Connect with us

Leagues: MLS

Promotion / Relegation American Style


There has been a lot of discussion among fans of the beautiful game in the U.S. about promotion and relegation.  On this site, Daniel Feuerstein supported the idea down the road.   One of his main points was that, once MLS and USL clubs have their own stadiums … a lot of the obstacles to this format, would then work themselves out.

I agree that if North American soccer were to make this switch, it would take some time and that teams having their own facilities would be a giant step in the right direction.   However, another possibility has begun to formulate.

Perhaps, promotion / relegation might find a beginning in this part of the world, a different way.  Maybe, in light of the essential “promotion” of Seattle and Portland to MLS franchises (and the flirtation with FC Barcelona Miami), the U.S. based leagues will start with their own model.  USL could be a breeding ground for new MLS sides.

For starters, this issue, is an extremely divisive one.  It seems that there are just as many advocates of pro / rel, as there are those who like the conference style / playoff setup.  I also want to point out that, playoffs and pro / rel could also work together.  Personally, I think that pro / rel wouldn’t be a bad idea, but definitely well down the road.  However, I don’t want to see the playoff system thrown out the window, as it is culturally relevant to American sports.  Not to mention, it’s nice to see different leagues around the world take on their own identity and style in soccer, while still keeping unity with the beautiful game, around the globe.

For pro / rel to ever work … MLS and USL would have to develop a better relationship, of course.  And this cooperation could start with a franchise building partnership. Cross – marketing, would benefit both leagues.   New teams to the North American system, could start off in USL.  There, these clubs could get their bearings straight, learn the ins and outs of the American game.  Then, once they have set up shop and proven their ability to thrive as a franchise, make the jump to the top tier.

Granted, MLS would definitely have to compensate the USL financially, as the best teams would be leaving after establishing themselves in the second tier.  But, it would be a good way to test markets and organizations, before adding them to the top level.  Though the USL – 1 product doesn’t appear to be so different in quality than MLS, solid teams are already jumping ship.

It would be a start anyways, as we are very far away from having soccer – specific, club – owned facilities for all teams.    And it would be a good opportunity for foreign investors, such as the Stoke City based ownership group, of the Austin Aztex.   This type of arrangement, would allow them to try their hand in the American game, before completely committing their finances.

In the end, I think soccer has the best chance in succeeding in this country, through solidarity.   So here’s hoping, one way or the other, to some kind of kinship among all domestic brands, to build the strong foundation we need.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
110+ channels, live & on-demand
  • Price: $59.95/mo. for Plus Package
  • Includes FOX, FS1, ESPN, TUDN & more



  1. federico

    January 13, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Hi, first of all, excuse my English. I’m from Uruguay, far away from you guys.

    So, as far as I know, everything is about money in pro sports. Then, if MLS owners don’t see the opportunity of earning money, they would not do anything in order to have pro/rel, am I right? The USA is a huge market, an unexploited one IMO.

    I’m trying to think, what would I do if I were FIFA?

    Well, Imagine this situation (just imagine):

    I (FIFA) grant you (USSF) one or two or even three spots in the UEFA Champions Leage (I know, I know), lets say for 5 years. But ONLY if you have pro/rel with MLS and USL and any other in your pyramid.

    Having US teams in such a tournament will mean a big audience
    big audience means $$$$$
    money that UEFA (FIFA), will be more than glad to receive, same to USSF and FOX soccer channel of course.

    MLS teams will do their best in order to be on the top of the championship, in order to grant participation.
    USL teams will do the same, first step: promotion, second step: end at least 3rd in MLS.
    ans so on. Your teams would have something important to play for. And the crowd will be mad for such matches.

    Imagine any of your teams playing against Manchester United or Barcelona for something real.

    Just a stupid idea, but it would work. I mean, pressure from FIFA and benefits for the team owners, if not, pro/rel will never happen in the US.

  2. Charles

    July 26, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    In LaLiga, Barcelona was 56 points ahead of the 12th place team !!!!
    Why would anyone watch that ?

  3. Roger

    July 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    There is among many others,a strong reason why promotion and lelegation is the way to go.Promotion and relegation is a self-adjustable system.

    I remember when I was younger I used to read spanish sport magazines and newspapers that a relative used to have because of her Spanish heritage mailed from the embassy. They were like fromo the 60s or 70s. One of Barcelona’s stars used to be Rexach. Clubs like Hercules, U.D. Las Palmas,Valladolid,Salamanca,Rayo Vallecano and others used to be on 1st div; while Villareal and Dep la Coruña were not. The spanish society and economy is not the same now that what it was back them.Promotion and relegation reflects those socio-economical changes.

    Reality does not stand still. The best markets for us soccer on 2010,will not be the same on 2015,2025 and so on! .Our game is a reflection of reality, and reality is changing all the time.

    Another good example of how pro/rel works is Italian calcio. If you look at the composition of seria A, with a couple of exeptions like Palermo and Napoli, most of clubs are fron the northern half of the country, it is just a reflection of the italian society and economy.However if that balance change, we will definitely start seen more southern clubs on serie A.

    The philosophy behind promotion and relegation is,simply put,brilliant . It gives our game a deeper meaning and a sense of purpose.

    By reflecting reality,it makes every seasson a new chapter of a continous developing history and; every national soccer league, is just a part of a bigger world club structure.

    • Charles

      July 26, 2010 at 10:24 pm

      Your posts are so romantically written, especially compared to my “barely English” posts. But that is indicitive of the way we feel about pro/rel. Yours is a romantic notion, mine is the harsh reality.

      In a perfect world I am all for it, it is a very cool idea. But the reality is the same team wins every year in most of those leagues AND most of the games during the season are a joke.
      The number one team loses less than 7 games every year, and the last place team doesn’t win 7 games every year. I am not making those numbers up, that was the EPL last year ( and every year before ).
      The second to last team was 56, FIFTY SIX points behind the winning team !
      That is almost 19 wins out of first place and they only play 38 games !?!?!?

