Friday, August 17, 2018

MLS is Using My Blueprint (I Want Compensation)

MLS is Following My Blueprint
(I want compensation)
By: Vidda Grubin

This will be short. Enjoy! (i lied it is not short)

I have written on a number of occasions about the need for both an August to June soccer season and promotion/relegation. I have also stated what would need to happen for both to be successful.

This post isn’t about promotion and relegation. (the sentence prior to this is a tiny lie)

Simply put. An August to June schedule is easily achievable in North America (and Major League Soccer is quickly moving that direction) if…

Half the franchises in the league are located in the Southern half of the United States and half the franchises are located in the Northern half of the United States and Canada.

Reasons August to June works under the half and half scenario:

1. The first few games can be played at the home fields of the franchises located in the Northern half of the United States and Canada. Hot games, but not as hot as August games in Texas and Florida.

2. The fall portion of the season would run until the weekend prior to Christmas. Allowing franchises to comfortably play at all venues after August.

3. Allows for a holiday break (Christmas thru Mid January).

4. A league wide winter league/winter training can be run in places like Southern California, Florida, Las Vegas, Arizona and South Texas (much like the NBA summer league in Las Vegas) for two weeks at the end of January.

5. The restart of the league season can begin February 1st, and first few games can be played at the home fields of the franchises located in the Southern half of the United States.

6. Season/Playoffs end June 1st.

7. This schedule consists of approximately 38 calendar weeks, in regards to the actual league season, and does not include the approximately three weeks of holiday break and two weeks of winter league/winter training.

8. Teams would be aligned in three divisions of 12. Western—Central—Eastern. Each division split evenly (six franchises in the north and six franchises in the south).

Current/Near Future MLS alignment: 

Northwest Conference: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake, Colorado, Boise?

Southwest Conference: LA, LA, San Jose, San Diego, Las Vegas?, Arizona?

North Central: Minnesota, Kansas City, Chicago, Columbus, Nashville, Cincinnati

South Central: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, New Orleans?, Birmingham?

North East: Toronto, Montreal, New England, New York, New York, D.C.

South East: Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Tampa?, Jacksonville?, Charlotte?

8a. Play all teams in your division home and away for 22 games. Play six to eight teams from each of the other divisions for a total of 12-16 more games (depends on how many league games the MLS decides it wants). Total games in season: 34-38.

9. Playoffs would be down and dirty and follow a bracket format. Top four in each division auto-qualify. Next four best records qualify. 16 team bracket format ensues with won/loss records being the criteria for placing each franchise on the bracket. 1 v 16, 2 v 15, 3 v 14, etc. Games always played at home of team with best record. Single game first round on a Saturday. Single game quarter-final on Wednesday. Single game semi-finals on Sunday. Championship final on following Sunday. Two weeks total for playoffs.

Finally, why I believe MLS is quickly moving this direction.

1. They want more locally viable rivalries.

2. The franchises they are moving/adding achieves what I’m writing about.

3. (I know I said this wasn’t about pro/rel, but I can’t help myself. Just this one bullet point) MLS structured as above allows for two lower league clubs to earn their way into each six club northern and southern conference, making for eight club top league conferences. These two clubs would only move up after top league finishes filling out the twelve team divisions and a viable 16 club lower league is established in each conference’s geographical region.

3a. (cheating here and splitting up the bullet point) After expanding to 8 clubs per conference, top league regular season play would remain the same; divisional home and away (30 games), remaining games split between other division clubs (pick your poison, my choice would be year to year rotation with conferences playing all eight teams from another conference).

3b. (still cheating here) USSF/Players Association/Consortium of Professional Club Owners could then institute pro/rel on regional conference basis. Relegation from the top league would be based solely on games between clubs in the same conference (14 games). Bottom club auto relegated, next to bottom club plays home and away with second place club from regional league below.

Some advantageous things about this model: 

1. There is room for growth, up to 36 teams and even 48 teams in the top league (this is an expansive country).

1a. Comes much closer to mirroring the small-nation, short travel, club culture seen around the world.

1b. Many more geographic rivals.

2. August to June season is easily achievable/doable.

3. (cheating) Promotion/Relegation would see all lower leagues sharing the same geographic boundaries as the top league’s conference boundaries (so a total of six regional leagues in each tier). 16 clubs per regional league would have a typical year see half the teams in each lower regional league fighting a promotion or relegation battle. Plus, with only 30 games to play, the lower regional leagues can start the spring half of the season later (Mid-March), thereby not having to worry about the worst of the winter weather.

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