:

      I agree with everything you said, everything except the neutral site sponsor fest. I mean I’m ok with sponsors and all but I hate that whole “presented by, powered by or built by” thing. But money is money so nevermind but I think the finals should be a home away final. I feel that there would be a whole lot more Passion and importance if they were to play a huge game in front of their fans. I’m not a big fan of American sports but I watched the NBA finals and that was exiting. I don’t want a seven game series thing but a simple home away fixture. Contrary to what ignorant mls fanboys like Charles think I don’t watch epl that much (in fact I watch more mls that epl mainly cuz I don’t have a favorite team in epl) I mostly watch copa libertadores and they have the most exciting finals. BTW I believe playoffs is the perfect natural parity. We don’t need anymore artificial parity or restraints. Imagine mixing epl quality with playoffs. Anyways back to my point mls cup will be more exciting and watchable if it were home away.

      Plus I agree with what you say about pro rel but until ussf does it I think mls can “simulate” it by rewarding incentive by regular season points from the top down. That way if you want to rebuild next season you gotta play every game. Currently mls rewards it from the bottom up and it oromotes mediocrity. Major league? Ha.

      • BamaMan says:

        You’ll find that we’re in agreement on the MLS Cup Final. I was saying that the MLS Cup final should be two-legged home/away. The US Open Cup – our knockout equivalent to the FA Cup – should be the last soccer game of the season (perhaps on Thanksgiving Day if we’re going to do spring-fall schedule) and should be at a neutral site.

        As for simulated pro/rel, I’m not a huge fan just because it’s yet another “innovation” that the average fan has a difficult time understanding. We’re quite a ways from pro/rel in MLS, but, as you say, USSF really has no excuse for not implementing it at the lower levels. They should organize the leagues under MLS into a true and proper pyramid ASAP.

  19. JJ says:

    No sports league in the world is without flaw. There are way to many variables for any system to work perfectly, and yes that includes single table. Personally, I like the current system in MLS. Is it perfect? Far from it, but it’s simple enough to follow, especially for those in the US who aren’t soccer fans… yet!

    • BamaMan says:

      But it’s not simple enough to follow for MLS fans, much less soccer fans, much much less non-soccer fans. First, 10 teams is a bizarre number to settle on; 2nd, you have Western Conference teams competing in the Eastern Conference and vice versa. I really can’t stress how confusing and idiotic that seems to someone like me who actually follows MLS. When I told my brother (casual soccer fan but not an MLS fan) he thought I was joking. Either have strict conference boundaries for playoff brackets or don’t have conferences. How hard is that?

      3rd, it bizarrely alternates between single leg matches, two-legged matches, and, finally, a neutral site final. Again, difficult to figure out exactly what the heck is going on. It’s not simple. It’s needlessly complicated.

    • Preston K says:

      whether its simple or not, idk. beauty is in the eye of the beholder. but the way its structured is beyond stupidity. how is more than half the league invited to the playoffs? garber just threw the meaning of the regular season out the window. if we are to keep playoffs then just make it single table qualification top 8 clubs get in. im studying industrial design. the fundamental rule of design is to design with as little design as possible. MLS needs to take a page out of that.

      • Sancho says:

        It’s the conference semis that throws the regular season out of the window. There is almost no advantage whatsoever to the conference winner and/or better recorded team. The tiny little advantage is to play the OT and PK ate home, if the series is tied.

        • The original Tom says:

          That is why I like 12 teams: 9-12 go away to 5-8 in the first round, then the winners go away to 1-4 in the semi finals. Then the highest remaining seeds get home advantage in the semi finals. All rounds are one game which gives higher seeded home teams a clear advantage. And only seeds 1-8 get a home game, so really seeds 9-12 are just guests in the play-offs.

          OK, the 12th best team getting into the play-offs is not great, but really those bottom 4 seeds are just guests to the play-offs because they only play away games.

