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Are you for or against promotion/relegation in US soccer

for or against promotion/relegation

The topic of promotion and relegation in US soccer is a divisive one, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe that it’s possible to have an intelligent discussion regarding the topic without comments threads being plagued with soccer fans calling each other names.

But what I am interested in hearing and reading is what your opinion is regarding promotion/relegation and whether you believe it has a place in US soccer or not.

In a presentation today in Manchester, MLS Commissioner Don Garber discussed the growth of MLS and how it’s becoming more relevant, not just in the US but also abroad as the international audiences are tuning in to watch the games more than ever before.

for or against promotion/relegation

But there was one quote, in particular, that caught my eye — which is included in the image above. It’s Garber’s claim that promotion/relegation would destroy MLS. It’s a scare tactic that I’m sure he hopes that soccer reporters and fans in the US will regurgitate without thinking through what he’s saying. Yes, MLS as we know it today would be severely impacted if promotion/relegation was instituted, but it would be the investors who would be the ones panicking. For soccer fans, it would arguably make it a more competitive and enjoyable league.

My biggest beef with his quote is his mention of “an immature market.” It’s directed at NASL, but to call the US soccer market “immature” is wrong, in my opinion. MLS is not at risk of going out of business — far from it. But even if the worst possible scenario happened and MLS went bust, soccer would continue to thrive in this country and a new league would sprout up overnight. A league going out of business is never going to stop the popularity of the sport especially among the youth and growing Hispanic population.

But what do you think? Share your opinions in the comments section below, or on social media.

Should promotion/relegation happen? Is Garber correct in what he’s saying or is he a scaremonger? Share your opinions below.

 

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48 Comments

48 Comments

  1. mark williamson

    October 8, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Fans that have enjoyed Football for a long time will understand and also like the relegation system-knowing that it creates excitement at the top AND the bottom of the league. I think, very simply, is how do you get new fans that are coming on and that have been watching playoff American football, hockey, baseball and basketball, that the MLS is going to adopt a “new” way of deciding a champion and that you are going to love it?

  2. Erick

    September 30, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    OK lots of opinions from a lot of people, first I’m actually excited seeing how many people commented they want to see pro/rel in the US I thought it would be a lot less. I have been hoping for pro/rel since I started watching mls back when I was 12 years old(I am 21 now) in fact I thought they did have it until I saw the same teams the very next year. Recently mls has gotten a little boring as people have mentioned the current system is very anti capitalist and oddly very similar to how our hated rivals the communist would run society by trying to have everybody on the same level. I am big FC Dallas fan but after hearing that the NASL and the NPSL might implement pro/rel in the near future that system looks more exciting as a small team like Dallas City FC could make it to the NASL. Bottom line MLS needs pro/rel maybe not right now but what they could do is start pro/rel with USL and NASL and then in a few years bring MLS into the fold. I think the “american” sports system won’t work for soccer because as people have said US is very far from competing with the best teams as we recently saw against Brazil and honestly will probably miss out on the confed cup.

  3. dutch football

    September 14, 2015 at 12:37 am

    USSF, SUM, MLS, CONCACAF are all in conflict of interest with each other, until you change the whole board of directors for USSF & break away from SUM and MLS so USSF can build a real FA with the interests of the 10’s of millions of fans, players, future fans/players and our honor world wide.

  4. Downtown Dave

    September 10, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    I can’t think of anything more contrived and artificial than trying to impose a European-Latin American style of pro/rel on an American/Canadian league that has absolutely no history with it, whatsoever. Promotion and relegation developed ORGANICALLY in European and Latin American over the decades. Pro/Rel solves NONE of the problems MLS has – it’s a solution in search of a problem. I just wish people would drop it.

  5. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    September 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    But, but, but, we always hear how successful MLS is from the front office. They are expanding to every nook and cranny in the U.S. They are signing big name players (some of who are actually still in their prime!).

