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If D.C. United (last in MLS) was to play the Puerto Rico Islanders (USSF D-2 champions) were to play in a promotion/relegation aggregate, think of the media buzz that would be circulating in the DC and San Juan areas.
Should the Amurican franchise owners leave and new club owners come in, the de-franchsing can end and the actual process will be assembled.
Now, USSF would never immediately start off an open-league system by saying that the three-worst MLS clubs each season will go down to NASL, and vise versa.
The number will start low, very low.
Actually, it will be assembled that the worst club is not exactly guaranteed to be relegation nor is the best club guaranteed promotion.
It will most likely be along the lines of the Scottish Premier League: stadia requirements.
The USSF will likely allow each league to set its own policies for the minimum stadium size. Taking a wild guess, here's what I believe the numbers would be in this scenario:
- MLS: >16,500
- NASL: >9,500
- USL-1: >4,000
- USL-2: >2,000
- PDL: >1,000
Obviously, these are extremely rough, but these numbers are chosen based upon the current soccer-specific stadium capacities in each of the leagues.
For instance, most MLS clubs that have an SSS generally have stadium sizes ranging from 18,000 upwards to 30,000. The next closest non-MLS clubs (presently) are Montreal Impact, who will be moving to MLS in 2012, with a stadium capacity of 12,000. The Rochester Rhinos are the next closest, with a 13,000 seater.
For awhile, this will be the way the system is assembled—and it will prevent the new owners from remotely worrying about relegation.
Lets take a moment to ponder though...what if the Rhinos, in hopes of promotion one day, increase Mariana Auto Stadium up to about 17,500 seats?
In this situation I created, they would then be able to pass stadia requirements. So promotion is good and, well, sucks for the team that's sent south to the NASL.
Not so fast.
Sure, you may have won the NASL title, and have the stadium requirements met, but you will not get to play MLS ball the following season. Not unless you beat the worst MLS club in a home-away leg, aggregate play-off series.
The sole idea of this type of playoff would benefit the leagues greatly. I have no doubt in my mind if USSF sanctioned this type of policy it would be a win-win situation for the fans—and for TV contracts.
Think about it: Should there be a play-off series like that, they would market it as a play-off series. And you know how much America loves playoffs. They'll gobble it up.
Plus, you would be drawing large crowds to the arenas for these matches. A do-or-die situation: The lower tier club wins...they go to MLS. The upper-tier club loses—say hello to the NASL.
Could you imagine the drama?
It might actually cause more fan loyalty to their clubs, something that all the American soccer leagues lack to a great extent. With such loyalty, however, it might actually keep relegated American clubs from tanking in debt of being relegated.
But then again, if you're in an open-league system, that wont be a worry. The club can decide how much money they will spend, without their league regulating how much they have to spend.
It might not be the prettiest, and it may not satisfy soccer purists, but having a system such as this is the most realistic and could develop from there.