      NOT IN MY LEAGUE. I will quit watching for good reason.

  4. DCUDiplomat96

    July 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    CuP competitions might also be a problem, CoNCacaf an exception, but the us open cup needs to be more into the later stages of the season. Promotion and relegation must compliment the 2 confernce structure as well


    July 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I think the most important point to the conversation is that the difference among the leagues when it comes to talent is actually right on target. In other words, as in MLB with the Minor Leagues, AAA, AA and Single A, on any given day, one team may be able to beat another from a higher quality league. But, on most days, the higher quality league teams will beat the teams from a lower league.

    As represented in US Open Cup, there are teams from the lower divisions who win against superior division teams. But, if they were to play 10 times, it is highly unlikely they win 5 times.

    So, what I’m trying to say is that the level of play is close enough to where Regulation/Promotion can work in the U.S. pro Soccer leagues. I’m only addressing the issue of skill level and talent among the different leagues.

    The system of Regulation/Promotion is something that will eventually be used by MLB and MLS. It’s a matter of time, could be 10 years or longer, but it will happen. The financials are going to take time to be worked out.

    • Charles

      July 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

      Baseball is going to promotion/relagation !?!?
      I wish we were friends so I could give you crap in 10 years.

  6. Roger

    July 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I meant to say the head of the USSF,Mr Sunil Gulatis. My bad!

    Looks like you are very happy with the system in place Mr Charles.Enjoy it!

    The only choice the sounders had was to stay on a league completly un-linked to the soccer world,or jump to the league wich this USSF tag as our first div.

    Why isn’t USL working? Two reasons, one is the one I mention before, they are a phamtom league,its champion (unlike all around the soccer world) qualifies for NOTHING,NADA. The other is their own fault,their lack of vision.USL created a structure ideal to become the first north american promotion and relegation league,but they rather pocket “franchise fees” instead.The USL 2 is a complete nonsense.
    If a miracle happen and USL1,USL2,the new NASL,PDL and USASA joint forces and make a linked pro/rel system…..bye bye MLS!

    By :”taking the USSF back” I mean getting rid of the narrow interests that are in charge now,and replace them with people that understand and respect the values and history of our game;listen to the fans and players; think big instead of small; have a clear vision of how to make our game grow as big as posible ; integrate us to the world soccer community instead of moving us away from it.

    • Charles

      July 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      I do like the system in place because it works.

      Relegating Newcastle while promoting teams that fail just doesn’t work. End of story. The EPL was very close to having a catastrophe on its hands. Having to disqualify a season worth the games for one team and completely turning the standings around would have been a disaster. Meanwhile Newcastle had their attendance drop 10k.

      And what for ? So someone from a city that has NO, ZERO, ZIP chance of winning can lose their average game by three goals ? You realize they just lost to DC by 4 goals. Exhibition sure, but DC by four goals !?!?!


        July 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

        First of all, respect to MLS Talk for hosting this discussion. From what I can tell, and I count myself as OCD as anyone on this issue, it’s the longest running one of it’s type. It has stayed up for a year while other discussions have devolved into a morass of name calling, reverted into a thinly veiled quasi patriotic defense of MLS business interests, and succumbed at the demands of a few in the establishment who would prefer that promotion and relegation never see the light of day on the US professional sports landscape.

        The stadium argument is germane if the transfer was done within a week, a month, or even a year. USSF, however, has many more options. Announce a three to five year transition, begin it in newly regionalized lower divisions, and give time for MLS to prepare, wean them off their entitlements, or allow them to deploy whatever golden parachutes they have carefully prepared for the inevitable.

        I’ve yet to encounter a serious argument that the transition announcement wouldn’t usher in a new era of investment in lower division teams. Give them five years to line up investors, sponsors, and cultivate relationships with local governments, set stadium requirements for promotion they can meet, and watch empowered, independent clubs grow along with the game at large.

        Indeed, the heroes of the American soccer story are already lower division owners. Far removed from their entitled MLS competitors, they are on the leading edge of the game, and taking great risks to provide it. They’re stocking beer carts, stitching nets, driving players to games, and otherwise keeping a closed and debilitated pyramid from shriveling into the privileged few at the top whose agendas are as diverse as their portfolios.

        Our lower division owners bounce against the glass ceilings in interest and investment particular or our closed pyramid. This is par for the course for “successful” sports leagues in this country. They shrivel into a small group of entitled owners who dictate quality of play, limit the market size in order to concentrate it for the benefits of a few.

        For a domestic sport, in a predominant league, whose teams are not exposed to meaningful international play, our closed, concentrated domestic sports model spots a decent track record.

        Soccer, of course, does not share these attributes.

        For those for whom survival is the only goal, who believe MLS is the only thing standing between American soccer supporters and a dark new century without top flight pro soccer, the MLS model is perfectly adequate.

        For those of us who think that 5% of the US v Ghana television audience is a reasonable expectation for MLS, it’s woefully inadequate. Currently, MLS is averaging just over 1% of that audience. While audiences for international matches and foreign leagues have grown, MLS crowds and viewers have virtually flat lined.

        The US professional sports establishment boxes itself into a market as closed as their leagues. They have defined the average American professional sports consumer as a guy who has to decide which professional sports ticket he can fit into his budget. They believe that growth in any one professional sport takes from another.

        Under these circumstances, it’s no coincidence that they’ve put soccer on a growth curve as flat as a Nebraska interstate. Soccer, with it’s continuous play and few potential commercial breaks, has always been difficult to cash in on. They see little point in allowing sport with built in revenue handicaps to take from their other, more profitable ventures.