  20. I’m still confused by the structure of the play-offs. Seems hard to follow. Gives me a headache thinking about it.

  21. Alan says:

    So you are seriously saying Liverpool or Arsenal can beat Man U. It is their league to lose, unless someone outspends them. That is what Man City are trying to do. They are the only serious contender. Chelsea is no better than last year, Torres is a disappointment, and they didn’t spend enough. Man City has a lot of great talent but are inconsistent. Man City is the only serious title contender to Man U’s title. I am not a betting man, but I could bet on Man U and feel pretty confident with my money. The other 18 teams won’t win. I will bet you on that. Come back and talk to me in May.

    • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

      Alan
      Are you aware that EPL is just one league that practices promotion and relegation?

      Do you know that the number of soccer leagues that practice pro/rel is very close to 100% ?

      To use the EPL over and over and over, in order to make a case against promotion and relegation, is another of the many types of manipulation we are submitted to.

      Now, even if you over-focuss on the EPL, there are other things to consider other than lack of parity.

      Yes, it is the richest league on the planet. The title is likelly to be disputed among a selected number of clubs, but you have to look at the whole picture if you want to come to a fair position.

      There is no parity but there is excellence! Can’t have them both!
      Most importantly, pro/rel makes posible for more than 6000 clubs(NOT A TYPO, it is more than six thousand clubs) to be a part of the english soccer pyramid, and earn their divisional status on the field.

      so, next time you come with the…”but the same allways win” trick, please get your head out of the sand and look at the whole picture.

      I would love to have 2 or 3 of the best clubs (Real Football Clubs) on the world win our domestic league every year, and have thousands of clubs linked to the world soccer club structure.

      and no , the league will not fall if we implement pro/rel, that is more smoke thrown on our faces. It works in Guatemala, Jamaica, Congo, China, now even Puerto Rico…..but it will not work here!!!

      Really?

      • Alan says:

        “Are you aware that EPL is just one league that practices promotion and relegation?

        Do you know that the number of soccer leagues that practice pro/rel is very close to 100% ?”

        No, I had no idea. Thanks for educating me.

        And by the way, you self-righteous moron, that post had NOTHING to do with pro/rel, so those tricks that I supposedly use don’t apply here. It had everything to do with teams spending like crazy and they always win because of it. Using me to push your stupid agenda is pretty low, even for someone that goes by the name (pro/rel). People like you are useless trolls and piss me off. Troll if you want to, but don’t try to use me.

  22. Preston K says:

    i dont get why so many people are up in arms against the way epl is runned. first of its their league, let them handle it the way they want it. personally i like the way epl is runned and i dont mind the overspending of teams. i watch for the quality of it. its entertainment after all. its not like our lives depended on whether a different team wins it or not. its the best league in the world for a reason.

    now does that mean i think MLS should follow EPL or any league in the world to the “t”? no. its true alot of those club, despite the fact they rack in revenues that will make any mls owners head spin, are in major debt and i do understand the notion of the “top 4″ arguement. but the fans over there dont mind. fans over there care more about winning their rivalries. parity is always good, but there is however a limit. and IMO mls crossed it 500 miles ago. but mls is a certain way. in a cooky twisted way i like it. i dont have a problem with playoffs. i like playoffs. however mls system is to broken and confusing to have any hope in fixing. it needs a major over haul.

    i read mls guidelines for playoff explination. its ridiculous. its like reading fine print on a contract. and i agree what someone here said, mls doesnt need to re invent the wheel. americans are not stupid you dont need to spoon feed soccer to casual fans by making it a carbon copy of NFL or NBA. IMO casual fans are holding back soccer, ergo holding back mls. taylor soccer for soccer fans, the casual fans will follow. does that mean doing away with playoffs. maybe. but if we are going to make playoffs work then look outside the bourders for templates. the best league in the world with a playoff structure is Mexicos primera. single table qualification home and away fixture. how is that so hard to impliment? seriously? conferences dont make any sense and is the root of all these problems. i dont see mls expanding more than 20 teams, 22 tops. even at that number the league is too small for conferences. there should be two titles. SS being the more prestigous title and the MLS cup being the other one. other than that no stupid conference title, those are just consolation prizes.

    its true we are americans. its great to embrace our culture. but we should inject it in everything we do. some countries do do things better than us. and mexico does playoffs better than us aparently. lets take a page from their books and finally start enjoying soccer here in america. im tired of mls having problems every season. it isnt 1996 any more. its friggin 2011.

