Steven Patton’s Letter to Major League Soccer

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by Neutral Fan, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Neutral Fan

    Neutral Fan New Member

    Dec 27, 2000
    Comments about Steven Patton’s Letter to Major League Soccer

    Promotion / Relegation - At one time I liked the ideal of promotion / relegation. The financial chaos will doom the ideal of promotion / relegation.

    National team schedule conflicts with the MLS – I think it is good for the league’s players. The schedule conflicts means all players are an important part of the team, not just the top 13 players. It was fun to see what 2nd team players would rise to the occasion.

    Create a single table – Do we have to do everything the same way they do it in England?

    Restructure the playoff system – Why? Did not the two best teams play in the MLS Cup? Yes there are some boring games but we also watched the New England DC United game.

    All Star Game – It is a midseason break with a dog and pony show. It is a meaningless game in all leagues here in the US.

    Stop rewarding losing teams – No stop penalizing winning teams. League parity is going to make the MLS one of the most fun leagues in the world to watch. Name another soccer league in the world were all the teams have a chance to win it all.

    Compete internationally – This could be used to make the soccer league different from other sports here in the US.

    Here are some of my suggestions – No PA music during the game. Stop selling those plastic horns.

  2. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Which fans?

    If we go to pure home and away single table, there'd be absolutely no reason to have a post-season or hold the MLS Cup.

    And while we can argue all we want about how many teams should make the playoffs, etc, I think you'll find few who think that MLS will ever completely can the postseason.
  3. FuzzyForeigner

    Oct 29, 2003
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    patton should go fight WWII and not comment on soccer...i could nto diagree more

    and i am too lazy riht now to reply in a documented fashion
  4. WarrenWallace

    WarrenWallace Member

    Mar 12, 1999
    Beer and Cheese
    I dislike single table as well as pro/reg. Could care less about any league other than MLS cause I live in America.
  5. dice50

    dice50 New Member

    Oct 4, 2000
    Norman, Oklahoma
    I dislike pro/regulation.

    I agree with all of the other ideas 100%, but I"d tinker with the playoff/home-away, MLS CUP idea.

    This is my idea:

    First you move to a single table
    Every team players each other at home and home
    Top four teams at the end of the regular season make the playoffs (1v4)(2v3)
    Lower seed gets to pick if they want first or second game at home
    MLS CUP is a home and home, most goals win (again lower seed gets to pick if they want first or second game at home)
  6. M

    M Member+

    Feb 18, 2000
    Via Ventisette
    I dislike it as well but what is it?
  7. DaMunk

    DaMunk Member

    Feb 7, 2003
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    US Virgin Islands
    Interesting point, please elaborate.
  8. Agogwe

    Agogwe Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I must admit, I'd like to see the U.S. Open Cup be an "all in the hat" style tournament as opposed to seedings. I must also agree with the competing more internationally comment.

    Some of his other ideas were alright, I don't think MLS needs to go single table, but I really don't care either way. Just make the Supporter's Shield an important trophy to win.
  9. MasterShake29

    MasterShake29 Member+

    Oct 28, 2001
    Jersey City, NJ
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The SS will never be important until and unless goes to a "single table". How long has the NHL President's Trophy been around. Quick, who won it last year? The SS is important only for getting home field in the conference championship game. Why should it be important? If we can't decide a league champion that way, why is it ok to decide another trophy that way?

    That being said, ST and Pro/Rel may be worth looking at in the future. ST is pointless without at least 4 more expansion teams (and preferrably 6), because a balanced schedule doesn't make sense before then. I guess you could show the standings that way but it won't change much. And of course Pro/Rel makes no sense until the top division is "full" and teams in the second division aren't constantly folding (and probably not until the same governing body runs both). So wait until that happens, then we can have a reasonable discussion then.

    I do like the draft lottery suggestion, that's way superior to simply giving the #1 pick to the worst team.

