3 Ways to Make MLS Better
MLS has come a long way since its inception in 1996, as support for the league has grown. It has also attracted more and more world-class players, albeit they are generally past their peak. Having said that, the league still has a ways to go before becoming level with the great leagues of Europe.
There are many ways to improve the league, such as keeping younger talent longer in the MLS and attracting players from Europe and South America before they are long past their primes.
While many of the necessary changes will be difficult to implement, I will share three very easy ways that the MLS can improve its infrastructure and continue the momentum that has been created in the past 16 years.
Create Two Stable Divisions
One of the best things about the beautiful game, in my opinion, is the idea of promotion and relegation.
What you need in place in order to implement promotion and relegation is, obviously, a stable second division.
MLS seems to be expanding quickly and could very well reach 20 teams by next season. Although almost every other major American sports league has more along the lines of 30 teams, MLS should stop at 20 and have remaining franchises trickle into the second tier, the NASL.
Once there are 20 teams in each league, a system of promotion and relegation could be increased, which would allow teams from smaller markets to play against top teams from the US and Canada, then more and more tiers could be introduced.
The population and land in the US and Canada holds seemingly infinite possibilities soccer club locations.
Get MLS Aligned with the FIFA Calendar
MLS is one of the few leagues in the world that is not aligned with the FIFA calendar.
The league is played from March to November, instead of August to May.
While a winter break may be needed to cope with cold temperatures in places like Toronto, Chicago and Boston, the move would be worth it for several reasons.
By aligning league play with the FIFA calendar, it would not interfere with major international competitions like the World Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup. The offseason would fall at the same time as the major European leagues, so transfers would be more easily completed.
Additionally, MLS clubs would be well into the season when the CCL knockout stages came about, which would give them a much needed advantage in fitness compared to starting the knockout stages sometimes before the MLS season starts itself.
While it may take fans a while to adjust up north, it actually would also combat the hot summers in the States, especially down south in Houston.
Also, if the league really wanted it, could keep the US Open Cup as a summer tournament, like an international tournament.
Get Rid of the Playoffs
This is a suggestion that gets a lot of heat from American and Canadian supporters who are used to playoff systems in their respective sports.
Before brushing me off, hear me out.
By getting rid of the MLS Cup Playoffs and cutting the tournament off at the end of the regular season, there will be, obviously, more of an incentive to finish first in the table (which by this point would ideally be one table with no separate conferences); and so, all of the emphasis would be placed on the regular season—for top teams to win it all and for bottom sides to avoid the drop.
As always, feel free to disagree!
I love having a good discussion about the game with anyone and thank you for reading.