    Yes, I think they should join the rest of the world with Pro/Rel. The NASL can’t survive forever with teams jumping to MLS every year. Combine them along with any other minor leagues and you’ll have what many soccer fans want – a competitve structure that rewards teams for playing well and making good decisions. As it is now, a lot of teams take the season off and wait for the playoffs. But that is another issue altogether. I would hope they would go table with a traditional top 3 or 2 like other leagues and get rid of the playoffs altogether.

    • Chad

      September 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      teams get rewarded for doing “well”… but not punished for winning the cup… thats pretty much what europe does… the american system is suited for americans, we want to see winners and teams wanting to win… not wanting to play to stay in the league that we’re already paying to watch them play in, we pay to watch the team win. you don’t get that in pro/rel… you get teams that made it to the big league and theyre just fine being there, collecting money for the year then get relegated back because theyre poor and unknown to the rest of the world… (im yet to count one watford jersey in the states). pro/rel is a sham that you guys bought into to keep the big clubs richer. its like a pyramid scheme with a promise of greatness, keep playing! you might make it to the top… little guy plays, the big guy gets the bigger cut, you’ll never win though.

      • StellaWasAlwaysDown

        September 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm

        I fail to see where you prove that the “american system is suited for americans, we want to see winners and teams wanting to win…”

        How many seasons of MLS have there been? Okay, now, how many times has LA Galaxy been in the finals? How about 9 out of the 19 seasons. How is that for parity? I laugh because the American system of sports is one of the worst IMO. How many other leagues would let a Cleveland Browns or Chicago Cubs languish in the league? Time and time again they are given money, draft picks, etc. and through ineptness still manage to do poorly. Promotion/relegation weeds out the weak and rewards the strong. Every year there are (normally depending on the league) 3 new, hungry teams in the league ready to compete. Some have done quite well. Will Watford win it all this season? No. But they might do enough to knock another team down and get enough money to buy more quality players. NY Red Bulls haven’t won squat but they’ve been in the league 19 years except Supporters Shield which doesn’t mean anything here. FC Dallas barely better trophy-wise with a Open Cup to their name.

        There is also nothing stopping MLS from doing a money system to help prevent the rich owner scenario overseas. Chelsea is good because the owner is filthy rich. Nothing more. He has the money to buy the top coach and players he wants year in and year out. Now MLS does their DP stuff, and through some weird voodoo (Dempsey), but overall it’s an okay system. Who says they can’t do both?

        • Chad

          September 11, 2015 at 6:56 am

          its system that rewards the wealthy.. the “good” clubs sit at the bottom until they become the best, which in pro/rel, you can’t do until you have money… LA won 5 times, anything else is meaningless. would of been more under pro/rel.

        • Barroldinho

          September 11, 2015 at 9:41 am

          At least 50% of the Premiership have zero expectation of being a title contender in the foreseeable future. Most of that 50% probably don’t have an expectation of winning the league ever again.

          The Galaxy have been very successful but they also would have been relegated in 2008 if the system was in place. Meanwhile, we frequently see clubs going from worst to first and vice versa.

          That’s where the parity comes in: whatever else happens, you always have a chance.

          • mark williamson

            October 8, 2015 at 8:18 am

            ..and parity is starting to knock on the EPL’s door. Honestly though, the have and have nots can be applied to any major sport in the U.S. .

