You Be The Commissioner – What Would You Change?

HOUSTON - JULY 28: Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber looks on during the MLS All Star Game at Reliant Stadium on July 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

MLS Talk has been buzzing all week about the proposed changes to the 2011 season and the reaction to the most recent playoffs.  Some of this is spurred by Don Garber’s press conference and MLS Cup halftime show; some by the abysmal TV ratings and odd playoff pairings; and some by simmering tension over format and style in the US soccer community.

We’ve said our piece on a number of these issues (and you have reacted), and now it’s your turn to be the boss of MLS.

Below are the changes that Don Garber discussed over the past two weeks.  Let’s pretend YOU were named MLS commissioner today, and the board allowed you to adopt one change to MLS for the upcoming year.  You can choose from any of the changes announced in the past two weeks, as well as any considered or debated changes announced the past two weeks.  The board has only said that your goal is to “improve MLS”.  So……

[polldaddy poll=4141477]

(Please note – this is an unscientific study of what are the most pressing issues for our readership, so take it for what it’s worth).

70 Responses to You Be The Commissioner – What Would You Change?

  1. Adam says:

    Because our country is so much bigger than England I think we are going to have to go divisional. Regarless of if we went divisional I like the playoff format I would impliment underlined below.
    The first thing I would do is expand the league with the goal being 5 to 6 divisons made up of five teams. This will increase the intensity of existing rivalries and be the catalyst for future rivalries to form. If we had 5 division at 5 teams a piece we would play home and away each team in our division for a total of 8 games and 1 game against every team in the rest of the league which would be 20 games for a season total of 28 games. The playoffs would be set up like a knockout cup competition. There would be a draw, the runners up of each division would be in one bowl and the winners of each division in another bowl and they would be drawn together into a bracket system, the division winners playing on home turf in round one. For the proceeding rounds the teams with the best season points totals get home field advantage over the team they are playing regardless of where they entered round one. (So if you enter round one as the division runner up and you beat the division winner you drew, in the proceeding round if your overall points total is higher than your opponents then you would get home field advantage even if they had won their division, because you have more points overall during the regular season.)

    The divisions I see would be something like:

    Division1: Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, Toronto, and Montreal
    Division 2: New England, New York, New York, DC, and Philadelphia
    Division 3: San Jose, Chivas, L.A., Dallas, and Houston
    Division 4:St. Louis,, Kansas City, Atlanta, Miami, and Orlando/Tampa
    Division 5: Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, Colorado, and Salt Lake

    • adam says:

      This is not to be like the NFL, this has to do with the fact that because all these other sports are divisional they have already built up rivalries with cities that host teams near by. In doing so people from Detroit cant stand any team from Chicago, Ohio, Toronto, and New York, so for example when the Detroit Lions play Chicago there is more of an edge to it than say Detroit playing some team on the west coast.

      Second fans can travel to more away games if they play more teams near by.

      Third because unlike other sports MLS in not broadcasting on tv 3-4 matches a day that people can watch unless they by so its hard to get people to support a team that exists outside there state. So expansion is key.

      I would consider even playing divisional rivals home and away twice to get more than 28 games however having less games would make scheduling more flexible for FIFA. Which games need to be schedualed consistantly with a majority of games taking place on Sunday and contracting Versus to play two games on Saturday at least and One Weekly game.

      • Andy says:

        like others have said. Soccer is not the NFL

        conferences and playoffs is a not starter. Any kind of soccer reform cannot include them if you want the soccer fan to turn into MLS.

    • Robert says:

      This is soccer and not the NFL.

    • DJ Allen says:

      I’m opposed to divisions. I don’t care what other sports are doing, I don’t care that Americans think there needs to be divisions because that’s all they know… if they aren’t willing to learn, then the argument is moot.

      • Alex says:

        amen, this isnt ur typical kidde NFL, MLB or NBA. this is soccer and it doesnt need to be americanized. conferences and franchises are a american tradition but they have no place in soccer. i think mls has their fan agenda wrong. they want to convert casual fans into soccer fans but the result are people like charles (im pretty sure people on this site know who he is). like you said i dont care that we have american traditions, screw them. they have no place in soccer and if you dont like the truth then just stick to baseball.

  2. MrTuktoyaktuk says:

    Garber will never get rid of conferences while he is commissioner. He’s said so multiple times. So, have true conference playoffs with conf champs going to the Cup match.

    A more difficult problem is the venue for the Cup match. There’s a lot of feeling that the neutral venue is not appropriate for MLS. The question is whether the league and the teams have the infrastructure to pull together a final with approximately two weeks notice. Garber seems skeptical. Despite his concerns, something must be done. I’m sure ESPN is going to have a closed door meeting with MLS on what happened on Nov 21 and it won’t be to congratulate them.

    • DJ Allen says:

      Why would ESPN get to do any chewing out? Forget where the venue was, ESPN’s promotion for anything soccer related has been poor and for them to be point fingers is ridiculous.

  3. Joe says:

    MLS already has balanced scheduling.

    Honestly, do you even watch MLS?

  4. Robert says:

    We need true club soccer in this country and not simulated version of it. By stamping on FC at the end of your Franchise doesn’t mean you’re a club. Promotion/Relegation will weed out the weaker markets naturally. Allow clubs to negotiate their own player contracts, end college drafts and expansion drafts etc. If you are good enough out of college than a club will pick you up. We can not have franchises linked to each other for the risk if one fails the entire league comes falling down.

    Quality of play is the problem with MLS and the sooner we float these “franchise clubs” into legitamte clubs quality will follow. Sounders are subsidizing the weaker markets and by doing so Sounders are unable to compete internationally.

    • StevenG says:

      lol, regulate clubs to what? A second division where some 70% of clubs have folded?

