MLS president Abbott talks promotion-relegation, expansion, and more in all-encompassing interview

Mark Abbott (Getty Images)


PORTLAND, Ore. — One of the hottest topics in the American soccer scene, and one that seemingly never grows stale, is when MLS will move away from its single-entity business model and towards the promotion-relegation structure that is seen throughout much of the rest of the world.

MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott touched that very topic on Tuesday morning, and his response was quite a blow to those who were hoping to see that system implemented at some point in the future.

Abbott sat with reporters on the 15th floor of a Portland hotel overlooking the city’s downtown area for a comprehensive interview in which he discussed some of the biggest issues surrounding the league right now at length, including expansion, the current situation of Chivas USA, and the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

But the subject that might have drawn the most interesting response was that of promotion and relegation. Abbott was asked if he saw that system as something that could be introduced to MLS at some point down the road or if it would never come to fruition.

He succinctly chose the latter.

“I would say it never happens,” said Abbott.

Abbott did not go into details, but MLS executives have long laid out many of the reasons why they think promotion and relegation would not work in the United States and Canada. That belief might not please everyone, but it is what MLS confidently thinks is in the best interest for the sport in the two North American countries.

What might also bother some soccer purists is that the league has no immediate intention of switching to the international calendar. FIFA president Sepp Blatter made some surprising comments on Monday when he said that MLS had agreed to do so, but Abbott squashed those claims while leaving the door open for MLS to make the switch later on.

“We looked at it last fall and we concluded that at this point in time, it was not a change that we could make,” said Abbott, echoing the comments MLS commissioner Don Garber made on the topic last year. “We don’t rule it out for some point in the future, but there’s not an imminent plan to change to the international calendar.”

Something that is on the league’s agenda is the upcoming CBA negotiations with the MLS Players’ Association. Abbott insisted that MLS is not hoping for the kind of work stoppage that threatened the start of the season back in 2010, but knows that plenty of things will need to be ironed out before a new deal is put in place.

“CBAs, by their very nature, involve contention,” said Abbott. “There will be disagreements over a whole variety of issues. Sometimes that contention can get a little noisy and there will be public aspects to it and we’d prefer that doesn’t happen. My view is if we can keep it in the negotiating room, I think that provides everybody more flexibility to get something done.

“But I have no illusions to about the fact that it will get public and contentious at some point. But we don’t go into with that. … We will be very open with our players about (the challenges) and we will be very clear about the financial condition of our teams and our league and clear about the type of investments we can make and clear about the type of investments that we can’t make. We don’t go into it looking for a fight, and neither do they.”

A new deal will likely be in place by the time the 2015 season starts, but Chivas USA’s rebranding might not be. Abbott said there is a chance that the league-owned club could still be operating under the name Chivas USA next year, especially if searches for a new owner and soccer-specific stadium to call their own continue.

Abbott said MLS has spent a lot of time talking to potential buyers, but did not have a timetable for when the league might officially sell Chivas USA. He did, however, reiterate that MLS has no plans to relocate the troubled club out of Los Angeles.

“We love rivalries,” said Abbott. “We see that in the Northwest. We think that the rivalry in LA can be as compelling. That’s the rationale for why we have both (New York City FC) and the Red Bulls in New York.”

Talk of expansion was inevitable and Abbott mentioned several interested markets, including Las Vegas, Sacramento, Minnesota, San Antonio and Austin. All those cities are seemingly competing for the 24th franchise – and possibly the 23rd if David Beckham’s Miami plans fall through – set to be awarded by 2020.

Abbott was asked why MLS would stop at 24 given all the interest there currently is in acquiring teams, and he gave a detailed response as to why while also making it sound like MLS could expand past 24 teams after the turn of the decade.

“When we started the league, we did a lot to study all the other professional sports leagues, and we studied the North American Soccer League, specifically,” said Abbott. “We were concerned not about the ultimate size but the rapidness of the expansion. When we think about expansion, we try to think about it strategically. What’s the right rate of growth for us?

“We’ve determined that the right rate of growth for us is to get to 24 teams by 2020. We think that’s the right balance for a variety reasons – the player pool that we have, the way our television contracts work – so other than to say it’s our business judgment, I can’t point to any one particular answer.”

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283 Responses to MLS president Abbott talks promotion-relegation, expansion, and more in all-encompassing interview

  1. Tony in Quakeland says:

    No promotion-relegation? Good. Don’t want it, don’t need it.

    • njrb says:


    • Job says:

      I would say that you are in the minority when it comes to soccer fans in this country(I say soccer fans..not bigsoccer goons).

      Promotion/relegation is pretty popular with soccer fans.

      • Anthony says:


      • Yevgeniy says:

        Disagree. Just another excuse by purists not to suport the league

      • Ross says:

        How about we take the 4 worst posters on this site and relegate them off?

        • JakeTheSnake says:


        • happyjuggler0 says:

          SBI could create two comment boards for each post; First String and Second String.

          First String consists of posters who have demonstrated they are consistently worthy of reading.

          Second String consists of posters who haven’t been able to do that yet, at least consistently.

          Every now and then the top 3 posters from the Second String board get promoted to the First String board, while the worst three posters from the First String Board get relegated.

          I hereby nominate FRANK to be an inaugural First String poster.

      • Eurosnob says:

        I agree. Promotion/relegation is the norm in the soccer; what MLS does is an aberration and hurts its competiveness against other leagues (e.g. Mexican league clubs dominate our clubs in regional competitions).

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Non sequitur. Our treatment of our worst teams has nothing to do with how the best teams fare internationally. That has more to do with the rules like the cap and DP and such that affect who you can sign, in what bulk, and how much you can spend.

          Also our recent pace of expansion means interesting teams from below are often de facto promoted. But we get to pick the teams we elevate based on infrastructure, finance, and other things that pro/rel doesn’t address. When Pompey went up, was that a good thing because promotion rewarded on field success? Or was it a bad thing because they nearly spent themselves into oblivion? It’s kind of an invisible hand concept that seems to be ok for advocates no matter what happens…….which sounds over-determined.

          • Eurosnob says:

            If small budget teams like Swansea can make it to the EPL and hold their own against the big boys, I don’t see why the same cannot happen here. The sheer prospect of relegation will force teams to improve their squads and the most efficient clubs will remain. The level of play in the entire league will rise. Scrapping salary cap will help, but it is not the only thing that hampers competitiveness.

            • Dace says:


              Not sure if we should eliminate the cap entirely, but most teams can certainly afford to raise it considerably.

              • The Imperative Voice says:

                If they could afford it where are the DP expenditures? The reality is there are x number of well-attended solvent teams and a bunch of others in the red who are making ends meet. So LA and Seattle can splash on millionaire DPs but some of the other teams have limited or no DP expense, and they basically pay the cap give or take.

                I’ve said it a jillion times, why do I want to imitate leagues that have 5 competitive teams and then filler? Those leagues are looking to us for financial probity, and while opening the floodgates might give us new CCL titles for the first time in a decade or so, it would also open us up to the financial rollercoaster and potential NASL history. I’d prefer a stable league that is regionally competitive and steadily building its finances, to winning trophies while losing teams.

            • The Imperative Voice says:

              I’m actually in the Swans Trust, because I like the “Packers” aspect of a team in a sense owned by its fans. It’s very cheap.

              That structure, however, reflects the fact that the team’s finances have been trouble and the Trust basically bailed out the team. Holding that up on a pedestal is dubious, even though I like the answer they came up with.

              The Swans play pretty soccer but let’s be real, it was years in the lower rungs, and they currently bounce around in the neighborhood of 10th. Well run (now) and play nice soccer but still not cracking the Big Club stranglehold.

              I think the picture you are painting of relegation is rose-colored. Some teams decline to spend and overextend and simply play the odds on survival. Their reward for being strong financial stewards may be continued stability but also relegation. Where a team like Pompey may make a huge splash and buy players and chase trophies but then detonate from financial insolvency.

              In short, you’re finessing the fact teams may have to spend a lot of money to field a competitive team, and with a modest setup and small stands, may not have the wherewithal to maintain that expense even in the EPL. Meanwhile a team that comes up and tries to manage its finances may be punished for fielding an uncompetitive team they could afford. The so-called invisible hand is really nothing more than the relegation rule, it doesn’t care if you overspend to stay up or tighten your belt to prepare for the drop. It doesn’t care if you are resigned to going down and content to give your fans a year, or fighting like mad and signing checks.

              Like I said, the reality is teams often yo-yo. Cardiff was up just one season, Reading one season, QPR two, Norwich three. You can argue they both “disciplined” the teams above them and then were “disciplined” themselves. All it really says to me is there is a set of hybrid teams right at the border who bounce up and down. There’s no “discipline” in that other than someone has to go down every year. Some years the elevated stragglers are a Newcastle type team that just had an off year, some years they basically don’t belong. it proves zilch, it’s just a method.

              • Eurosnob says:

                Don’t you think that teams/fans from non-mls markets like Atlanta, St. Louis, Carolina, San Antonio, etc. would be doing cartwheels if they had a yo-yo chance to play in the top division? It is better than the current perpetual exile to lower tier leagues. Or take teams like NY Cosmos, what’s wrong with getting them promoted, if they put a good team on the field? Are they really going to be worse than Chivas or Impact?

            • The Imperative Voice says:

              But one could argue that SA belongs but the rest do not. StL folded and the others are mediocre minor league teams. If I am more concerned with solvency and attendance than performance, I might prefer a better run side with richer owners and loyal fans over the first place team the next division down, which might have unstable finances but has bought its way up.

              More broadly, as the first division, I might be more concerned with my stability and longevity, than with what might excite individual lower division “applicants.” I’m sure everyone would like to be Big League. But that should not be the test. The test is, do you belong there?

              Europe emphasizes performance, but also has many financial crises, Gretna, Rangers, Pompey, Fiorentina, etc. We focus more on the business side. With MLS’ history of fighting for solvency, I don’t blame us.

              I think we are decades from the level of finances to make pro-rel possible, and I’m not sure we’d take it then because it undermines the investment in a club and creates unnecessary instability.

        • whoop-whoop says:

          The obvious difference is, promotion/relegation was instituted in these leagues long before professional sports was a high stakes, billion dollar industry. Trying to do so after the fact is borderline impossible. Obviously, MLS couldn’t be a start up league in a very precarious environment to promote soccer with this in place… essentially giving away a piece of your investment and eliminating the distinction between yourself and your lackluster competition. MLS/its investors came into this trying to do something more ambitious than the existing leagues who were struggling to do just that, exist. The fact of the matter is- there are scant few lower division teams/owners willing or able to compete on a big league scale anyway.

          Eventually though, I think there is a somewhat acceptable way to implement pro/rel at a point the league is established/stable… won’t happen, but this seems to be a realistic avenue:

          Create 2 new expansion slots to be bought/paid for from a pool of lower leagues/teams wishing to participate.

          In the end though, I think this serves the lower division much more than it does MLS, just as it does the Championship more than the EPL. MLS has MUCH more important areas that need to improve and risk it’s time, money and energy. Marketing, Development, higher salary cap, additional DPs and attracting top notch ownership are much more critical to league health than this. Ultimately, it is about the quality of the product on the field than it is league format or anything else. Years and a history built of highly competitive games and quality soccer are what form tradition and nostalgia…. enough of this and folks here will fondly embrace and defend our own unique format.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I’d say your average fan with a kid there to watch a game doesn’t care. This is a “tyranny of small differences” dispute among a much more limited set of serious fans, between the Europhiles and the domestic-oriented, to be stereotypical.

        My two cents it’s not usually hardcore MLS fans who say if you changed everything to be like Europe, I might watch it. That kind of attitude implies what you really prefer. Small minority.