  6. Chad

    September 10, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Pro/Rel could not succeed in this country if not at the expense of the small markets. The franchise system is the only thing keeping NY and LA from completely over taking the league and it becoming a two dog race. you would see an instant inflation of new clubs or newly promoted clubs in those leagues just because they attract the top world talent and their financial resources are almost limitless… once the 8 or so clubs from just those two cities alone get done you get to the mid table teams which are the cities one step below those… and trust me, the US has a lot of those cities. by the time you get to small market clubs; SKC, RSL, Sacramento, Ohio, etc etc.. you’re looking at Division 3… theyre not bad clubs, but in an open market they don’t have the money, viewers or power to attract global talent. It’s a reality, folks complained when NYC and LA were signing all these DP’s… well what did you expect? do you honestly expect a Ronaldo or a Messi to say “hey! im signing with Houston/Columbus today!”? nope, all those players are going to the big cities where they can splash money… and your poor little club is going to get relegated and sit mid table in division 3/4. Be thankful for the franchise system or else half of these clubs in MLS wouldn’t even be around to be remember by anyone.

    • StellaWasAlwaysDown

      September 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      I don’t see how big name players not wanting to play in small markets makes a good case against promotion/relegation. The only difference it will make is to make those two markets you mentioned even stronger. So instead of teams dropping down, you’ll just have crappy teams feeding the top few clubs. Hardly an improvement.

  7. StrikersFan

    September 10, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Ultimately I think pro/rel is where the USSF should take soccer in this country, to match how the world’s game is successfully operated around the rest of the globe. BUT, the timing for it has to be right or it could lead to setbacks in further growth of the game here.

    Does even the staunchest MLS supporter or anti-pro/rel fan really believe that SUM should be a permanent system for operating a country like America’s D1 soccer league? Everyone understands it was created with a purpose to help ensure the stability of the league as it grew. Well, to use a metaphor, I think we’re easily at a point where the training wheels can come off. In one breath Garber talks almost arrogantly about his league being on par with the Prem or the Bundesliga within a few years. But then he contradicts himself and says the league is so fragile that something like pro/rel will “crater” it? Which is it Cohiba Don? On the verge of being top tier, or still a fragile baby? Answers should never be made to simply fit the question. Which is the truth?

    At the heart of NASL’s letter to the USSF regarding D1 status is the idea that lower level soccer won’t be able to grow much further, or at least definitely not any faster, than it is now without access to top level sanctioning. Be it through pro/rel or otherwise. Does this make sense business wise? I think it’s hard to dismiss as untrue. But does it necessarily mean investors will flock to the lower divisions if the ability to become “major league” or D1 does materialize? Many people seem to think so. If so, does it mean the USSF should do something to enable it to happen? Difficult questions with a lot of uncertainty based on assumptions.

    Only one thing is clear – in order for pro/rel to have any chance, the lower divisions must see additional investment. Slowly the NASL and USL both are seeing investment in their leagues grow, but I don’t think we’re there yet. Do we wait until some kind of metrics and/or critical mass is reached to really push pro/rel as a plan to the forefront? Or is it going to take announcing it as the plan for the future, and then give a reasonable timetable for it to be set up and implemented so that it will not “crater” anybody? SUM would have to go. But again, go back to my earlier question, was it ever meant to be permanent? Didn’t we foresee a day when a group of teams (stop me if this sounds familiar folks) would get together and decide, you know what, the system we’re in now limits us and there is potential for a whole lot more if we push the envelope?

    • StrikersFan

      September 10, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Pardon my misuse of SUM and instead insert Single Entity.

    • Alex Gsgo

      September 10, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Name one set back pro rel will cause?

      • Barroldinho

        September 10, 2015 at 11:41 pm

        It’s an unnecessary risk. MLS is showing steady progress and improvement. It also doesn’t have a single problem that pro/rel would solve.

        It’s a definite possibility that a big market dropping out of the major league could have enough repercussions in ticket sales, sponsorship, TV coverage and general exposure that the team fails.

        Meanwhile, it is also possible for a D2 to punch above its weight for a season, go up, fail to compete, disillusioning fans, get relegated immediately and then also fail.

        That might not happen but it’s plausible enough to make it a significant possibility.

        The question should be ” why does it make sense for US soccer to take this risk?”

