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Old 11-27-2013, 09:47 PM
 
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When word came out that the WNBA was getting better TV ratings than MLS most of us who have been critical of MLS were not surprised. From its beginnings it has been a league run by ex-NFL guys who lack any soccer sense. Over the years it ditched many of its silly rules(backwards clock, shoot outs to resolve tie games) but the league we have now is still somewhat of a rogue when it comes to how the global game is played. The league is mired in over-regulation, oppressive salary cap restrictions, designated player rules which do nothing to improve the overall quality of play, lack of interesting player movement because there is no free agency, and a dull and anti-climatic post-season.

American fans have tuned out the league and its hard to pin point why because there are so many things that the league does that is just wrong. But lets start with the quality.

MLS is the only soccer league in the world that purposely makes its quality worse all in the name of fairness. Q comes after P in the alphabet but that doesn't mean that quality should come after parity. Quality should always be the goal. But with MLS, parity is king, and the salary cap and lack of free agency is there to ensure it survives. But, parity of some kind would exist anyway even without the cap and free agency for the simple fact that the best American players will always have their eye on Europe. The parity that MLS pushes is designed to weaken the quality so its fair for every team.

I would do the following:

-dismantle single entity structure. Let clubs control their own rosters and wage budgets. The league holding all the contracts and being the owner of all the teams turns too many people off and it can no longer be ignored. There is absolutely no reason that single entity is needed. No other American sport even uses such a structure.

-free agency

- replace salary cap with financial controls similar to Financial Fair Play where clubs cannot spend more than 60% of revenues. The primary factor in pushing down the quality of the league is the $3 million salary cap + 3 DP rule. You cannot field a quality side when you are only allowed to spend the bulk of your wage budget on three players and then must field the rest of the started lineup and a squad with just under $2 million. It is not possible. And its not good soccer. Toronto FC is about to sign Jermain Defoe for $7.5 million a year. He's going to be playing along side teammates making just north of $100 and in some cases below $100k. That is a farce. Give me that $7.5 million and I could buy 5 or 6 quality players and Toronto FC would be higher quality.

Now that we've got that out of the way we must tackle how the league is structured. The league has decided to go to 24 teams by 2020. So, the idea that we'd ever see a single table MLS or a balanced schedule is now very unlikely. I intially thought a 20 team league with a single table would be MLS's best chance to get American soccer fans, who are being exposed and socialised into the sport of soccer though Europe, to accept the league. But, I've been won over somewhat by the argument that the country is too big and travel too extensive to handle a balanced schedule. I've been one over by this argument so much that I think it should be taken a step further. I think the league should be separated into two different regional leagues (Western and Eastern) and teams should only play teams in their own league. This would be similar to what baseball was with the American and National league before inter-league play. I would then expand each league (you can call them conferences if you like) to 16 teams each, making MLS 32 teams altogether. It would look like something like this:

Western (16 teams)
LA Galaxy
Chivas
Seattle Sounders

Portland Timbers
RSL
Sporting Kansas City
San Jose Earthquakes

FC Dallas
Houston Dynamo
Colorado Rapids
Vancouver Whitecaps
San Diego
San Francisco
San Antonio Scorpions
Las Vegas
Phoenix

Eastern (16 teams)

New York Red Bulls
New York City FC
New York Cosmos
Chicago Fire

Philadelphia Union
DC United
New England Revs

Montreal Impact
Toronto FC
Columbus Crew
Miami Beckhams
Atlanta Silverbacks
Orlando City
Carolina Railhawks
Minnesota United
Tampa Bay Rowdies

Teams only play within their own league during the regular season. That 30 games home and away balanced schedule.The winner of each league wins their league title trophy. Call it the Supports Shield if you like.

The benefits of this system are many. Most importantly less travel costs would help the bottom line of clubs. Less travel is also good on the players. Also, it would improve away support in each league due to the fact that there would be no cross country matches during league play. It would also make post-season inter-league games and USOC inter-league games all the more interesting.

The post-season would be called MLS Cup. The top 3 teams in each league automatically go through to the MLS Cup. Teams 4-7 go into a playoff to determine the fourth team from each league.

The MLS Cup will start with group play then a semi-final game held at the home of the team with more pts in group play. The final would be the same.

This kind of structure would seem to make everyone happy. For traditionalists there is a single table in each league to follow. And the MLS Champion would always be the winner of the MLS Cup.

I purposely avoided the topic of promotion and relegation as it seems to bring out the worst in some people. But if soccer continued to grow you could very well have pro/rel where the bottom two teams from each league go down.
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:18 AM
 
Location: SE UK
7,809 posts, read 6,627,248 times
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As an Englishman I would take more interest if they didn't do the 'play off' thing - I can't understand why the best team in the league (the one that finishes top) may not be crowned as the league champions due to one off games. Also relegation dog fights are usually the most entertaining match ups of any league! The league format is the only way to ascertain the 'best' club (consistancy is the key). I don't see the 'quality' of the games as being the be all and end all of football - even two crap teams (and I am not saying MLS has crap teams by the way) can play out an exciting game - what you want is end to end action and plenty of chancesl. I would like to point out that I realise in the US people like the 'play off' system and that this system may work better in the US market - I am just telling it from my own personal point of view.
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:59 AM
 
1,496 posts, read 1,498,935 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easthome View Post
As an Englishman I would take more interest if they didn't do the 'play off' thing - I can't understand why the best team in the league (the one that finishes top) may not be crowned as the league champions due to one off games. Also relegation dog fights are usually the most entertaining match ups of any league! The league format is the only way to ascertain the 'best' club (consistancy is the key). I don't see the 'quality' of the games as being the be all and end all of football - even two crap teams (and I am not saying MLS has crap teams by the way) can play out an exciting game - what you want is end to end action and plenty of chancesl. I would like to point out that I realise in the US people like the 'play off' system and that this system may work better in the US market - I am just telling it from my own personal point of view.
I agree with you that a single table with league champ is the best way to crown a champion. And promotion and relegation would be awesome to have. It's what makes European soccer leagues so intriguing.

