Home / Soccer Fans / MLS Season in Review: 3 Things To Do in the Next 3 Years


The MLS season came to a lackluster end with the Colorado Rapids (who would have thought this?) becoming the latest MLS Cup winners in a bitterly cold night in Toronto. The victims? FC Dallas, another unlikely team. Really, fans were not excited about the prospect of having these two teams going at it, considering New York and L.A. were available to play if they had played a bit better. The lack of interest showed: at one point, reports claim that the announcer urged fans to move to the other side of the stadium to make the place look better for television. I realize it was cold, windy, and boring, but come on: this is a league title game for an American sports league. Now that my rant is over and I digress, there is a multitude of things we can take away from the season and change for the future:

1). Get on the FIFA schedule:

MLS Commissioner has talked about this for the past few years and said he will certainly be in discussions again over this in the long off-season. There are multiple reasons to implement a change to the international standard of soccer scheduling. First, it allows transfers to become a much less awkward affair (yes, I realize the league still owns the players, which must be resolved as well). The most profitable clubs in Europe gain much of their income based on working well in the transfer market (see Arsenal). Allowing teams to operate freely in the market in the same system as the rest of the major leagues can only be a benefit. Some will argue that many fans could not stand to attend games in the harsh winters of the United States, however, European teams deal with this on year in and year out. If the passion for soccer in this country is truly there, then fans won’t mind a snowflake or two in the middle of the game. Some may also argue that Americans will be forced to choose between American football, basketball, and soccer, with most choosing to adopt and watch what is familiar in those months, American football and basketball. Playing on non-weekend days, such as Wednesdays or Thursdays (like many European countries do) could alleviate some of this problem. For now, it’s about trying to drive a larger dedicated base of fans to the MLS, which the league has been doing for many years.

2). Reformat the current playoff system to be understandable.

The fact that a team from the Western Conference can essentially become Eastern Conference champions (as the Colorado Rapids did to advance to the MLS Cup this year) should raise red flags all over the place that the system is a little too convoluted for conventional fans to understand. Also, the fact that ESPN has to take a few minutes out of their all too pointless analysis to explain the system should be a sign to Garber. Garber has no desire to eliminate the playoffs all together and he should stick with this point, as it adds notable intrigue to end of season games unlike in the major European leagues. He took a step in the right direction this past season by introducing two 15 minute overtime periods if the score remains tied at the end of the match. Qualification itself, however, is a working point, however. “If more than four teams qualify from one conference, the team(s) finishing lower than fourth in its conference will shift over to the other conference bracket” is not a great rule. I propose the rule should read “Four and only four teams will qualify from each conference, remaining in their conference bracket throughout the playoffs until the MLS Cup Championship”. This adds a reason to be attracted to a conference game and really adds meaning and significance to now utterly useless conference system.

3). Continue to attract international talent (not the retirement home kind)

The success of designated players should be noted but in a very surprising way. Initially coined the David Beckham rule, the DP rule should now be called “Resurrect Your Career Here” Rule. “No Name” players who entered the league have turned into the soccer darlings of America, such as Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Sebastian Le Toux, and David Ferreira. Many players similar to these players have become flops in their own right, however, for ever flop there has been a darling. Flagging down these unknowns who receive little to no playing time in other parts of the world have a chance to seize the day in America, where the talent is unfortunately not as ripe. Exploring more “non-mainstream” soccer countries, such as many of the South American countries is a positive step toward adding some diversity and talent to the league quickly and cheaply. Plus it’s a low risk. Remaining fiscally responsible will be on the minds of all the MLS owners so instead of picking up an old Ronaldinho, how about some “scrub” who’s had experience in the bigger leagues before as a playmaker at points in his career?

Written by Chris Behrens, writer for SoccerProse.com


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One Comment

  1. Number One won’t happen until such time as MLS clubs have their own stadium and MLS introduces a winter break. NFL teams will always have precedence with scheduling at shared stadiums. Also, can you imagine playing in Toronto or Foxboro in January/February?