  8. Tim

    September 10, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Not one person I have ever had a converstion with tells me they dont watch MLS or NASL because there is no pro/rel. It always has to do with quality of play as the reason the dont watch and pro/rel with not make that better. You will still have the same players but with more intensity. How about MLS work on its crazy ass rules, that no one can understand first.

  9. Barroldinho

    September 10, 2015 at 2:29 am

    To save time, my opinions can be outlined below. I think the concept of pro/rel is fine in the right circumstances but those circumstances aren’t right for the US at this time.

    https://barroldinhosoccer.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/buying-bricks-when-you-dont-need-a-wall-promotion-and-relegation-in-the-usa/

  10. Joe

    September 9, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    I don’t really give a damn either way. I am a consumer so I watch when I am entertained. If mls is entertaining me ill watch and if not I’ll change the channel. If you’re saying “nope can’t watch it because at the end of the season no one will be relegated” then you clearly are in it for the wrong reasons. Also don’t tell me that pro/rel makes games better…sure maybe some at the end of the season but it does not magically make bad players good. My answer: if it happens that’s great and if not life will go on and so will American soccer.

  11. Alex Gsgo

    September 9, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Indeed, Pro/rel should be consider to move the game to a wider soccer audience. Here’s what I propose. MLS owners wont lose their investment. No MLS club would relegated only NASL would be promoted. Here is why, imagine the Fort Lauderdale Strikers winning this year NASL Soccer Bowl and being promoted to MLS in 2016 and called the MLS wildcard club watching home games against Seattle,Portland and Red Bulls come into town and having an opportunity as soccer fans to watch Dempsey, Bradley,Kean, Lampart play at Lockhart stadium. Wildcard promotion to MLS only for NASL with no MLS club religated with each new NASL champ.

  12. Daniel

    September 9, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    It’s simple: fans of clubs outside MLS deserve the same access to the global football landscape as everyone else.

    • Barroldinho

      September 10, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Talk to clubs from Luxembourg that have been leveraged out of the main Champions League competition. Then talk to the La Liga teams in Spain who are forced to sit back and let two clubs take an obscene slice of the TV revenue pie. How about Southampton who are rewarded for good seasons by having their best players signed away.

      The global football landscape you refer to is largely dictated by the biggest clubs whose dominance gives them incredible leverage over the very confederations they play in.

  13. ribman

    September 9, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    several posts and few answer the question why you are for or against just a lot of noise about how much one should or should not be. My stance I see the benefits and weaknesses of both systems. I agree there are bigger questions than regulation or no- the European model’s main weakness is the leagues more and more are completely predictable and unfair. The EPL is currently the most competitive league where on any given day a team can beat another but the top of the table is between 5 maybe 6 teams -same ones every year and the first 3 are even more limited with a rousing battle for 4th. Yes relegation adds meaning but the teams that go up and down not a lot of mystery- it becomes more obvious every year
    Sunderland can scrape by in 17th year in year out, go down come up 2 years later whaterver and a model club like Swansea can be steady midtable but they ultimately will have a ceiling and sell players.

    I don’t want the American system to be LA NY and everyone else. My team SKC is much like Swansea except for now we still in theory can win things. I’m not wild about playoffs but if done smartly can be a level of excitement and winning the league should always be most coveted achievement.

    I am for Relegation/promotion if as a league their are safe guards that simply having rich investors and excessive funds to guarantees results- there can be a gulf between top and bottom in finances available but not to the extremes of La Liga.

    As the EPL becomes more and more commercialized and those original fans the mill workers and working people get priced out, is it not often heard from fans they prefer their teams in lower league as it will be an overall better fan experience? and something affordable . MLS is priced great for most middle class families and those below that can afford to go to a game. I like my 20,000 seat sold out stadium, great live environment, do I really want the 60,000 overpriced experience?

    I’m still listening for pro relegation people to make brief arguments for why it is clearly superior besides the generalities- I could give a s*** about tradition because those days are long gone in Europe as well, it’s not the good ole days it’s about $ everywhere.