        Some of us see a different world. Does a growing potential latino fan base fit into their closed pro sport consumer box? Does the stale American pro sports model account for the potential of new media streams? Have they precisely defined the behavior of American sports fans?

        I don’t think so.

        Based on their closed box marketing approach, the American pro-sports establishment has found a way to make money off of the loyalty of stagnant audiences. Since growth in any one of their fiefdoms threatens another, they’ve instead decided to plumb the depths of existing fan loyalty. They’ve applied this model, in an enhanced, single entity form, to soccer.

        Is it any wonder that we get a stagnant, low risk, low innovation MLS, with a small, stagnant, but loyal following?

        There’s a model out there that encourage innovation through increased risk. It has taken the game to the ends of the earth. It’s actually less risky than lower division ownership in the US Soccer pyramid today.

        Promotion and Relegation won’t lead to a 21st century devoid of American soccer. It will enable American soccer to own the 21st century.

        Let’s join this global market, allow owners, supporters and local communities to join together to build the best clubs they can, at any level. Let’s push the envelope of play. Let’s revolutionize a stale American sports establishment.

        Let’s take soccer out of the MLS jack in the box. Let’s see how far the sport can go, instead of seeing how much money owners can make running an abbreviated version of it.

      • Poker Rakeback

        July 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

        Teams like Newcastle went down because they deserved to go down and teams like Birmingham came up because they deserved to come up.
        It is called a Meritocracy. I don’t know how things wotk in the U.S but if we have 60 kids and we need to put them in three groups for math we have a test, we put a kid who finishes 7th overall in the top set, we put someone who finishes in 28th in the second set and we put someone who finishes 50th in the third set. That is regardless of size, race or religion.

        The same applies to Newcastle, just bcause they are seen as a ‘big’ club that gets 50,000 if they don’t do well enough to stay in the top league, they go down. That’s the way we like to do things here, that is what we see as being fair.


      July 26, 2010 at 11:09 am

      I think we’re watching the leading edge of Soundermania decline at the hands of MLS.

      Adhering to the growth curve they must. Less interest they need to save face for smaller teams. Dumbing down American soccer they are.

  7. Roger

    July 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks for your reply Daniel.

    What I meant with the Can Cun coment was that i live in the US, but I am closer to Can Caun than the nearest MLS franchise.

    My view about this whole promotion and relegation issue and north american soccer in general is this. If you follow the bread crumbs to the end, you have to get to the conclusion that USSF is the root of the problem.
    I am totally sure promotion and relegation will work and it is the logical way to go.Think about this,we have MLS, plus USL1 and USL2, plus the new NASL,plus the PDL, and also USASA.We have all the pieces to the puzzle.
    Even if they keep holding down the promotion and relegation issue, shouln’t the USSF dutie as the entity in charge of our game in north america be trying to do SOMETHING to create some kind of meaningful relationship among this organizations.Ideally create an linked clubs structure aiming to take advantage of the fact that our game is the most popular among the youth. Does my reasoning makes sense?

    The head of MLS is the creator of the single entity concept,a system wich philosophy is the total oposit of what the Association he presides should be all about. Their “american sports” mentality clearly shows us where these people come from. The issues with north american soccer are the reflection of the people that is in charge.

    That is the root of the problem,our first step to a meaningfull future have to start by taking the USSF back!

    • Charles

      July 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      >>>The head of MLS is the creator of the single entity concept

      Well that is not true. Don Garber didn’t join MLS until 1999.

      Let me just point out something. The Seattle Sounders ( and I have been a fan for 30 years now ) were a big hit in the NASL, a free market system that folded, then they were a small hit, but still well liked in the ALeague/USL/now NASL. Oki, who owned the Sounders didn’t want to join MLS, so he stayed in free market system which was run over by MLS. Teams like the Sounders fled the free market system to the single entity system when they saw how successful it was.

      Why did the dumb single entity system beat the free market system so badly ?

      Why isn’t USL working ?

      Let’s be honest it isn’t working….so I can only assume by taking the USSF back, you mean to a time when noone watched soccer.

    • Daniel Feuerstein

      July 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm

      Not a problem Roger. Honestly I do agree with what you are saying. I believe Gulati and the rest of the yes men & women in there at times are doing a dis-service to the American Soccer Community.

      At the same time I really don’t want to disagree with you, but I am trying to see the bigger picture here. You are right that at the moment, not spending the money to bring in better players is doing a bit of a dis-service to us. But at the same time I am also a bit nervous if something does go wrong this whole thing will end again like the original NASL.

      Remember the C.B.A. arguments & there was nearly a players strike. I was oppose to it, because I felt this wasn’t the time for them to create a strike. Somehow cooler heads prevailed and everything turned out fine within the final minutes before the deadline. I honestly felt that agree to this new deal on whatever it is & the next time they have negotiations is when the players union has the leverage.

      I hope you can understand where I’m coming from Roger. I respect your opinion, I hope you can respect mine.

      • Roger

        July 25, 2010 at 11:21 pm

        I do respect your opinion Daniel,even though we may not agree 100%.I think this is a very healthy debate.

        The old NASL argument is another repeated a zillion times against pro/rel and open market. They did not have a salary cap, but there was not promotion and relegation either so that kills the whole point.

        Daniel, there has not being one league that practices promotion and relegation that has imploded like some say it will happen if we choose that path. Not one! On more than 100 years that the system has been use; on every continent;on nations of every culture imaginable; rich and poor ; big and small ; capitalist and socialist. The evidence in favor of promotion and relegation is overwelming, undeniable!

        But there is more than that.Pro/rel is just a piece of a bigger philosophy.When a country qualifies for the FIFA World Cup,that is a kind of promotion. When a club wings a national league therefore qualifies for a continental club championship,it is the same concept. If such club wins that tournament and qualifies for the FIFA World Clubs Cup,it is the same principle.
        The way in wich FIFA links competitions,make our game special.Somehow the British Premiership,The Protuguese third division,and the Bolivian 4th division are all conected. They are all part of a magnificent structure. Without that philosophy , you can be sure that the pasion that our game generates, and its world wide popularity would not be the same.