      • Andy says:


        you wouldn’t be able to implement pro/rel overnight. You would have to announce that the league is going pro/rel in 5 years. You would then set up a 3 tier pyramid and clubs would register with the USSF. The USSF would then decide what league a club would go into by their financial situation (size of club, stadium situation, etc)

        the reason so many lower teams fold now is that they have no chance of promotion and no value. Clubs that are in a pro/rel system actually have a chance to be promoted and raise the value of their club.

        so here’s the hypothetical . After the pro/rel is Rochester Rhinos, Montreal, Charleston Battery are slotted into League 2. All three teams have stadium and draw quite well(considering they are D2) On top of that you would have Ny Cosmos, New York FC and a gang of other clubs being founded and getting investment.

        after 5 years you would have league 2 filled up with enough clubs that would financially qualify for promotion

        • Roger says:

          I think you bring good points about pro/rel

          I think we face diferent challenges.
          The problem to implement pro/rel between our level 1(MLS) and level 2(NASL)is : Single entity.

          The problem to implement pro/rel between level 2(NASL) and level 3(USL Pro) is: they are independent leagues that don’t get along.

          The problem to implement pro/rel between level 3(USL Pro) and level 4 (PDL) is: USL ownership lack of vision.

          All these organizations are independent ,it is neither the MLS(as much as I dislike everything about them),NASL or the USL responsibility to build a national soccer structure. Neither of these leagues by themselves,can satisfy the soccer needs of a nation so big, it is mathematically imposible. It is only by linking the existing leagues into one structure,and the implementation of pro/rel that we could acomplish that.

          The MAIN problem is the USSF,wich is the organization responsible to build a meaningfull structutre for the whole nation.Instead they are totaly in bed with MLS. If they are not performing their duties,it becomes our duty to find a way to reform them.

          • Andy says:

            Yes I agree that USSF is part of the problem and that going pro/rel would take a lot of structural changes.

            NASL and USl are so weak and dysfunctional you may be better off just creating new independent leagues within the pyramid. But i’d argue that one of the reasons the NASL and USl are so dysfunctional is because the teams have no value because they are shut out from the top league.

            i agree that it is up to USSF to create the structure for pro/rel. That may or may not include USL or NASL.

    • Joe says:

      Teams have had their own independent budgets in MLS for years now. They were financially linked at the beginning of the league, but haven’t been for quite some time.

      I’ll ask again: do you people even follow MLS, or just make ignorant comments based on what you erroneously think to be true?

      • Robert says:

        So why do they have salary caps and attendance caps? doesn’t sound independent to me.

        • Joe says:

          Wow. Astounding. So you think MLS should get rid of salary caps. OK genius, I want you to look up NASL and read about what happened the last time a US soccer league tried to grow too quickly without restrictions.

          The theme remains the same: people making comments with no basis in fact or knowledge about MLS or US soccer.

          • DJ Allen says:

            Everyone keeps pointing at the NASL as something we shouldn’t do. I agree, but do hamper the ability of MLS to spend WHATEVER IS NECESSARY to get top tier talent like Rooney, Ronaldo, and Kaka IN THEIR PRIME is going to require the abolishment of the DP and salary caps. Don’t want to be like the NASL? Don’t make stupid decisions by buying up players who are way past their prime.

            I follow MLS (DC United, Seattle Sounders, and Toronto FC).

            I am for relegation. The league(s) that currently house the Puerto Rico Islanders and thereabouts already operate and would be a great place to have others start in to try to get promoted. Want a new club? Form one, compete in “Division 2” and get promoted. It doesn’t necessarily kill anything because if a club wants to retain prestige, a fanbase, and income they’ll pour what they need to into the club to make sure they’re competitive.

            I’m for a single table. The conferences/divisions right now are there for aesthetic reasons only. Why have them? For playoffs? The playoffs suck, so you’re hanging onto a system that doesn’t have anything to do with what is going on on the pitch.

            I think Garber should be sacked. Why? The man is CLEARLY whoring out the MLS for the World Cup and trying to be a sport MLS is not. All you’re doing is driving fans away. My guess is that TV ratings will continue to descend next year and the year after until they start winning over those of us who actually like soccer rather than the couch potatoes that don’t even care.

            I don’t want massive expansions. I’m extremely leery of expanding any further than the MLS already has because once the balanced schedule goes away, MLS will be no fun to watch. MLS will lose me. The regular season should matter and right now it doesn’t. All a team has to do is do good enough to get into the playoffs and then play hard. Regular season devalued successfully.

            It’s ridiculous.

          • Dave C says:

            @DJ Allen.
            It’s absolutely implausible that the MLS will EVER be able to attract genuine top players in the prime of their career unless there’s an absolute massive sea-change in American culture. It’s just not going to happen.

            But that said, there’s no reason why a league can’t be perfect exciting, enjoyable etc etc without those players. A league doesn’t have to be “the best in the world” to be good.

      • Alex says:

        you could be right but what from what i understand MLS is a single entity, that is they are in charge of clubs making contracts ( so basically the league is signing the player then “loaning” them to whatever “franchise” mls feels the player can go to) they are also majority owner of every “franchise” in the league (56% i believe). clubs dont own the players and they dont have any budget, they have a salary cap but in no way is that the club’s its the leagues.

      • Andy says:

        this kind of passive aggressive BS may work on bigsoccer but if you have an argument to make then make it. There’s a reason soccer fans in the US are not watching MLS.

  5. The Gaffer says:

    Forget Football Manager 2011. There should be a Soccer Commissioner 2011 game. Now that would be interesting to see what the outcome of that game would be.

    The Gaffer

    • Robert says:

      I like the idea. what if we make it like Sim City where you can build stadiums and watch people go in and fill the stadium. We can give Garber a free copy. He might learn a thing or two.