      • Tom says:

        Yearly promotion/relegation like what occurs in other leagues is not yet practical here. However, the league should figure out a way to promote teams that deserve it, and demote teams that aren’t performing well. I don’t think relegating the last place team after each season is the answer. But if you’re the last place team, say, two years in a row and your attendance is failing. And you have a USL or NASL team that is winning the league regularly and bringing in 14.000 per game, it makes sense who to promote and who to relegate.

        • White Kix says:

          Yes, but if you are an owner, are you going to vote for that, considering there is a chance your team will lose the next two years? Also, even if you knew your team wouldn’t get last the next two years, you would still have to look at the value of your franchise. It is worth a lot more with a guarantee to be in the top flight than it is worth as a team currently in the top flight but who knows where in two years. The owners in MLS have a lot of money, and a big reason for that is because they don’t like to lose it.

          • Joe Soccer says:

            This is what people don’t seem to get. There isn’t going to be a promotion/relegation system because to get there you would have to get the owners of MLS to agree to potentially turn their $100 million team (numbers are for illustrative purposes only) into a $5 million team if they have one bad season. If you own the Galaxy or the Red Bulls or any other team in a big market are you willing to risk even a 2% chance that you will finish in last place and you multi-million dollar investment will be gutted in value overnight? If you own a smaller market team, say Columbus or Salt Lake are you taking the even greater than that chance that even with a good plan in place a rash of injuries one season could deal your investment a blow that could take a decade or more to recover from? Of course you aren’t. Not now, not ever.

            Your team gets relegated and your attendance drops by a large amount. The tickets that you do sell are significantly cheaper than what they sold for before. Your television revenue drops to zero or near zero. Your sponsors aren’t willing to pay near as much for advertising because you are no longer in the top division. In short, your revenue streams are completely gutted. If you owned an MLS team why on earth would you agree to that? The people who own MLS teams didn’t make their money by making stupid financial decisions, and agreeing to a promotion/relegation system would certainly be a stupid financial decision.

            The only way to get a relegation system in place is to do it before the league starts playing. Afterwords the incentives for the people making the decisions are such that they will never go for it. That’s why it isn’t going to happen. Not now. And unless the league undergoes significant changes (along the lines of nearly going out of business and have to essentially start all over again from scratch) it isn’t ever going to happen.

            There aren’t a lot of things about which you should say “that will never happen”. Promotion/relegation in the MLS will never happen.

      • beto says:


        will I ever become a STH “I would say it never happens,”

        if MLS adopts Pro-Rel “Absolutely”

        I’m all for the steady and calculated growth of the league but I am not really interested in developing a poor man’s nfl. I would prefer a real soccer league.

      • JoeW says:

        The people arguing for promo-releg. don’t bother to think through how this works. The USA isn’t England (where you can take a bus to many of your games and your biggest rival might just be on the other side of town). The easiest way to understand this is to look at the Champions League (basically a continent with somewhat similar time zone and travel challenges facing the USA). If all the Italian clubs get eliminated in the first round of CL, do they get relegated? Of course not. CL wants to retain Italian interests and sponsors, it would never think of eliminating countries b/c they did poorly in the CL. Instead, countries like Latvia and Albania and Wales and Denmark always get spots. Promo-rel. works best in a league where there are enough teams so that if a DC United gets relegated in 2013, there are still 2-3 other teams in DC in the top league (just like in London or Madrid or Milan or Rome). For Promo-Rel. to work in MLS, we’d need to have about 80 professional teams with good stadiums and decent ownership (i.e.: able to pay to compete at the top levels in MLS). You’d need to have multiple pro teams in the LA, SF, Chicago, Dallas, NYC, DC areas. You’d need to have multiple teams in the SE (not just 2-3) and multiple teams in the mid-West (like 2 in KC, 1 in St. Louis, 1 in Nebraska, 1 in Iowa, another 1-2 in Ohio) and multiple teams in the Inter-Mountain West (like RSL, Colorado, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, another in Denver, maybe Phoenix, maybe Boise). You’d need enough geographic depth so that if a Chicago Fire or Dallas Burn got relegated, you would have a couple of states or a region with no-one to root for. That is going to be critical if MLS is ever going to make big TV money and get serious national sponsorship.

        Oh, and there’s that deal where an owner plunks down $50 million to join MLS and a year later (after an expansion year like chives or RSL started out with) ends up in USL.

          • Gerald says:

            I don’t think you need 80 solid team but assuming MLS caps at 24. I agree you need 40-45 solid teams depending on how large the “second” division is

            • JoeW says:

              If you do the math, it ends up being a lot more than 40-45 teams. You’d need multiple teams in NYC (more than 2). Multiple teams in Chicago, SF, DC, Dallas, LA. You’d need to add teams in regions of the country where MLS is under-represented (SE, SW, mid-west, Inter-mountain west). You’d need to add teams regionally so that if a Crew or RSL or Rapids or Orlando team was relegated then there would be someone else to draw fan interest (read: advertising and TV interest). Case in point: London has 15 non-amateur football clubs. We all know about the glamour clubs like Chelsea. And there are clubs like QPR and Spurs. But then you’ve got Brentford, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient, Millwall, Charlton. And this count excludes clubs in Conference and Conference South levels. That’s just London. So if a QPR gets relegated or a Barnet moves down to Conference, you’ve still got a bunch of clubs to root for at various levels. If the Fire or Quakes get “relegated” then people in that region follow….ManU? Real Madrid?

              • Mason says:

                That’s the thing that keeps me from being a pro-rel supporter. The size of the soccer-economy in England is massive. The first four divisions of English soccer have 92 professional teams. The US has 38 in three divisions. It’s not until the non-league football (some in 5, and the majority of 6) that you start finding semi-pro teams in England. The US goes fully amateur at 4.

                I’m just not sure the support is there for that much professional lower-division soccer in the US.

          • ron says:

            With $50-100 million for a franchise relegation is impractical. However 2 MLS slots per year could be allocated for 2nd tier club temporary promotions including playoff of previous years promoted vs current year number 2.

      • MLSsnob says:

        Also disagree.

      • Eddie says:

        It’s not feasible for the current Soccer market, nor does it make sense for an unstable 2 and 3 tier Soccer leagues. Introducing a system, just for the simple fact of mimicking Europe is a sure way to end soccer altogether in America. We’re not a soccer nation, and therefore can’t sustain that kind of a system.

    • Elber Galarga says:

      You will never have it. Why would the Shieks and Yankees pay 100 million to join a league that can relegate you? If promotion existed, would you require an incoming team to pay (let’s say 50 mil) to join the league? Maybe to compensate the teams going down.

      In other leagues around the world, do teams pay an entrance fee to lower divisions (or first division) for a chance at promotion? If so, what is the average?

      • Jovins says:

        How much did they pay for Man City?

        • Ross says:

          Are you implying that they bought Man City with the understanding the team could be relegated? They have no intention of that happening.
          In Europe you can basically buy your way into title contention. The salary cap and single entity structure of MLS prevents that here.

          • P says:

            Ross, this is the point. The sheiks ponied up a huge investment because despite the risk that they would get relegated they saw a huge potential reward. The difference in the pro/rel model is that if their business practices fail they get punished, and someone with better practices gets an opportunity. In the MLS model if your business practices are poor you get….to try again next year.

            If there is a mechanism to attach business and soccer success to greater returns you would have investors and entrepreneurs flocking to US soccer. For those who care about MLS and the product this should be a no brainer. More truly independent clubs (brands) striving to deliver the most desirable product to the fans = more competition, more development, and the fastest results.

            When did Americans get gun shy about competition and worried about protecting the investments of owners?

            • Austin in Austin says:

              “When did Americans get gun shy about competition and worried about protecting the investments of owners?”

              Probably around the time the NASL collapsed because of exactly the same practices you’re talking about??? Why is it that we HAVE to operate exactly like Europe does? Why is it so difficult to understand that our sports are consumed differently over here? It’s totally possible that ONE day we will have pro/rel in MLS – but nowhere in the foreseeable future.

              The way MLS is already accomplishing your suggested business model is through a slowly expanding salary cap – and single entity means that no one club will evaporate due to excessive spending. It makes perfect sense, but people like you just want to pretend that we could have a Man City or Real Madrid caliber team “if only they’d pay!!”

              It’s nonsense. It is growing at a safe rate, before too long (subjective – it’s clearly taking too long for you) we will indeed have teams with massive salary caps and world class players, we are on a trajectory that’s taking us straight there, but learn about the NASL’s melt down and you’ll understand why MLS isn’t eager to repeat those mistakes.


              • P says:

                Please educate me about how the US Soccer Federation has previously sponsored an open pyramid with requirements to compete in any given division and the opportunity to be promoted and the risk of being relegated based on performance.

            • JoeW says:

              Disagree. A function of most leagues outside the USA (whether they have promo-rel. or not) is that you can have terrible management practices. But if you have a Russian Oligharch or a Sheik, you can spend 3x as much as other clubs in your league and be successful. Do not for one second attempt to claim that Promo-Rel. rewards good talent development or good business practices.

              • P says:

                Don’t for one second attempt to make an argument, provide reasons and examples for the argument, consider other points of view, or look to closely at how the countries that are crushing us in football operate…wow.

                We lost in the WC to a nation with approx. 250,000 youth soccer players. I believe I last read we have over 20 million.

                Yup, just wealthy oligarchs…nothing else to see here.

                I’m tapping out.

              • Mason says:

                20 million youth soccer players in the uS? You’re only off by about a factor of ten, but who’s counting.

            • Kosh says:

              There never was any risk, whatsoever, that Citeh were relegation fodder. So your example, while on the face holds, in reality the Sheiks were never playing with huge risk.

              When was the last time you saw anyone putting down serious money for West Brom, or better yet splashing the cash on Leeds in an effort to bring them back up to glory?

            • Joe Soccer says:

              It’s as if you don’t understand that the people who would have to agree to a promotion/relegation system are the owners who are worried about protection their investment. If you pony up $100 million tomorrow and buy the Columbus Crew, are you turning around the next day and agreeing to a pro/rel system? Of course you aren’t, because you (presumably) aren’t an idiot, and you’d have to be one to agree to potentially turn your $100 million into something significantly less than that with just one injury-riddled season.

              The fact of the matter is that for current MLS owners, you know, the people who would have to agree to this, a promotion/relegation system is almost all risk and almost no reward. If they implement pro/rel tomorrow the value of an MLS franchise doesn’t go up one penny. In fact it would go down based on the added risk of damage to the team’s revenue streams.

              Some of you folks can’t seem to understand the difference between what you would like to see happen in a mythical fantasy US soccer world versus the way things actually work in the real world where people have a lot of money at stake and aren’t going to just agree to potentially throw throw much of that money away for nothing.

    • David K says:

      We have our own system of promotion ands relegation in this country. Regular season and playoffs.

      • petro4ever says:

        Exactly. I don’t think people appreciate this enough.

      • slowleftarm says:

        How are playoffs like pro/rel?

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Without the deleterious consequences of relegation, the better teams progress to a second level of competition where they continue to play. The losers are eliminated but not dropped from the league with loss of sponsors, players, tv deal, etc.

          Do people realize England pays dropped teams parachute payments? They structurally assume how painful it is to get dropped. And still Pompey spends itself into administration.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        And while the cap-mandated equality has been eroded some by DPs, our basic concept is to give a lot of fans hope instead of what happens in Europe, which is 3-4 teams are in for titles, 5 teams might have to worry about getting relegated, and not a lot in between except if you have a shot at Europe. Structurally tiered, Big Clubs, also rans, yo-yo teams.

      • beto says:

        lame! so as long as you are above .500 your good.. that’s one step above little league soccer where everyone gets trophy!

        What soccer fans around the world like is how cutthroat the regular season is. Every game matters because the difference between 17th and 18th or 4th or 5th is life or death.

        • bostonredsoccer says:

          Why is the difference between 4th & 5th place “life or death”? You aren’t getting relegated or promoted.