    The main argument is teams have something to play for all season even at bottom of the table and are held accountable for their failures. That is a compelling point.

    But here’s the other side of that – how many teams like New Castle, Aston Villa, Sunderland are not trying to win (including deliberately playing out of European qualification) get comfortable in that middle and turn it off. I hate watching teams pack it in too but it seems relegation just moves the post farther up the table, really bad teams will play hard (except QPR didn’t did they) but the next tier flat out quits.

  14. SnoProblem

    September 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    There’s so much more to this question than just “Pro/rel: good or bad?”

    Should we just drop pro/rel on everyone’s head right now? No, that would be a disaster. Relegated clubs stand no chance of affording even half of their current roster and promoted clubs would need to replace most of their roster just to compete for the season. Without a fleshed-out second division, this would just create a cycle of bloated roster salaries getting sent back down. In other words, it would do no good for anyone involved.

    Do I want pro/rel implemented at some point? Yes, but there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in the implementation. Do we want the possibility of the league being NY & LA with maybe a Chicago or Dallas thrown in? I’m sure large swaths of America wouldn’t bother to tune in for that. If there’s a good way to have pro/rel without the risk of consolidation to a few population centers, I’m all for it.

    So, when the facilities are in place for the 2nd division to be promoted, bring it on. Until then, let’s avoid diving off the cliff and just expecting water to be at the bottom.

  15. Flyvanescence

    September 9, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    It need to happen but lets be honest it will not until USSF gets completely turned over to new people. The only hope for that is if USSF officials go down in the whole FIFA investigation, and i really do not know what the chances of that happening are.

  16. Andy Mullaly

    September 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Short answer is Yes we need pro/rel.

  17. Puck Sherburn

    September 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    The answer us yes to Pro/Rel.

    As long as the question is “Do you want to see the USMNT win a World Cup”.

    Confusing national team development with protecting investors is the fatal flaw. Expecting Highschool’s and Colleges to develop world class talent is insane. It works for other sports because other sports don’t have to compete on the global market. A market in which we are not a global leader nor are we even considered a good place to develop young talent.

    Closed Leagues is only the beginning of the problems. Amatuers development by amateur coaches is another issue. A glaring lack of legitimate youth Academies, compounds other issues to create a perfect storm of complete crap.

    We as Americans also need to lose the romantic notion of amateurism. It has degraded our accedemic culture to its core, wherein a University’s Football or Basketball teams take priority over other aspects of said institution.

    All in all the entirety of American sports culture needs to be reworked. Klinan said it best “In the US the pyramid is upside down”.

    It’s our job to turn the pyramid right side up.

    • SnoProblem

      September 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      FYI: Every MLS team has a full academy. They’ve had them for about 5 years and players are being signed to the first team from them. If you want to claim a “glaring lack of legitimate youth Academies”, at least have your facts straight.

      • Puck Sherburn

        September 9, 2015 at 5:51 pm

        Just 5 years? Couldn’t care to rebut any of my other points? Are these academy’s players still amateur, or are they considered youth professionals?

        Further to that point the collusion of USSF/MLS to deny solidarity payments to clubs outside the MLS who develop talent is yet another issue. The “homegrown talent” initiative rewards Franchises for players developed within there area regardless of the fact that they had zero to do with said development.

        But hey, MLS Franchises are signing players out of there academy’s to fill USL rosters so it’s ok.

        • SnoProblem

          September 9, 2015 at 6:27 pm

          Yes, a 20-year-old league has 5-year-old academies. Did you expect 100-year-old academies to spring up overnight?

          Are they legally youth professionals? No, because that wouldn’t allow them to pursue an NCAA career path. Is that a thorn in the setup for me? Yes, but I don’t see NCAA changing anything in that realm. Not something MLS or USSF can force onto the situation.

