News: Conference alignment & schedule parameters announced

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by JasonMa, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. 007Spartan

    007Spartan Member+

    Mar 1, 2006
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The league is almost certainly going to move to a divisionsional alignment at some point. We are just entering a time when there are too many teams to have too many home and away series.

    When MLS reaches 32 teams, 30 games would be required for a home and away series against each conference foe. That leaves just 4 intra conference games, which would mean missing 12 teams a year. That’s way too many IMO.

    Four divisions of 8 teams would reduce that number to 14 games, leaving 20 games vs the rest of the league.

    Or you could follow the NFL’s lead and go with 8 “divisions”. Each team could play their other division rivals twice and then the other 28 teams once. In that scenario schedule imbalance would be relatively minimal and each division winner could be guaranteed a playoff spot, with X number of at large bids based on record.

    That said, a schedule that pits more eastern or western teams against each other while excluding certain intra conference matchups would have the benefit of reducing travel, which is something that has become a big talking point in the league.
     
  2. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Its been clear for a while that despite all their hype around rivalries the only ones MLS actually cares about are the LA and NYC derbies and the Cascadia Cup.
     
  3. Yoshou

    Yoshou Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 12, 2009
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    With almost half of the country's population in the Eastern timezone, "Geographically" is essentially meaningless in the US. Granted, the population center of the US is currently in Southern Missouri right now, but it does shift the middle of the US to include cities like Chicago and Nashville.

    This is actually a pretty good time for Nashville to temporarily reside in the West. The team doesn't necessarily need a geographic rival to drive interest in games and, in the general scheme of things, missing out on a year or two of "rivalry" with Atlanta isn't going to be impactful.

    That being said, people ride on MLS for forcing rivalries simply because of proximity, rather than letting them grow organically, it is interesting people get up in arms over denying the Atlanta/Nashville rivalry when their only connection is distance.
     
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  4. Yoshou

    Yoshou Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 12, 2009
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Point of correction, they only care about Portland/Seattle. They don't really care about the Vancouver portion of the Cascadia Cup.
     
  5. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Having STL and KC in the same conference will be a higher priority. It would be nice for Chi and STL to be together though.
     
  6. CMeszt

    CMeszt Member+

    Fire Crown 4 Life (or until they change it again)
    Jan 9, 2004
    Soldier Field Media Deck. First Row.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Unfortunately I wish I could argue with this, but I can't.
     
  7. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think they care about MTL-Tor and Texas.
     
  8. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Maybe MTL-TFC, but no, they don't really care about Houston-Dallas. We'll see if Austin's addition changes that.
     
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  9. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    How is this judged? Sounds like an opinion being stated as fact.
     
  10. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    I think saying "almost certainly" is very misguided at this point. We have seen no evidence they will move this direction. Their decision for the 2020 alignment and not playing every team leads me to believe the opposite. I believe they will move down the path of playing less and less of the total teams. More like an MLB setup than NFL. I think we will essentially see a Western League and Eastern League in the future. Time will tell.
     
  11. 007Spartan

    007Spartan Member+

    Mar 1, 2006
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Maybe you are right, I just can’t see (or perhaps I don’t want to see) a scenario where a team misses 12 teams on their schedule once the league ultimately expands to 32 teams.

    That said, scheduling that conference heavy would definitely cut down significantly on cross country travel, which might be appealing to players, coaches and owners. It would also maintain home and away series with more teams, so who knows.
     
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  12. TrueCrew

    TrueCrew Member+

    Dec 22, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, it had to be the end of:
    1) Playing everyone once and/or
    2) Playing conference foes twice and/or
    3) The end of Conferences without divisions

    They went with #1.

    To my way of thinking, I think this hints at a baseball model. 38-40 teams. 2 Conferences. Play conference teams twice. 1-2 or no interconference games until playoffs.
     
