A few days ago, I was listening to the MLS Extra Time radio podcast, and they touched on something I'd been thinking about for a long time. What if MLS were to introduce a Community Shield of sorts, a cup final that is a trophy of it's own?
The first question is, is this a good idea? I certainly think so. Having a game to kick off the new season would be a great way to start, like the traditional Thursday season opener in the NFL. It's the only game on and it gets the season underway.
The next question is, who will be in it? While there may be some shouts for the Supporters Shield winner, it has to be the winner of the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup. If a team wins both then they can play against the Shield winner.
Who should host it? This is also intertwined with the amount of legs there should be. Although all the top European leagues have a cup final between last year's champions, the amount of legs varies. While the English Community Shield is one game at a neutral venue, the Spanish Super Cup is two legs where each team hosts a leg.
I think that this should be as short as possible to prevent unnecessary fatigue, so it should definitely be a single game. A full 90 minutes with extra time and penalties if needed. So then the issue is deciding who should host it.
The United States is interesting because it's a huge country spanning four time zones with big metropolitan areas in all four corners and in many places in between. It's not like England, where London is pretty much a no-brainer to host a cup final. Also, it's such a small country that traveling anywhere within it isn't a problem. But, in the US, a flight from coast to coast usually takes at least five hours. That makes deciding on a neutral venue much more difficult.
If it's on the west coast, teams in the West will have an advantage in fans. If it's on the east coast, the same for Eastern teams. The venue could be randomly rotated around each year or somewhere as close to the middle of the country as possible, like Kansas City.
The only advantage to the two-legged tie is each team can host a game, and this isn't an issue. If there's only one leg, it would either have to be a neutral venue or the winner of the MLS Cup would get to be the host. That seems fair, but I don't really know what I think the right thing to do is.
In short, I think this is a great idea, but I'm torn on how to solve the issue of where the actual game(s) will be played. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this and possible solutions to the issue.