  6. Sancho says:

    Of those suggestions listed above, I would pick only two: financial incentives; and expanded rosters. And I would NEVER go to a 20-team-single-table league with pro/rel nor move the schedule to August-May. The rest I could left open.

  7. LuckyPierre says:

    I put “other” being “slow the rate of expansion” – the talent pool has become so watered-down and quality of play is getting quite bad as a result.

  8. Ivan says:

    Do not make MLS into a NFL-look alike. I don’t need big sponsors and giant screens telling me when to cheer, how to cheer, and who to cheer for…MLS must not be another zombie professional sports league in the US.
    1. Get rid of the conferences. This is the big one.
    2. Get rid of the playoffs. The regular season must determine the champion of MLS. This is the fair way to do it. You prove yourself week in and week out, and must not rely on getting lucky in 3-4 playoff games to become a champion. Case in point: Colorado Rapids: by far the worst team to win the MLS cup.
    3. Allign the schedule with the rest of the world: Fall-late Spring, w/ 2 and a half month break during the winter.
    4. Work with NASL, USL to ultimately create a promotion/relegation system. The franchise sports system in this country rewards mediocrity by not punishing teams who suck during a particular season. The most exciting games in the rest of the world are the do-or-die games for teams fighting relegation.
    Call me a Euro-snob, but I would hate to see MLS becoming yet another zombie league, even if the quality of the product improves (which it will, slowly but surely). I know pro soccer in the US doesn’t have the continuous 150 year tradition of European club football, but maybe MLS should borrow some basic principles of how to run the game here. no need to Americanize the game to appeal to the NFL and MLB fans; those fans don’t care about MLS anyways…

    • Robert says:

      Exactly! MLS will become littered with Kansas City Royals and Detroit Lion type franchises if it keeps going down this path of mediocrity. PROMOTION RELEGATION!

      • Joe says:

        Yes, unlike the Premier League which has such amazingly successful clubs as Wolverhampton, West Ham, and Stoke City.

        • DJ Allen says:

          Okay, Joe, pick on the lowest tier of clubs in the EPL. Look at the NFL: St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs… I could keep going on but if you keep sucking in America, you get rewarded and then you get to keep sucking.

          Soccer is not an American created product. Americans think they can “fix” everything but soccer isn’t broken. There is a PROVEN MODEL in the EPL for how to run soccer, so why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

          MLS should be nothing like the NBA, NFL, or MLB. Why? Because if you want that, go to the NBA, NFL, or MLB. MLS isn’t those things and never will be.

          You want divisions? Go someplace else. You want playoffs? Go someplace else. You want drafts? Go someplace else.

          MLS is trying (due to Garber) to be something it is not and if it keeps going down THIS road, it will lose anyone but the most diehard of fans.

          • Joe says:

            St. Louis Rams have won one Super Bowl and appeared in another this decade. Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks appeared in one in the last five years. Kansas City Chiefs are in first place in their division this year.

            When was the last time any of those teams I mentioned were remotely relevant in the EPL? The EPL is a model that works fine where it is. But to think that you’re going to win over new fans in American cities by adopting a system that has as little turnover and parity as the EPL, you’re kidding yourself.

            I don’t need to go someplace else, because MLS has those things right now. Do you want a lack of playoffs and a lack of parity? Wake up at 7:45 am and watch some EPL. I watch too, but I’m not narrow-minded enough to believe that one system works for everyone.

        • Dave C says:

          I’m not a supporter of pro/rel in the US for the simple reason that it won’t work in the US. But the teams you’ve used as examples are actually a pretty good example of why it is a good system in England.

  9. CrazyMike366 says:


    1.) Reserve league returns, MLS expands rosters to 30, lifts limits on youth academy signings, and bumps the salary cap by $1m or so to compensate, along with exempting 3 home grown players from counting towards the cap.

    2.) Renegotiate the TV deal to someone who actually is on the average basic cable package. Sorry Fox, but Fox Soccer is a luxury I can’t afford and buried far too deep in the tv guide to be accessible to casual sports fans who can be converted to new supporters. I have a very nice cable package and still DON’T GET any of Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, or the HD variants of either. ESPN is ideal, but Versus might not be so bad. It needs to have a good and inexpensive online component though, with a watch live feature in case that channel isn’t offered in every cable region.

    3.) Restructure the playoffs – top seeds need a bye. Top 5 make it from each conference. If we go single table, then top 10 make it, and the teams are divided evenly into the brackets based on total points, it doesn’t matter to me, as the schedule is already more or less balanced. #3,4, & 5 in each bracket have a group stage 5@4, 5@3, 4@3, worst record is eliminated, while #1 and 2 get byes. Group runner up plays @#1 and group winner plays @#2, then semis and final as normal. Also, more financial reward for winning the Supporters’ Shield first and foremost, then also more money for progressing deep into the playoffs.

    4.) Observe the freaking international breaks. It kills some teams to have their DP’s taken away from them for certain games. It might even mean moving to a more European schedule at some point down the road as more teams get DP’s, but for now, just observe the breaks.

    5.) Teams are allowed 1 DP, and 1 under-23 DP, and can purchase a third DP slot at current rates, or an additional under-23 DP for half the cost. This is so MLS teams will be forced to go out and find up-and-coming players that can be re-sold for profit later, turning MLS into the world’s premier league for young guns. Go find the next Messi, Wilshire, or Bale train him, gain fame, then sell him on to finance the next decade worth of DP’s. Or take some of them on loan from big clubs that wouldn’t give them playing time. It’ll be more financially feasible, raise the quality of play, and one can hope, eventually steal a kid like this over to the Yanks. This will also combat the stereotype of MLS as a retirement home for the world’s elite players.

    6.) Bring back shootouts. If a game is tied at full time, it goes to a penalty shootout. Winner gets 2 points, loser gets 1. Or 1 and 0. Or each team gets 1 still but you do a shoot out anyways. I don’t care. Casual fans hate ties, and nothing gets the blood pumping like a shoot out to convert a casual sports fan who tuned in into a new supporter.

