Friday, February 29, 2008

Philly story

Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America likes Philadelphia's inclusion in MLS. He went so far to call it a coup.

Philadelphia beat out St. Louis for the 16th spot. I'd like for the league to stop at 16 and hold steady but having St. Louis and one more team wouldn't be the worst thing, I suppose. I don't think MLS can really have more than 18 teams, though. Sixteen would be perfect - every team plays every other team, once at home and once away. You could do away with the conferences and let the top six or eight teams into the postseason and everything would line up nice and neat, at least on paper.


Brian said...

L.B.--I agree, and would only add that MLS needs to loosen up the salary cap a titsch.

To extend this further, in a pie-in-the-sky way...

In a few years, they strike a deal with USL, and promote two teams to take it to 20 (starting with 18 MLS). Then relegate to USL the bottom two each year.

Anonymous said...

Under FIFA's rule aren't leagues not allowed to expand past 18 teams anyway?

Brian said...

Never heard that before. The EPL has 20 teams...

Anonymous said...

It's a rule that was passed last year I believe. As for the EPL, Blatter made a comment that it would be easier to stop leagues from expanding past 18 than to have leagues retract teams.

argaen said...

Apparently that "18 teams" is not a rule, its a guideline. FIFA can't tell MLS how many teams it should have.

Anonymous said...

FIFA CAN tell MLS because MLS follows FIFA rules.

Don Garber said as much during the SuperDraft that when they reach 18 clubs because of the FIFA rules they will stop expansion and look at how to further develop as a league.

Anonymous said...

"FIFA CAN tell MLS because MLS follows FIFA rules.

Don Garber said as much during the SuperDraft that when they reach 18 clubs because of the FIFA rules they will stop expansion and look at how to further develop as a league."

Agreed. FIFA can pretty much tell MLS what it can and can't do if it feels it tries to threaten a FIFA mandate. It's no surprise that Garber has never made any solid comments about expansion past 18 teams. And if people think that MLS can just blow FIFA off, all FIFA has to do is either sanction the US from participating in any World Cups or shut down any bids to ever host a World Cup, just like they threatened to do to England a few weeks ago.

The Hammer said...

FIFA CAN tell MLS what rules to follow, but FIFA CAN'T tell MLS what guidelines to follow.

I'm not sure on the status of the "rule" or "guideline" in question, but if it's the latter it can't be enforced.

Having said all that, I'd like to see the league stop at 16, too. Sort out the messes in KC, Columbus and Chivas USA in terms of attendance. Get league wide average up to a range between 16 and 18k. Tease new markets but don't losen up just yet in order to create a large demand among non-league markets, then expand to 18.


I think in order to protect big teams and big investors, if the league considers promotion/relegation down the line it might be wise to follow FMF's relegation system rather than the traditional system.

FMF determines relegation based on the teams' PPG average during their last 3 consecutive years in the top division. So you'd take a team's point total and divide it by 90 (30*3). The same applies to the newly promoted team who will have a more volatile PPGAVG because they'd have less games to divide by.

In essence, it takes 3 consecutive bad seasons to get you relegated.

Anonymous said...

I always felt that Mexico's relegation system would be the only relegation system that MIGHT work in the US, if they ever did plan on doing promotion/relegation in the MLS just because it's the least harshest. I'm not saying the MLS is headed to promotion/relegation, but if they were, Mexico's system would probably the best option.

Anonymous said...

18 seems a fair stopping point. But oh, how to pick that 18th city?!

Miami seems to want back in. But Vancouver is a much safer bet in my book. The reception there would rival Toronto. It's a big, international city with an international reputation that will get bigger through the 2010 Olympics. And Canadians and Vancouverites love the sport -- a mix of the excitement of Toronto and of Seattle.

Now they just need deeper pockets and a facility.

After that I think you start to see a lot of pressure applied to places like Columbus. When big cities like Miami and Phoenix are left out, it's hard to justify Columbus long term -- maybe Cleveland?

Anonymous said...

Is there any love for the southeastern soccer fan?

Siva said...

The available talent pool, which depends on the salary cap, which depends on the level of support for soccer, which depends on the talent on the field, which depends on the talent pool,... dictates that even 16 is too many for a healthy league in the US.

There are some teams that probably need to close shop or relocate. Colorado, Salt Lake City, Columbus, and perhaps even San Jose don't deserve a team - and LA certainly hasn't shown itself to have a dedicated soccer fan base to support two MLS teams (even if one of them carries the Chivas banner). Giving teams to Seattle and Philly are recipes for disaster.

I think that just like promotion and relegation for teams, there should be promotion/relegation for cities as well. New teams should only be allowed to enter the "weaker league", and the teams with the lowest attendances should be relegated to the lower division, swapping them for top-attendance teams from the lower division (assuming that the latter is more than the former). This would encourage the fans to put their money where their mouth is.