        All of our cities should be integrated to such a beautyfull system; not just a selected group. Atlanta and Rochester should have the same chance that FIFA grants Liverpool, Malaga,Rabat,Porto Alegre,Cairo,La Plata,Milan or Cali.

        To be a part of the international soccer community should not be the priviledge of a selected group of investors, but a right granted to ALL or our cities. Mathematically, only promotion and relegation can accomplish that task.

  8. Roger

    July 24, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    What makes more sense?

    a) To wait for clubs like Charlotte to build stadiums, to play on leagues that qualifies them for nothing,nada? Leagues completly un-link to the soccer world.


    b) implement a system that would give them an incentive to grow.Placing the mesage:…”if you want to go to a higher league,you need to meet this criteria……finish on the first positions of your division, meet this stadia requirements, etc”

    Your argument about the Charlotte Eagles and their stadium situation needs a closer look. On a promotion and relegation system, there is a relationship between the club , the quality of the team,the market they play in, the stadium.

    In order for a club like Charlotte to be promoted first to 2nd and then to 1st div, they will need to field a much more competitive squad than the one they have now.That would cost money.In order for them to be able to spend more money on their squad, they would need to increase atendance among other things to generate profit.In other words,if a club like Charlotte has top flight ambitions, sooner or later they will have to solve their stadium situation anyways , regardless of the before mention requirements that are in place on a pro/rel system.

    The way in wich you made that argument is not realistic.If we had promotion and relegation today, wich would the more likely candidates be?
    Vancouver,Montreal,Portland,Rochester,Austin…right? Not Charlotte!!?

    As for …”MLS will never operate their own Second Division ” Totally agree with you .

    As for the hurdles ahead, I only see one, this USSF. Totally in bed with MLS and with a vision on direct oposition to our game values.

    I do have a good excuse not to follow my “local club” or league. I AM CLOSER TO CAN CUN!!!
    Is that a weak and pathetic thing to say?

    This league was not done for the growth of our national team,if they had that in mind they would have created a whole structure and not just MLS. This league was design by people that do not have the experience neither knowledge of our game to justify the positions the hold.

    This league was design without ANY consideration of the fans,or the players, or the values that our game stand for.It was design for and by a narrow group of interests.
    If you can’t see that, then no matter what has been said it’s all over.

    • Daniel Feuerstein

      July 25, 2010 at 1:34 am

      I have seen that Roger. I don’t like it any more than you do. Even I hate some of these rules MLS has to bring in players and how to keep the finances down.

      But here’s the thing that I see. There are too many chiefs and not enough indians here. You would think US Soccer would contact everyone from MLS to USL about how to make these things work.

      Sometimes the governing body of the sport here in the USA has completely ignored the lower levels and what was going on between the USL and some of their former clubs. There was a verbal war going on and it was down right nasty. Gulati was forced to do something.

      What’s going to happen after this season with US Soccer Second Division, I have no idea. But at the moment I don’t think anything is on steady ground below MLS and above PDL.

      And since you’re closer to Cancun, have fun and enjoy yourself. 😉

      • Charles

        July 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

        Do like the rest of America and go with the proven method.
        College sports.

        Read Moneyball for the details of why drafting/signing someone out of High School is a bad idea and waiting to see what they become playing at the college level is a great idea.

        Then look at the rookies this year and the 2nd year players who came out of college. It is going to take a few hours. Going to see Zakuani ( Univ of Akron ) tonight, man that guy can play.


    July 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    looks to me like promotion/relegation would be healthy for baseball too. It seems like pro baseball is really taking a hit this year. After World Cup ended, all we heard about was Lebron and now its pro Football training camp storylines.

    • Charles

      July 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      Pro baseball is taking a hit, but the USL teams could be promoted to the big leagues and that would work ?
      What planet are you living on ?

      The Mariners have drawn over 1,000,000 fans at the half way mark and they have been in last place for 4 years now. And their ticket prices are through the roof ! I realize they play a lot of games, but their attendance will draw more than 1/2 of what ALL of MLS soccer will draw this year.

      The Mariners ( who stink ) will draw more than 1/2 of what ALL of soccer draws.

      That is with the highest drawing teams, the most successful, if you include USL teams and relegate the Sounders ( much to my dismay that is where the Sounders stand ), they draw MORE than all of soccer draws.

      Now I realize why I have discussions with people that actually think por/rel works and is a good idea.
      The Mariners ( again who stink ) make a profit paying almost double the whole MLS salaries. DOUBLE !

      On another thread, a guy said we should promote the USL teams AND sign national team members….WOW !!?!?

  10. ExtraMedium

    July 24, 2010 at 12:17 am

    The Economics of Promotion and Relegation in Sports Leagues
    The Case of English Football
    Roger G. Noll

    Author Affiliations
    Stanford University

    In most of the world’s professional sports leagues, the worst teams in better leagues are demoted while the best teams in weaker leagues are promoted. This article examines the economics of promotion and relegation, using data from English football (soccer). The crucial findings are as follows: players earn higher wages under promotion and relegation, promotion and relegation has a net positive effect on attendance, and the effect of promotion and relegation on competitive balance is ambiguous. The unbalancing effect arises because the system places some teams in leagues in which they have no realistic chance to afford a winning team, thereby causing teams to spend less on players during their (brief) stay in a higher league than they spent while trying to be promoted from as lesser league. The article concludes with an analysis of how promotion and relegation might be implemented in North America.

    Hmm, so pro/reg would *increase* attendance. Soccer in America relies on attendance more than TV for income (like the NHL) so I wonder if that would be a good thing? Players’ salaries would increase, but there’s a salary-cap so that’s not really an issue in MLS.