    DO not make the MLS Cup final home-and-home. I think it's fine the way it is (for the time being at least).
  10. Roehl Sybing

    Roehl Sybing Guest

    I think we should mandate football lines on the field, if anyone asks me.
  11. The Magpie

    The Magpie Member

    Nov 19, 1998
    Cambridge, MA
    Who's Steve Patton?
  12. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

    Feb 19, 2001
    to the right
    MLS should stop penalizing the winning teams. Make that part of the reward for winning. Let them have a soft cap for one year for each division winner. Dynasties are good for the league.

    How frustrating is it to see a team do well and advance to some international competition only to be broken up before they can compete? The team that enters these competitions doesn't even resemble the team that earned it.
  13. Buzz Killington

    Buzz Killington Member+

    Oct 6, 2002
    Lee's Summit
    Kansas City Wizards
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    2 things about this

    1. So you'd have teams play a total of 22 games? That is an incredibly low number of games.
    2. Why should the lower seed get to pick if they are home for the first game or the second game? That could technically give them the advantage, and then what would be the advantage to the team that actually finished ahead of them in the standings?
  14. writered21

    writered21 Member+

    Jul 14, 2001
    Middle of the Road
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Steve posted this thing some time ago and there were quite a few well thought out arguments as to why what he was writing wasn't well done, didn't represent the fans, and treated MLS and its leadership with the wrong attitude.

    In posting to ask for feedback, he must not have liked what he heard, as he flatly ignored most of it.

    Here is the original thread. Unfortunately, or perhaps smartly, Steve took down the original letter - but it isn't much different than what he has now.

    It's discouraging that Steve thinks he is speaking in the interest of "all" or "most" fans. Basically, he wrote out his own little Utopian scenario. And when people pointed out why a good bit of it wouldn't work, he pressed on with it anyway. Good persistence I guess, but the message still isn't right.
  15. Delta Blues

    Delta Blues New Member

    Jun 25, 1999
    King Willieville
    No pro/rel. It will never happen. Why all the debate about it?
    Keep the conferences, or single table? Makes no difference.
    Lower teams making playoffs to 6 of 12
    SS and 2nd best record get 1st round bye.
    3v6 & 4v5 in a single game knockout at the higher seed.
    Second round also single elimination at the higher seed.
    MLS Cup at the higher seeds home stadium.
  16. aosthed

    aosthed Member

    Jul 16, 2004
    40º30' N 111º52' W
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    ding, ding, ding... we have a winner! Although conferences are better at 12 teams IF you want at least a 30 game season... single table makes sense at 16+ teams (what to do at 14 teams? I'm not sure), but conferences could still work (it's not that big of a deal).

    Single elimination with "home field" to the higher seeds throughout the playoffs is THE ANSWER for MLS regular season "meaning" because it rewards positioning (you could actually get away then with 8 out of 12 in the playoffs now because what number you are matters) in two ways:

    1) It's a huge advantage to the players to get to play a single elimination playoff game at home (tactical incentive).
    2) It creates a huge financial incentive to the club because of the revenue generated by the game (financial incentive). At least $250,000 in revenue per game (maybe double that)... now you have the owner's attention (which means everyone's attention).
  17. Agogwe

    Agogwe Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Excellent point, I'd forgotten the President's Trophy exisited. I guess I'd rather see the regular season mean more than just your positioning in the playoffs, as in other sports in this country. It seems to breed the "I only watch the playoffs" mentality in some people. I've started reading that same mentality about MLS. Obiviously it's an "in the future" thing, but I don't know, maybe a trophy presentation, give the team some money, or something like that for winning the SS. Maybe a single table is what would make that happen. But like in some conferences in College Football, give the fans a big reason to cheer during the regular season.

    Definitely agree here, leave it, for the time being at least.
  18. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    So, the guy wants to go to a single table, introduce promotion and relegation despite the fact that it is obviously financial disaster, and he has the temerity to list as one of his suggestions, "create your own traditions"?

    Excuse me while I LMAO.
  19. MasterShake29

    MasterShake29 Member+

    Oct 28, 2001
    Jersey City, NJ
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Actually the President's Trophy is more significant than the Supporters' Shield (well, it would be if there were actual games in the NHL, but I digress). The PT gets you home advantage in the final should you get there, the SS doesn't. Not saying it should mind you.

