Let's Figure Out This 30 Team Schedule...

Discussion in 'MLS: Commissioner - You be The Don' started by DannyTRadio, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. fairfax4dc

    fairfax4dc Member+

    Dec 5, 2008
    Fairfax, Va
    I admit I'm proposing a solution to a problem that doesn't yet exist. Thus far fans across the Great American Heartland have embraced their new teams, and rich guys continue to put big money down for teams. If that trend continues all of MLS's problems are manageable. But there's a certain speculative quality to it, since current revenues don't really equate to long-term profitability. I'm frankly unhappy that soccer is still the fifth most popular sport. There's no particular reason that hockey should be ahead of soccer. In the 1970s it was largely assumed soccer was on the verge of overtaking hockey. But American fans like high scoring sports, even if most of the goals squirt out of pile ups in the goal crease. Maybe my point is that a 30+ team American-style major league may not be sustainable, and a creative pro/rel scheme may be a way to keep real professional soccer in all those cities, and avoid a painful contraction process that could become irreversible. Again, we're not there yet, but no harm in keeping some options on the table.
     
  2. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    as the paragraph regarding mexico was addressed previously, I will address the attendance issue. I'm going to use 2019 numbers from Transfermarkt (for consistencies sake and because '20, '21 full season numbers reflect different Covid protocols in the two countries. I use Spain, because La Liga is quite cool, and pre-Covid in 18/19 was near the peak of it's powers (coming off having won 5 straight Champions Leagues (including two which were all La Liga finals).
    MLS average: 21,300
    La Liga: 27,100.
    MLS, as you note, overall, was buoyed by the 50k of atlanta and 40K of Seattle, making up for the 12,000 of Chicago, 14,000 of Colorado, columbus, Dallas.
    But in La Liga, Barca (76,000) and Real (60,000) make up for the 5,000 of Eibar, 7,000 of Huesca, and 10,000 to 11,000 of the next four lowest clubs.
    Take out the top two in MLS, the average falls to 20,500.
    Take out the top two in La Liga and the average falls to 22,333.
    If you want a more current barometer, how healthy are the two leagues today, having had to weather a pandemic? Hint, the winner in this metric is not La Liga. It's in a free fall. MLS is expanding and, IMO improving.
    Looking at it a bit more personally, I support three clubs because I've moved an absurd number of times and I like attending matches (even went to several at RFK). The clubs i support are Sporting KC(MLS), Union Berlin (Bundesliga) and Reading (fingers crossed on no more point deductions, Championship).
    Stadium capacities: SKC: 21,000 (usually sold out). Union: 22,000 (usually sold out) and Reading: 24,000 (this season was a disaster, but usually 15,000-21,000).
    As for the tv numbers, soccer is in it's infancy in the US and Canada in attracting TV fans. The quality of the clubs is only a small piece of the problem MLS faces in attracting TV audiences.
     
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  3. fairfax4dc

    fairfax4dc Member+

    Dec 5, 2008
    Fairfax, Va
    Putting aside the bleak scenarios I've suggested, MLS faces the practical question of how big is too big. Or maybe the better question is how to get big without the downsides. As long as there are deep pocketed investors and people willing to buy tickets there's little reason to cap the size of MLS. What smart business would walk away from willing markets? But, relating back to the thread subject, what's the best structure for a league that's 30+ teams? Maybe the current two division structure will be fine. But if attendance begins to sag for mid and low table teams, or attendance for teams like Seattle and Atlanta sags when facing mid and low table teams, it may be time to consider alternative structures.

    I have to like someone who's made the pilgrimage to RFK. I've seen many great (and not so great) matches there. And good to hear from a Philly supporter. I followed the founding of that club closely. No other team owes it's existence to it's existence to it's supporters as much as Philly.
     
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  4. Kryptonite

    Kryptonite Fancy Title Here

    Apr 10, 1999
    Columbus
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You'd almost have to go to divisions.
    X number of games (equal home and away) vs divisional teams.