    7.) Penalize teams that have bad attendance or don’t have their own SSS. Get them to move into their own places or market themselves more effectively. This will tighten the screws on teams that should move but haven’t, like NE, DC, Chivas, et al.

  10. Lee Marcel says:

    The system has to be the same system like in Europe and South American system and the MLS needs to have a 2 and 3 division with old and new teams. the 2 division is in now with the USSF D2 teams and the 2USL together.
    USA has many soccer teams and the league can be the most important in this world.
    USA don’t need to create systems to play soccer because the system of it. was created a long time ago !
    and the players or teams have to choose where the want to play not MLS
    with that draft. it’s not fair !

    • Dave C says:

      the same system like in Europe and South American system

      Hmmm….a lot of South American leagues operate on a different system to the standard round-robin league format that most of Europe uses. There isn’t one single system.

  11. Lee Marcel says:

    I forgot one thing a MLS has to have just American teams and the Canada has to do a own professional league

  12. Manuel says:

    How many times must it be said? Stop expanding the playoff and get rid of the playoffs entirely! Work closer with the Open Cup organizers and showcase this competition and move the final to the week after the last fixture date of the MLS regular season. As much as I would like to see the MLS adapt to the International calendar I think it’s fine as is.

    One thing not be talked about is dealing with the Canadian clubs. I would move on creating a seperate Candian league creating a all American league. They are adding to a interesting mix to the league currently but they should really start their own league in the foreseeable future.

    Work with the NASL and instead of expanding the league beyond 20 clubs work on developing the sport on a Division 2 level and hopefully move to pro/rel system. Hey call me a Eurosnob if you must but the fact of the matter is teams who come in last place should be punished for cheating the league and their fans for putting on the field a subpar product. This will create better competition seen throughout the entire world.

    This is a interntional sport and trying to Americanize it is just plain wrong.

  13. Derek says:

    This is a good poll but I think it could be better of you could choose yes or no one each option. That way you could see what the majority would implement and what they would remove.

  14. DJ Allen says:

    I’m noticing people are swaying violently one way or the other. Those of us in favor of utilizing the proven system to run a soccer league are being called Euro-snobs but when something isn’t broken, why fix it?

    MLS is a shambles right now. There are too few serious competitors, too many teams with too little talent to fill it, too much emphasis on Americanisms that don’t work in this sport (i.e. divisions/conferences, playoffs to determine champions, rapid expansion), and a commissioner who is trying to turn MLS into the NFL. Say he isn’t and you aren’t paying attention.

    Want proof? Garber wants divisions and refuses to get rid of them. They make no sense with a balanced schedule and if they go unbalanced, I think they’ll be penalized by FIFA (which I would whole-heartedly endorse). Garber wants a “marquee showcase game” to spotlight the “best teams.” MLS Cup’s final isn’t a marquee game, it isn’t spotlighting the best teams, and certainly completely devalues the regular season. Garber thinks expanding up past 20 teams is a great idea, which would force an unbalanced schedule and be more “American.” As a whole, Americans have overwhelmingly shown that they either love the European system or they don’t like soccer.

    Soccer is not an American sport. It shouldn’t be “Americanized.” The sport’s European model is working, working well, and has proven to be successful. Tossing the “red, white, and blue” all over something that isn’t American doesn’t entice me to watch it, it entices me to spend more time following the leagues across the pond more.

    Oh, and I’m in favor of a fall to spring schedule. If we aren’t in sync with the rest of the world (to include observing international breaks), we are going to continue spinning our wheels over here.

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      “Soccer is not an American sport. It shouldn’t be “Americanized.” The sport’s European model is working, working well, and has proven to be successful. Tossing the “red, white, and blue” all over something that isn’t American doesn’t entice me to watch it, it entices me to spend more time following the leagues across the pond more.”


      I hear what you’re screaming buddy. The way this year’s playoff seeding worked out, plus the Don’s announcement about expanding the playoffs really deflated my expectations for the league moving forward. But I’m not sure we need to copy a traditional European system to be successful. The problem I have with MLS is that they seems to try to please everybody, but do it so poorly that they end up with a very bizzare setup that pleases almost no one (or maybe just me).

  15. Michael Heinz says:

    I repeat this comment from earlier in the week only because this subject merits it:

    It’s impossible to deny that the League is growing financially, and Don Garber deserves a lot of credit for that. The quality of play is also improving, and the rise of academies and the return of the Reserve League will definitely boost progress on that front.

    However, I doubt I’m the only one who feels an immense frustration with this commissioner’s vision for MLS’ competition format. That’s one of the really only two gripes I have with Garber (the other being a seeming unawareness that ESPN controls what sports fans think in this country, and therefore the fewer NFL games you go up against on a given day/night the better). Wishing for promotion and relegation anytime within the next 30 years is ludicrous, that’s not the kinds of things I’m talking about, I mean realistic things that should be addressed.

    Major League Soccer has an opportunity here to appeal to both hardcore soccer fans (whom they must appeal to to survive) AND casual sports fans (whom they must appeal to to grow), and they’re missing it with these poorly constructed tables and playoffs, which are satisfying neither of those two target audiences.

    Conferences, unbalanced schedules, and Cup tournaments to determine League champions alienate the core fans, the people necessary for the League to stay afloat. After seeing the 4th place and 7th place teams play in a one-off game to determine the League champion, at a neutral site in front of a not-exactly-sold-out crowd, taking place with just one week for fans of FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids to make arrangements to go to Toronto, seeing Commissioner Garber announce that we’ll actually be INCREASING the number of playoff teams next year was just the icing on the cake of all-around embarrassing night for Soccer in the United States and Canada.

