Now to things that matter.
As you may have heard, Major League Soccer is in the expansion business. Not only are Atlanta United, Minnesota United, and Los Angeles FC coming aboard (and the Miami Beckhams joining somewhere in the wild blue yonder), but MLS has announced plans to expand from 24 to 28 in the next few years. Last week the league received bids from twelve cities vying for one of the expansion franchises.
This post isn’t so much about which cities should get those franchises — although St. Louis, Sacramento, Charlotte, and either Cincinnati or Detroit make the most sense to me. No, this post is about what MLS should look like once expansion happens.
Currently MLS divides its teams into two conferences, Eastern and Western, with regular season schedules weighted toward intra-conference games. The team with the most points at the end of the season gets the Supporters’ Shield, while top teams from each conference compete in playoffs to win the MLS Cup.
Now the problems with this are obvious and fundamental, at least to me (and I’m the one writing this). The Supporters’ Shield is irreparably tainted with unbalanced schedules, and with soccer being a sport historically emphasizing accomplishment over the whole of a season, the crap shoot that is the MLS Cup playoffs becomes the league’s way of Americanizing the most popular sport in the world.
So if MLS wants to expand to 28, I say make plans to eventually get that number to 32. Not immediately. The product is about to be diluted with expansion and you don’t want to shock the system that much. But eventually, get to 32. Continue reading “What MLS should be doing”