MLS expansion and the importance of the footprint

2 responses

  1. Colin
    February 7, 2014

    Not to be pedantic, but the FIFA recommendation of a 20 team top flight has nothing to do with geography, and certainly isn’t “Euro-centric”. It’s about regulating the number of games. Most leagues worldwide play double round robin (every team plays every other team twice, once at home, once away). For a 20 team league that’s 38 games, already four more than a 19 team MLS plays, and that’s without including domestic cups, league cups and champions league ties. The worry is that top tier players will get run down and won’t be available/in top form for international competitions, hence the reason it’s a FIFA recommendation. They’re protecting their own turf.

    That said, if MLS really wants to “expand their footprint”, they should just add a second division and institute pro/rel. That would allow expansion to 20-24 new markets instead of 4, with the added benefit that any markets not ready for prime time get the opportunity to find their footing at a lower (and less expensive) level of competition. Plus, it preserves the competitive balance of double round robin by ensuring that every team has the same strength of schedule and doesn’t further dilute an already sub-par talent pool with five more expansion rosters. It’ll never happen, though, because ‘Murica.

    • US Soccer Players
      February 7, 2014

      Good point and thanks for adding it. I left it out because MLS can’t handle a home and away schedule and I didn’t want to spend a graf explaining why. I thought I was going a tad long on this one. But hey, the comments section.

      The promotion/relegation thing moves us back to soccer-specific thinking. It had a brief moment of interest when MLB talked about contraction right around the time MLS went and did it. MLB supposedly considered a two-tier league to reduce the cost burden on some of the clubs who thought they’d be swamped by the free spending teams. It turns out, MLB self-corrected without promotion/relegation or contraction. Good for them, but hoping riding out the bad times will work isn’t the most sound of business strategies.

      Like you wrote, it’s not going to happen here because MLS exists in a tug of war between soccer models and what’s standard practice for US sports business. It’s not an easy place to operate, and we haven’t even talked about how even the big European teams run their operations. Euro sports business and US sports business aren’t like for like.

Back to top
mobile desktop