    Other games based on a rotational system such as "games vs teams equal to you in the standings."

    The problem is that the divisions are nowhere near even.


    South:
    Atlanta
    Charlotte
    Austin
    Dallas
    Houston
    Nashville

    Great Lakes:
    Chicago
    Columbus
    Toronto
    Cincinnati
    Minnesota

    Pacific:
    LA Galaxy
    LAFC
    San Jose
    Portland
    Seattle
    Vancouver
    Salt Lake
    Colorado
    KC

    East:
    Montreal
    New England
    New York Red Bulls
    NYC FC
    Philadelphia
    DC
    Orlando
    Miami


    The bottom line:
    Look for some of those "east vs west original matchups" (say DC vs San Jose or Columbus vs KC) to be more and more rare.
     
  5. Kryptonite

    Kryptonite Fancy Title Here

    Apr 10, 1999
    Columbus
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    You'd think.

    But there's still many stadiums that have scheduling conflicts...it's gotten better though.

    New England had a trip to KC and Colorado a while ago.
    Columbus had a trip to Salt Lake and Chivas USA. Yet I believe the original 2020 schedule had Columbus scheduled for two separate trips to LA.

    If the league continues to schedule cross-country road trips, they need to be smart about it. Have DC play in Colorado on their way home from LA, for example.
     
  6. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The week going into Labor Day the Rapids play @ Philly, @ Nashville, and then @ DC on the holiday weekend. I assume they will spend all week on the East Coast and not fly back and forth to Denver.

    (If I didn't have two other trips already in September I'd go out and spend a week in DC/Philly and catch both weekend games, not sure I'd make the jump to Nashville mid-week)
     
  7. jaykoz3

    jaykoz3 Member+

    Dec 25, 2010
    Conshohocken, PA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hence why there won't be divisions. The schedule won't be going higher than 34 games. If the league tops out at 30 teams, that's 15 a conference.(30 home and away games, and 4 games against western teams).

    There's also the month off in July/August for the LigaMX/MLS Cup.
     
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  8. wantmlsphilly

    wantmlsphilly Member+

    Aug 2, 2006
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Although I agree with this, it's actually 28 games since you don't play yourself twice. This gives you 6 games against the other conference and hopefully the playoffs stay the same with just 14 teams. The problem I have with this is the bye just doesn't seem to help much in soccer and possibly even hurts.
    .
    If you do three conferences of ten, that gives you 18 conference games and 16 out of conference teams giving fans more out of conference teams to see each year. The problem is how you do the playoffs? The easiest way would be 12 team playoff with the conference winners and the best record for fourth getting a bye and start the playoffs with two games on Wednesday and two on Thursday for the bottom eight, then starting the next round on Saturday & Sunday. Although this might be impossible to do, it could help a few other ways. First you don't sit the top teams for more than a week keeping them more in form. It also helps with schedule congestion now with three tournaments to deal with every year. Finally winning the Supporters' Shield and never traveling in a three week playoff you would think would be a huge advantage and make it harder for the lower you finish like it should.
     
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  9. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Really complicates things, doesn't it. 12 groups of four. how many advance, are they gonna go with 16 or 32? Still, minimum that's an extra 3 games per club and a maximum 6 or 7. For the clubs taking this seriously and advancing (who are probably the ones putting this on top of CCL), it's gonna require more roster flexibility.
    It's also a reason to simplify the schedule, reduce travel where possible, or it's a nice advantage to the managers who won't take it seriously (cough, Vermes, cough). With this new potential monster of a tourney, two regions makes more sense, IMO.
    Also, I waffle in my thinking on this according to the notion that fans really like seeing lots of different teams, and the league wants NY v LA etc. Is that actually true?
    First, the NY v LA is it a thing in any sport? Do Lakers-Knicks matchups get the national blood boiling? Jets-Chargers? Maybe Yankees-Dodgers comes close because of the Dodger abandonment of Brooklyn?
    I don't think it actually matters. sports fans like hard fought games, and rivalries inspire that, and rivalries are local or adjacent, more often than not.
     