    • MLSfan says:

      It won’t work in North America.
      Plus, if you’re an MLS club owner who paid expansion fees – you don’t want your team playing in a lower division.

      • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

        The expansion fee is a good point but I could also see this point of view from the league changing in the future. When I say the future, I mean 20 – 40 years from now.

        Promotion and relegation, at this point, rightfully cannot happen. There is no infrastructure. The second division isn’t supported well enough. The markets of the second division are, generally, much smaller. The advancement of a second division club would negatively impact the first division especially if you ended up losing a SKC, Seattle, Portland, etc. Ri

        Right now, it’s not worth the risk.

        But, in the future, once MLS is finished expanding, the second division is better attended, the play improves, the stadiums are better, I think it could be appealing to businessmen to buy a lower division team with the goal of making it to the top flight. Maybe it’s just one club that moves up or down but I think it’s an attractive and competitive aspect of foreign leagues.

        Another thing that might need to change for pro-rel to happen would be the way that MLS encourages parity and kind of treats the clubs that finish last as charity cases. Right now, they’re babied.

      • Eurosnob says:

        False. I has already worked in North America. Mexico has had promotion/relegation system for years and they consistently beat MLS clubs. As for the entry fees, the league can refund them to the owners if the fees are the main issue. Unlike other major leagues here, which have no competition from outside, MLS faces stiff competition for the fans and players from a number of leagues. And you can’t successfully compete against other leagues, if within your league, you suppress competition (i.e., letting well-managed teams rise and poorly managed teams fall).

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Do they beat the MLS because they spend more and have massive infrasucture or because of pro/rel? Like I said above, I don’t think CCL has a thing to do with whether Chivas USA or UNAM is in the first division. It has to do with how SKC matches up with Leon or Saprissa at the top of the table. That’s $ and roster size, not pro/rel.

          About all pro-rel could do is in theory have better teams 16-20, except some years 16-20 might be better than the teams that replace them, or 21-24 might be spending too much and be set for a fall, or it’s a fluke, or whatever. The reality is that in many pro-rel leagues you just have a set of yoyo teams that bounce up and down.

          • Eurosnob says:

            Your theory is wrong. If team 16-20 improve, they will be on par with teams 10-15, which will put more teams in danger of relegation and they will also have to improve. This will push all teams in the league to improve. Even the very top ones will face better competition in a stronger league. Moreover, teams would have to emphasize youth development through their academies because the pot of money that can be spent on transfers for talent that was developed elsewhere is limited. Yes, some impatient clubs will just try to buy their way up and spend themselves into oblivion, but these shortcuts rarely work, as you know.

            • The Imperative Voice says:

              You’re the one saying it improves. I said “in theory” maybe, but that it’s possible you’re relegating teams better than what replaces them, or that you might be encouraging teams to take poor financial risks.

              We’re talking about distinctions among losing teams here, I don’t think that fight makes the league noticeably better. The same amounf of teams go down regardless of whether sides improve or quit or spend or save or are lucky or unlucky. You’re talking gradations among teams that averaged in the neighborhood of a point or a point and a quarter a game.

              Whereas MLS teams with low point totals now like the Dynamo can play hard because they have as much chance to win it all now as anyone else, if they make up the gap to the postseason. Not just to stay up, but to win.

              The parachute payments reflect the structural overreach encouraged by promotion. A team that historically spent x has to spend y to be even slightly competitive in EPL. You’re acting like it’s bad apples when it’s I have to spend just to not lose to ManU 8-0, and if I want to try and stay up. It’s not a shortcut, it’s keeping up with comparative payroll. The teams that get too ambitious blow up, but few years pass in the UK without some teams in administration. More pervasive than you’d admit which suggests structural as opposed to foolish.

    • Nico C. says:


  2. JOHNATAN says:

    Cherry .

  3. Jeff says:

    As a Fire fan I support relegation. It may take the threat of relegation to get them to improve

    • beto says:

      oya.. a lot of clubs could use that!

      a lot of clubs enjoy things like the salary cap, draft, allocation and lack of relegation because it helps them stay at status quo.. same time they just expect their fans to keep shelling out cash…

  4. Joe says:

    I actually don’t find promotion/relegation to be all that necessary and I’m actually ok with the playoff format. You wanna emulate European leauges then turn towards the way they develop young talent. That’s what we need to do.

    • Eurosnob says:

      The European leagues invest heavily in youth development because of promotion/relegation. You have to field a competitive team to avoid relegation. There are two primary ways of doing it: (1) buy the talent (e.g. Real Madrid, ManCity, PSG) or (2) develop the talent (Ajax, Dortmund, etc). In reality, most clubs, even the deep pocketed clubs, generally have some combination of both approaches by both developing players through their academies and buying players from other clubs. With the exception of a handful of very rich clubs, there is a limited pot of money available to clubs for transfer fees so the Clubs have to emphasize scouting and developing players within their academies (to either integrate them into their first team or to sell to other clubs). MLS clubs do not have the same incentives.

  5. Ivan says:

    Another reason not to care about this league.
    I’ve tried caring, following, watching for a long time, I really have…
    But this plastic, pre-packaged, NFL-wanna be, sterile league is so difficult to care for.
    And the mediocrity on the field doesn’t help.
    Because of that fake grass, every time I’ve tried watching a Sounders home game, the teams resort to a lot of kicking and running, and generally anti-football on that stadium. It’s unwatchable.
    Single entity system, no promo/relegation, the stupid stupid playoffs (where attendance and tv ratings drop even further, if that’s possible), the pointless “All Star game”, the artificial turf on growing number of stadiums, the ridiculous awarding of “expansion franchises”…
    Sorry, fix a few things, then come back in another decade or so…in the meantime and during the off season, I have decided to follow the Mexican league.

    • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

      Heads up, There are playoffs in Liga MX too! Lol

      But yeah there will be some growing pains with MLS. Patience.

      • BOFO for hire says:

        Against the playoffs, but for promotion/relegation. Do people just shut down when they find out leagues like the Dutch league use a relegation playoff? How does that compute?

        How many people just cheesing for promotion/relegation in American soccer come from the perspective of going through it as a die-hard fan of a team in European soccer that has experienced it? How many Leeds United fans do we have on this board? How about Blackburn? MIddlesborough? And if so, how awesome is it to be playing Huddlesfield Town a year after facing Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal? Is it awesome that your best players are often 18 year old loans from the big clubs that you get maybe a year to enjoy?

    • choto says:

      The Mexican league will love to have you follow them… enjoy. Also… don’t kid yourself… sounds like you never have liked the MLS… sounds like the only person you were trying to impress was yourself. MLS will continue to grow with or w/out your support.

      If you want a purist league… yep, the Mexican league is for you!

    • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

      And for the record MLS is 80% NFL wanna be, 15% NBA wanna be and 5% EPL wanna be.

    • CeezNYRB says:

      Good riddance. Don’t need you. Ciao!

    • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

      Thank god. Later Ivan.

    • Job says:

      I agree with Ivan. I’ve tried. But I can’t. Everything MLS does is just wrong.

      • Oy says:

        Yep, everything MLS does is just wrong. Sigh.
        If only we could have MLS spend itself into oblivion like the NASL did or have its owners ignore the economic realities of the sport in the U.S. and gamble away their wealth just so the euro and mexisnobs will stop whining. Unfortunately, we have to contend with a league that wants to survive and grow. Ugh.

    • Kosh says:

      Buh-bye. I’m sure we’ll miss you as much as you’ll miss us.

    • JayAre says:

      I agree with you. These are legit complaints I have year all the time. As much as I like MLS I struggle to watch it at times. Seattle is a good team with a great atmosphere but the turf is the worst! It looks even worse on TV. The broadcasting and consistency are my biggest turn offs. In MLS commentator seem to make it there job to make the game as boring as possible, watch the any other sport and when something game changing happens you hear excitement in the commentary even the WC commentary had life and energy but when they score in MLS you hear Taylor Twellmen trying to explain the goal or explain the cross while Alexi Lalas tries to explain the defending. The camera work is also the worst! It’s like there is only one angle. When the game was dull during the WC they put camera on the fans to and showed different angles all the time of all these things consistency is the worst. I remember watching Seattle v Portland earlier this season, very good game but sadly there was no follow up on the next week and the week after that the game that was on was just too boring and dull to bare

      • Oy says:

        Out of curiosity, how long have you watched MLS? Just wondering b/c someone who has followed the league since day one would know just how different the league, level of play, and broadcast quality is nowadays and would understand that the league is constantly improving.

        • JayAre says:

          Since 2003. Its has improved but it’s still pretty bad. I can never wrap my head around commentators trying to explain a goal instead of celebrating it.

    • futbolisimo says:

      + 1, you go Ivan; couldn’t have said it better myself… there goes our shot of winning the Cup in 25-50 years…

    • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

      I really dislike the Clausura and Apertura format. Spring and Fall League Winners? It’s really dumb and I could never get behind it.

      Also, I enjoy MLS. Sure the play isn’t as good as I’d like it. But, it’s my country and there are interesting story lines, markets, players, coaches, and developing history I’m happy to be a part of.

    • wood chip Zip says:

      As England implements Financial Fair Play, the relegation/promotion thing is becoming very problematic with huge parachute payments for the relegated premier league teams. The other Championship teams will no longer be able to compete with that by overspending (plus the parachute payments are larger than ever). It is clear the Premier League is trying to protect its own. If anything, I see the beginning of the end of relegation/promotion across the rest of the world. Either that or Financial Fair Play will be thrown out the window, teams will go into administration, and more rich people around the world will invest in MLS teams.

      • ShaneO says:

        Yes, get used to it Eurosnobs. The European way is unsustainable. Financial Fair Play shows they have recognized this and FFP is likely not compatible with relegation/promotion.

        • Eurosnob says:

          Shane, take a look at AFC Ajax’s financial ratios and compare them to those for MLS clubs – you will be very surprised. I keep hearing that if salary cap is lifted, MLS will fail. If promotion/relegation is instituted, MLS will fail. If the free agency is allowed to players, MLS will fail. So, which model is more financially sustainable (an open market competition or a closed monopoly)? I will give you a hint – it is the one that worked for years in many countries and produced scores of world class players.

  6. umbro says:

    Relegation like idea – take the lowest four teams (or whatever) at the beginning of the season. Have them play a round robin tournament. At the start of the tournament they all have -9 points. So the most any of them could do would be to get back to 0 points like the rest of the league. But this would leave some at a disadvantage. The end result would be that how they did the year before would have an impact on the next. But not quite as bad as relegation since they can still compete with the league for hardware.

    In fact, this could even be some sort of opportunity at the beginning of the season (or do at the end of he previous during playoffs?) for the league to get more marketing and exposure.

    Would it be perfect? Nope. I’m sure many here will point out the deficiencies quite quickly.

    Would it be needed? Probably not. Could it be used as a marketing tool for the league? Perhaps.

    • Postmaster says:

      I find this a very odd idea. How about giving the MLS Cup loser 5 points and the winner 10 points at the beginning of the next season? That would further motivate teams to make the final.

      Why have the previous season carry over to the next? Either relegate or don’t, but don’t handicap teams that are rebuilding and competing in the same league. Every season should be a fresh start.

      Look at DC this season (who were horrendous last season and started slow at 1-2 in their first 3 matches). Would it have made any sense to have had them start the season at -6 points?

  7. Mark says:

    I love promotion-relegation as it really does make things exciting for those at the bottom of the standings as those games matter. Having said that, I understand why that won’t work in this country any time soon. I also don’t think MLS needs it based on how the league currently operates with all the tools teams have to revamp their roster after a down year to get back into contention. DC United is an example of a team that was horrid last year, and now have positioned themselves as one of the best in the league thus far much to my chagrin. You do have a franchise like Toronto to arugue against that point, but they seem to have the right front office in place to change their fortunes in the not too distant future.

  8. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    When is MLS going to get rid of these idiotic rivalry cups?.ie.Rocky Mountain Cup…SMH…..

