- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 23, 2009
- 16 Comments
- Geoff Reid, Single Table
Editor’s note: Geoff Reid is a WVH contributor. This is his third post on the site. Today he tackles the ever fun issue of the single table debate. Geoff got some of his ideas from his college soccer days and he feels this is a good move for the league. If you agree or disagree with Geoff feel free to post below…keep the debate civil though!
This past week we have seen potentially the biggest hotbed of soccer in America start to take shape in MLS after 14 years. One wonders why MLS didnít look to the Pacific north-west back in 1994 when assigning† franchises. The league can argue that they wanted to separate themselves from the old NASL and rightly so because arguably in some cases, and ultimately, the NASL was a failure. Yes it attracted lots of new fans to the sport and fan bases that really planted the seeds for future American soccer fans and national team players such as John Harkes, Tab Ramos (who was drafted by the Cosmos in 1984), Marcelo Balboa, Tony Meola, Kasey Keller and the list can go on and on.
However, the business model was a disaster and we should question if their ever was one. But give credit to the NASL when itís due and it certainly deserves credit for planting the seeds in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland respectively.
The 2011 season is just two years away, but eventually league officials will have to discuss the possibility of adopting a single table format because once the 2011 season is ready to kick off, the western conference will have 10 clubs while the eastern conference will only have 8 clubs. Future expansion beyond 2011 will come into play as well when choosing the answer for this topic. Bringing in the Montreal Impact and St. Louis or a New York City club would balance both conferences out, but 20 teams is a good round number and it would be a fantastic debate regarding should the league expand further beyond that. Would the league be large enough where every team has their own specifically built stadium and could then align to FIFAís calender along with the rest of the world? More topics for another day.
While discussing the single table format being more in line with the most of the world is a hot debate and everyone can essentially throw their own two cents in. However, there will come a time when this hot topic must be discussed seriously by the league and that time will be before the 2011 season begins.
Now if Iím MLS commissioner Don Garber I would do this:
1. Go to a single table format.
2. However, keep the playoff system. Have the top eight teams qualify for the playoffs and that way the best eight teams will qualify with no arguments and this way we won’t see New York end up as the western conference champions!
3. Adopt the same system that is used in all of college soccer: Once the regular season is done, the playoffs start where the top seed will play the eighth seed, then two plays seven, and so on. Whether itís two legged ties and decided on aggregate can be debated later. This way the league looks more international since this is the worldís game after all, but it still has the American flavor so it doesnít seem too foreign.
By this time teams will play more then 30 regular season games and every club plays each other twice a season. Itís worth noting that this will be the last season where some teams will play other teams three times in the regular season. Once Philadelphia kicks off in 12 months time, by playing the same club twice (home and away) each team will have played 32 regular season games.
There are other ideas such as splitting all the clubs into four different divisions: Pacific and Mid-West in the western conference, and Central and Atlantic in the eastern conference. It just seems more simpler to have the single table and the top eight clubs make the playoffs.
You can also bring in the idea of the higher seed in the final potentially hosting the MLS Cup final but just like expanding beyond 20 clubs, and changing the timing of the season, itís another topic for another day.