  10. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Lakers-Knicks would be huge. Nobody cares about Jets-Chargers because both teams have historically sucked and the Chargers really aren't a LA team. Yankees-Dodgers is big for the reason you mentioned, plus they are (arguably) the biggest teams in the AL/NL regardless of location.
     
  11. wantmlsphilly

    wantmlsphilly Member+

    Aug 2, 2006
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The LAFC vs Philadelphia Union seems to be turning into a good game lately. Although one could argue if you barley see teams from the opposite conference you might watch national broadcast more helping TV ratings. I think it stays two conferences with 15 but with three at 10 and cutting two teams out of the playoffs you can accomplish more with less.
    Trying to keep rivals together and thinking of travel it might look like this.

    Toronto
    Montreal
    New England
    NYCFC
    Red Bulls
    Philadelphia
    DC United
    Columbus
    Cincinnati
    Chicago
    .
    Miami
    Orlando
    Atlanta
    Nashville
    Charlotte
    Kansas City
    Saint Louis
    Dallas
    Houston
    Austin
    .
    Vancouver
    Portland
    Seattle
    LAFC
    Galaxy
    San Jose
    Colorado
    Salt Lake City
    Minnesota
    Las Vegas

    Assuming that it is Vegas, this alignment only really hurts Minnesota the most with travel. You assume though someone has to bite the bullet and it keeps most established rivals together. Also leaving more out of conference games available for at least one matchup a year still possible instead of squeezing it in with just six games available. I'm thinking the Canadian teams here.
     
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  12. AlbertCamus

    AlbertCamus Member+

    Colorado Rapids
    Sep 2, 2005
    Colorado, USA
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    I hate group stage play-offs. With 3 conferences, why not top 5 from each plus the 6th placed team with the best record? Conference winners get top 3 seeds, everyone else goes according to record. Play you conference twice, (18 games), then play 16 other teams, a balance of home and away. Schedule by rivals, record, rematches from last years play-offs, rotation through the league, etc... whatever sells tickets and is reasonably fair.

    I don't know if LA v NYC is a thing, but good teams playing each other is. Last season's MLS final contestants should always re-match, for instance. And, as an attending fan, I want to see a variety of teams, not the same teams going to our stadium year after year. It's hard to use NFL and baseball as an example because they don't do Leagues/Conferences by region, but, unlike the NBA and NHL; I do like that a 3 conference setup allows an open play bracket and permits regional rivals to meet in the final.
     
  13. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    I think that would be pretty worthwhile. I like the matchup-centric notion. With two, there are also problems.

    The West:
    Vancouver
    Portland
    Seattle
    LAFC
    Galaxy
    San Jose
    Colorado
    Salt Lake City
    Minnesota
    Las Vegas
    plus
    Kansas City
    Saint Louis
    Dallas
    Houston
    Austin

    Means the East is:
    Montreal
    New England
    NYCFC
    Red Bulls
    Philadelphia
    DC United
    Columbus
    Cincinnati
    Chicago
    plus
    Miami
    Orlando
    Atlanta
    Nashville
    Charlotte

    St. louis has two natural rivals, SKC (covered) and Chicago. Now, no system will be perfect, but they might be thinking their $200 million should get them both. Even so, I think the league goes to at least 32, because expansion fees are a special kind of crack. No idea how that works out.
     
  14. wantmlsphilly

    wantmlsphilly Member+

    Aug 2, 2006
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    More teams in the playoffs extends the schedule and if one conference is much better than another lets less deserving teams into the playoffs.
     