  9. MisterJC says:

    I want pro/rel to exist not only in our soccer leagues, but our other sports as well. The thing is, it has to be done right, and that’s one reason why we won’t see it with MLS any time soon. Money has to work right for everyone to pull that off. I could only imagine if the NFL used pro/rel. I would think the NCAA would be able to pull that off the easiest with as many teams that exist. They practically almost do it already, especially with the way college football operates…

  10. Mueller says:

    LA, Orange County, and Inland Empire are huge and traffic is ridiculous, making two teams in the same stadium pointless because people aren’t driving there. They could easily have 4 teams in “LA” if they just spread them out instead of trying to make one White team and one Mexican team .

  11. Tim F. says:

    I thought St. Louis was and is a hot bed of soccer yet it appears to have fallen out of the discussion as a short list expansion city. Is that because there is no potential ownership group in that city?

  12. Ga1actic0 says:

    Why not sell chivas to Sacramento and convert the current Sacramento team to a USL team. it’s still in California.

  13. PD says:

    I find it funny that in free market America so many get up in arms about promotion/relegation and players rights. Meanwhile, Governors are busting up unions left and right to cover up double dipping of pension funds, poverty is looked on as a cross between a Venerial disease and an intentional lifestyle choice, yet we’re so afraid of the bogey man that is the most egalitarian/meritocratic system known to sports.


    • MiamiAl says:

      Tell it to Trotsky comrade.

      • Pedro says:

        Trotsky would have loved the socialist picnic we call the NBA/NFL/MLB drafts.

        Recall that the Boston Tea party was to assure representation in goverent via paid taxes, not to traitorously deny and avoid them while driving the legislative Agenda. I gamble on conflation here, but it looks like a bullseye to me.

        I’d get a rebate on the GED course you took.

        link to

        • FulhamDC says:

          No, the boston tea party was organized by black marketeers who needed to dump british tea in order to keep their prices high. We tend to glamorize history in this country.

      • PD says:

        Wow. Thanks for proving my point beautifully.

    • BOFO for hire says:

      Not ironic in the least bit. Turning down Promotion/Relegation is, in fact, down to the free market principle of making money.

      Recall that MLS is single-entity. They are in the business of making money in the market of professional sports. Promotion/Relegation does not further MLS’s cause because it creates an uncertain market for the collective interests of the teams. For example, how do you maximize TV rights, particularly for a young and growing league, if you can’t guarantee that the major markets will be in the league? What would happen if Los Angeles, New York, Houston and/or Chicago fell to the second division? There is a reason that as good as they are, Real Salt Lake are barely on any national broadcasts. Imagine if teams from Charleston, Rochester, Dayton or Ft. Lauderdale replaced the major markets – that would greatly affect potential viewership. It also doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests to see teams fail. Contraction already almost killed MLS once.

      And who is up in arms about players’ rights? The CBA will be renegotiated, and when all is said it done, the players’ situations will improve. However, there are very obvious examples of what can happen if the union has too much power and gets too strong a return. We can’t expect the federal government to buy out MLS like they did GM. Unlike american football, there is a global market for soccer players, so if there is a bad deal here they can and will go elsewhere (again, free market at work!). Artificially inflating salaries, among other bargaining points, does nothing to sustain and grow the league, which is STILL operating in the red.

      • Cosmosfan says:

        ^ this is exactly the problem with MLS, the league is principally concerned with thier own business interests of their owners and not what is good for the game and development of the game overall.

        So they may get less money today in TV if a Charleston won promotion at the expense of Chicago. But what all these anti pro/rel people don’t seem to understand is the chief benefit of that system has nothing to do with ambiguous concepts such as what fans “like to see” but rather having open competition to reach the top stimulates a lot of investment in the pro game in these smaller cities, which in turn raises interest in fans (hey if i follow this team, they may make it to the top one day).

        I prefer to call the pro/rel debate the vertical integration debate. I think the overall benefits to the game as a whole (rising tides lifting boats) is huge, the only issue is MLS doesn’t care about that, they just care about MLS.

        • BOFO for hire says:

          “So they may get less money today in TV if a Charleston won promotion at the expense of Chicago. But what all these anti pro/rel people don’t seem to understand is the chief benefit of that system has nothing to do with ambiguous concepts such as what fans “like to see” but rather having open competition to reach the top stimulates a lot of investment in the pro game in these smaller cities, which in turn raises interest in fans (hey if i follow this team, they may make it to the top one day).”

          What facts do you have to back this up? What case study supports the idea that increased investment in small markets created by an open professional league structure ultimately leads to growing the “game as a whole”?

          I would, in fact, argue the exact opposite. The lack of stability created by a completely open market professional system would scare away investors in big markets, thereby decreasing exposure of the game to the detriment of all.

          Why is it a problem for MLS to care about the health of its business? Is it good for soccer as a whole if the league – which still does not make money – crumbles? Doesn’t that leave us where we were pre-1996?

  14. Brain Guy says:

    It is time to get rid if the single-entity cabal and its mysterious, suspicious player allocation “rules”. A salary cap (with DPs) is sufficient to prevent runaway spending and its bad effects on competitiveness and overall financial health. Simplify the system and eliminate the mystery and perceptions of favoritism. MLS is a grown-up now.

    • PD says:

      Yep. A pro/reg system with a salary cap would be the perfect tweak.

      • Brain Guy says:

        I’m not wedded to pro/rel – I can live without it – but the opaque and manipulable allocation system has to go. It invites charges of corruption, and corruption itself.

  15. B- says:

    “I would say it never happens,” said Abbott.

    “And we will never become fans of MLS” – the majority of American soccer fans.

    • Chris says:

      You are out of touch if you think the majority of American soccer fans are chomping at the bit for the chance to have their team relegated to the NASL.

      Like seriously, thank god that this crap has been PUT TO REST. Take note MLS to El Paso, relegation isn’t happening. EVER.

      Just because it is done elsewhere doesn’t mean it makes any sense to do it in America.

      • Eurosnob says:

        For every team relegated, there is a team that is promoted. Yes, some fans will be disappointed, but others will be energized. What can be more American than competition?

        • Mason says:

          Come off it. Nobody cares about NASL teams getting promoted so that they can bunker all year and MAYBE scrape out a dozen points. You know the depth gap that exists between MLS and LMX? The MLS-NASL gap is bigger.

    • Nick in LA says:

      And you probably weren’t ever going to be in the first place.

    • kevino says:

      If you think the lack of relegation is why this would be the case rather than level of play you are kidding yourself

    • Kosh says:

      Majority? My do we have an overestimated sense of whatever that is that’s going on there.

      These pro/rel clowns only know what it means from a last day of the season, neutral perspective. They love the excitement and confuse that as the for quality. Ask them who they support and it’s probably some team that will never taste the pain of relegation. To them those folks crying on the last day of the season as they’re watch their team from their neighborhood, their Dad’s team, their pride, the heart of their community, their tribe go down is all the glamour and fun and excitement of following someone else’s league. Watch them jump ship like rats if that was their “club’s” fates.

      Pro/rel is fun to talk about but we don’t follow/support teams the way those we want so badly to emulate do. We don’t have that level of support yet to fully understand what the concept means – watching your team take the drop. As much as we love an underdog Americans hate a loser! No young league survives here where x number of its teams can be major league at the start of the season and minor by the end. There are not enough of you “majority of soccer fans” for the league to take that risk. Most want so badly for us to be like the big leagues because they need someone’s recognition, someone else’s acceptance. Me I am good with us doing what it takes to grow our league and sustain the game for the long haul here. That way what is ours will stay ours,,,for as long as possible.

    • JaY says:

      Lol you make it seem like they need soccer purist. They want/need the neutral fans of soccer to like MLS. The ones who only watch the world cup, which is most of this country. If they get those people to watch who could care less about pro/rel then its all good. Those people don’t care about relegation they just want to watch the best players. MLS gives them that it will boom, relegation or not. Every league in this country has no relegation but it does have the best players on the planet playing in it. That’s what the people of this country want not pro/rel only the soccer nerds watching the EPL at 7am are and there isn’t enough of them to matter in the long run.

  16. Bobby says:

    Going without promotion and relegation is fine, but I would like to see a gesture made toward second division teams with aspirations of something better.

    How about deciding 2 of our champions league spots through the US Open Cup instead of just one? It would add value to our oldest competition, while giving a glimmer of hope to 2nd division soccer in a country with no pro-rel

  17. Job says:

    There is a reason pro/rel is used everywhere in the world for soccer. Good ideas get copied. There’s a reason no other countries use the franchise model. Bad ideas don’t get copied.

    Without pro/rel I just don’t find MLS interesting

    • Chris says:

      There is a reason MLS will never do promotion/relegation. It’s a bad idea. Bad ideas don’t get implemented.

      Where did all these anti-MLS posters come from?

      • Job says:


        its been implemented EVERYWHERE in the soccer world. You are a moron.

        • Kosh says:

          …and everywhere in the soccer world is exactly like here, right? And you’re calling other people names.

        • JaY says:

          So your saying that not having the ability to see three horrible teams get cut from the league to be replaced by teams which will almost be just as bad and meet the same fate the next year is why you won’t watch? Pathetic.

        • Oy says:

          A few questions for you, Job:
          1. How large are the countries where pro/rel has been implemented?
          2. When was pro/rel implemented in those countries?
          3. How popular was soccer in those countries when they implemented pro/rel?

      • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

        I disagree that it’s a bad idea. It’s just a bad idea for MLS “now”. That’s not based on anything more than the state of soccer in this country and how little infrastructure and support there is past division I.

    • Jason says:

      “There is a reason pro/rel is used everywhere in the world for soccer. Good ideas get copied. There’s a reason no other countries use the franchise model. Bad ideas don’t get copied.”

      Australia says hello

    • Pace says:

      Look, would you continue to support your team if it got relegated to the 10 team nasl? If so, then good for you, but most casual fans would not. And do you really want a Harrisburg city islanders in mls? It just doesn’t work right now.

    • Mason says:

      I see this and I see someone who never read “Moneyball” or misunderstood it. The TL;DR version is: sometimes “The Way We’ve Always Done It” is wrong.

  18. Norman says:

    I will not watch a league without pro/rel. I would urge all real football fans to boycott the league until they implement it. MLS will always remain a Mickey Mouse league with a salary cap and no pro/rel.

    The American market demands high quality football and MLS cannot and will never meet that demand. The opportunity is there for a group of smart investors to create a league with pro/rel and without a salary cap. If that happens, you can kiss MLS goodbye. The sooner MLS fails, the better off all football fans will be in this country.

    • Chris says:

      What is this garbage?

      There are 4 sports in this country doing quite well without any such ridiculous system. Why anyone thinks that relegating our big clubs and promoting some tiny NASL clubs would make the level of play BETTER is beyond me.

      Get a grip.

    • Chris says:

      Also you don’t seem aware so let me enlighten you:

      We can eliminate/expand the salary cap without promotion/relegation. They literally have no correlation.

    • Job says:

      Norman is right.

      Except for a competing league. That likely will not happen. USSF decides who is tier 1.

    • slyboy says:

      possibly the stupidest post I have ever seen.

    • JaY says:

      To say your a fool is almost to kind so I’ll say continue to watch the EPL. Which I’m sure you pull for a team that’s never going to get relegated and enjoy your fake relegation fears. Most of the people on here clamoring for relegation pull for teams who will never experience it which is almost as pathetic as wanting it in a society that isn’t asking for it. But do you.

  19. Colin in MT says:

    To all the people saying you won’t watch MLS without pro/rel: by not watching you are helping to ensure that MLS (and US soccer because the two are intertwined) won’t progress. The more people that watch MLS, the more networks can charge for advertising. The more networks can charge, the more they make. The more they make, the more valuable MLS TV rights become. The more valuable TV rights become, the more MLS can sell those rights for. The more MLS can sell those rights for, the more the owners make. The more the owners make, the more they invest in not only the product on the field, but also on youth development.