    • ExtraMedium

      July 24, 2010 at 2:38 am

      On page 10 of the Noll paper Noll mentions that pro/reg leagues always have stronger teams than closed leagues. He explicitly mentions that MLS will have weaker teams than Europe even if MLS recruited more athletes from other sports *because* of a lack of pro/reg.

      • Daniel Feuerstein

        July 24, 2010 at 9:34 pm

        But the problem people keep forgetting is that some MLS and most US Pro Football/Soccer Clubs is they don’t own their own stadiums. There has been many articles and complants about why Pro/Rel should be here or why it won’t be here.

        I maintain from my opinion that it can work here, but at the moment it won’t. There are still certain hurdles that will keep MLS/NASL/USL as closed leagues. Majority of MLS has Stadiums made for the game, but right now we are waiting for Houston & San Jose to start construction on their stadiums, Kansas City is in the middle of construction.

        New England and Seattle right now doesn’t have to worry, because their owners are also NFL Club owners. But no one wants to see what’s going on in the lower leagues of NASL & USL. While the free spending structure of USL & NASL is somewhat better than MLS Single Entity, right now MLS is standing tall.

        Only Charleston & Rochester own their own stadiums. Charlotte Eagles play on a high school field, which means if you had them win promotion from Third Division to Second Divison, it’s o.k.. But if they win Promotion to MLS, they would be forced to play at the NFL Stadium where the Carolina Panthers play and pay a huge amount for rent or leasing the stadium.

        What does that mean, they are dead and buried after the MLS Season and when they get relegated, they will end their existance. The reason is simple, no more money. All of it went to the rent and their players will have to go somewhere else.

        No matter what crazy ideas you guys will come up with to make Pro/Rel work, MLS will never operate their own Second Division. They want no part of it. All they care for is First Division.

        I understand that most of you who follow the EPL or any of the Euro leagues wants MLS and all of US Pro Club soccer to mirror what happens there. I have never said no to this in the future, but you guys have to understand its not going to work now, nor in the near future. More hurdles are still ahead.

        And to be fair if these are the excuses for you not to follow your local clubs or leagues here in the USA, then I’m sorry to say it’s a weak and pathetic thing to say. Will it happen? Yes but in the distant future. And if these leagues fail, then where will our future American National Team players be scouted from the clubs in Europe to go over?

        If you have a realistic answer, then please tell us. If you don’t have a realistic answer then don’t try it.

        I don’t want to sound harsh, really I don’t. But to be fair here all I have heard from most of you is why you won’t follow MLS because of Pro/Rel, if only MLS had Pro/Rel, here is my crazy idea of how to get Pro/Rel. These are your leagues, these are the clubs that are either in your backyard. A couple of miles down the road, or in your neighborhood to watch the game in the USA.

        If these leagues are done for then our National Team is done for. If you can’t see that, then no matter what has been said it’s all over.

        • Roger

          July 24, 2010 at 10:16 pm

          The stadiums argument doesn’t hold any water. It is solved by setting the criteria that a club has to meet in order to be promoted to a higher division.

          • Daniel Feuerstein

            July 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

            It still does Roger when the lower levels below MLS are playing in Atheltic Complexes, College Stadiums and High School fields. If you don’t believe me go ahead and look up on the respective sites of those two leagues and read up on the teams that play at home.

            MLS is fine because most of the stadiums are for the game & some of the other teams like San Jose are paying rent for the college soccer field at Santa Clara & Houston is paying rent for the college football stadium at U of Houston. Both sides have a stadium deal in place, but at the moment construction of those stadiums either haven’t started yet or there is still a delay after they have been approved.

            Kansas City will soon move to their new stadium in the middle of 2011 and will pay rent at that minor league baseball stadium from the start till their new home is finished.

            Remember Pro/Rel needs to work for all levels of US Soccer. If you look below MLS which most aren’t then you will see that problem is still there. Charleston is fine, Rochester is fine, Atlanta Silverbacks making a comeback in the NASL for next season is fine. But untill more hurdles are knocked down, its not completly safe to put it in there just yet.

            Let’s not forget that after this season of US Soccer Second Division someone has to win that title to move on or US Soccer has to run the whole thing again till there is a real answer.

            And when it comes to owning a stadium, I’m not asking these owners below MLS to build their version of the Home Depot Center or Red Bull Arena, I just want them to own something that they can call it a real home for the game.

        • Roger

          July 24, 2010 at 11:39 pm

          Daniel ,respectfully.
          The stadiums arguments,together with all the other arguments against promotion and relegation are pure manipulation.

          Forget about Europe.Take a shorter look. Mexico,Guatemala,El Salvador,Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama; Colombia,Venezuela,Ecuador………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Look at the J league. It is a world thing.

          I have no doubt that promotion and relegation will be implemented in the US. It just makes way too much sense. The time will come when they could not hold the issue down no more.The sooner that we get integrated with the international soccer community ,the better.

          • Daniel Feuerstein

            July 25, 2010 at 1:41 am

            Once again Roger I am not opposed to Promotion/Relegation in US Soccer. In fact like I said, I do want to see it. I want to see the American Sports fans check it out & put a shock in their system.

            I want them to see something so cool that they will become soccer fans. Show those American Sports fans who are not football/soccer fans how great this can be.

            But unfortunately there are those who are still non believers in this game that we all love. I want to see it, but let me say for my own defense I want to be a bit cautious right now and just stay right where we are.

            But reducing the stupid rules, raising the salary cap of MLS is more of a positive right now than Pro/Rel.


    July 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    MLS would prefer a weak, controlled league to a popular, innovative one featuring promotion, relegation and independent clubs. There is simply no level of popularity of the game that is worth putting the closed league entitlements of the US sports establishment at risk. That’s why the system is broken, no matter how much of a soccer televangelist Don Garber appears to be.

