Tickle v. Tackle - The League, It Is a-Changin'

I'll probably do another TvT shortly to catch up on some of the stories I've been meaning to address. But for now, it's all MLS, all the time, as Garber and Gazidis strike back.

MLS Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Rosters are reduced from 28 to 24, while the senior roster expands from 18 to 20. Couple that senior roster expansion with some "wiggle room" in summer fixture dates, vague promises of not conflicting with international fixture windows, and not saddling any team with both SuperLiga and the Champions' League, and it appears that logic managed to penetrate the myopic miasma that fills the halls of MLS HQ.

  • Tickle - First and foremost, thank Jeebus that somebody had the sense to split up the SuperLiga and Champions' League participants. While Houston managed to weather the storm of fixtures better than Chivas, New England, and DC did, they still bowed out of the playoffs much earlier than expected. In fact, none of the four SL/CL participants advanced past the first round of the playoffs. I'd also like something more assuring than "we're trying" when it comes to conflicts with international windows, but at least they're acknowledging the problem. As for the big elephant in the room, we needed to expand the senior rosters, but . . .
  • Tackle - Where does the elimination of the reserve league and reduction of developmental spots from 10 to 4 leave the young Americans (a two-Bowie post?) I suppose you can say that the two extra senior spots mean that we can afford to pay some kids at "professional" rates, but will they ever get a game now that the reserve league is gone? Also, with each team having 8 international spots, nearly half of that 20-man senior roster could be non-domestic. It seems to me that MLS is cutting a hole in the net it was supposed to be casting to bring in the next generation of youth for the national team.
In other news, we're nearly across the line, folks. The schedule for 2009 will be home-and-away against everybody in the league with two "rivalry" games garnishing the plate to bring the season to 30 games.
  • Tickle - Single table in 2010? With the addition of Philadelphia, 16 teams will mean an even 30-game schedule with everybody playing everybody else twice. Will the Conference structure survive such a Euro-blow?
  • Tackle - But that raises the question: what happens in 2011? When the league goes to 18 teams, do we play a 34-game schedule? We already have enough trouble avoiding conflicts with international dates and scheduling around pointy-ball. Where are those extra four games going to get slotted in? Of course, if you're an optimist, soccer-specific stadiums come riding to the rescue. Still, I can envisage one glorious year of a sane single-table before it all starts fracturing again. My guess? Three conferences of six teams each. The three conference winners and highest finishing runner up get the home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, with the other two second-placed teams and the next two highest finishers overall getting the final spots.
Well, that's some of what I took out of the announcements. Anything else catch your eye? What else would you like to see changed? What changes could you have done without?

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