Saturday, November 11, 2006

State of the League

So on Friday, Don Garber gave his state of the league address. It was suppose to be broadcast live on MLSnet, course their system didn't seem to be working properly, and I was unable to watch the address. We do have a write up on all the changes to MLS for next season, that can be found here.

Some of the highlights:

  • a 30 game season down from 32 games this season. This was due to a couple things, the addition of Toronto FC as team number 13, making an imbalanced league. Another reason was the upcoming tournament between MLS and the Mexican League. Finally less games was demeaned necessary to allow for the Gold Cup and Copa America next summer, both events the US will be participating in.
  • There will still be 2 conferences, the East will have 7 teams, as TFC will go there. The West will have 6. This is how the scheduling will break down for next season. Each team will play a home and away against every other team in the league for a total of 24 games. Then the 7 teams in the East will play 1 more game against each conference opponent, 3 home and 3 away. In the West, the 6 teams will play each team 1 more time, giving them 29. The last game will be a "rivalry game." The LA derby, the Texas derby, and the Rocky Mountain Cup will be the 3 rivalry games.
  • The playoffs also got a bit of a makeover, there will still be 8 teams, but the way those 8 teams qualify will be different. No more will it be 4 from each conference automatically. Now, the top 2 from each conference will qualify, followed by the next 4 best, meaning you could have 5 from the East and 3 from the West or any other combination.
  • The qualification for the US-Mexico Challenge Cup, will be based on league position, in the hopes of making the league more meaningful.
  • More foreign players are on their way, and the Beckham rule has been approved.
So, let's break this down, 1st, a 30 game season makes sense, with the way to break for the 2 international cups, this is what many people have been calling for, to give players a chance to compete in these events without having to miss more league games. I personally would have preferred a break during this time so that they missed no league games, but I guess that's not being done.

The schedule has been redone again in the last day. If you caught an early version of the announcement, it said that each team would play their conference rivals 4 times, and play the other conferences teams once each. So the East would have 24 games against each other, and 1 game each against, LA, Chivas, Dallas, Houston, RSL, and CO. The West would have 20 games against their conference rivals, 1 each against the 7 East teams, and the 1 rivalry game as well. Thankfully this has been dropped in favor of the newer schedule which makes more sense if they are sticking with the conferences.

I have no problem with the playoffs the way they are going to be. People will complain about there being too many teams making the playoffs, therefore making the regular season mean less, but it works the other way too though. If a team is knocked out of the playoff chase in late August or early September, that's about a month's worth of action that they won't have anything to play for. And you think the fans are going to show up for the team, even if they're still trying to qualify for the "Challenge Cup" between the US and Mexico?

I weary of the Beckham rule being put in place, I may not have been around for much of the NASL, but I've seen what they did, and I want MLS to learn from it, which they have so far. If it's done right I have no problem with it, but this is MLS, and I am not sure how well they'll do it.


In some news that will sting for Wizards fans, this was released today. The Mayor of OP has pulled his support of the STAR Bonds for the Wizards stadium. Kinda funny that he's done a 180 from where he originally was on the topic. You gotta love politics and the two faced double turns that you get. We'll see where this one goes to from here.

Right now it doesn't look the best, but remember this about the Wizards new owners OnGoal LLC, they are business men and they didn't get to where they are in the business world by only having 1 plan. They had a backup plan from the beginning in case this happened, so we shall see what their other plan might hold.

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