    Once owners start making more money and getting a return on their sizable investment, then maybe, just maybe, there might be pro/rel.

    Until that time, keep tuning out and then commenting on message boards about how MLS isn’t progressing fast enough for you.

    • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

      You know, I’m all for the argument that if you want the MLS to be the best league in the world, you need to spend money. But, I think that you just damaged that valid argument for us here.

      If someone doesn’t support MLS because they want promotion-relegation in the league and the league is starting to say “never” will it happen, then I can understand why you’d be alienating some of your fanbase. For me, it’s more akin to something like the “shootout”. It would be very hard for me to take MLS seriously or continue to watch MLS if they brought that back.

      Let’s not diminish the argument about supporting the league if you want it to get better for the wrong topics because at some point people actually have the right to not watch something they don’t enjoy. Promotion-relegation doesn’t fit into the “support if you want the play to get better” argument.

      • Colin in MT says:

        Very thoughtful and well made response. Thank you. I agree, pro/rel was not the best issue to make that argument for.

  20. P says:

    Surprise, surprise…the president of an organization with a closed market monopoly on first division soccer in the US is not in favor of competition. The comments on this thread are mind boggling.

    Why are fans so interested in protecting the investment of ownership groups. If you attach business and sporting incentives to producing world class players and teams you get…..wait for it….world class players and teams. If you attach profit to parity that intentionally seeks to limit the ability of one FRANCHISE to excel….you get mediocrity and….little to no world class players or teams.

    The fact that we compete at the level we do internationally is a testament to the American winning mentality, but just imagine if that was unleashed in an open pyramid. We’d have investors, clubs, and players coming out of the woodwork.

    • kevino says:

      Or it would have collapsed by now. Easy go speculate about a fantasy land that woll never come to fruition.

      • Job says:

        What would have collapsed by now? There are a hundred soccer leagues on the planet with pro/rel, free agency, no single entity etc. And not one of them has collapsed because of it.

        Stop repeating utter nonsense.

        • Kosh says:

          Job we get that you are mad passionate about pro/rel but you have to be objective. These soccer leagues you are talking about have so many other things going on for them that we simply don’t. Soccer is their first sport and it has no competition. They have teams that are years old and their rivalries are deeper than some Made up corporate/forced thing.

          You guys bust on single entity but you either miss or disingenuously ignore the fact that so many if those hundreds of leagues without it are drowning in debt. These league are failing or are on the verge of failing.

          What we have may not be sexy enough for folks like you and while we could use your help to grow our own league up the fact is maybe it’s not for you, and that’s OK. But just bashing MLS without being objective or completely ignoring its strengths is just too easy and simple.

        • slyboy says:

          I have one question for you ….. how many of those leagues are profitable??..not many. American leagues are, and MLS will soon be.

      • P says:

        Kevino, I think you’re confused about the definitions of speculating. If you are mocking me for considering other possibilities and options (engaging in speculation) for improving the quality of US soccer against the global standard that is frighteningly close-minded and there would be no improvements or developments in the game or any other various disciplines of fields for that matter. You are essentially arguing that the status quo of every institution and discipline should remain unchallenged because to speculate about a “fantasy land” is unproductive and improvements or changes will never come to fruition. I am not arguing that one should always consider what is new or different to be better but rather that ongoing consideration of best practices and recent innovations is essential for excellence.

        Then on the other hand you are ironically speculating (in the pejorative sense you were trying to apply to me) about how MLS would have collapsed by now if pro/rel had been the model applied to the inclusion of their franchises in US soccer. You quite literally have no way of knowing this = speculative.

        We’ve been at soccer for 100 years in this country, and yet we are constantly told that we just need more time for players, teams, coaches, owners to reach the global standard. How about we hold the Federation accountable and demand that an open pyramid be established to let the truly excellent soccer minds and talents flourish.

    • Job says:

      P is bang on. He’s right and you all know he’s right.

  21. Randsall says:

    I am shocked by the amount of people up in arms about pro/rel. Now the real issue here is that switching to the FIFA calendar is even being considered! That would make things much tougher on MLS with no real payoff unless I’m missing something.

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      You are 100% correct….baseball is the sport MLS can actually catch….American Football…college or pro…nope…it aint going to happen unless parents continue the trend of not letting their boys play the sport…

    • Mason says:

      I’d lay money that they’re “considering” it the same way I consider getting into BASE jumping…

      You know… They take a look at it and then think, “Nope, nope,nope nope. Crazy.”

  22. SoccerStar says:

    I am for a long term plan to move to pro/rel. it would take further expansion of MLS (to 24 teams) and continued growth in 2nd (NASL) and third division teams (USL Pro). This is a process that will be decades in the making. However, laying out a plan and a concrete time table, even if the lead time to pro/rel is a decade, would lead to tremendous investment in the lower divisions of US Soccer. There can be rules regarding finances, stadia, and the like for those teams that are promoted. Want to jump to Division 1 (MLS) after winning NASL? Well, you need a stadium with at least 18,000 seat capacity, covered seating, your finances must be in order, etc… The carrot of promotion would lead to a true feeling of BELONGING to a club, not the plastic, forced nature of much of the current MLS fan setup. There are huge swaths of this country that will have no hope for a local Div 1 soccer team and less incentive to become a fan a follower of a local club if MLS stays single entity. Of course the owners of MLS want to protect their monopoly. It’s a business. What about US Soccer? They ultimately should hold the key to unlocking the vast potential in this country.

  23. SoccerStar says:

    Also for an eventual switch to a schedule that starts in late July, takes a winter break and concludes with small playoffs in late May or early June, depending on the year and whether there is a World Cup or Copa Pan America in June/July that year. MLS should not be playing in June when the soccer world revolves around the international game. Switching to this schedule would not dramatically change the dates that games are played on. It would lessen the spectre of playing in very hot climates in the heart of the summer. Most importantly, it would move the most exciting time of the MLS calendar, the playoff chase and playoffs, to April and May – a time frame where MLS can increasingly compete for hearts and eyeballs and away from November and .december where it is swept aside under a heaping pile of pro and college football.
    Again, longer term plan, but one that makes sense.

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      if you think the country is not paying attention to college football and pro football in September and October as well…you are mistaken… if anything we should start the season in January… hurt a little bit during NFL playoffs and finish the last week of August…

      • Paco says:

        You missed the point Andy, the question is April/May for playoff hunt and playoffs vs. late fall/Nov/Dec. Clearly, nobody is foolish enough to miss the fact that American football is HUGELY popular. That is why MLS playoffs and late season games are buried in the sports section or on ESPN. MLS and soccer in general has a much better chance of being the big sports story of the day in April/May. I think people are mistaken when thinking that a switch in the calendar would mean more competition with American football. It would actually mean that the late season games and playoffs would be going head to head with baseball, NHL, and NBA. Those sports are much less popular than the gorilla that currently is football and soccer has a real chance of garnering attention when going head to head against them.

        • JaY says:

          Again your missing the whole point of why MLS doesn’t have viewership its not about when its played its about who’s playing the games. If you had Messi v Ronaldo in December people would watch. And as for competing against the NBA they would get murdered. And the NBA would have more games almost every night for their playoffs. At least with the NFL its only Sundays mainly. In my opinion either way has its issues but being able to have somewhat the sports calendar to yourself during the summer with baseball is better then having your sport ignored during fall and winter with football. The spring with the NCAA tournament and NFL draft and then the NBA playoffs and the beginning of summer. If you think MLS can handle that then its better off then I think it is popularity wise.

          • Paco says:

            Look, I’m not saying that better players and a higher level of play wouldn’t translate into greater popularity and higher TV. Of course it likely would and I agree with you, but that isn’t what we are discussing here. Currently, MLS plays games in late fall (Oct/Nov) and late spring (April/May). If you switched the schedule, they would still play games in both of those periods. Would you rather go head to head with football in the fall (average TV rating of an AVERAGE NFL game = 17.6 million, 34 of the 35 highest rated TV shows in the fall in 2013 were NFL games) or against the NBA/NHL playoffs (average TV viewers for early PLAYOFFS 3.5 million for NBA and 621,000 for NHL in 2014)? It’s no contest. NBA finals ratings are better, but that’s all the way into June.
            We both agree that going head to head with football is difficult with respect to ratings and attention of the public. My point is that there is more room for growth and attention in April/May than Oct/Nov and I’d consider putting the most exciting part of the season there.

            • Jay says:

              My point to you is that there is no growth no matter where and when you play if you don’t have a product people want to watch. And those NBA numbers look bad vs a NFL game but compared to MLS it’s not even close. MLS would kill for half that number for a final.

  24. McGenius says:

    MLS doesn’t get to decide wether or not we will have a pyramid with promotion and relegation.
    That decision belongs to US soccer.
    Right now, US soccer is jam-packed with MLS lackeys, but that may not always be the case.

  25. onlyagame says:

    Promotion and relegation is the ultimate competition
    ever see sb nba team tanking to get a draft pick?
    yep nfl and nba wannnabe.
    more epl, la liga, bundesliga and serie a please. And throwin some KHL and Serbian league with Addu

  26. alocksley says:

    Here’s my proposal for promotion/relegation: Leave two slots open at the bottom of the MLS table. The winners of USL and NASL fill those slots and can play in MLS the following season. If they make the playoffs, they can stay up. If they fail, they are relegated and the winner of the league they came from is promoted. This way, no MLS teams are at risk of losing money, and some lower division teams have a chance for greater glory and money themselves.

    • Kosh says:

      In your example these teams will always fail as they simply do not have the infrastructure to compete with MLS teams for a season. Plus it wont happen because that skirts the lucrative thing called a franchise fee – which, like it or not, is how we determine the value of a league here in the US.

      These stretched/warped attempts to bring pro/rel here are all just desperate attempts to be like somethin we simply are not. We have our version of it here – it’s called the playoffs. Yes it’s not as harsh as pro/rel but it makes good business sense here and whether the purist like it or not sports is a business.

      Americans truly do not understand what it means to be relegated. If a team is having a bad season in any sport in this country fans stop showing up and the stadiums are empty then we have to start doing things like black outs just to get butts in seats. Watch fans bail on any relegation fodder team in their major league season, and folks somehow think those same fans will now show up to support a minor league team in droves the next year? You must be dreaming.

      In Europe outside of maybe 5 teams in England only all teams know their place in the pyramid. Your job is to fight to stay up and maybe, maybe some crap Europa League spot – a thing that comes with its own set of curses the following year. In other top leagues the number of teams that can honestly say they can win the title are somewhere between 2 and 3. Try selling that concept here in the US. “Oh yeah, we are jacking up ticket prices again this year and yes, yes you’ll never win the championship but you get to fight to stay up!…hey, where did all the fans go?”

      • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

        It’s not accurate to compare the playoffs with promotion-relegation.

        Playoff-style Cup tournaments exist all over the world – they just happen to not be positioned the way ours are as playoffs to determine the year’s winner. Our playoff system devalues the annual winner and I’d much prefer to see the focus on the league winner and to completely separate the playoffs and market them as a secondary tournament that teams can get the honor of competing in by finishing in the top 8 of the league.

        A simple change in marketing keeps the playoffs, values the regular season winner more, and still keeps it exciting as an elite US Cup tournament.

  27. Kosh says:

    If a team gets relegated here in the US most of it’s casual fans will bail leaving the hard core purist (who as much as they know how to storm a blog space cannot fill a stadium). Good money says these very same purist will only suffer minor league status for so long before they too bail, using some new excuse as to why MLS sucks, returning to the comforts of following someone else’s BIG league.

    The thing is the folks who say give me this Euro thing and I’ll support you are not enough and probably don’t really understand what it is they are asking for. Yeah, it helps when talking trash with your Euro buddies but the risk is to great for the rest of us who want to have our own league. – the risk that in the end you bail on MLS anyway.