  13. TrueCrew

    TrueCrew Member+

    Dec 22, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    As for alignment, eventually, assuming Charlotte is 30, Vegas & Phoenix for 32.

    29 teams/2022:
    West 15: LAFC, SJ, COL, FCD, SKC; HOU, RSL, SEA, POR, VAN, MIN, LAFC, AUS, STL, SAC.

    East 14: DC, NE, NYRB, CLB, CHI; TFC, MON, NYCFC, PHI, ATL, ORL, CIN, NASH, MIA.

    Charlotte joins East.

    Vegas & Phoenix join West, Loons move East. 32 teams. 16/16.

    Most of the rest of the next group of expansion teams are likely east (Tampa, Raleigh, Indy, Det). SD and a team in SF/Oak, or SA would be the West's best bets.
     
  14. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Stick around long enough, people will bitch about everything.

    There has been, what, ONE year (16 teams, 30 games) when the schedule was completely and utterly balanced? Do people sit around and watch DVDs of those halcyon days when they could feel like the Supporters Shield winner was true and pure and beautiful as a puppy?

    Like it or not, extra games are always going to be against division or conference rivals, that is just how American sport space has congealed over time.

    Anyone who's going to kvetch about piddling shit like longitude without realizing we have this situation because we live in a big country with lots of investors who suddenly see this as something to get in on* is a dipshit.

    Play games. Watch games. Put all the asterisks you want on anyone's performance you like because they didn't play this team or only played that team once. Doesn't matter.

    It's sports. It's entertainment. That's all it is. Be entertained.







    *Remember when that was what everyone wanted?
     
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  15. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ok boomer. :D
     
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  16. CMeszt

    CMeszt Member+

    Fire Crown 4 Life (or until they change it again)
    Jan 9, 2004
    Soldier Field Media Deck. First Row.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    I mean, that was the year that the Rapids somehow won the title as a 7th seed in what may have been the worst final in league history...

    it was also the year I thought the league should do playoffs in World Cup style groups of 4 with the top two advancing instead of the single top 8 thing they chose.
     
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  17. NashSC

    NashSC Member+

    Nashville SC
    United States
    Jan 3, 2018
    :rolleyes:
    Close down the MLS section of BS. No reason to discuss MLS anymore...i mean "bitch." If you don't want to read people discussing something as important as changing scheduling format then this probably isn't a good place to be.
     
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  18. Yoshou

    Yoshou Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 12, 2009
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That’s your Eastern Conference Champions, Colorado Rapids, to you. :) Coming just one year after Eastern Conference Champions, Real Salt Lake, won their only MLS Cup
     
  19. PIASoccer

    PIASoccer Member

    D.C. United
    United States
    Oct 5, 2019
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You'll hate reddit MLS, Kenn.
     
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  20. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The difference with the MLB setup is that the NL and AL both have a national footprint. An MLS that is fully geographically bifurcated with only a handful of token East/West matchups could exacerbate its struggles in getting its fans to watch important games as neutrals. So many fans tune out of anything MLS that doesn't involve their local club--if they start seeing faraway MLS clubs as not even in the same league, their interest could fall even lower. This is why I think that a move toward four 8-team divisions is more likely, as it lends itself nicely to a schedule that allows home-and-homes with the closest opponents to continue while missing only four opponents in any particular year.
     
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  21. whiteonrice04

    whiteonrice04 Member+

    Sep 8, 2006
    They've also talked about regionalizing broadcasts to fight this. Like the NFL does.
     
  22. CeltTexan

    CeltTexan Member+

    Sep 21, 2000
    Houston, TX USA
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Understood. And yet with association football, there are multiple trophies to compete for in the same season so the very nature of the competition between teams means you will see teams from your division and other divisions in multiple scenarios. This is not how our American sport space has congealed over time. In the NBA there is just one trophy to play for, same with the NFL and so on. MLS teams can know they will see their local rivals via beating each other to win various trophies.

