2007 Changes: A Whole Lot of Nothing
|Here's the summary from the State of the League Address (which apparently is given at the MLS Cup now instead of the All Star game. See here for previous transcripts). We already knew about the youth setup, so let's go through the rest one by one:|
1) Season reduced to 30 games due to Gold Cup/Copa America. So basically they're saying that a tournament in South America that most MLS fans won't pay attention to is more important than the MLS season. I don't agree with that. Actually, I don't think we should even play in the Copa America. At least Garber says this is not a permanent solution.
2) Toronto to Eastern Conference, no single table. Incredibly unbalanced schedule. This is all so pointless. Next year, teams will only play the other conference's teams once. So each team won't even get to host every other team. Not only that, but the more you have these rivalry games, the less exciting they'll be. If two Western teams meet in the playoffs and in the Open Cup, that's eight matches in a single year. Ridiculous.
3) Playoffs remain at eight teams, but the top two in each conference qualify along with the next best four. With 13 teams, single table was the perfect solution. It was obvious that keeping the system the same wasn't fair to the unbalanced conferences. But this actually makes things worse. If the conferences are so special (see the previous paragraph) then why mix them up in the playoffs? So basically, which conference you're in doesn't really matter. Then why keep them?
4) Qualification to the USA-Mexico club tournament will be based on league performance. This is good. So why, then, are we not switching to a single table and reducing the number of teams in the playoffs? You don't even need playoffs if you have this to play for. Having nothing to play for is probably the biggest criticism of single table without promotion and relegation, but this fixes that. Also, how many hardcore MLS fans are there? Half the crowds wouldn't even care if their team was in contention.
Don Garber and MLS have really dropped the ball today. They had a chance to make some dramatic changes but chose not to. Does anyone reading this really think that we won't have single table eventually? They're just delaying the inevitable. You already have prominent figures like Bruce Arena talking about it, as well as many fans. It's not the end of the world. And does anyone really think that 8/13 teams should make the playoffs? Teams like the 2006 Rapids don't even deserve a shot at the title. It doesn't matter how exciting their playoff games were, the fact that they are even included makes the regular season awfully meaningless. Let's hope things improve in the future.