The challenge in the U.S is the size of the country. When Manchester United plays Liverpool they only have to travel 45 minutes by bus. But when LA plays NY it's a 5578 mile round trip flight. New England to Seattle is even farther (6336 miles round trip). The cost of all that travel is something most European clubs don't have to deal with. Because of the distance teams in MLS on the west coast don't always play a home and away with east coast teams. Instead they play an extra game against a west coast team. This leads to an unbalanced schedule which makes it difficult to crown a single table champion. Thus, playoffs are used.

What I'm proposing is to have two separate league tables with 16 teams each. And clubs will only play clubs in their own league. Then where they finish in the league would determine who would play in MLS Cup (I wouldn't call it playoffs). That would solve the travel issue and it would make it fun for fans to follow each league table.
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Old 11-28-2013, 05:12 AM
 
Location: SE UK
7,809 posts, read 6,627,248 times
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I can see how the sheer size of the USA can make it difficult - how about regional leagues and the champions + other top four finishers go into a country wide 'knockout' competion the following year (a bit like the European Champions League competition)?
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:29 PM
JJG
 
Location: Fort Worth
13,247 posts, read 19,171,479 times
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A few things in your list of 32 clubs...

- Chivas needs to move to San Diego.
- New York won't have more than two teams. If you won't see it in the bigger sports leagues in America, don't expect to see it in the MLS.
- Don't count on Vegas getting a team...

Everything else seems spot on.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:41 PM
 
Location: Vineland, NJ
8,483 posts, read 10,458,635 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJG View Post
A few things in your list of 32 clubs...

- Chivas needs to move to San Diego.
- New York won't have more than two teams. If you won't see it in the bigger sports leagues in America, don't expect to see it in the MLS.
- Don't count on Vegas getting a team...

Everything else seems spot on.
I would also suggest......

-Moving the Houston Dynamo to the Western Conference. It would also strengthen the in-state rivalry with Dallas.

-Since New York is getting a 2nd MLS franchise, the league should change the name of the "New York Red Bulls" to the "New Jersey Redbulls." It would make a lot of sense as the team already plays in the state of New Jersey. I'm sure the fans would overwhelmingly support it.

-Expand more teams in the South.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Tejas
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Playoffs are boring, period.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:54 PM
JJG
 
Location: Fort Worth
13,247 posts, read 19,171,479 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwillyfromphilly View Post
I would also suggest......

-Moving the Houston Dynamo to the Western Conference. It would also strengthen the in-state rivalry with Dallas.

-Since New York is getting a 2nd MLS franchise, the league should change the name of the "New York Red Bulls" to the "New Jersey Redbulls." It would make a lot of sense as the team already plays in the state of New Jersey. I'm sure the fans would overwhelmingly support it.

-Expand more teams in the South.
You know what... YEAH. Just rename the Red Bulls for Jersey instead.

I'm pretty sure Houston will move to the west eventually. San Antonio will be there. And long shot, I hope Fort Worth could get one.
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Old 12-01-2013, 06:14 PM
 
1,496 posts, read 1,498,935 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJG View Post
A few things in your list of 32 clubs...

- Chivas needs to move to San Diego.
- New York won't have more than two teams. If you won't see it in the bigger sports leagues in America, don't expect to see it in the MLS.
- Don't count on Vegas getting a team...

Everything else seems spot on.
I would move Chivas to East LA and rebrand.

I was going to put four teams in NYC. Soccer is much different than other American sports. Other American sports don't emphasis derby matches like soccer does. Soccer when it is done right is much more community oriented. You could put clubs in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. The challenge with anywhere in NYC is finding space to build a stadium. The Pier 40 location in Manhattan for NYC FC would be awesome.But the challenge wouldn't be support. Derby matches would be huge draws in NY. Soccer is very popular there.
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Old 12-01-2013, 06:31 PM
JJG
 
Location: Fort Worth
13,247 posts, read 19,171,479 times
Reputation: 7005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldous9 View Post

I was going to put four teams in NYC. Soccer is much different than other American sports. Other American sports don't emphasis derby matches like soccer does. Soccer when it is done right is much more community oriented. You could put clubs in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. The challenge with anywhere in NYC is finding space to build a stadium. The Pier 40 location in Manhattan for NYC FC would be awesome.But the challenge wouldn't be support. Derby matches would be huge draws in NY. Soccer is very popular there.
Look, I know you think that soccer should be treated differently in the states, but that idea just wouldn't work.

New York could only get away with 2 teams. You could barely have 3, but that 3rd would have to be New Jersey's team. Unlike England, there are waaaaaaaay too many major cities here for one city to have 3 or 4 teams regardless of what sport it is.
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