    • Preston K says:

      i meant we shouldnt inject our cultrue in everything

    • Preston K says:

      im sure charles will not get through the first sentence of my comment without immediatley making it his life purpose to hit “reply” without even reading the rest and calling me a euro trash or europoser or whatever.

      let me make it very clear for you charles or any other fanatical idiots out there. i like epl. no doubt its the best league in the world. BUT i never said anything about changing parity (although i did say i think theres too much) i never said we should do away with playoffs. i never said anything bad about MLS, and i never said we should copy any aspect of EPL in any way. in fact i said we shouldnt. all i argue is that MLS should copy Mexico’s playoff structure.

      so get that through your thick skull before even thinking of calling me a eurotrash. im not. i, like you, like MLS. i just have more sense than you. anybody has more sense than you.

    • Alan says:

      1. EPL can run things the way it wants to. So can MLS or anyone else. All systems have flaws that can and should be fixed.

      2. Anyone that claims one league as the best league in the world to be fact loses credibility with me. EPL is not the best league to everyone, and I can come up with many arguments as to why it isn’t just like you can with any league.

      3. My point was that people come on here in all of their snobbery and try to push a system that has good things about it, but act like everything is perfect. It is not and there are many flaws that should not make their way into MLS. Take the good stuff, don’t add the bad stuff.

      4. Congrats on actually watching MLS and commenting here. I have respect for you for that.

      • Robert says:

        Alan,

        Have you seen the MLS qualification rules? Playoff qualification shouldn’t require Bullet Points with Sub Bullet Points. It’s too damn confusing and every year they change it. If a 10th place team wins the Cup this year it waters down their championship because last year and the years before they would of never even qualified. That is the problem with MLS. The constant rotation of chairs and tinkering with rules has got to stop. I can’t wait to see the fuck up next year when there are 19 teams.

        • Robert says:

          Alan,

          Have you seen the MLS qualification rules? Playoff qualification shouldn’t require Bullet Points with Sub Bullet Points. It’s too damn confusing and every year they change it. If a 10th place team wins the Cup this year it waters down their championship because last year and the years before they would of never even qualified. That is the problem with MLS. The constant rotation of chairs and tinkering with rules has got to stop. I can’t wait to see the f!!ck up next year when there are 19 teams.

          • Alex says:

            Robert, its called righting a script.

            idk why the american mentality is to have a show. to see the little guy come from no where to win it. to see every team hold hands as they cross the finish line and everyone wins. it all sounds nice but what happened to true competitoin? in a perfect world MLS teams shouldnt need the leagues help in anything. teams should develop their own talent, buy their own talent, and coach their own talent. this is what happens when one single company has their thumb on a entire soccer league.

            realisticly i can understand the constant rule change due to expansion franchise clubs but the manner in which it is changed its FUBAR. how hard, HOW FREAKING HARD is it to simply switch to single table qualification? you want to know the real reason garber doesnt want to do it? because conferences promotes rivalries and it needs seattle going to portland 4 times a year. when every club plays everyone the exact same number of times there is no need of conferences. so why the hell do we need even more shackles on top of the training wheels? why is it that for four straight season either the lowest qualifying or second to lowest qualifying club makes it to the final? how are they considered the best club in the league when the whole regular season was subsidized for them to waltz right in? mediocity, just pure mediocrity. MLS

          • Robert says:

            @Alex,

            I said earlier in comments that the first round is on me. Looks like I will buying the second round as well.

