Improving Officiating Needs to Be Among MLS's New Year's Resolutions

Alan Hainkel@@fntncitysoccerContributor IDecember 31, 2012

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 01:  (L-R) Assistant Referee #2 Darren Clark, Referee Silviu Petrescu, Fourth Official Ricardo Salazar and Assistant Referee #1 Daniel Belleau walk toward the locker rooms after the MLS playoff match at The Home Depot Center on November 1, 2012 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated the Whitecaps 2-1.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Now that it is New Year's Eve, people around the world are making resolutions to improve their behavior for 2013. Losing weight, quitting smoking or reading more books, people take this opportunity to set some goals for the next 12 months.

Like individuals, leagues need to set goals for their organizations for their upcoming season. Major League Soccer should be no exception.

In the spirit of cooperation and giving that this time of year seems to foster in people, I would like to offer the following suggestions for things MLS needs to work on in 2013.

1. Improve Officiating

If there is one thing that hacks me off more than anything else, it s the quality of the officiating in MLS. I often ask myself, "What game is this guy watching?"

Do not get me wrong, I ask that question about calls going both for and against Sporting Kansas City. Sometimes, I will look at some of the other people up in the press box at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park the same way your dog looks at you when you say something stupid.

If MLS truly wants to be taken seriously as a good league around the world, they cannot continue to use the same substandard officials they have always used.

When players make mistakes, they get benched or, if the error is particularly egregious, released. If coaches make enough errors, they normally lose their jobs. Referees need to have the same level of accountability.

I am usually the first person who will defend officials when they are being attacked, as I have worked as an official at the youth, high school and college levels (in baseball, not soccer). However, when they are wrong, I will freely admit it.

2. Settle on 20th Team

MLS will enter 2013 with an odd number of teams again, and speculation on who the next expansion slot will go to is killing me.

Okay, it is really not, but I would just like them to get it over and done with so I can stop hoping that the 20th team is not the NY Cosmos. I would like to see New York support one team consistently before they try putting another team in that area.

Where would I like to see the next expansion team get placed? Right now, my favorite is Orlando. Now, before you say that MLS has tried Florida before, I do realize the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion were contracted 10 years ago.

However, things have changed. When MLS contracted those two teams, it was a lot harder to find games on television. There were not as many soccer-specific stadiums and attendance was a lot lower than it is now.

I would also entertain the notion of placing a team in St. Louis or Atlanta, but we might want to leave those markets open so that Chivas USA can be moved to one of them. The Goats are the red-headed stepchild of soccer in Los Angeles.

3. Improve Schedule Making Process

Okay, maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine, but honestly, can the league find a way to announce their league schedule all at once?

If baseball, basketball, football and hockey can announce their schedules all at once, why can't MLS? This is especially maddening to me because they have a lot fewer games to mess with.

MLB has 2,430 games to schedule and released their tentative master schedule for 2013 on Sept. 12, more than two weeks before the end of the 2012 season.

MLS has to schedule 323 games, or 13.3 percent of the MLB total, but yet they have not released any more than the first home game for each of the 19 clubs.

I understand they have to take CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup into account, but it is still just silly that it takes as long as it does.

If someone can explain to me why it takes so long, I am willing to listen (and I will write about it), but until then, it will still be a pain in the butt.

Any additions? Resolutions for your favorite team? List them below in the comments.


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