Moving to a single table

The day is soon approaching when MLS will discard the East and West conferences and move to a single table.

With MLS announcing their two newest franchises last week in Vancouver and Portland, both scheduled to start in 2011, the league will consist of 18 teams. However, 2 0f the last 3 new expansion teams are very much on the west coast, which will either force 10 teams in the Western Conference, or some other realignment of the league.

Of the possible 10 teams in the west, the two most eastern teams are Dallas and Houston, obviously "western teams" in the traditional sense. MLS Could feasibly move one of these teams into the Eastern Conference - bringing each conference to 9. But this won't work for the long run. MLS wants to expand into the southeast U.S., and if the MLS get a franchise in Miami or Atlanta, they would then have to re-align the conferences again.

However, given the expansion in the northwest and the eventual expansion in the southeast, it could be time for MLS to finally move into a single table format. This may happen for a number of reasons.

First, the addition of Seattle has already caused the league to again re-align it's MLS Cup Playoff format for the third year in a row, partially adopting a single table format. The league has stated that the top two teams in each conference will qualify for the 2009 playoffs, and then the next four teams with the best records - regardless of conference - will qualify. That being said, the dominant conference in the league has always been the East. Given that last year there were 5 teams from the Eastern Conference made the playoffs with only one wild card spot, there is a high likelihood that 6 of the 8 teams that make the playoffs could be from one conference. This makes the whole idea of conferences moot.

Second, the idea of conferences and playoffs is a very American concept. Every other football league in the world does not have conferences at all. This has always been one of the chief complaints of football purists about the MLS. By abandoning the conferences, the league would be conforming to the world standard. It would also be reinforcing the notion that the league champion is the team that has the best overall record in the league (not the winner of the MLS Cup). It is a small step, but one that the league must take if it is ever to be taken seriously by the rest of the footballing world.

Finally, the league is continuing to grow by absorbing teams from the USL. This makes good sense for the league as these teams have a strong fan base and gurantees that the attendance will be better than average. This cherry picking from the USL (Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, and potentially Montreal and Atlanta) is the forerunner to what many Football Purists have long held against the league as the most obvious difference between MLS and the rest of world: Promotion and Relegation. By absorbing these teams into MLS, the League has instituted the beginnings of Promotion into the league from the "lower leagues". Can relegation be far behind? The thing is promotion and relegation will only work with a single table format. Promoted teams and relegated teams would constantly force the conferences into re-alignment. With a single table format the league could easily absorb more teams without worrying about east vs west.

MLS has long clung to the belief that it needs to attract the diehard American sports fan in order to survive. I whole heartedly disagree. Rather, I think MLS needs to attract the FOOTBALL (i.e., Soccer) Fan in order to survive. The best way to do that is to move away from the old formula and embrace the global standard. This will not happen overnight - but this looks like it could be the beginning.

#17 announced Vancouver

MLS announced Vancouver will be the 17th team to join MLS. The Whitecaps will follow a similar path to the one Seattle followed in that the whole team will be "promoted" from the USL team.

The team will join the league in 2011.

Suarez Retires

Skewed Salaries reported for MLS

This article says New England Revolution is one of the lowest average salaries in the league...however what the article fails to convey is that MLS has a very skewed salary structure, where first year players (not including Generation Adidas players) are paid roughly 33,000 per year, and developmental players are paid even less. 

Team averages that have big name "outliers" such as Beckham, Blanco, Angel and Ljungberg are skewed.  The Galaxy averages $404,000 per player, but only because they have Beckham and Donovan. 

Take a look at the rest of the salaries for the galaxy and see how their own team stacks up against the average.

You will see that the LA Galaxy have only two players above the average salary (Beckham and Donovan).  The New England Revolution have 8.  That's one third of the roster - compared to the Galaxy's twelfth.
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Tides are turning as youth look to US for International Career

It wasn't that long ago when America's young soccer players looked outside the borders of the USA for the chance to play for a National Team.

Most notably perhaps is New Jersey native Giuseppi Rossi, who turned down the chance to play for the USA to follow his dream to play for his father's native country Italy. Neven Subotic, who started his international career with the USSA Youth Program but had a falling out of sorts with US Youth Director Thomas Rongen, opted to don the Red White and Blue of Serbia rather than that of the USA.

But lately there have been more and more players opting to play for the USA instead.

Aaron Maund, a dual citizen of United States and Trinidad & Tobago is the latest to join the ranks of the USA . Maund has been officially added to the U-20 roster for the qualifying tournament for the 2009 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship after his request to transfer to the USA was approved by FIFA earlier this week.

He is joined by another U-20 newcomer, American Italian Vincenzo Bernardo (who currently plays in Naples Italy). Also, last year Mexican-American Jose Torres turned down the chance to play for Mexico and was rewarded with a call up to the USA senior mens squad for World Cup qualifying and coming on as a substitute in the 6-1 win over Cuba.

Whatever their motivation, be it an overwhelming sense of patriotism, or the realization that there may be more room for success in the USA than in other countries, this is good news for US Soccer.

Waive Bye Bye

The Revs are making final cuts on their roster today ahead of the Supplemental Waiver Draft. Here is the list of players who will not be with the Revs roster.

Sam Brill (New England Revolution) - Sam (along with Brandon Tyler and Joe Germanese) made some great starts for the Revs last year in the US Open Cup. But all three will suffer due to the reduced roster and the loss of the Reserve league. Too bad as Sam was a local boy from Newton.

Brandon Manzonelli (New England Revolution) - never liked him. A lot of hype but nothing to show for it.

Brandon Tyler (New England Revolution) - see Sam and Joe.

Joe Germanese (New England Revolution) - see Sam and Tyler

Gary Flood (New England Revolution) - good riddance - yankees fan and defiler of fenway park. Came to New England with his own invisibilty cloak which only worked when he was on the field.

Parkhurst plays 90 in first start

Congratulations to former Revs defender Michael Parkhurst - reports that the new transplant to Danish club FC Nordsjælland played the full 90 in the 1-1 draw, and drew a foul that resulted in a red card for the opposition.

Only problem here is the picture displayed is not that of Parkhurst but of former Revs man Pat Noonan.

Barcelona pulls out of Miami Expansion bid

Barcelona has decided to pull out of Miami. A frustrated Miami could not be reached for comment (rim shot please).

This comes as no surprise considering the economic downturn. FC Barcelona, a perennial powerhouse in Spain, has huge financial constraints in terms of player contracts and personnel. For them to basically open a spanish subsidiary of their own team would require an outlay of 40 Million just to get the franchise. With infrastructure costs added in as well as the cost of constructing a new soccer specific stadium, Barcelona would be in for hundreds of millions more.

There is also no guarantee of success. One look at Chivas USA, the offshoot of Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara, would show that despite a loyal fan base, there are numerous barriers to sustained success in MLS. Salary cap, limits on international players, and Roster size to name a few.

However, one can't help but wonder if the decision to withdraw the expansion bid stems from the poor press MLS has received in the European market over David Beckham and his bid to stay with AC Milan.