            I don’t mind playoffs but when I tried to explain it to a hardcore sports fan (non-soccer) they sh!t their panties laughing so hard from the confusion.

            A MLS outlet with negative goal differential should not even be allowed to be in the playoff race.

      • Roger says:

        So you have a problem because people try to push a system that……

        guess what system has the NFL being using for a few years…single entity

        guess where a few MLS investor/operators come from…NFL

        Guess where our commisiomer comes from?…you got it!

        but your point is “people pushing certain system” into our club soccer?!

        TOO LATE BUDDY!

        they try to seel us the idea that it is all somehow for the good of our game. I dont buy it!

        I got the feeling it is all for the good of THEIR GAME.

  23. WSW says:

    just wondering how EPL is flawed: they have the best players in the world, exciting soccer. pro/rel etc…the only downer is debt but has any top 4 team folded..NO. MLS has 3 teams making a profit and why has the expansion fee gone from $10 to $75 million? you know why so Garber can redistribute the sum to teams that are struggling.

    • Alan says:

      Debatable on all counts, but this is an MLS forum and we have a bunch of EPL fanboys in here instead. ANYBODY that claims EPL is the best league in the world as fact is a know nothing in my book. Exciting? There were very few games I would consider exciting that I have seen outside of the big clubs, and some of them are stinkers too. If you are talking about ” physical” fast-paced play, well I don’t need that to be entertained. There are far more overall technical and tactical leagues out there. The best players in the world? Also subjective. No Ibra, Messi, Xavi, Ronaldo, Sneijder, Casillas, I could literally go on and on and on. Did you watch the Copa Libertadores? Most of them were not EPL players. Overall, most of the best South American players don’t go to EPL. I mean, seriously. I could go on and on and on, but this isn’t the place. The point is that it is only an opinion that they are the best league in the world with the best players with exciting play. Flaws? They are becoming a less-competitive league every year. That is a pretty big one. Clubs go in debt to win titles. That is a flaw. Seriously, EPL is not perfect. If you love it, then go watch it. There is nothing wrong with that. Just quit trying to pretend that you have the best league in the world and that it’s perfect and suggest that we practically need to be them. Not everyone here does, but those that do are getting annoying. We can learn some things from them and other leagues for sure, but we should avoid the bad. Listen to yourself sometime before regurgitating some of the stuff you write and go check out other leagues, including MLS. You might find something good there too.

      • Dave C says:

        @WSW,

        Alan is often an idiot (see above on this thread), but he’s got you beat on this. No matter how much I like the EPL, it is flawed. The fact that we can all predict who will finish in the top 4/5 (if not the exact order), is a flaw. The fact that a whole bunch of teams are literally just there to make up the numbers is a flaw.

        And if know people who support teams in the bottom half of the EPL (especially those who are relegation-threatened), you’ll know it’s not unusual for people to actually get a bit disallusioned with it all and wish they were still in the Championship after a season or two of park-the-bus, back-to-the-wall football.

        • Dave C says:

          Also, I’d say that “the best players” in the world are more likely to be found in Spain than in the EPL.

          Although, on the other hand, I’d disagree with Alan about the EPL getting less competetive every year. If anything, it’s now more competitive than it has been in recent history. Before Abramovich invested in Chelsea, there was really only a “Big Two” in English football for many years – Man Utd and Arsenal. At least Chelsea made it three teams who realistically had ambitions of winning the league. Now Man C have come along too (although arguably, Arsenal have recently dropped out of that category).

          I don’t think it’s right that the only way to get into this top bracket is through spending massive money, but at the same time, I think this top bracket has undoubtedly expanded.

          • Alan says:

            We can agree to disagree then. I still say only 2 teams have a reasonable chance, but it is still Man Us title to lose. That is my opinion. I would hardly call that idiotic.