          Is the solidarity/development moneys an issue? Yes, it’s a big issue for both sides:

          First, pay-to-play clubs in other countries don’t get those payments, so that’s a gaping hole in many of the current fights on that issue. Seeing as FIFA is a pillar of transparency, how do you account for the proper use of those monies in similarly opaque pay-to-play clubs?

          Second, USSF needs to come clean on the legal framework in place. I’m all for a set of rules for how a club/academy qualifies for payments, but let everyone know those guidelines.

          As to your other points: You complained that high schools are part of the development path, which isn’t true in the academy setup. You spouted off about amateur players and amateur coaches, though academies have professional coaches. You claimed academies simply don’t exist, which is completely false. Then you wandered off on a rant about how the label “amateur” is a bad thing and that you don’t like NCAA rules.

          I don’t see much left there to refute. I don’t like NCAA rules either, but USSF/MLS/NASL/USL/NPSL/NWSL has zero power to demand anything of NCAA. Also, pro/rel is going to do absolutely nothing to change NCAA’s mind about anything.

          • Puck Sherburn

            September 9, 2015 at 8:51 pm

            As to my point of centention regarding NCAA, I feel as a community soccer might have the ability to break free from the NCAA plantation. Remove development from state funded institutes of higher learning. As well as affording more kids, at a younger age, access to full time paid, professional coach’s. This would lead to future international dominance at the senior level. An investment much like the one Germany made roughly 15 years ago.

            I feel, as a community, we can fix many of the glaring holes in not only the development, but the “TGIFing” of every aspect of out sporting world.

            The simple fact that your defending billionaires (most of whom are hedging future market shifts) investing into sports is laughable.

            In my opinion, a 5 year implementation period would work. Giving ample time for any unwilling owners the chance to cash out. Keeping in mind, most likely any loss in “top flight Franchises” would most likely be more than made up for in increased values of existing lower division entities.

            You’ve admitted to “not being happy” with things, yet defend billionaire as you called them “investors”. Why is that? It makes absolutely no sense.

            • SnoProblem

              September 9, 2015 at 10:21 pm

              NCAA is collegiate athletics. One and the same. Someday we may be able to professionalize clubs that affiliate with schools, but that will take action from NCAA and they, quite frankly, don’t really care enough about soccer to shuffle all the rules that it would take. Until then, kids will still want to go to college and soccer-playing kids will want to play soccer while going to college. In the development scheme, though, college is for late-bloomers. Prospects will be signing professional contracts or going to college full-time, not both.

              In the 5 years that you suggest, how can you be sure that the 2nd division will be prepared for promotion? Many are currently working with ~5k stadiums that don’t come close to MLS-ready.

              Now, please read my posts again, carefully. Not once do I mention “billionaires” or “investors”. Let’s try sticking to the actual discussion, not make up attacks to arguments not made. Thanks.

  18. Matt

    September 9, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I don’t really care if Billionaires lose money. If you invest in soccer and do not know that pro/rel is an integral part of the game, be it now or in the future then you haven’t done your due diligence and I have no time for you. Success should be rewarded on the pitch not on the bank balance. If a team gets relegated due to mismanagement and a bad scouting and business plan it is on them and nobody else. Nature abhors a vacuum. if a team or league goes bankrupt it’s because of their mismanagement. MLS should be in direct competition with other leagues and not given a privileged closed status at the top of the pyramid.

  19. Chris G

    September 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Pro/rel is a terrible system. It incentivizes clubs to spend beyond their means just to survive and contributes to the competitiveness problem in Europe. It scares away big-time investors because of the immense risk and has ruined European soccer for all but the super-clubs. A minor league system in which the smaller clubs act as development clubs and extended academies for the larger clubs is a system that would fare far better in America.

    • Puck Sherburn

      September 9, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      So the Qatari Royal family isn’t a big investor? Nor is the Oligarchy of Gazprom?

