Saturday, February 04, 2006

BQ on BA via SA!

I was just checking in on an early Saturday morning from Milwaukee, and I saw a comment from yesterday by BQ. I thought it might be good to give his remarks their own post, and let everyone else comment on it. So here we go:

The other day there was a link to a Soccer America article on Bruce Arena and you made the comment that is was nothing new. I somewhat beg to differ with you. Not that the concept is new or perhaps it's just that I have never heard Bruce Arena say it. But his comments on MLS were extremly refreshing to me. In case you did not see it this is what he had to say:
"I think there's a lot of factors that go into making club soccer better. One thing that concerns me is that MLS games are not competitive enough. Not meaningful enough. And I'd like to see a mechanism in place that requires that each and every MLS game mean something.
My particular theory on the subject is that the regular season [should be] much more important than postseason and that the MLS champion comes out of the regular season. Bonuses for teams [should be] much larger for regular-season performances.
And then for MLS Cup, the postseason, I'd let everyone be involved. It extends the playing season for all the clubs, which they need. Seed the top four teams and give them a bye.
Right now if you win two games in a row in September, you're in the playoffs, it seems. It just seems that way. So you go through a whole regular season where the games don't mean a whole lot.
I think the regular-season champion [should be] the team that goes into the CONCACAF Champions Cup, not someone that wins a couple of games in the postseason."

So how bout it? Who says that MLS should drop some games, play everyone in the league twice and not more than that. Have everyone involved with playoffs and have the games be more meaningful and a win more important finacially than it is now? We know relegation is not going to work because the club structure of U.S. soccer is to new. Not enough 1st div. clubs (USL) that have the backing or stadiums to make it work and too much money has gone into the MLS teams that they are not willing to move down. So Bruces system seems to make sense to me. Because right now there really is no incentive to play well in MLS for the majority of teams and players.


Blogger Lukacs said...

I'm glad Bruce is speaking wisely on the issue, and let's hope the braintrust at MLS is listening. There're a huge problem with games not meaning anything, and if MLS can't address this problem, IT WILL FAIL.
I can't help bring up promotion and relegation. It is a crucial, perhaps fatal flaw in the MLS single-entity structure that they cannot incorporate USL teams. What a perversity that great minor league teams like Portland, Minnesota, Rochester, Richmond et al can't be promoted. So if MLS is interested in their city, THEY HAVE TO DISBAND the team and all this grassroots support they've built up? American soccer simply cannot afford to be so careless with the small pockets of authentic soccer culture that have developed.
I live in an MLS city, and I'm tired of playing the same teams all the time and tired that games don't mean very much. How great would it be to have the newly promoted Seattle Sounders, who have more history than any MLS team, come through town? And when our local MLS outfit stinks it up by winning 5 games all season, I'd be screaming my heart out in late summer to help them avoid relegation. Just look at the Premiership.

I feel so strongly that MLS is on the wrong track here that I seriously doubt its viability and desirability. Since when do top-down schemes like this work? Sometimes, but I wouldn't count on it.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Kevin-- said...


Very well put. I completely agree.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous bq said...

One more comment from me and then I will shut up. I had the opportunity to talk to Roberto Lopez this weekend who is a sr. staff coach for the U.S.S.F. He had not heard Bruce Arenas comments but he agreed totally when I told him about them. Roberto in many ways like the infrastructure that MLS has put in place and feels they are pretty finically secure right now and moving forward in a very positive way. But what he doesn't like is the way that MLS trys to market the teams and the league. He said statistics have shown time and again that the reality is you are not going to convert a lot of american football or basketball fans to soccer. So in his opinion why does MLS keep trying this same marketing scheme by making playoffs more important than regular season and keep doing things like having a "Super Draft". Mr. Lopez feels we need to market the MLS to the soccer fans and quite trying to make it such an Americanized version by trying to emulate other American sports. He thought Alexi Lalas's comments that we should Americanize the sport more by making the goals bigger one of the most ridiculous things he has ever heard. Roberto's comment to me was, "What happens when we then play an international game or a international club competition? Excellent question Roberto?

7:23 PM  
Anonymous ThunderGunner said...

I completely agree with the two Bruces (Arena and "Wolf"); MLS needs a better regular season. I have never understood why the league is obsessed with playoff games that no one goes to. Correct me if I am wrong, but don't playoff games (outside the final) draw about 5k fewer people than regular season matches?

Why not have a single table and a regular season where each team plays each other 3 times (33 games-a little tricky, but do-able). The top two teams could qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League and could battle in the single playoff game--a true MLS Cup. That would eliminate the under-attended early round playoff games and ensure that only consistantly good teams have a shot at the title while maintaining the League's major game (for marketing and TV purposes). Seems like a win for both the soccer purist and MLS financial brass.

On relegation/promotion...
As much as I would like to see the Minnesota Thunder play in MLS, it wouldn't work. Don't get me wrong, I think that the Twin Cities could support a MLS team in the long-run, but it would take a huge marketing investment that would simply not be feasible if the team were to get immediately relegated. There may be some first division sides with the infrastructure/fan support in place to support a move to MLS, but the vast majority of the teams fall far short. I think that we should revisit relegation/promotion in about ten years when the soccer infrastructure from MLS down is stronger and more stable.

8:38 AM  
Blogger hartley said...

One table, play everyone twice. Yes. The MLS Cup goes to the regular season champion who also gets into the CONCACAF Champions Cup competition. And maybe the second place team goes too.

The playoffs should not be the playoffs but an "after season" tournament.

Since the US Open Cup includes all US teams like the FA Cup does in England, why not have an MLS/USL tournament? But only the top half of each league's teams get to play.

Therefore, placement in the league is important to added games and revenues at the end of the season. This could help USL clubs by giving them something to play for in placement and help those that get into the tournament with more games and revenues. It could be a 1 and 1 match up with total goals the difference [or even away goals helping].

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Ken said...

- One table.
- Ditch the playoffs and extend the season instead.
- Put more emphasis on the USOC, less on trying to have a Super Bowl or World Series type of ending to the regular MLS season.
- Promotion/relegation is not a viable option for this country yet. However, give more USL towns a chance at getting MLS teams rather than putting new teams where there hasn't been a USL team. And don't force USL teams and new MLS teams to compete against each other in the same town. In those towns, new MLS teams should be formed out the existing USL team.

Stop trying to "Americanize" futbal. It is what it is. Leave playoffs for 1st and 2nd divisions and college footy.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I like the playoffs, but there is no doubt the regular season needs to be more meaningful. The Bruce's proposal is a good one. Let's make it happen.

But we sure as hell don't need to scrap the postseason. I like the idea of breaking it off into a separate cup competition. I don't want to hear any crap about how other countries don't have playoff with their "football." We are not other countries, and we can do it however we want.

4:13 PM  

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