  28. Paco says:

    The new CBA will be very important and not just for the inevitable raising of the salary cap. I’m hoping it at least doubles to something like $6 million. Regarding DPs, I’d love to see more, but I don’t need to see more Frank Lampards making $8 million a year for a couple of years in their mid to late thirties. How about keeping the 3 DPs as currently structured and adding 3 ADDITIONAL DP slots that are capped at $1 million each? MLS can compete internationally for some real talent with salaries in the high six figures. A lot of players WANT to live in the US and MLS can afford to pay a little bit less due to things like stability of the teams, the league, and the cities they live in. Quality of life does have value.
    I’d also like to see increased freedom of player movement. The player allocation system needs to go away fast. Some sort of system of true free agency needs to happen.

    • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

      I think MLS has to ask itself whether or not it wants to make a big leap or not in terms of talent.

      In my layman’s perspective, it seems unlikely that doubling the salary cap would have huge implications on the level of play in MLS. It seems more likely to me that any kind of salary cap under about $10million would do little more than allow MLS to start paying it’s current players a value that more closely resembles and aligns with true International Market Value.

      Making the salary cap $6 million would just make current salaries more fair and livable. Bumping the salary cap to $10 million might actually help us see a real jump in quality.

      • Fire Klinsmann Ban Klinsmann Jr says:

        When I say “livable”, I was referring to the players earning less $40K or less per year. And, raising the average salary to one, which makes kids and aspiring athletes view the league as a place to become wealthy.

        • Paco says:

          I don’t disagree with you. I’d love to see an even higher salary cap, I just don’t know what is viable and makes financial sense. As a general rule, I think we’d see higher quality play if the average salary of the average or even journeyman player increases. It would attract higher level internationals and lead more young soccer players to aspire to play professionally and at least give it a shot in their 20s.

    • Cosmosfan says:


      MLS will force the cap down as low as possible and back up poverty claims by providing cooked book financials. We’ve been through this a bunch of times now, every time people get all excited and start saying “oh the cap will go up big time this year” and then they are all disappointed when its a .7 million over 5 years rise.

      What needs to happen is the league abandon the sham single entity model, allow clubs to compete against each other, relax roster rules and set a reasonable cap that is actuall tied to league reveneus

  29. Fast Eddie says:

    So, Mark Abbott, the President and deputy commissioner of MLS said pro/reg will NEVER happen and MLS executives have long given reasons why pro/reg will NOT WORK IN THE U.S. Why that is a surprise to anyone is beyond me.

    For nostalgic reasons only, maybe some old timers here can remember their granddads and dads talking about early baseball. Most every town had a team that would have some league set-up among towns in the area. I can remember while riding in the car my dad would point out an old dilapidated backstop with a grown in field, most with a few old junk cars, and say: “I played on that field”. I bet he pointed out at least 8. Also at that time pro baseball did what they had to do, they helped fund minor leagues all over the country. It worked and baseball became our “national pastime”.

    Now we have the NFL and NBA, with their free farm system and with their “league commissioners”, whose only job is to protect, and increase, the profits of the pro teams and we have what we have. A pure business model. And don’t dismiss or forget how much money (and power) these sports leagues have.

    Now consider the seasonal play for MLS (which frankly to me makes no sense whatsoever), does anyone not believe that the big rollers (NFL, MLB, and NFL) may have something to do with that? Another thing, all of our pro sports basically have no competition from outside the USA, every league champion is proclaimed World Champion. That is not the case with Soccer, there is competition from most every other country in the world.

    There is hope however but don’t expect it to come from Mark Abbott and his cohorts. It will come from sports fans who recognize it is a world game and we want to be in it, be a part of it, and do well. Not put our heads in the sand and say the USMNT did good in the 2014 world cup.

    • JaY says:

      The only issue Eddie is that those fans don’t exist in mass yet and will take a very long time for them to get even close to that. Most people in this country look to country not to club for soccer relevance and that’s just the way it is and its not changing over night. Your not going to see fans start clamoring about needing to be like the EPL when most people in America just care about the National team when they play.

      • Fast Eddie says:

        Of course Jay, you are correct. It will take something special to move it along.
        That is why I am so high on Julian Green. I can’t wait to see what happens to soccer in the U.S. when (if?) we have our very first world-class star.

  30. Vermonter says:

    I’ve long felt that if there’s ever going to be something at all resembling Pro/Rel in the US, it will come entirely within the MLS structure, and will still allow teams in multiple levels to compete for the MLS Cup (i.e. expand to 32 teams, split into two 16-team divisions, and have a 10-team MLS Cup playoffs involving the top 8 from Division 1, and the top 2 from Division 2). Just spitballin’ here, but that way everyone feels “major” while still creating advantages for sustained success, impediments for sustained failure.

    • Vermonter says:

      As if it were not implied, I should’ve pointed out that in the example I gave those 2 teams from Division 2, in addition to earning a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, would also be promoted to Division 1, with 2 teams sent down.

  31. slowleftarm says:

    The international calendar surely won’t happen and anyone who has been to any northern city in winter understands why. Pro/rel can and should happen but the crew running MLS now is pretty set against it. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen at some point in the future though I agree it won’t any time soon. I think things are ok as they are but there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you couldn’t have pro/rel in the US Soccer pyramid.

    The most ridiculous part of this debate is when people act like being relegated completely destroys any investment owners have made in the team. No it doesn’t because you know what you can do? Win promotion! That’s how the system is supposed to work.

    • JaY says:

      So check the teams who get relegated from the EPL why do they sell off all their players? Why do most teams who get relegated don’t come right back up unless they have deep pocket owners? No it doesn’t destroy your investment as an owner to get relegated but trying not to get relegated can. Owners spending beyond their means just to try to stay up and then failing and losing their ass. We see this happen all the time.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Some teams sell off because they’re going to make less money, although in England at least they get parachute payments to cushion that blow. Teams also sell because usually their best players want to remain in the top flight.

        I don’t think you’re paying attention if you say relegated don’t often come right back up. In fact, teams frequently come right back up.

        • Jay says:

          Except that only QPR went back up when they got relegated. And in fact they are the only team to return to the EPL the last two seasons from the teams who got relegated. So it’s not as easy as you say it is. That’s 1 team out of 6. And guess what they have deep pockets who would have known.

          • slowleftarm says:

            Ever heard of the concept of small sample size? Plus, why are you limiting it to the next season only? And why only to England?

            Plus, if you go back a bit, West Ham came straight back up in 2012 and Newcastle and West Brom did so in 2010, Birmingham in 2009.

            Next straw man argument please.

            • Jay says:

              Those are the exceptions is my point not the norm if it were the norm then what’s the point of relegation if the teams that go down go right back up. It be the same teams every other year. But that’s not the case. Look you can like relegation for all the so called last day thrills. If they stay up or not but most teams are relegated or know they are weeks if not months before hand.

  32. Pace says:

    Look, most people here have not experienced relegation. The fans would abandon the relegated team here in the us. Casual fans would not tolerate their team playing in the second division, and would not feel the need to spend their money and time attending games. In other leagues, where the teams and the pro/rel system have been around for 100 years, it’s different. If your father and grandfather supported the team, and you’ve supported the team your whole life, then you will continue to support it if they get relegated. Here, it’s another reason not to get into soccer for the casual fan. So, you’ll end up losing markets like philadelphia and Chicago if they get relegated and gaining markets like Harrisburg and Edmonton. Soccer in America isn’t ready for pro/rel yet. Get over it and stop using it as an excuse for not watching mls.

    • Cosmosfan says:

      Everything you just said is speculation, and frankly i doubt its true. A relegated team still has a core fan base, and many NASL and USL markets have proven that you can still draw fans. Sure the economics will be harder, they are supposed to be, but if the entire fear about relegation is that you won’t have any fans…then the problem is the franchise itself.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Cosmosfan and I don’t often see eye to eye but you haven’t given any reason to support what you’ve said. Minor league sports teams draw well in other sports. I think in a generation or two there could be far more cities that could support a pro soccer team in the US than you could fit in one league.

      • Mason says:

        All MiLB teams drew under 10k/game last year. Far more than half were under 5k. That’s not really drawing well.

        That said… Your last sentence is possibility true. In 20-40 years there might be 40ish cities that could support an MLS/MLS2 team. That doesn’t change where we are now, though. Currently, there are not.

    • Job says:


      sorry…that was pure speculation based on no evidence.

  33. Cosmosfan says:

    That belief might not please everyone, but it is what MLS confidently thinks is in the best interest for the sport in the two North American countries.

    That should read best interests for their business model, not sport.

    I find the whole resistance by MLS to a more active role with USSF in the growth of the game at all levels across this huge country (and ultimately vertical integration of levels) to be really detrimental to the growth and success of the domestic game. Its going to be much harder for smaller cities and markets to attract investors and make capital outlays to soccer clubs that are forbidden by the USSF and MLS from ever earning a chance to play at the D1 level.

    The argument its unfair to expect owners to pay to invest in starting a franchise to be subject to relegation for their own poor management doesn’t hold water. Clubs all over the world are bought and sold for prices far greater than an MLS team’s value and those owners buy willingly knowing they could be relegated.

    Bottom line. MLS doesn’t make decisions that are in the best interests of the game or the charity of the game and growth as a whole, they simply make business decisions that benefit their owners and nothing else.

    • BOFO for hire says:

      And this makes MLS no different than any other successful corporation in America. Apple isn’t interested in letting Microsoft in on their piece of the pie, the same way MLS isn’t interested in working with the NASL at this time. Only if and when it benefits both parties (joining together would not help MLS or its investors, only the NASL) a la MillerCoors (a joint venture between Miller and Coors aimed at taking on Budweiser’s market share) will any real discussion be warranted.

      Just because something exists and is used in practice (promotion/relegation) doesn’t mean its the best thing out there. We all know it’s hard to change the status quo (see: Congress), even when much better options are out there. Put a strong salary cap on the Premier League and keep relegation, and no one would buy those teams. The fact is that many of the top European teams are distinctly against Pro/Rel, but you don’t hear about it because they so rarely are threatened by it. Instead, what you do hear about is the talk about missing the Champions League, which leads to an idea like this:

      link to

      Huh, interesting. Wouldn’t that look a whole lot like… MLS, where the top teams were guaranteed to play together in a high value league that doesn’t include the threat of pro/rel or require qualifying?

      • Cosmosfan says:

        This is exactly why USSF needs to be at the apex of doing what is best for the game as a whole. MLS is never going to make decisions for the benefit of the entire country’s soccer development…it will only do what is best (or what they preciieve as best) for MLS.

        Its USSF’s job to direct the professional ranks in this country and make decisions for the betterment and growth of the sport. Fat chance that piss ant Sunil does anything useful here.

        • BOFO for hire says:

          Or, maybe USSF simply disagrees with your opinion on what is best for the growth of soccer in the United States. Perhaps they have decided that the best way to grow soccer in the US is to have as strong a league as possible, and through constant research, analysis and discussion (this is, after all, their entire purpose), they’ve come to the conclusion that having one strong league at division one, without the threat of relegation, is actually in their best interest as well. With the way MLS has grown and the increased popularity backed by TV numbers (including World Cup viewership and a record new TV deal), it’s hard to argue that the current structure is doing damage to the sport here.

          You cannot encourage investment like soccer specific stadiums if you can’t at least hedge it against legitimate projected returns. Throw those returns out the window with pro/rel. This isn’t Spain, where both Real Madrid and Barcelona carry ridiculous amounts of debt but can’t seem to run afoul of the banks they owe. Do you think Red Bull Arena gets built if they can get relegated and lose TV money and media interest? If not, then what was stopping Orlando from building a new stadium before they entered MLS? Why do the Cosmos play at Hofstra?