    Accepting the impermeability of our closed league model, and the permanence of the single entity, dooms the growth of the American game.

    American owners need to buck up to the pressure that owners around the world face – from supporters who expect their support to be turned into team improvements.

    It’s a different relationship that a KFC drive thru has with it’s supporters, but one US Soccer needs to adopt to grow our game.

    Who needs billionaire owners if they only throw scraps at their soccer team? No risk, no innovation. That’s MLS.

  12. ExtraMedium

    July 14, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Pro/Reg isn’t that hard *within* MLS. Two solutions:

    1. Next year split the league into 2 9 team groups east-west. Play everyone twice for 16 games. then take the top 4 in each group into MLS1, and have a home-and-home playoff between the 5th ranked teams for the 9th spot. Then play every team twice. That’s 32 games. Take the top 5 teams in MLS1 and the top 3 teams in MLS2 for the playoffs (#1 in MLS1 gets Support’s Shield and CL/InterLiga spot). You can then gradually reduce the # of teams in each group getting playoff spots until there’s no more playoffs if you want single table. I like the playoffs until MLS3/regional leagues can be developed.

    2. 3 six team regions (east central west). Play every team twice for Regional Cup. Then take top 2 into MLS A1, next 2 into MLS B1 and next 2 into MLS C1. Play every team twice. Take top 3 in MLS A1 into MLS A2, next 2 into MLS B2, next 2 into MLS C2. Take top 2 in MLS B1 into MLS A2, next 2 into MLS B2 and the last 2 into MLS C2. MLS C1 champ into MLS A2 next 2 into MLS B2 and the dregs into MLS C2. Play everyone twice. That’s a 30 game season. Follow the same pattern to promote the top 3 of MLS A2, top 2 of MLS B2 and champ of MLS C2 to MLS Cup (MLS A2 champ goes to CL and InterLiga, MLS Cup champ goes to CCL/InterLiga, US Open Cup champ goes to CCL/InterLiga, add up Regional Cup, A1, A2, US Open Cup and MLS Cup points to give out last spot.).

    My method means every team has something to play for every 10 game “season” and you reset each year with the Regional Cup so fans of crap teams can dream…Oh, and no revenue sharing for US Open Cup, MLS Cup, CCL or InterLiga. This gives teams an incentive ($$$$$$$$$$) to go for wins.

    • bradjmoore48

      July 14, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      Wow, that second idea is WAY too much of a headache. The first idea is much less confusing. Your ideas are similar to how they schedule the Scottish Premier League. Since there are only 12 teams, the first 22 rounds are home and away against all opponents; then rounds 23-33 you play every other team one (either home or away). At that point, the top 6 and the bottom 6 are split up, and each plays the other in their respective groups once (home or way) for a total of 38 matches.

      I do see your point, these shortened “seasons” would maintain interest of a pro/rel battle without falling out of MLS until more teams are founded and developed. I’m still skeptical about there ever being true pro/rel, but if something like the first idea was instituted, it may bring some higher-ups around to the idea.

    • Roger

      July 14, 2010 at 11:47 pm

      promotion and relegation within MLS, is not real pomotion and relegation.

      • ExtraMedium

        July 24, 2010 at 12:04 am

        Germany has Bundesliga 1 and Bundesliga 2, France has Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, Japan has JL1 and JL2* the difference is they also have well developed lower leagues/teams…I propose MLS only pro/reg because the pyramid isn’t developed enough for anymore. If I could snap my fingers and make every club independent with full pro/reg I’d do it, but I’m not God.

        *Japan is embarrassing us. The J-League was lanched in ’93 when Japan had previously never had pro soccer, then launched JL2 and a 3rd division SIMULTANEOUSLY in ’99. They now have dozens of INDEPENDENT clubs and have a “100 year, 100 (independent) Clubs” plan.

        • Roger

          July 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm

          The PDL is the perfect 3rd division for US soccer.We allready have one of the more difficult things allready, the USL did it for us.

          Promotion and relegation makes too much sense for keep being ignored!

          All the arguments thrown against promotion and relegation either make no sense or are pure manipulation. Most of them use the same point,…”we are no ready”…..”no enoug soccer specific stadiums”….”lower divisions not stable/strong enough yet”………..

          Promotion and relegation is the best way to stabilize our lower divisions,incentivate clubs to grow and build better facilities, increase their attendance.It will make the games they play relevant.

          Instead we are getting hit with the reverse philosophy of: wait until they are “ready” ,build soccer specific stadiums, wait until they grow, then we will consider Pro/rel!!!!?

          It should be the other way around, implement a logical system and let soccer happen naturally.The pro/rel formula has proven suscessfull all around,americans say: “if it is no broken.Why fixing it?”

          That is what we get on the “practical” side of the promotion and relegation debate.There is however another side, one that is usually ignored by the anti pro/rel people.

          There is the “ethical” side of the debate, a side that is allways ignored. Not only we should implement promotion and relegation because it will work, it is also the right thing to do because there is no other way we could acomodate all of our literally hundreds(maybe thousands) of cities into a meaningfull club soccer system.

          In other words.Not only pro/rel will work but , it stands for such noble and right ideas, that even if there was reasonable doubt that it could fail , we should still try it!

          The ethical part of this debate is as important or more than the practical one!

          • Daniel Feuerstein

            July 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

            PDL is Amatuer. USL-2nd is Third Division. The College kids who are still under NCAA Rules during the fall gets playing time in the summer while NCAA Allowes them to keep their eligabillity.

            Pro/Rel right now is not viable & just because it’s the right thing to do, I’m sorry to say it’s not the right thing to do. You can’t just keep looking at this from the outside. You have to peel thru the layers of the US Club Soccer structure and actually see the problems.

