Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How to Strengthen Professional Soccer in America - Part 2:

Make the MLS Season mean more for the teams.
Having each team play 28 matched just to eliminate four of the 12 teams in the league for a playoff spot of cheapens the regular season. In the other US sports leagues, the regular season eliminates most of the teams from the possibility of the playoffs, with MLS only removing a quarter of the teams. In the European leagues, they have their league’s lined up in a one table format, which eliminates the need for a playoff system, with the exception of the lower tier leagues using playoffs to determine who is promoted to the next level league.

So either MLS should only have the top two or three teams move onto the playoffs. They could have the top team in each conference receive a first round bye; to meet the winner of a home and away series between the second and third place teams, in a home and away series to determine who plays in the MLS Cup. This way it would give the teams that added incentive to clinch first place in their conference, instead of really just getting into the playoffs. The two top teams would get essentially two weeks to rest their players for the conference championship series, which could be huge at the end of the season. This alone would make the regular season mean much more for the playoffs than they currently do. This could also be expanded once the league expands to the 18 or 20 clubs that MLS wishes to grow to.

If MLS was to re-align the league into a single table format, it could very well eliminate the requirement for the playoffs, which would increase the requirement for the teams to play hard the entire season. American sports fans seem to not really understand a team sport that does not have a playoff system, which this removes the need for, thus possibly causing some confusion as to who wins the league championship. Hopefully, as American sports fans become more and more familiar with the league format and the importance of staying up top of the league, it should become less and less confusing for new fans.


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