    And the suggestion that MLS competing on international dates is somehow a good thing is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's like telling the Philadelphia Eagles, "we're going to borrow Terrell Owens this week, but it's ok, it's a good chance for the Eagles younger recievers to step up." Yeah, that would go over well.
  20. crusio

    crusio New Member

    May 10, 2004
    Hahahahaaa this is the most overly critcal place I have ever seen.
  21. soccerfan

    soccerfan BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 13, 1999
    New Jersey
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    you have good points just to touch on two

    1. Keep the conferences or single table is not the same thing, with single table i am against playoff system, not needed. I can support single table if we have 16 teams gives 30 games, playoff just don't seem to work to well with MLS. The disadvantage with single table MAYBE is that the last 10 teams would loose interest if they have no chance to win something.

    2. your last point about MLS Cup played at the highest seed, its not a bad idea, but it would be a heck of a job to market,promote,organize it within a 7 day notice, ok even if its 10 days, almost imposible.
  22. dice50

    dice50 New Member

    Oct 4, 2000
    Norman, Oklahoma
    Sorry I meant lower seed as in 1 or 2. To me the higher seed is the higher number. For my idea, I agree, the team that is 1 or 2; not 3 or 4, should get to pick which game at home.

    Also I dont see why you think you can't have playoffs and single table. Single table just gets rids of conference and is easier to keep track of. It's a way to see at the end of the season who the top four teams are. You still keep the playoffs to prove that the best team can still compete in the playoffs. The best team still should win no matter what. This proves that the champ team has to be good all season, to make the limited playoff spot, and good when they need to be, the playoffs.

    It's a combo of the American playoff obsession, traditional soccer regular season standings, and makes the playoffs mean more which makes the regular season have more meaning. If a team is in 5th towards the end of the regular season in a single table declaring the champ at the end of the regulars season that team has no motivation to play hard. But if they know getting 4th gets them into the playoffs they'd still play hard.
  23. RedMenace

    RedMenace New Member

    Jun 20, 2004
    Palo Alto, CA
    I agree, in the traditional form relegation seems unworkable for the foreseeable future. But if MLS and USL could get their act together to truly co-operate (or just merge, already), then I think promotion/relegation in a certain form would work great. But it wouldn't be the traditional on-field performance-based model (though doing at least fairly well on field might be one of several pre-requesites for moving up).

    Here's how it could work: before applying to join MLS, a team would have had to played the most-recent full season in the A League. While there, they would have had to perform at least decently (which they could prove by finishing in the top 25% during the league season, in the final 25% in the playoffs, or in the final 8 or 16 or whatever in the Open Cup). They would also have to have played in a MLS-acceptable stadium (field dimensions acceptable for international matches under FIFA regulations, preferably natural grass but at least high-quality field turf, minimum 15,000 or whatever capacity, and other facilities standards) with a median attendance of at least, say, 10,000. They might also need to have a viable plan for a soccer-specific stadium, as well as the usual viable ownership group with deep enough pockets to afford a MLS team in the long run.

    This means that any prospective MLS team would have had to prove that they can play professional soccer to a decent standard and attract a fairly sizeable audience along the way before even applying. It would also strengthen the A League by making it the only conduit into MLS: prospective MLS owners would first have to set up (or buy) an A League team, and run it to a nearly-MLS level while there.

    Similarly, to get into the A League, a team would have had to play in the PSL/D3 for a season, again performing decently on field, with at least 5,000 or so median attendance in an A League-acceptable stadium. And to get into PSL/D3, a team would have had to play the previous season in the PDL, performing decently, and attracting, say, 2,500 median attendance in a PSL/D3-acceptable stadium.

    This would mean that a team would need to exist for a few years before it could join MLS, but in the long run, that might not be a bad thing. At the least it would give them a several year head start on building community awareness of the team and fan loyalty (and even a core of players skillful enough to jump to MLS with the team), as well as a head start on getting into an appropriate stadium, setting up an experienced front office, etc. Plus the fans would have the excitement of seeing their team advance up through the leagues, it would add some excitement to the lower leagues, and help cement the feeling that the team is really rooted in the community, not just a cynical profit-making enterprise run by deep-pocket investors.

