A Brave New World?

So the Commish says of the number of clubs in the league; "we could have quite a few more than that [18]." Which, of course, begs the question: what fresh hell is this that is brewing in the devilish minds at MLS HQ? After a few years of subtle shifts towards a more traditional league format, "quite a few more" than 18 suggests to me that we're staring down the barrel of an NFL style conference/division geographic ghettoization.

But what about the intriguing alternatives?

(1) The Euro-queer, Pinko version of MLS could feature the holy grail of Eurosnobbery--the addition of promotion and relegation, with the limitation (hello investors!) that clubs would never be relegated from the league itself, only bounce back and forth between the top tier (MLS1) and the lower division(s) (MLS2, MLS 3, ad nauseam). In fact, this might be where MLS Cup could start to make sense--as an actual "league" cup, running in parallel with the Open Cup and the MLS single-table divisions. So you could have an MLS champion (the top points total of the MLS1 season) and have MLS Cup, involving all of the teams from various divisions (seeded of course), which extends past the end of the season in lieu of an actual playoff format.

(2) El Em-ay Ell-ay Ess-ay Latino could fuse the Brazilian state system with an Apertura/Clausura tournament structure. To whit, have the Apertura portion of the season feature regional leagues (Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, Northwest, etc.) that serve not just as tournaments in their own right, but also as qualifiers for the nationwide tiered Clausura (the MLS1, MLS2 structure mentioned above). And, to satisfy the unquenchable American thirst for playoffs, the regional leagues could also feed a national Apertura playoff featuring the winners of the regional leagues, giving you a national Apertura and Clausura champion, who would then, presumably, be pitted in a winner-take-all gladiatorial fight to the death in the Coliseum or some such nonsense ;-). This format also gives you the added benefit of Summer and Winter breaks that could have somewhat staggered starts/finishes in order to account for the wide variety of climates across the US and Canada.

So what do you think, dear readers. Are we headed for a brave new Euro-Latin world, or will Garber and his minions try to shoehorn MLS into a more "American" (break out the lapel pins!) league format?


  1. Put me down for El Em-ay Ell-ay Ess-ay. If I never posted on my preference for that in the year (or so) I've been doing this stuff, it has been in my head.

    I'm positively giddy at the idea of, say, the Yakima Reds hosting the LA Galaxy on some high school field in Yakima, Washington (which assumes, of course, 1) the Yakima Reds still exist, and 2) they don't merge into a "mega-team" with Salem, Oregon's Cascade Surge (who also may not exist; I don't peak around the lower reaches of the USL all that often). Can't say where they'd site that team; maybe, Stevenson, Washington?

  2. To answer this question, you really have to answer the huge broad question first that has defined MLS in some ways: Should the league be more like traditional American sports leagues or more like traditional soccer leagues in other nations? And to answer THAT question, you have to answer the only question that probably matters to Garber: Which one would bring in more money?

  3. @manly ferry
    Yeah, if it weren't for the single-entity structure and issues of "diluting the brand" that are sure to be raised, I'd like to see the later option as well. It would also keep travel costs (and times!) down and might actually allow for reasonable away support at some matches.

    As I see it, Garber has two major problems here. I'll agree that the money angle will carry the most weight, but he also has to deal with . . . (1) an undeniable infatuation with the passion, tradition, and color of the game abroad (even if he doesn't appreciate or understand the game itself) and (2) the sad fact that marketing to "new" (read as: traditional American sports) fans hasn't exactly been an overwhelming success.