    • Fast Eddie says:


    • Supa says:

      And why not? MLS is not here to benefit anything/body but MLS. They are a business! Even without Pro/Reg they have teams (Orlando, Miami, Sac, Indy, NYCFC, Atlanta, Min) ready and willing to pay between $50 to $100 Mil just be part of MLS.

      So tell me why would they give that up?

  34. lprevolution says:

    Dear moderators,

    Sorry about the “f”

  35. Andy says:

    They could easily do Promotion/Relegation in MLS and KEEP the single entity system.

    Create MLS1 (division 1) and MLS2 (division 2). Both are still within the single entity, all players are under the same CBA, all still with contracts to MLS. Financially, the MLS2 teams would receive a lesser share of the national TV revenue than MLS1 teams – this would/should naturally result in fewer/cheaper DPs in MLS2 teams.

    Promotion/Relegation would occur between MLS1 and MLS2. This would create more exciting games at the end of the season for bottom MLS1 teams. MLS1 teams strive for playoffs for MLS Cup; MLS2 teams strive for playoffs for promotion to MLS1. Whether 1 or 2 teams get P/R is TBD.

    MLS2 teams can only get champions league through US Open Cup. A potential future idea would be to turn the MLS Cup into something like a European League Cup, but not likely unless/until there are differential awards for league places (to replace the ‘excitement’ of playoffs).

    • Mason says:

      You need at least 36 MLS teams for that to work. 40 would be preferred. We’re a just over half that right now, and the next 20 teams would get shelled week-in, week-out in MLS.

  36. Job says:

    what stops me from watching and being a fan of MLS is the single entity system. If they said that the single entity system was needed right now but would be phased out in five or so years then I would be okay with that. But MLS gives all indications that its here to stay for good.

    As far as pro/rel. It would certainly work in the U.S and it would be beneficial to not only the quality of the league but also to our national team. But, I could see why owners don’t want it.

    • Jay says:

      Why is having the 3 most horrible teams being kicked from the league good for the national team? Is it helping Jamaica? Is it helping Scotland? England hasn’t won a world cup in 3 generations is it helping them?

      • Rick says:

        And which system is better for developing young talent? One where a team that is out of the playoffs can focus on the future and give extra playing time to its kids, or one where you must maximize this year’s results in order to avoid relegation?

        • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

          Without a doubt. Zero doubt, not even a debate.
          The one with playoffs.

          DC went from the worst team in MLS history to a team fighting to win the title. Half of the premier league will be mailing it in by Christmas…and I am being generous.

          Hamid in England is trying to transfer teams, as his team which he hated playing on anyway, was relegated, now he is fighting to have some give a hoot on any team.
          At DC, he is a solid starter playing in meaningful game for a title one year later.

          NO CONTEST.

          • slowleftarm says:

            Playoffs don’t stop me from watching MLS but they’re pretty lame in that average teams can just get hot and win a “championship” (Colorado 2010 for example). I’d prefer more emphasis on the supporters shield. Or fewer teams in the playoffs at least.

          • slowleftarm says:

            Half of the Premier League will not be “mailing it in” by December. You know why? Because they can relegated. You could just as easily say that MLS teams mail it in most of the regular season because they know it’s not that hard to make the playoffs and then it’s mostly just a matter of who’s hotter.

          • Job says:

            you don’t know what you’re talking about. Relegation means you never mail it in. Good grief man.

      • Job says:


        are you interested in answers or are you just a brainwashed MLS goober? Here’s the short answer: Pro/rel means more clubs, more clubs means more youth academies, more youth academies means more opportunities and fewer barriers to entry which means on the aggregate you will be developing more players and from that increase of players you will develop more elite players.

  37. Rick says:

    Another thing – I’d like to see how those stadium building and renovation negotiations go in a pro/rel world. Mr. Mayor we need your assistance to develop a new stadium for our MLS soccer team. We think we can draw 20k a game. Except if we have a bad year we might become a NASL soccer team and draw 8k a game the next year. And no, we can’t guarantee you when or if we would return to the NASL.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Wow, good point. I guess teams in Europe must not ever build new stadiums.

    • Cosmosfan says:

      Yeah, that argument only exists in your head. Those aren’t the actual conversations that go on when a stadium and development plan is before a politician, in fact attendance fluctuation is probably not even on the list of important issues.

      • Rick says:

        Yes stadiums get built in Europe. Just a whole lot less frequently then they do in the US.

        Reading FC put their stadium expansion on hold because they couldn’t guarantee they would stay up long enough to make it worthwhile;

        link to

        Let me rephrase it another way. When you build a stadium, you are using some model of future revenues to justify its cost and its size. That is very difficult to do if you don’t know if you will be an MLS or NASL franchise.

        MLS has a line of owners looking to become a part of it. Reading FC was reportedly available for 1 pound plus assuming their debt. Is it possible that the lack of relegation has something to with this?

    • Job says:


      it’s not a problem anywhere else in the world. Why would it be here?

      • Chris says:

        It’s been explained to you so many times.

        If your going to quit on MLS, could you please do it now? Like, right now.

      • Mason says:

        Because soccer isn’t the third to fifth biggest game in town anywhere else in the world. It is here, and the three bigger brothers don’t have the concept of pro-rel. We’re just not – as a sporting culture- used to it. I’m not generally one to adhere to American Exceptionalism, but if you ignore that fact, then you do so at your own peril. For MLS, that peril is insolvency.

        If we’re talking 20 years from now with a league that has doubled in size to 40ish teams? Sure… do an MLS/MLS2 thing, but you’ve got to get to that point first.

  38. KGB says:

    So much would need to change in the MLS to make promotion/relegation feasible, it would require an entire rebuild to their business model and ethos. You can’t exactly demote a team that paid a $150M franchise fee then allow the Rochester Rhinos to just walk into an MLS team for free. Not to mention the stringent roster restrictions in MLS that wouldn’t jive with A-league rosters.

    • Cosmosfan says:

      Sure you could, the fee was to be an owner in the limited liability company known as MLS. They would still get the benefit as an owner of MLS, even though their team was in the second division. New teams coming up wouldn’t be owners of the league but could have rules that allow them to share in certain revenues of the league as a non-owner.

      • Chris says:

        Having your name be “Cosmosfan” and debating on the side of promotion/relegation is pretty silly.

        Might as well change your name to “I know my crappy team will forever be crappy so I’m going to whine and whine about a fantasy in which we could be less crappy.”

  39. Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:


    How can you lie like that ? Pro/Rel grew stale 15 years ago, when anyone with a brain realized it was never going to happen.

    Then in the next line you state WHEN MLS will move away from single entity ? Holy moly.

    The answer is NEVER.

    MLS does not like games in the snow
    They do not like to Rel and Pro
    They do not like teams to hog the dough
    They will not, shall not….NO,NO,NO !

  40. Dace says:

    Most people realize that pro/rel is the easiest and most efficient way to increase attendance/viewership over the long term, as well as being able to more effectively disperse cash from the tippy top down to the lower divisions. Pro/rel will most likely also increase interleague loan moves for homegrowns and young players.

    Get on board, do you or do you not want the sport to grow?

    • Fast Eddie says:

      Yes, but also keep in mind that those with vested interests (owners) maybe like it just as it is.

  41. Tom says:

    The purity brigade is precious. So sure of themselves! No skin in the game whatsoever–especially the ones who refuse to watch the league based on their puerile mouthing of shibboleths.

  42. Aero says:

    Reader poll on this topic please.

  43. bryan says:

    what baffles me is the thought that you MUST have pro/rel. people get so bent out of shape over this and fail to think critically and objectively. Europe has shown pro/rel is a great system, totally agree. but other US leagues have shown a divisional/conference set up with playoffs within a static league (with expansion here and there) is also very successful for sports. this idea that soccer is incapable of working outside of the open (pro/rel) system makes no sense to me. basketball in Europe has pro/rel but it makes no difference because their league doesn’t have the top talent. that’s why the NBA is the best…that and because Americans embrace the game on a broader basis.

    what makes those leagues successful within their own systems is the money, star power, love for the game, etc. if you attract the best talent, you will thrive so long as there is passion for the sport.

    now, there certainly is an interesting conversation to be had about which system (static v. open; closed league v. pro/rel) leads to a better overall league assuming all else is equal. if there is equal passion, money, star power, etc…which system would end up being better? i think when you compare the NFL v. the EPL, strong cases can be made for either. and to be clear, this does not take into consideration global influence. American football will NEVER have the global footprint that soccer does. but that is not a result of the league’s system, it’s a result of soccer just being a better sport! and despite that, along with Manchester United in the Top 5 richest sports clubs, we see Dallas Cowboys in there too. heck, the Yankees are #4 (but baseball is more global than NFL).

    my point is, people get too caught up on the system/structure of a league when we have proof that they can both lead to awesome leagues. they can both build up fan bases, generate massive revenue, enhance passion, create global fan bases, etc. simply switching to pro/rel is not going to create this wave of new fans to flood the market.

  44. Mason says:

    For pro-rel to work NASL needs to not suck vis-a-vis MLS. Yes… Occasionally a NASL team will beat an MLS team in Open Cup, but when was the last time a NASL team made the semifinals? The lesson the Open Cup teaches us is that NASL teams can beat MLS reserves. When NASL teams play MLS teams that are taking the match seriously, there there isn’t a contest. There’s no competitive point to promoting a team that lacks the stadium, support, and finances to compete. I have no interest in watching a promoted team bunker and struggle to make a dozen points over a season.

  45. Ecellency says:

    USA is a big country. There is potential for many clubs with really good attendance. With a relegation / promotion system there is always the possibility of any city to make it to the top division. In baseball, a triple A baseball team will always be minor league. It will never change. That is not very encouraging for fans. By the same token, the bottom of the barrel can languish at the bottom to an owner’s content in the major league if there is no relegation. NY knicks, owned by a cable company could sit around robbing their fans for decades without suffering any consequence. LA Clippers? Total joke. Supposedly was to be rival for Lakers just like Chivas was to be rival for Gals. Chivas = Clippers.

    Fans need to demand better, not just fold and accept what makes life easy and non competitive for biz corporations.

  46. Jeremy Gallagher says:

    The main reason that people are so against pro/rel in this country is a total lack of education. The astonishing ignorance of, even hardcore soccer fans, is incredibly disheartening. The truth is, no country on earth can ever reach their ultimate potential in soccer without pro/rel. It is absolutely necessary. The reason is, because it incentivizes every soccer club in every tier to develop their own youth talent. Because there is no incentive to do so here, we have a youth development system that is hopelessly antiquated. Player development in this country is almost entirely outsourced to amateur clubs and colleges, who do not have the individual players’ best interests at heart (their long-term development) but rather their own (winning games that only matter to them). These clubs disenfranchise many of our best players because of their pay-to-pay nature. The DA is a start, but it is only that. 16 MLS academies are not nearly enough. Hundreds are needed. That will only happen with a pro-rel system that puts the onus on every single club in every tier to develop their own players to the absolute best of their own abilities, free of charge. And that would also take the “too much importance placed on winning” at a young age hindrance out of the equation. None of these clubs will care about team of 12 year olds winning a youth title, youth players will be handled correctly with the long-term goal being to deliver the best product possible to the senior team. Pro/rel creates an arms race of player development that is literally the lifeblood of soccer in every single country outside of this one. Our lack of pro/rel has created a player development vacuum that we have never found a solution for…and, I doubt, ever will. I will repeat, the DA is pay-to-play except for the MLS academies, but they are far too few in number and always will be unless MLS becomes a league of 200 teams.

    3 teams do not have to be relegated every year. It can be done with one relegation spot. But the THREAT of relegation must exist. That is the key factor, the driving force. It will also have the benefit of creating a league where the weakest, a team who truly does not deserve to stay in the top-flight, will be relegated and a more deserving team will be promoted. It will ensure that each team remains competitive or they’re gone. Pro/rel will promise competitive balance. But most importantly, pro/rel is the driving force in any country’s player development system that is an absolute, unequivocal necessity. We have hamstrung ourselves for far too long with, arguably, the weakest player development structure in the soccer world. We should be a player development powerhouse, but we aren’t because of the lack of pro/rel. Where is the incentive for any team outside of MLS to develelop their own players? It’s not there.Only pro/rel will ameliorate this. This is an unchallengeable, undeniable fact.