    In the other direction, teams and the league should strive to keep teams operating in a lower league if they can't financially sustain operations at a higher level. The team name and franchise rights (or whatever) would automatically devolve to a lower league if the owners want to bail on their current league. I'm not sure how exactly to enforce this (ie, force the owners to keep operating as an A League or PSL team rather than folding entirely), other than to make it a negative strike against a potential owner of a future team who had presided over a team's demise in the past.

    This could also be set up to prevent, or at least heavily discourage, "moving" a team elsewhere. Sure, a team could drop to a lower league in one city while another moves up elsewhere (and ownership/investment could change hands behind the scenes as appropriate), but a team would not be allowed to actually move more than, say, 50 miles from its original location.

    Maybe, but I'd rather have some rest during international call-up dates. Combined with an expanding league, reserve teams, Open Cup, international club competitions, injuries, etc., I think there's plenty of opportunity for fresh players to get playing time.

    I agree, a single table is an over-rated goal. In fact, I think it should remain regional. I also think that there's no real reason to limit the league to only 16-18 teams, so long as the number of games played is still reasonable. The USA is a large enough place that I think it would be to the sport's benefit to maintain regional conferences - less expense, time, and fatigue from travelling, and more chance for fans to attend away games. It can also justify the existence of the playoffs: they could be the first time each season that teams from the respective conferences meet (and they'd cross over from the beginning of the playoffs, not just in the final game).

    Agreed. In the future, if there are enough teams in each region that they don't play across regions during the regular season at all, the playoffs could be the first place the conferences would meet. Let's say there are 8 teams from each conference (out of 16 or whatever - obviously this is well in the future when there might actually be this many teams) in the playoffs. In this situation, the #1 team from the East could play the #8 team from the west home-and-away, etc. The only other thing I might change would be extending the home-and-away format to all playoff games other than the actual final match.

    I'd like to see a MLS best 11 vs Yanks Abroad best 11.

    I agree that the US should try to take the lead in increasing the importance and meaningfulness of international club competition in the region, as well as national team competitions outside of World Cup Qualifying (as in, helping increase the reward for winning or placing highly). Maybe also two levels, one for the top teams, one for the rest (like Champions League vs. UEFA Cup), so more MLS teams can participate each year. And at the same time, trying to get our best teams into Copa Libertadores.
  24. Justin O

    Justin O Member+

    Seattle Sounders
    United States
    Nov 30, 1998
    on the run from the covid
    Re: Steven Patton’s Letter to Major League Soccer

    Sarcasm? Or is this supposed to be a self-evident cause and effect relationship?
  25. Femfa

    Femfa New Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I resent Patton stating that he speaks for the fans, as I am one, and I agree with almost nothing he say.

    No single table. No, no, and no. 1)No because part of what creates a fierce local rivalry is fighting with that near neighbor for the conference lead. It's part of the reason Galaxy fans pile into buses to Spartan Stadium and go crazy in the stands. We can't do that if it's DC United that we're battling with for top of the table. 2)No because the playoffs rock - at least half the games that are considered the greatest games in MLS took place in the playoff rounds. Under single table, New England doesn't play DC for the East crown - the best game this year simply doesn't happen. 3)No because the season ending with two top teams is a great finish - under single table, it could easily be sewn up by the last game and therefore, the final games are pointless and anti-climactic.

    No pro/reg. Besides spelling the financial doom of the league, I just have to add, "Huh?" There's no way that I, or most fans, are going to follow a team from league to league. The shame and humiliation of a team not making the playoffs is relegation enough.

    MLS All-Star Game: Not a big deal. Get Real or another top team in to play - hey, that sounds like a fun friendly.

    MLS Games and NT games. Er, I don't think this has to be so tightly scheduled. MLS rosters are growing - and why not give those on the bench a chance to prove themselves? Having MLS games continue during their actual season isn't so crazy.

    Bottom line, I like the differences MLS has right now. With expansion and parity, the regular season really does matter, since making the playoffs isn't a sure thing.

    I hated the Shootout, and I was glad it died, but for me, the league is working pretty well now. I'd just as soon they not change a thing - except their marketing plan.

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