    I have never been more sure of our need for our League competition and our Cup competition to be separate entities. Why? It is because I believe the following format is what can best showcase the game we love:

    – 20 teams, single table (with playoffs, read below), balanced schedule, February to October. MLS regular season should have a specific structure, not games ‘whenever’. One game a week per team (something like 1 Thursday night game, 4 Saturday early afternoon games, 4 Saturday late afternoon games, 1 Sunday night game, so long as there’s a rhythm to it). Use MLS All-Star Break to allow adjustment for midweek fixtures that would be necessary in a 38-game schedule, finish those by the end of September.
    — Cap expansion at 20 teams and focus on building a viable 2nd division; many, many years later, when that 2nd division is profitable, we can begin to THINK about promotion and relegation to give teams at the bottom of the table more to fight for.
    – Top team (1st place) at the end of the regular season is the League Champion, they and the runners-up (2nd place) get automatic Champions League group stage berths (be they US teams OR Canadian teams)
    – The 8 other teams (places 3rd through 10th) in the top half of the table playoff for the third Champions League berth in the preliminary round (US or Canadian)
    – National cup winners gets the final CL preliminary berths (US-only and Canadian-only)
    – End SuperLiga, and use the financial backing behind that tournament to support the US Open Cup, our national championship. Rebrand the “US Open Cup” with a new name and so that it is placed on a pedestal, and respected, cherished, something the fans want to win, with teams in CONCACAF play entering the latest, and the Final being the sport’s premier annual event in the US (perhaps called the “Soccer Bowl” as an homage to the NASL era).
    – Use the lack of sporting events the week of the MLB All-Star Game to showcase the League’s biggest rivalries on ESPN’s family of networks

    The season format should look like this chronologically:
    – Beginning of MLS regular season (February)
    – CONCACAF Champions League Knockout Stage (February-April)
    – “US Open Cup” Qualifying/Canadian Championship (April-June)
    – Beginning of “US Open Cup” proper (June)
    – MLS Rivalry Week the week of the MLB All-Star Game (July)
    – MLS All-Star Game and a few summer friendlies for teams not in continental competition (July-August)
    – CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary and Group Stages (August-October)
    – End of MLS regular season (Early October)
    – Semifinals of “US Open Cup” proper (Mid October)
    – MLS Champions League Qualification Playoffs (Late October-November)
    – “US Open Cup” Final, the “Soccer Bowl” (Thanksgiving night)

    This will accomplish a few things:
    – It will allow us to crown a true champion and will best reward the teams that play superior soccer over the regular season, dramatically increasing the quality of the product on the field.
    – It will allow even MORE teams to have something to play for (and therefore more things for fans to be interested in) without cheapening the MLS regular season or League championship.
    – It will simultaneously raise the profile of both our national cup and continental competition, only increasing the revenues from sources the League and US Soccer aren’t generating any income from.
    – It will decrease the impact of fixture congestion somewhat, and an earlier start to the season taking place in February (the dullest month in the American sports calendar) will allow MLS to have a bit of a spotlight to start momentum for the year.
    – And, finally, it will allow for a significant amount of time between qualification for an event (some five weeks between the US Open Cup semifinals and the Soccer Bowl, two weeks between qualification for the CL playoffs and the beginning of the playoffs themselves) and the actual event itself for teams to market the game and sell tickets. This is crucial for creating atmospheres necessary for the ‘big moments’ Garber is looking for (imagine a Soccer Bowl where the crowd looks like a college football bowl game in a respectably-sized stadium, with half the crowd wearing the Rave Green of the Seattle Sounders and the other half wearing the Orange Crush of the Houston Dynamo for example).

    • Andy says:

      i like a lot of what you’re saying.

      i disagree that pro/rel would be 30 yrs away though. The day you announced that US soccer was going to a pro/rel pyramid system you would have clubs popping up all over. Mostly small clubs that wouldn’t be tier 2 clubs but you would also get some clubs that were big enough that they would be able to financially qualify for promotion- NY Cosmos come to mind. Maybe a team in San Francisco would be founded, another team in LA, who knows.

      so yeah pro/rel couldn’t happen woud have to announce that it was coming in 5 years or so

  16. K-Town says:

    Yeah, there are a lot of tweaks to be made, but my list of changes I like or want are the following:
    1. The change to a 30 man roster is a huge deal.
    2. The homegrown rule changes and under 24 cap changes, this is a big step up. Homegrown talent is just as important as the DP rule. They both are needed. I don’t actually care about DP’s for their marketability. I care that they can be good mentors. Henry coming to RBNY lit a spark under the players asses. Agudelo said he learns something everyday from Henry. What 17 year old in the world wouldn’t want to shadow Henry?!
    3. Bringing back the Reserve league. I like that they are allowing flexibility and are making it more strict. Flexible because the reserves can play colleges/amateurs/Div II teams if they want to schedule more games. Strict because the players have to be part of the team or trialing with the team. No more calling up fill in players last minute. This will be HUGE for developmental/homegrown players.
    4.Financially, I am happy that last years CBA raised the joke of a minimum wage up, and raised the cap. I just wish they would both go up a little more, but then I don’t have access to the leagues finances so I don’t know what is best. I wish the minimum salary was at least 60K and that the cap was up to 3M.

    All in all there have been a GREAT amount of changes this last year. Most for the better. I am pro-Garber more days than anti-Garber. He has done some great things in a short while, but I hate his 10 team playoff idea.

  17. K-Town says:

    @ Michael Heinz
    i am all for abolishing superliga. BUT, on second thought I can think of a better idea.

    I agree that US Open Cup and CCL are the big comps that need to be focused on, which is why I initially thought Superliga just needs to go. It seems to have served it’s purpose. But what if Superliga was like Europa League? What if teams 1-4 qualified for CCL and 5-8 qualified for Superliga? Something to that effect. Do it just like UEFA CL and Europa League. Maybe the 4th place MLS team qualifies for CCL group stages and if they don’t make it they fall to Superliga.