This way we'll automatically reach good soccer cities like Seattle, Vancouver, Miami, etc., that have USL Div 1 teams, and probably have Columbus, Colorado etc. play in the league they really belong. Just a matter of getting MLS and USL to work together.

PocketKings said...

You want to relegate/promote based on attendence? I don't think you have really thought that idea through... So if my team just throws a bunch of merchandise or raffle a bunch of prizes to inflate attendance, then even if I field an AYSO team, I can get promoted??? I don't think so.

Why not stop expansion into MLS, but allow cities to expand into USL-1&2 or the PDL, with the stipulation that by the year 2015 or 2018, every team in the lower league must match the franchise funds that the original MLS teams payed (what is it, $20 million?) to be considered for promotion/relegation.

This gives each of the teams in the lower leagues or new expansion team cities 7-10 years to pony up the funds that makes them even in investment with current MLS teams, and therefore, remove the owners arguement against protecting their investment via relegation.

But MLS and the lower leagues must agree to a time table and the matching funds. This way, even the newer teams have 7-10 years to solidify their position, and not be the first to be relegated! And, of course, the salary cap must be opened up to allow the import of quality (not superstar, but quality) players from South America or from secondary leagues around the world where players might want to play (live) in the USA.

We all must remember that this is an American league, and unfortunately, its all about the money.

Anonymous said...

These are the facts, folks:

MLS will go past 18 teams. There will not be pro/rel anytime soon. FIFA will allow MLS to have more than 18 teams.

L.B. said...

As much of a part relegation plays in leagues throughout the world, I don't think that it would be widely accepted in the United States. The concept is a foreign one at best to the average American. The financial losses suffered by a club that would go from MLS to USL-1 would be crippling, if not fatal. I don't think we'll ever see relegation in place here in the United States.

Anonymous said...

"MLS will go past 18 teams. There will not be pro/rel anytime soon. FIFA will allow MLS to have more than 18 teams."

I doubt FIFA will just allow MLS to be an exception if everyone else is just allowed 18. Plus with the Serie A seriously considering retracting to 18 teams, and IF the EPL or La Liga were to follow, UEFA would riot if MLS was allowed to be the exception to the rule. Mark my words MLS won't expand past 18 teams until FIFA says it's okay.

L.B. said...

Mexico was at 20 teams not too long ago but they've been at 18 for a while now. It works out well for them, as they play everyone else twice through the course of a calendar year (one year = two seasons).

MLS should get to 18 and stay there regardless of what FIFA allows or doesn't allow them to do. I can't see the talent pool expanding quickly enough for MLS to sustain 16 teams let alone 18 LET ALONE 20 or more. But if MLS wants to expand, they should do so and cap it at 18.

Anonymous said...

MLS should and will expand (I feel) for the following reasons. And a goofy organization such as FIFA will go along with it.

1. Garber has hinted at MLS having 24-30 teams in the past.

2. FIFA will make an exception for the USA due to $$$. The US is the largest media market in the world. MLS knows it has many untapped markets since the country is large and diverse. Also, Canada has at least 2 good soccer markets. If the league really takes off (which I think it will and can) then MLS will look to add teams in these markets. FIFA will understand and respect this because they know that they can also cash in on a strong domestic league.

MLS will get 18 teams by 2012. Then, I bet they stop for maybe 6-8 years. Then, if the league has grown in that time then they will move to 24.

In regards to Luis' comment about talent, wouldn't an expanded cap allow the talent base to grow since it is worldwide. And also, wouldn't slow growth facilitate this (I'm talking 24 teams by 2024 or something).

MLS has many untapped markets, the only way to get to these is to expand or move underperforming teams such as KC, Columbus, etc (but that is not likely any time soon since stadiums are being build/have been built). The only team I could see moving is Chivas (to San Diego or the Chivas slot sold to the highest bidder and rebranded in a place like Vancouver, Miami or whatnot)

A.Ruiz said...

Well, technically MLB is two separate leagues. Both under 18...could something like that be worked?
Before interleague in 97, they never played each other in a regular season.

Besides, FIFA is more crooked than the San Andreas fault. Throw seph blatter some of those SUM funds and the problem goes away.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy the idea that FIFA would make an exception because the US is a large market. Yes FIFA cares about money but UEFA really is the region that runs things. If UEFA doesn't feel it's right for FIFA to make an exception for the MLS, then they won't make the exception. The US and the MLS has zero pull when it comes up against FIFA and I have a feeling it would love to make an example of either the league or the national team if given the chance. Also while it's true Garber has in the past hinted at going up to 30 teams, that talk has all but disappeared since FIFA announced the rule change last year. He pretty much says 18 teams and we'll see, and leaves it at that. Garber's not stupid, he's not going to jump the gun and give FIFA a reason to punish the MLS or USSF.