      It’s a dilusional concept to consider “competitive balance” a product in and of itself. MSM pundits can spew it all they want but it’s bullshit. Look at golf, when Tiger was winning everything, ratings were up. Which spawned more $, leading to the golf channel being a standard offering. MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL all do better when a “dynasty” is on a historic unbeaten streak.

      American Exceptionalism is killing the growth of Soccer, because we can’t handle “foreign” concepts such as meritocracy and and youth professionalism.

      Big sports business is the problem, and your letting them trick you into buying there bullshit.

  20. Dean Stell

    September 9, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I would love to see pro/rel. I understand the reasons against it….namely that it is difficult to expect owners to pay $50MM+ for an expansion team that could be relegated. And those expansion fees are currently MLS’s best form of revenue.

    Garber is doing his job…which is to protect the interests of his owners. He isn’t directly incentivized to “grow soccer” or “improve youth development”. His job is to make more money for his owners and pro/rel is antithetical to that. Agree or not, but Garber is doing his job well.

    But, the problem is that there are so many thriving NASL and USL teams in the U.S. and MLS can’t just expand to accept all of them. Could MLS expand beyond 30 teams? How would they do scheduling? Even at 30 teams, there would be legit markets that are not served by MLS and they’ll keep supporting their NASL/USL team and the fact that those teams sometimes beat MLS teams in the USOC damages the credibility of MLS (even if it is just a little bit). Lower level teams beat top division teams in other countries all the time, but it doesn’t cause a legitimacy issue because those lower teams have a pathway to proving they are better: Win promotion and prove it on the field.

    It just isn’t possible to point at the NFL/NBA/MLB model and apply it to soccer because those sports use college sports as their “lower leagues”. Nobody wants to put an NFL team in Austin, TX and nobody cares because of the bonanza of the University of Texas football program. For some reason, college soccer doesn’t quite quench that thirst of soccer fans, so even though they might go to see the Duke and UNC soccer games, they would rather support the Carolina Railhawks (and wonder why MLS excludes them, but embraces Columbus and Salt Lake City.

    Anyway. I support it and would like to see it. I really feel like this country did soccer backwards. Most other countries started with soccer as something for mill workers to do to keep them from gambling and drinking booze all day. Eventually the teams became more professional and organized into leagues that played locally and decades passed without any sponsorship or TV deals. The US very ambitiously leaped right into creating a NATIONAL league with teams 3000 miles apart and the hope of TV deals and sponsors. I admire their ambition, but to get owners to support that system, they had to create a closed system where nobody would ever get kicked out. I honestly feel like the growth of NASL and USL teams is a more pure thing. They are growing based on ticket sales to fans who connect with the team and enjoy coming to see them play. I’d like to see them included in the soccer pyramid in a meaningful way.

    • Chris G

      September 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      The growth of USL and NASL has been the result of MLS’ investment. It is not self-sustaining, it’s a trick-down effect from the popularity of domestic soccer engendered by MLS owners and their investment. Also, it should be noted that the lower division teams that got big support (Portland, Orlando, Montreal, Minnesota, Sacramento) were almost all teams vying for MLS. It was the MLS potential that attracted the fans, not the clubs themselves.

      • StrikersFan

        September 10, 2015 at 8:38 am

        Your posts on this subject have been questionable at best, but this one takes the cake. MLS investment has driven the growth of teams in the other two professional leagues? Huh??? Say it out loud instead of typing it. Am I the only one here who thinks that sounds like complete drivel? MLS has had nothing to do with the rebirth and growth of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. They have had no effect on the long time stability of the Charleston Battery. Tell me exactly how the Richmond Kickers are not self-sustaining, having existed longer than MLS itself and all??? I get it, you don’t like this pro/rel talk. It bothers you, like it bothers most MLS fans living inside their closed, safe system where the worst thing that can happen is getting the best draft picks next year. That’s fine. But don’t let it goad you into saying ridiculous things in trying to express your point of view. Portland only got big support when they started vying for MLS eh?