            If you keep on “Staying outside looking in” you will never see the real problems that are going on. Please scroll down and look at my other reply.

  13. Roger

    May 29, 2010 at 2:16 am

    I have gotten to the conclusion that the ball is in our court. We ,the real fans are the only solucion for North American soccer. The last thing that Garber and friends want to see is soccer becoming something big in US and Canada. If we wait for them to do things right,we are up for a long wait!

    I have this idea going inside my head for a long time. What if a group of fans that love the game decide to work together, and create the first North american soccer league that really capture the esence of the game.The first that practice promotion and relegation.The first that really would resemble what soccer is all around the planet.

    You may think I went crazy! But I think is posible! My idea is:

    Instead of creating a fake top like they did, start from the buttom.Instead of a small number of fake franchises with idiotic names, create a league with a big number of humble clubs all around the nation.Clubs like the Haitian team in Miami that every time they play are followed by around 3000 fans; the actual US system would never give them a chance. How many other local clubs with similar characteristics are out there.

    The key should be to make it as cheap as posible for clubs to operate.That could be acomplished by having a very reasonable “fee” , and by having regional divisions so that travel expenses would be as low as posible.

    Start by creating the base.At the begining just one division of regional groups plus play offs. Once the number of clubs is enough for the first “jump”,promote the top clubs and create a new division.In other words,build the base first and then build from there up.

    We will of course not be recognised by the USSF, BIG DEAL!! The idea of creating such a league is because we dont recognise the USSF as legit either.If they were a legit protector of our game , we would not need to do it ourself to beging with!?!?!?

    If a group of fans start this project, place a couple of adds, make a web page,make an open letter to FIFA as why are we doind such a thing; I guarantee the support it will receive from the international soccer comunity is going to be surprising.

    FIFA should not be very happy with the USSF and MLS, they just canot get involved in US internal soccer matters that easy. They should not be happy with this bunch of non-soccer arrogant people implementing shoot-outs and a set of rules very much against every principle that our game stands for.

    I would like to know what you guys think. I am convinced that it is posible. Look at the history of all the great clubs in the world and how they started, that will inspire you!!

    Soccer is about fighting, believing in the imposible, it is about that fire inside.

    It is either that or wait for the Garbers to do it instead. I think we could save some time if we do not wait for {USSF/Gulatis/MLS/Garber}

  14. Roger

    December 18, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    you are right on the money Ted.
    I’ve gotten to the conclusion that MLS would never implement pro/rel. There are powerfull forces in US against pro/rel; but they are against it not becuse pro/rel would be bad for soccer, but because they know there would be no turning back after that happens.
    Think about the share of the market that soccer would take away from the other traditional sports, if a system that would allow any club to join a lower league relatively cheep ( no $40. mil ), and work their way up by their own merits , not by some narrow interests dictating who is in and who is out.

    • Lars

      December 18, 2009 at 11:12 pm

      MLS is against it because it is bad for their bottom line. Simple as that.

    • DCUDiplomat96

      April 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm

      I disagree, Soccer is relatively small market, you wont have enough sustainable markets to support soccer.

  15. Bastien

    November 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    With a colleague, we wrote a paper on this topic:

  16. dave b

    July 25, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    after watching an exciting sounders/fire match today, i then watched the wizards play los angeles. the nil nil draw was more exciting than that snooze fest. now watching san jose play … boooooring. why? because these matches don’t mean anything. with promotion and relegation, all matches mean something. not only do you want to be at the top to win (and not in the stupid 8 teams that make the ridiculous “playoffs”) but you also want to stay out of the bottom to avoid getting relegated. here, who cares about the earthquakes? who cares about the red bulls? who cares about the wizards? oh that someday they will win? but garber, for all of his efforts, can’t rig the league that much to spread around the winning. look either mls will accept a single table, ditch the playoffs and get promotion and relegation, or it will die when teams like the sounders and united end up dominating year after year.

  17. Lance

    May 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Haaaaave you met Ted?

    He’s absolutely spot on right. The whole point of creating the MLS was to grow American Soccer. Nothing would grow it more than Pro/Reg.

  18. Theodore

    May 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Mike – do you only frequent franchise restaurants? Shop in franchise stores? Clearly you don’t only post on franchise websites – so there’s hope for you yet!

    How come Japan can have the franchise model for baseball and the open league model for soccer? Both thrive side by side.

    Oh, and if we ever want to host another world cup, it’d be a plus.

    Yes, us supporters of promotion and relegation understand how all professional sports run in the USA. We just don’t understand why they all have to.

    And you have to stop with the inferiority complex. If I had local a league that allowed clubs the autonomy to make their own futures, and strive for their own goals, I can accept a lower quality of play – defined by the market forces on individual clubs, not by nameless league investors. At least I know they are not being limited by a league that micromanages players down to which porta-potties they use.

    NFL worship isn’t healthy, dude. Can you name the last time a league that used promotion and relegation folded? But then again, I do remember the Scottish Claymores and the Rhine Fire…

  19. Mike

    May 7, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    MLS will never have relegation and promotion. Period.

    Anyone who thinks it’s likely occur in ANY top tier professional sport in the USA is completely unaware of how professional sports work in the USA.

    Also, promotion and relegation will not make MLS better. It will make a bunch of idiots who think promotion and relegation is inherently part of soccer pretend to give a shit about MLS for a couple of days before they turn up their noses and go back to watching the English Premiership on Fox Soccer Channel.

  20. Ted Westervelt

    May 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Nothing would grow the sport in the U.S. more than instituting an open league with full promotion/relegation, and giving clubs more autonomy throughout the system. These discussions always seem to devolve into predictions, instead of focusing on the cost/benefit analysis. Why do we think a group of owners knows more about where and when a club can join their league than that clubs supporters? Why did we allow them to bottle and sell top division soccer anyway?