        • Alan says:

          I am often an idiot on this site? In what way? That Man
          U win every year unless they get outspent or screw up? That is the truth. If that is not what you are referring to, then cite some specific examples. To even suggest that Arsenal or Liverpool have a shot at the title is about as idiotic as saying Valencia could win La Liga. Either way, it is a disagreement. Hardly idiotic.

  24. WSW says:

    The question is why the expansion fee went from $10 to $75 million?

    • Tim says:

      Because someone is willing to pay it, also depends on the stadium situation.

      • Robert says:

        That is cause for concern Tim. What happens to the league if no one is willing to pay and struggling franchises are draining cash flows and expansion fees can’t fill the gaps.

  25. F19 says:

    The MLS playoff system is ridiculous. More than half the teams making the playoffs is stupid. First off there are conferences, but everyone plays a balanced schedule so they are pointless. Get rid of the conferences until there are enough teams to warrant using them. And with nearly every team in a SSS or equivalent, there is no excuse not to have a 2 leg final.

    My dream scenario would be a 24 teams MLS that plays like Divisions 2/3/4 in England. Single table balanced schedule, 46 regular season games. Top 8, 3 round, single elim playoffs. Expand rosters if you have to. But I see no reason it can’t be done. Championship teams in England play 46 fixtures, plus FA and Carling Cups, plus promotion playoffs for teams 3-6 in the standings. MLS only has the USOC and CCL as extra competitions. Scrap the meaningless midseason friendlies and superliga crap and they could do it.

  26. Ivan says:

    Come on, Donnie!
    Surprise us: show us that you are not just another NFL/franchise clone.
    Announce the switch to a single table format, already!
    It’s a small step, but it’s a necessary step toward people taking the league seriously. Your explanation of the necessity for conferences to build up rivalries is, how shall I put it mildly, idiotic. Seattle and Portland are still going to hate each other and go at it, all out, regardless of whether they are in the same “conference”. Grow a pair, Donnie.
    Single table.
    Single table.
    Single table.

  27. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    Mr Robert Hay
    You still have not make any coment of follow up to your

    http://www.majorleaguesoccertalk.com/you-be-the-commissioner-what-would-you-change/10911

    Why?
    What is the purpose of such poll , if is is followed by TOTAL silence?
    where you just “testing the waters”?

  28. WSW says:

    and without playoffs MLS would be predictable except line in EPL we have top 4. In MLS you have one team LA.

  29. CoconutMonkey says:

    Quite brilliant? You can’t be serious Robert.

    When I first heard the league was going to have ten teams in the playoffs, I thought “fine, just as long as they’re seeded 1-10″. What we got was an even more unfair setup than the last one.

    Now, not only is still possible for the top 3 teams to be on the same side of the bracket, a top 6 team might have to play an extra match, and it’s actually possible for the top team in the East to play a tougher opponent than the other two teams! And we still have the same 2-1-1 structure as before. It’s a total crap-shoot.

    Were we wrong? Not by a long shot.

  30. Derek says:

    I believe that most MLS fans are American and so have been watching American sports since they were little boys and girls. Our sports all have playoffs and I never remember fans crying about the playoffs being unfair. The regular season has always been about getting to the playoffs and getting hot at the right time. The most popular “playoff” in the USA is the NCAA men’s basketball championship, where a team can struggle in the regular season make the tournament and run the table for the crown.

    I love European football but I know our sports are different with a playoff system. Without it there would be a lot more ‘dead rubbers’ throughout the season.

  31. LL says:

    Why don’t they simply change the name of the conference to something like baseball? American and national league or conference problem solved. It at least won’t look so dumb too the non soccer people if a team from the American conference gets to playoffs by getting seeded for the national side. The problem is the name of the conference. Mls is over thinking this issue.
    One table would fix this as well. 1 plays 8 seed, 2plays 7,3 plays 6 etc..etc.

    I will never get y people make things harder than they have to be.

  32. theakinet says:

    MLS is more predictable than EPL. The same 18 teams will compete
    next year…@theakinet

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