  18. Alex says:

    To Robert, DJ Allen, and Coconutmonkey i agree with all your points, especially DJ Allen the so called “euro model” is endoresed by the “world” (if you’ve taken geography you’d know that the earth is not “europe”) and is a proven working system. like you said stamping the Uncle Sam logo on anything that isnt american is not something i want. im a proud american but there are things that i dont like about it, like the ignorance of people to realize that soccer isnt american and it should be deep fried and battered. you know the saying “if it aint broke, dont fix it”

    i think however MLS should really model the Bundesliga and not EPL because it has all the elements mls wants:

    1.) all the clubs in the Bundesliga are financially sound, most clubs are not in debt.

    2.) according to wiki, bundesliga average attendance is 42k which is only beaten by the indian cricket league and guess what? NFL. wouldn’t it be great if MLS averaged 42k? i would much rather read articles about clubs expanding their stadiums than articles about mls failing tv ratings.

    3.) they are single table. even though they have “super clubs” bundesliga is a league with alot of parity. apart from FC Bayern Munich most clubs are pretty competitive and there are different champions every year, with FC Bayern winning the most though. MLS should have a healthy Superclub to regular club ratio. and the bundesliga definatley has a healthy number. its not like la liga or EPL where its just 4 clubs while the rest just watch in the distance.

    4.) it has promotion relegation. the league looks extensivley into the financies of the promoted clubs before they can join in. they also have a interesting relegation system where the relegated clubs have a mini tournament with the promoted clubs to see who goes and who stays. not only will this determine who really deserves to be in the top league but it offeres a chance for mls clubs to save itself from relegation (something owerns might be happy about) and adds even more drama and excitement to the game.

    5.) unlike most euro leagues, bundesliga is reletively young (est 1963) and have changed alot. just like MLS, officials at the bundesliga runs check and balances and makes changes where needed to, it doesnt just lets clubs on the loose like EPL (not bashing, just saying).

    6.) they are adhereing to international standards and are a very respected league. they are a destination, not a last resort like MLS is.

    7.) with all these inplace, Bundesliga is the third most powerful league in the world and a very stable league. EPL is exciting but its also boring to just watch 4 teams duke it out. to be honest i watch more EPl than bundes but the structure of bundes intrest me more. all these things are not drasitc or over the top for MLS to model. MLS should follow the Bundesliga.

    • Andy says:

      well played well played

      i really can’t disagree with anything you said. Just want to chime in that #4 would be awesome.

      what’s the MLS fanboy argument for MLS playoffs? “Americans like playoffs!” Well with single/table , pro/rel, league cup, open cup etc you have a lot more playoffs than you do now.

    • ExtraMedium says:

      Japan is also a good role-model.

      • Roger says:

        definitly agree!

        Japan is a very good example of how the right vision and kowledge can incentivate growth.They started their league only 3 years before MLS.They actually have a meaningfull structure with 177 clubs just on the first 4 levels.And some prople talk about MLS growth.Give me a break!

  19. Roger says:

    this is my vision for US association football

    PRIORITY #1.
    The more dificult one,but we can do it.
    We need to find a way to clean,restructure the USSF,they are the rooth of the problems.
    Think about it! Beyond MLS,what have they done for the last 16 years for US soccer? What plans do they have for the literally thousands of US cities that don’t have any clubs?
    Sunil Gulatis,the president,is the creator of “single entity”.They are totally in bed with MLS.They do not have a vision for the nation as a whole,they just care about trying to get the WC(big money),and their fake “league”(I meant entity).

    2) Disolve single entity.A concept that should had never been implemented.It was done completly ignoring the fans.We did not ask for it! It is in total oposition to the universal vision and values of our game.Our game is about open doors and links among people,neighborhoods,cities and nations; not about narrow groups of investors owning our game like it is a stock share.

    3)reconvert MLS franchises into real clubs
    It will take some negotiations ,but it is a necesary step.

    4)Implement promotion and relegation.Link our diferent leagues and make a divisional structure out of todays loose pieces

    1st level. MLS
    2nd level . NASL
    3rd Level. USL Pro
    4th level . PDL
    5th level. USASA (amateur)

    It should be done on several steps
    -We should set the criteria that clubs will need to meet in order to be promoted
    – First ,we should not have direct promotions but play offs promotion/relegation.It will work as a valve that regulate the potential strengh diference among divisions.
    1st of Div2 vs 16th of Div1(home and away). asuming 16 clubs 1st div
    2nd of Div2 vs 15th of Div1(home and away)
    3rd of Div2 vs 14th of Div1(home and away)

    On the first phase we will need to slowly increase the number of clubs on the first 3 levels,but that growth should come from the buttom up.
    The criteria to get into the PDL (base of the pyramid) should be lower than the higher divisions,in order to incentivate the creation of new clubs.As the PDL would grow,we will slowly increase the number of clubs on the first 3 levels.
    I would use a valve pro/rel system in order to regulate the speed at wich we increase the number of clubs on the higher divisions.Here is an example of how I would do that:

    Imagine that pro/rel from the 4th level(PDL) to the 3rd(USL Pro)is:
    2 clubs promoted and 2 relegated after each seasson
    every time that none of the promoted clubs on the previous seasson finish last,I would promote an extra club.
    That year will be:2 relegated/3 promoted=+1

    every time that none of the promoted clubs finish in the last 2 places, I would promote an extra 2 clubs.
    That year: 2 relegated/4 promoted= +2

    That would guarante that the increase of clubs coming from the base of the pyramid will keep a relation to the quality on the lower divisions.In other words,we will let results regulate growth speed.