  15. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    At 32 teams, a 4-division format could have a fairly straightforward scheduling plan that keeps the current 34 games:

    In division: home and away, 14 games
    Same conference, other division: home and away vs. 4 teams, once vs. other 4, 12 games
    Opposite conference: once vs. all teams from one division, alternate divisions each year, 8 games
     
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  16. wantmlsphilly

    wantmlsphilly Member+

    Aug 2, 2006
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I truly believe 32 only happens if Leagues Cup is a total disappointment when it comes to generating revenue for the league. The LC has huge revenue potential and is just short of merging the two leagues without all the complications of merging the two leagues.
     
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  17. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is my favorite idea for a 4-division split with 30 teams, if Vegas is #30. It's based on the idea that you don't have to divide the middle of the country by longitude, which always seems to split Midwestern teams from obvious rivals.

    Pacific
    ---------
    Vancouver
    Seattle
    Portland
    San Jose
    LAFC
    LAG
    Las Vegas

    Midwest
    -----------
    Salt Lake
    Colorado
    Kansas City
    Minnesota
    St. Louis
    Chicago
    Columbus
    Cincinnati

    South
    --------
    Dallas
    Houston
    Austin
    Nashville
    Miami
    Orlando
    Atlanta
    Charlotte

    Northeast
    -------------
    Toronto
    Montreal
    New England
    NYC
    Red Bulls
    Philadelphia
    DCU

    If you don't like divisions, you can jam them together into two 15-team conferences. Just an idea to find alignments that aren't just pure East/West splits. The Ohio teams probably won't like the time zone spread, though. (Kind of like how Detroit and Columbus were so eager to get out of the NHL Western Conference)
     
  18. AlbertCamus

    AlbertCamus Member+

    Colorado Rapids
    Sep 2, 2005
    Colorado, USA
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    I wouldn't do the non-divisions games so structured, so that the Canadian teams, for one, and other cross divisional rivals (neighbors like MN and Chicago) can always play each other. And, personally, I would do 4 divisions without Conferences- I don't know what conferences add - and go to single open bracket play-offs.
    I hate byes though. It only adds one game for one play-off team. And play-off games are the best.
     
  19. wantmlsphilly

    wantmlsphilly Member+

    Aug 2, 2006
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The bye would only be for the first round which would start 3 to 4 days after decision day. This would keep the other four teams that did well on a weekly game day schedule. It seems looking at the data that teams getting a bye that skips a week and not playing for two weeks or more are actually hurting their chances of advancing. I think this would make the end of the season more interesting and the team that wins the SS given a big advantage which they earned.
     
  20. AlbertCamus

    AlbertCamus Member+

    Colorado Rapids
    Sep 2, 2005
    Colorado, USA
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Better to have a full week before the 1st round to sell tickets. As a fan that earned a bye last season, what annoyed me is that we were good, so I wanted to see us play, not sit! If my team won the SS, I'd rather watch my team play the 16 seed, and presumably have a good chance of beating them.

    The SS is interesting anyway because you win the SS, plus you get the CONCACAF league spot.
     
  21. wantmlsphilly

    wantmlsphilly Member+

    Aug 2, 2006
    Philadelphia, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    First off you don't usually get the 16th seed right now as they sit for two weeks or more and they play the winner of who ever made it though. The SS is nice but not a championship in my eyes.
     
  22. mschofield

    mschofield Member+

    May 16, 2000
    Berlin
    Club:
    Union Berlin
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Two conferences of 15, winner of each gets a title (SS applies to overall points leader, but both get CCL slots) and there's an element of mystery to MLS Cup, as the odds are against the clubs having played in the regular season or having too many comparables. It's not ideal, but ideal with 30 clubs requires a 58 game regular season.
    If they want to maintain some sense of global footie in this, with so many teams, they're going to have think creatively. Treat the conferences like the early AFL-NFL, MLS Cup is about bragging rights.
    MLS has history handing out titles to leagues of 15 and below, after all. Back when wantmlsphilly first came on here, I assume wanting MLS in Philly, we'd have seen a solid, single 15 team league as a very positive sign.
    OTOH, there is also a history of season's with 30 games. They could retreat to that, and beef up the arrangement with LigaMX, again.
     

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