    Scare away owners? Where are they going? I argue that giving investors a chance to get it at a fraction of the cost of the $30 mil MLS is currently charging, and unlimiting their futures by opening the leagues will ATTRACT them, not dissuade them.

    NCAA mens basketball tournament seems to do OK and has multi-year contracts with networks – despite 30% or more team turnover annually – why not soccer?

    And aren’t we sick of MLS dictating quality of play thru salary caps, roster size, etc. etc. in the name of parity? Maybe it works for NFL – the predominate league in the world it their sport but holding back top clubs with these measures is killing them in international play.

    Open the League and watch soccer grow. I’ll argue with anyone who says that average attendance in USL 1 and 2 won’t quadruple after opening the league.
    Plus, you could bring both divisions up to 20 clubs within 12 months.
    With demand, comes infrastructure. Do you want to see a boom in soccer specific stadium construction? Support the open league.

    MLS gets biggest splash from new clubs entering the league. Arguably, expansion keeps them afloat. Why not three new clubs a year through promotion?

    There’s room for the model here in the U.S. Think about it this way – how many of you out there would support only franchise restaurants? Personally, I like restaurants with greater autonomy.

    USL 1 is second in the pyramid, and nothing is going to change that. Competing for the same market does not change the FIFA and U.S. Soccer sanction.

    We have to stop letting MLS bottle and sell top division soccer. Nothing retards the growth of the sport more.

    Thank goodness the FA didn’t close off the sport in a franchise bottle when they formed their pro league structure – I suspect we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

  21. Steve

    April 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I think the promotion/relegation system is a long way from being a reality in the united states. The USL and MLS are both trying to carve out a niche for themselves in the american sports market, and right now they need to compete to produce 1 solid league. MLS has much better mainstream media coverage (althoug it isn’t very good yet), than USL does, so right now a USL team that is doing well for itself will probably look to expand into MLS, and rightfully so as there is more money to be made there. The expansion rush is going to help with teams getting themselves soccer specific stadiums. I think that is the real benefit of having the leagues competing right now…the USL is going to try to be a better league than MLS and compete for the same market. This is going to speed up the process of new stadiums being built, even if they are small stadiums, which is good for the sport in general.

  22. Tom

    April 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Pro/rel for me only makes sense when the ratio of clubs per capita is very low, like one per million at the least. so for me it’s a better solution for baseball, or for college football, than it is for soccer. As it is I think the pyramid we have now in the USL, where clubs are divided on a financial basis, is fine.

  23. dude

    April 14, 2009 at 11:40 am


    Do you really want to scare away owners? There is no way that the owners in MLS are going to stick with the clubs after being relegated. And talk about attendance problems! One of the only things keeping the league going is that, in any given year, some team can rise out of nothing and might even win the cup. This Shouldn’t be the case; as much as we love the American dream, we hate it when our most storied clubs are unable to keep it together over the long haul.

    Basically, USL teams deserve the chance, but it would break the league. No one wants to be a loser in the United States. They’d rather root for foreign clubs who Always win. Relegation will not, and should not happen anytime soon.

  24. L.E. Eisenmenger

    April 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I want to see the top USL team have a wild card spot in MLS every year. No home games for them, so MLS clubs financially benefit from an additional home game, and it raises the visibility of USL, establishes it a viable, visible destination for players on the edge. Also creates the underdog rivalry, that made the Puerto Rico Islanders so appealing in CONCACAF.

  25. Emlyn

    April 14, 2009 at 3:01 am

    playoffs and pro/rel together would be amazing. cup winner is promoted, teams that don’t make the playoffs have their own playoff bracket the winners are not relegated. not exactly sure how this would work but it would mean the best of both worlds. combine the north american sports flavour with the world game. is going to happen though? unlikely. pro/rel is great because it motivates teams to always be good instead of like in many north american sports where many teams settle for mediocrity for a couple of seasons while they “rebuild”

  26. Oscar Baechler

    April 14, 2009 at 1:22 am

    I think pro/reg is a partial answer to the frequently discussed topic of whether league parity equals mediocrity. Yes, on one hand, it’s stupid in Germany that Bayern is a bit like the Yankees. On the other hand, when it comes to the finale, there’s exciting games to watch on both ends of the spectrum. Just as exciting as the championship game, if you’re a fan of a cusp-level team, their last games of the season can be huge celebratory victories when they scrape by and remain in the top league; in many ways, it can be a much more meaningful victory than winning the league cup, and certainly can have more concrete consequences.

    I think with pro/reg you address the main issue of parity/mediocrity, which is the fear of a team unable to sell tickets because they suck. With the threat of relegation (more importantly, the victorious thrill of NOT getting relegated), a crappy team could easily pack a stadium, and with so much on the line their fans would be on the edge of their seats.

    Plus, I think it’s fun to fantasize about the Galaxy getting relegated, and watching Beckham try and spin it as everyone’s fault but his own.

  27. Jason Davis

    April 14, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Pardon the typo.

  28. Jason Davis

    April 14, 2009 at 12:17 am

    That would be nice, though it appears to be a pipe dream for at least the time being; Garber and MLS don’t want to “slum”, and Marcos and ULS obviously think they can compete with the bigger league.

    At least, that’s the way it appears.

    I lamented the situation myself: MLS & USL: Dysfunction, American Style

  29. Chris Riordan

    April 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Well … I was just drying to drum up conversation on the subject. And I was just bringing up an idea on how to get MLS and USL to start working together. Like I said, with teams already jumping ship … why not set up a partnership where USL is a developing ground for new teams, to get their bearings, before making the jump to MLS.

  30. FootyFan

    April 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Um, was there a point in there? You didn’t actually propose anything, you just talked around the subject and suggested a vague idea of promotion for USL-1 clubs. Where’s the relegation part, and how would that actually change anything?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Leagues: MLS

Translate »