    My view of the final produt:

    1st level:
    2 conferences(16 clubs each)
    play-offs: 2 qualify x conference
    1st east vs 2nd west(home & away)
    1st west vs 2nd east(home & away)
    FINAL:home & away

    2nd level
    4 conferences(16 clubs each)
    I will eventually merge 2nd level(NASL) and 3rd(USL Pro)
    at the right time,I know it is imposible now

    3rd level (PDL)
    same as now.8 geographical conferences.When they get to 16 clubs on each conference , then we redesign.

    4th level
    USASA and other amateur leagues that will join.
    it could have the potential to become as big as the PDL.

    Does it seems imposible? It is not !
    We just have to start wioth the first step.Remember priority #1?

    • Andy says:

      would love to see it but as long as Garber is around its not likely. I think all of us in favor of single table/no playoffs/pro-rel need to be vocal about it though. We need to post on blogs, enemy territory like, etc and argue for this.

      btw…would u keep the names NASL, USL for the 2nd and 3rd tier leagues or change it to someting like League 2 , League 3

      • Roger says:

        I think promotion and relegation is inevitable,the forces against it are resisting as much as they can because they know it will change american sports forever.
        The first step,is to take the USSF back,to reform it.Tough task, but it can be done.I see this first task divided into several steps:

        This is what a few of us is doing now,pointing at the problem.We are on the early stages of developing a fans conciousness.Once there is a decent level of awareness,we will be ready for the next phase.

        Self explanatory.We will only have power when we unite and create organizations in order to promote the real soccer agenda.After we acomplish that,next step.

        Debate.Analize diferent strategies,wheather HUGE banner to games,open statements,web pages,live protest,advertising etc.


        To your 2nd question.Wheather those names will be kept or not depends on lots of factors.I think the important thing is to fight to stablish the right structure.The fact that we have a league labeled 1st ,2nd and 3rd div is something we could use as a model for our future pyramid.
        I have a love/hate relationship with the USL.On one side their lack of vision is irritating,but on the other they created the PDL,wich I think is the perfect base for a US pyramidal structure.As long as we have the right structure, I dont think it is very important if we call our second or third levels NASL,USL, Coca Cola League or Pepto Bismol championship.
        Regards.Focus.lets work.

  20. Roger says:

    Superliga ——>OUT
    Salary Cap——–>OUT
    All Stars Game—>OUT

  21. Bolacuadrada says:

    It may sound strange but since FIFA is operating under primitive rules, I suggest making some changes that will probably ne adopted by FIFA 500 years from now. I wonder if the league talk to the referees and inform them on how important scoring is. Can referees be real referees and be very liberal when it comes to the offside rule. In short, if in doubt, do not stop the game for offsides. I would say just call the obvious ones. Remember, FIFA does not want video technology. Scoring will improve ratings for sure. I love soccer and I was born in a soccer country but to be honest I think the game is boring. Changes need to be made and FIFA will not be the one coming with new ideas.

  22. Miami Ultra says:

    Promotion and relegation would be great, after I began following European soccer(and playing Pro Evo and FIFA), I fell in love with the concept.

    BUT it will never work in the US. NEVER EVER. It’s not a matter of fans but owners. Guys who are laying out $40 mil for a MLS team, and cities who are paying for these new soccer stadiums, will not go for being sent down to a minor league.

    The United States and Canada is too big to limit the league to 20 teams, so eventually a single table is probably out the window. However if it were up to me, MLS would have 24 teams and still play a single table(like the lower divisions in England). 46 regular season games, have the top 4 teams get into the playoffs, ditch the SuperLiga, and seriously promote the US Open Cup.

    Oh, and most importantly, rather than blindly drive towards adding a second club in the NYC market, I would work to bring the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies into MLS, righting the greatest wrong the league has ever committed.

    • ExtraMedium says:

      Scrap the franchise fees. It’s not that a hard.

    • Yorkie says:

      Sure they pay a huge amount for that team. However, that money is most likely returned w/in several years. How much of Seattle’s money has been made back? MY guess is most of it. So what you do is after the league has expanded to 20-24 you simply wait till their costs for the franchise is paid back, then you can start pro/rel w/out owing them a damn thing. They have their money back, so fuck ’em. Soccer is coming along as a sport in this country and money will be made in it soon enough.

  23. Andy says:

    this is what MLS needs if they want to get the soccer fan to watch their league (not the casual fan or the die hard MLS fanboy)

    these 3 things are a must – without them we wont watch the league
    – single table with winner of league as league champion
    – no playoffs
    – league cup or make the US Open Cup the equivalent of the FA cup = very important

    these things also need to be done
    – eliminate draft
    -remove salary cap
    eventually pro/rel must be implemented.

    • joejoe says:

      Wrong on every point.

      – single table with winner of league as league champion >>so what who cares? yeah the legions will overflow the ticket boots… Don’t think so.
      – no playoffs >> playoffs work. Not the problem
      – league cup or make the US Open Cup the equivalent of the FA cup = very important >> so what and who cares?

      these things also need to be done
      – eliminate draft >> why? The draft is organized and proper.
      -remove salary cap >> why? Doesn’t Red Bull spend over 12 mil? Will the Crew, Chivas, Colorado, Houston… the rest of the league except maybe the Galaxy follow? Nope.
      eventually pro/rel must be implemented. >> Why? more people are going to watch games because of this? and relegated to what? extinction?

      • Andy says:


        neither of us is “wrong” this isn’t a math test lol . These are opinions.

        anyway you didn’t make an argument against what I would like to see done other than to say – who cares and so what.

      • Scottie says:

        The playoffs work? Uh, have you even been watching?

        • joejoe says:

          Yes, they work. Playoffs are just a mini tournament. The team that plays the best wins, New York and the Galaxy didn’t play well enough. Too bad. They went home early. It’s that simple.