  21. Scott

    September 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I would like to see promotion/relegation, and I’ll just come right out and admit that it’s primarily because I’d like to see one of my local teams make it to the MLS (or at least have that possibility). But, let’s be honest, that’s true of many people and that’s why it’s so exciting. You have fans that really connect with and support their local teams.

  22. Brad

    September 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    It would make MLS like the other leagues but it’s just not realistic for the owners. They pay a lot to get a franchise and then need to get themselves a stadium. The owners would have to much at stake to have the club get relegated. I think MLS has overexpanded and should have capped the number of teams at 20.

    • Chris G

      September 9, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      I think the US standard of 30 teams is the right size for MLS. Any smaller and there are just too many markets being left out.

  23. Ivan

    September 9, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    A Big Yes on promotion and relegation; I hope it happens in the next 10 years or so, for the benefit of football in this country.

    It’s funny-the USA, the country that rewards success and punishes mediocrity, has closed, single entity sports systems in which failure is “punished” by “sorry, you won’t make the playoffs this year.”

    Pro/rel won’t happen with Garber/Gulati at the helm…but it will happen sooner rather than later…

  24. Chuck

    September 9, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Of course it would “crater” MLS, since MLS is single entity and you can’t do promotion-relegation with a single entity controlling all the teams.

    But I honestly wonder if there has been a league at the top of a pyramid with promotion and relegation, anywhere and anytime, that has collapsed and disappeared. Somehow, I think not. There are always teams to fill the slots.

  25. Ivan K

    September 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I believe that anything coming from Don Garber should not be published. I mean common…this is the guy that said that MLS popularity is in stake with so much MLS on TV. No, the fact that we are bringing retired Euro stars and give them alot of money, so they can generate alot of money for MLS is the problem. Invest more money in youth, stop drafting players from colleges. MLS is stiff inferior product and the reason is that is run by people who has no CLUE of the sport. STOP thinking about money and invest in local talent. Having relegation will make the sport more interesting and competitive. Oh and by the way EPL is on TV every year, every game…..I did not see their viewing numbers going down. 🙂

    • Chris G

      September 9, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      You want investment? You need money. You need money? You need billionaire owners. You want billionaire owners? You need to show you are a financially stable product. You want a financially stable product? You need to minimize risk.

      The EPL is not big in America. Manchester United is big in America. Arsenal is big in America. Chelsea is big in America. the popularity of the EPL in America is entirely the result of the big teams and big names, and big money. It has nothing to do with promotion/relegation.

      • mark williamson

        October 8, 2015 at 8:11 am

        Ask an average fan in England about billionaire owners. I suppose they can add stability of a sorts, but these same owners can ruin a game. THAT we know first hand here in the States of what money, money, money can do to a sport.

  26. US Fan

    September 9, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Something needs to change. Having the top 6 from each conference going to the post season sucks.

    A pyramid style league structure with P/R would be great but back in the real world this prob won’t happen.

    How about changing the format? Have divisions of 4 teams. Done geographically. Make the rivalry games REALLY count. If possible then get it up to 32 teams to (dare I say) mimic the NFL structure.

    That would add way more interest. You’d be wanting your div rivals to lose every game. When you play them it really would be for the proverbial 6 points.

    If you finish ranked 32nd twice in a row then yes, how about some investigation into whether there is a feasible team to take your place. Make finishing last a bad thing – not an aid to getting first pick next season…

    • Dean Stell

      September 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Honestly, I think there’s some merit in the geography thing. Just do a “southeast league” and let the big MLS teams be lumped in with all the NASL/USL teams. Sure…..the MLS teams would win the league every year, but at least the little teams would get to play big teams and wouldn’t have to blow their travel budget.

      Then have a kinda “champion’s league” where the top few teams from each region compete to see who is really the best of the best. Right now that would probably be all MLS teams.

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