    Correct! Split MLS league competition into the more insular looking Eastern and Western Conferences, separate leagues basically round 2024, and for many of the common or casual MLS fans, the other Conference becomes full of MLS teams that just do not resonate with them. It is this specific market that are the very fans Garber and his crew at MLS HQ is wanting so badly to be engaged across the league. Garber is expanding the teams at record pace and our league is booming for sure, so to match this growth, it appears he knows the big hurdle now is to have MLS fans, us junkies to the casuals to the kids, cultivate an uptick in TV numbers and people caring about matches that weekend that are the ones to watch. I.e. getting neutrals to some screen for the must see match up that week on top of going out to watch their own local team. TV money is where it's at right. Increase this front and the owners will most likely be confident to spend more and the cycle becomes symbiotic. TV money breeding player signatures.
    Also, look at what happens in CONCACAF play. So many MLS fans do not follow other MLS teams even when the completion is against clubs that do spend money, are the easy to hate Mexican footy clubs or clubs that do play a solid brand of ball, champions of their domestic scene. We witness this each pre season when MLS clubs return to CCL play. Folks in an MLS club's own town are not going in large numbers to watch regional play, as the clubs are just far off competitors to many of the casual MLS fans. STH and dads with their kids. Folks that love their MLS team but just do not go long on regional play. With the size of the U.S. and Canada as is, and with so many other sports leagues out there to enjoy both college and pro, MLS suits must go long to cultivate and edge to MLS league play. Imho there is the extreme value of keeping up the generations old tradition of each team still engaged with every other team season after season. Pro/Reg be damned in our sports culture. Check! Got it! But there are indeed the core traits to a professional soccer league that we should stick to. Sad but true as even after so much growth, on so many fronts for MLS, there still is this issue of pro soccer being so popular in the U.S. and Canada but MLS as the viewing choice still is not for so many that claim to be soccer fans. Garber, with so much expansion, needs to cultivate a pro soccer league that erases the word insular at every turn.
     
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  23. ToMhIlL

    ToMhIlL Member+

    Feb 18, 1999
    Boxborough, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Right now we're at 26, so there's not a lot you can do about it for now, but we will be at 28, and at that point it seems like the best solution would be to split it up into 4 divisions of 7. Play your own division twice (12) and everyone else once (21) and have one extra game against a "traditional rival" from another division.

    The 7-team divisions could be:
    PACIFIC:
    Van, Sea, Por, SJ, Sac, LAFC, LAG
    WEST:
    RSL, Clr, Min,KC,Dal, Hou, Aus
    CENTRAL:
    Chi, Clb, Cin, Nsh, Atl, Orl,Mia
    NORTHEAST:
    Mon, Tor, NE, NYC, NYRB, Phi, DC

    When St. Louis joins as #29, they could go in either the Central or the West, depending on who #30 is. If it's Detroit or Charlotte, they go West, if it is Las Vegas or Phoenix or another western city, they would go to the Central and the other team would be in one of the Western divisions.

    At that point there would be 2 divisions of 8 and 2 of 7. If you keep with the idea of playing your own division 2x and everyone else once, you'd have to go to 36 games (the 7-division teams would have an extra game thrown in vs someone in the other 7-team division). But once you get to 32, four 8-team divisions might be too much, since that would be a 38-game schedule.

    Going to an NFL-style eight 4-team divisions would get awkward with splitting up a lot of geographical rivalries, but at least it would allow for a 34-game schedule.
     
  24. ElJefe

    ElJefe Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 16, 1999
    Colorful Colorado
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If there's one thing that Dallas and Houston fans agree on, it's our complete apathy towards Austin FC.
     
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  25. DCW531

    DCW531 Member

    Jan 31, 2017
    Except that as of the current timeline, Austin comes in alone next season (2021) to make 27, and STL & SAC come in together in 2022, for 29. So right now, MLS won't hit 28. Now if Charlotte gets in and pushes to 2021......
     
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