          • Andy says:

            how long have you been watching soccer?

            in real soccer leagues there are tournaments throughout the year ; they are called league cups.

            The US actually has a cup with history that goes back to 1914 – The US Open Cup. Curiously it’s seen as unimportant.

  24. joejoe says:

    Let me tell that the playoffs are not the problem. Nor are the spring to fall schedule, DP rule, or even the cap. The main problem is visibility. This league has little to none. It also lacks continuity. The ESPN/FSC experiment has failed. The game to game scheduling has also failed. I have noticed that on Mexican soccer all teams have their specific start times at their home. Cruz Azul on Saturdays @ 1700, America: Sundays @ 1630, Toluca: Noon Sunday, and on and on… MLS schedule is all over the place.

    What has ESPN done for MLS?
    Answer: Nothing.
    Suggestion: Either ESPN shows the games when MLS wants or drop them.

    Does MLS have a media strategy?
    Answer: Video on Silverlight. Doesn’t support ipads. MLS doesn’t support video streaming on Roku, XBOX, Boxee, Wii, or any other device with streaming capability.
    Suggestion: Drop Silverlight and develop apps to support video streaming on multiple platforms. Copy the MLB model. Just deliver the content in as many platforms as possible. Also don’t black out any games on any streaming platform.

    Other than Steven Cohen, who else talks about soccer in this country?
    Answer: nobody that I care to watch or listen. That includes Fuggly Ives.
    Suggestion: MLS develop or support your own talent to talk about soccer
    in the USA. Don’t be afraid to be criticized. You will, and well deserved. Get those talking heads their own show(s) online and put them on as many platforms as possible. In fact consider developing your own MLS online channel with daily shows and updates.

    Final suggestions: The MLS Cup final should never ever take place later than 1800 (6:00 PM) EST. Never.

    • joejoe says:

      By the way, why is it that I can watch the entire Mexican League set of games every week on free TV, but only one MLS game? I’m not Mexican, but watch their games because I can easily find them on TV. To be able to watch all MLS games, the viewer needs cable with a special sports package, as well as an online subscription to stream games to a PC. I don’t know about some of you, but I really don’t like to watch games on small a screen with a shuddering connection. I and millions of other red blooded Americans (nobody cares about canadiens or the rest) spent good money on large screen TVs, and that’s where we want to watch our entertainment. Is that so hard to understand?

    • Andy says:

      the playoffs and conferences aren’t a problem for MLS-snobs but they are a problem for the traditional soccer fan in the US that the league has alienated. There is a reason that the league has had a hard time getting hard core soccer fans to watch – the Americanization of soccer, which is a global sport has turned us off. I don’t know about other people but I won’t follow this league until they adapt single table and get rid of the playoffs. I know I’m not alone.

      The DP rule is another problem. MLS teams have large talent gaps on their teams because of the DP rule. This was pretty evident with the LA Galaxy with David Beckham (a million dollar DP signing) sending in crosses to Alan Gordon, a player who at the time made 30k a year. Because the league allows clubs to purchase a few expensive players teams are forced to stock their clubs with lower quality players to stay under the cap. Having a lot of players with relatively equal technical skill mixed with some stars would make the play more consistent. That’s not even the silliest thing about the DP rule; if a international star wants to play in MLS what team he plays for depends where that team is on the DP list and how many DP slots they have. If they already have used 2 they have to pay the like $250k. It’s socialism gone wild in a sport where international markets for players is what the league needs to tap into.

      Visibility for the league is not the problem. There is a large demographic in this country that is very aware of MLS. This demo is the traditional soccer fan that follows european soccer but eschews MLS. This is the largest group of potential fans the league can tap into.

  25. ExtraMedium says:

    1) Drop single-entity.
    2) “Hard” divisional splits with regional pyramids. Teams will be selected for The North American CHampions League based on “domestic” league finish. Each region gets it’s own management board: north Atlantic, mid Atlantic, south Atlantic, NW, CA/HI, SW, south, central (I’d list the states but the iPad hates me).
    3) Yeah, pro/reg. I think this can be sold to ESPN/VERSUS As a way of eliminating meaningless games. If ESPN is going all in on EPL they know a big team *might* go down, so why would they shy away from MLS with pro/reg?

  26. Alan says:

    While I like the European way of doing things, I think that we can have it both ways. Maybe we need to find a way to bring more value to the Supporter’s Shield and still have the MLS Cup mean something. One idea that I thought of was a Super Cup similar to Serie A. The MLS Cup winners and the Supporter’s Shield winners face off in a Super Cup as a way to kick off the season? Maybe recognizing the Supporter’s Shield winners more? Have the season be about the Supporter’s Shield more, and then when it is done make it more about the MLS Cup? I’m not a big fan of conferences but I really don’t see a problem with them either. Figuring out a way to add promotion/relegation (even if it is just one team at the bottom that gets relegated) might be a good idea for both growth in the lower leagues and making the MLS more competitive all year long. I think that increasing the importance of the US Open Cup, CCL, and SiperLiga would be a good thing. This can be done by announcers, the website, etc. Also, finding better ways to use social media to get people involved I think would help. A better TV deal would be great too. These things I think would be great starts. I think having soccer in the winter will be HORRIBLE for Northeastern states, even in February. I know I wouldn’t go. Having it in the summer when they don’t have to compete with EPL will bring more exposure to the league for current soccer fans.

  27. WSW says:

    We can’t have single table because it’s a foreign system. OHHH the Horror, that’s right MLSnobs us real soccer fans have a vision, you can go back to the countdown clock and running PK’s and you can put the playoffs in the same catergory.

  28. Alistair says:

    Please move the MLS to versus next year.

  29. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    Mr Rober Hay , Do you have any coments on the results of this pool?
    If not, what was the purpose of doing it?

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