    • Tom says:

      Here’s an incentive to develop your youth players that exists absent pro/rel: being a selling team can be quite profitable if you are better at it than others and very economical if you are just competent.

      Here’s another: extensively sift your catchment area in a positive way and you tie folks to your club for life; that is, you can manufacture deeply-set fans.

      • beto says:

        when was the last player to transfer from a NASL or USL-PRO team to an MLS for a legitimate transfer fee? MLS just sends them thru the draft, allocation or discovery tag… they are trying to build a monopoly on soccer here and instill their culture of mediocrity

        • Mason says:

          That’s because those players… wait for it… aren’t very good.

          When was the last time a NASL or USLP player went ANYWHERE for a legitimate and noteworthy transfer fee?

          • Jeremy Gallagher says:

            Exactly, because without pro/rel there is no incentive for NASL or USL teams to develop them themselves. They bring in failed MLSers or players at that level. If they had a chance to move up in the pyramid, you’d better believe every single club in every tier would scout, recruit and develop to the absolute best of their ability.

            There are no truly outstanding players who have ever been produced in this country. It is because development has been outsourced from the pro teams to amateur clubs with a pay-to-play policy. Those who can afford it get coaching that does not have the long-term development of the players at heart, but rather the team’s chances of winning. Long-term development is often sacrificed for unimportant, immediate gains.

            The DA is not the remedy, only a slight alleviation. Only the MLS academies are free and there are only 16 in this country. Hundreds are needed. For adequate player development in a league bereft of pro/rel there would need to be 200 teams in MLS. Don’t see that happening.

            Until pro/rel is implemented and player compensation for youths is made available, we will continue to be in the dark ages as far as player production is concerned. Recruitment of duel-nats will have to remain our best option for star players. Tragic, 3 million youth players at any given time and we can’t reach them because our foolish, ultra-nationalistic pride won’t allow us to implement a foreign (gasp) paradigm, even though it’s literally the only one that has ever been effective in world history.

          • Mason says:

            If you had 200 teams of any repute, you know what you’d have?

            The Football League.

            Soccer is niche here. It’s a big niche, but it’s still niche. If MLS screws up, we’re back in the 1980s with the Brooklyn Italians playing the West LA Jews for the Open Cup. NASL had a decade and a half to establish itself as a top league in this country. It failed. Why do you assume that the new NASL and USL would magically stop being bad on the field and irrelevant in their communities just because they could be promoted?

            Where NASL failed, MLS has succeeded and is slowly growing. Eventually, it will be big enough that it will be split into some sort of divisional arrangement. That will take time, but I do not doubt that it will occur eventually.

            • Jeremy Gallagher says:

              You’re wrong. Not true. Anyone who truly believes that we will be back in the 1980’s and everyone will forget that soccer is a sport if MLS goes away doesn’t know very much about soccer.

              When NASL folded, yes, it was a niche sport. But things are very different now from then, the two zeitgeists are not comparable…at all. The demographics are radically different today, with many soccer-first families from immigrant backgrounds the world over. The advent of the internet and specialized cable/satellite television has made soccer accessible to everyone. With regular involvement in the World Cup and other tournaments, the USMNT will continue to be a regional power. even if MLS ceased to exist. Millions of fans have accumulated over the decades, they all won’t forget the sport and go away. And most importantly, and remember this one more than any other, the EPL and La Liga have higher regular viewership than MLS.

              Yes, more people watch the EPL and La Liga than MLS…on a regular basis. The soccer community in this country has shown that it prefers European soccer to our league. All of these factors, and more prove that soccer is going absolutely nowhere. It is bigger than ever and will keep getting bigger. MLS is not responsible for most of this growth, never was.

              I, for one, would be happy if MLS folded, so we can start again and do it right. It won’t, however. And to suggest that MLS fans would stop watching it simply because of the implementation of pro/rel is ludicrous. Please, don’t compare the climate of today’s America to the post-NASL climate, they are totally unrelated.

            • Jeremy Gallagher says:

              Magically stop being bad? Please, try very hard to follow intelligent, logical lines of thought, then process, then respond.

              No, kid, they wouldn’t “magically” stop being bad. What would happen, as it has happened and will continue to happen in every other country on earth, is that teams outside of the first tier will have the onus on them to develop their own players. Right now non-1st tier teams sign rejects. Everywhere else they have youth academies. MLS teams have just begun their academies, but ,the impetus will be on every team in every tier to develop or face the threat of getting relegated. Proper youth development across the board, in a couple of hundred youth academies would create an arms race of player development. This is the key ingredient that is missing in American soccer…professional teams developing their own talent through each of the ranks. This vacuum would be ameliorated with pro/rel. 2nd and 3rd tier teams wouldn’t “magically” get better, they would develop their own…it’s called a meritocracy. It’s supposed to be what this country is about.

              • Mason says:

                And you’re going to deal with the NCAA how in this? They kinda run the show for the sub-22 set in this country.

              • Mason says:

                And you keep getting hung up on that “couple of hundred youth academies” line. Who’s going to pay for all of them? A USL-PRO team paying NGO/non-profit level wages? You think they have the money to bring in 200+ kids and train them up on the off chance that they’ll find the next Neymar, Messi, or even Donovan? With what money? Coaches cost money. Travel costs money. Referees cost money.

                News flash: If there were enough money in the soccer economy to support that many youth academies, we’d be England or Germany already. There isn’t, so we’re not. It’s that g-d simple.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                They would do what every single club in the history of the world has ever done, sell players to the top division clubs for money and develop more. That is how it works, everywhere. This is a tried and true tactic that has never failded.

                Players only go to college because they have no other options. It’s dying as it is, no player would choose to go there when a professional environment and youth academy is available.
                NCAA doesn’t own anything, it’s the only option. There aren’t enough teams here at the moment without pro/rel.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                It also doesn’t cost nearly as much as you probably think to develop youth. European teams only typically expend 2 million euros or so on their youth development. It is relatively cheap, especially when weighing it against the gains. Lower tier teams simply have no incentive to do it now because it won’t get them anywhere. There is no upside.

              • Mason says:

                You have inadvertently just made my point by calling $3 million dollars A YEAR cheap.

                Most second and third tier teams in the US would be bankrupt if they tried to do that – long before they found the American Neymar that they could sell to Barca for $60 million*. Even MLS can’t splash that kind of cash on youth development.

                *Can’t forget about the American discount.

              • Mason says:

                And yes… There aren’t enough teams for your 200 DA fantasy, because there aren’t enough FANS to watch even 100 teams spread across four divisions like the EPL and EFL.

                So people that want to play end up in the NCAA.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                200 was a random number I threw out. Whatever the number of teams in all 4 tiers, it’s a hell of a lot better than 16 MLS academies.

              • Mason says:

                It’s actually right about 170 if you do MLS, USL, PDL, and NPSL. Adding in USASA’s elite leagues (also tier 4) puts it much higher but those, along with PDL and NPSL are amateur clubs. For comparison sake, you don’t start to encounter semi-pro teams in England until Conference Premier (5) and they don’t become more than half the level until Conference North and South (6). I have no idea how deep you need to dive to find a fully amateur league, but it’s probably at least three more levels.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                If all 170 teams had the ability to develop their own players, that would completely overhaul youth development in this country. Obviously, I’m not naive enough to suggest that this should. or even could, be done overnight, or in a year or two. But, steps should be taken to implement a process that will allow for the changes a lot of us hope for.

                Maybe lower tier teams only have 60 youth players at the outset and as wealth is accrued, more youth teams are added. But the creation of one pro/rel spot per tier will incentivize these clubs to develop or risk relegation. And truly competent clubs who deserve promotion will make the league better for all who watch.

                The practice of receiving compensation for the sale of youth players is the other policy that must be implemented. That isn’t even controversial. And if it’s a great player who goes on to big things, the initial club who developed him will continue to receive a percentage of all future transfer fees. So many youth clubs have missed out on a ton of money because of this. That cash could go a long, long way.

              • Mason says:

                It seems that our main point of disagreement is about the feasibility of professionalizing an additional 50-150 teams in this country. I don’t believe there is the enough economic support for that many more lower division teams, even if they did have the threat of being relegated or the promise of promotion. Lacking that support, a certain percentage will be mismanaged and fold. This will leave us worse off, developmentally, because those teams do currently server a developmental role.

                You’re absolutely right about the treatment of youth and development contracts, though. The way they are handled right now is nuts. I’m not sure that anyone truly understands MLS’s “arrangements”. That’s an issue that is separate from any discussion of pro-rel, however.

    • Job says:

      Jeremy is absolutely correct.

      The fact is that Americans (and I am an American) are the least educated soccer fans on the planet. That’s why you hear so many of them object to pro/rel. They just aren’t educated about the sport. You never ever hear Japanese fans or Mexican fans or any fans in Europe say pro/rel is a bad thing. NEVER EVER. Why? They are all educated about the sport.

      • Jeremy Gallagher says:

        Thank you Job. Too true. In particular, MLS fanboys are literally unlistenable. The ignorance is a contagion and they all feed off of another. I am afraid that our soccer “fans” are creating a soccer “brain drain” of sorts that we will never get out of. Our uneducated MLS fanboys may breed generations of increasingly ignorant fans through the mismarketing of our diluted, Americanized ripoff of the Beautiful Game. We the fans have the power to do something about it, but more must become enlightened. For instance, reading through these comments, even the people who are for pro/rel fail to realize its greatest impact, which is in the area of player development. I didn’t come to this conclusion myself until all that long ago, when I became a Gary Kleiban disciple.

        A lack of pro/rel and player compensation for youth players are the two biggest reasons we have the most backwards player development system in the world. Just changing those two things would foment a wave of seismic alterations, all positive. More of us who “get it” need to create a community and educate the masses.

        • Mason says:

          I would change the second before the first. That would cause the lower division clubs to have more money available, and thus cause them to either professionalize faster or pour that money back into scouting and development.

    • FulhamDC says:

      Jeremy –
      Starting your post by saying anyone who disagrees with you is uneducated, is really not a good way to win people to your side. Then adding “The astonishing ignorance of” just nullifies anything else you have to say. I, and I’m sure many others, never read past that point.

      • Jeremy Gallagher says:

        Your loss, and anyone else who doesn’t care to read it. This has zilch to do with “disagreement” and everything to do with MLS fanboys not knowing FACTS about basic developmental philosophy in every country on earth sans us and the Maple Leaf up north. The vacuum has never come close to being filled and I guarantee never will.

        You also offered zero points of refutation so your post was utterly worthless.

        • FulhamDC says:

          Fantastic retort Jeremy, now run along. Mom says you have to go clean your room.

          • Jeremy Gallagher says:

            Actually she’s dead. Has been for 20 years. I’ve been completely mature effortlessly displaying command of the topic and the facts and customs that accompany it. You have yet to do so…not even one. Perhaps it is your room that should be tended to.

      • Supa says:

        So right.

    • Mason says:

      We don’t have enough professional teams worth a damn. Until there are more, people bleating about pro-rel are pissing upwind.

      • Jeremy Gallagher says:

        It has to start somewhere. This is a poor argument, though. It’s small-minded. Think big-picture. Only relegation spot is required. The actual act of promotion/relegation is not important at all. It is the THREAT of relegation and the POTENTIAL for promotion that is crucial. If the 2nd tier teams aren’t that good in the beginning, then the MLS team relegated will be back in years 2,4,6, etc. and the team promoted will drop back in the odd years. But, with each year that passes there will be another class of thousands of players developed the right way passing through the academies of every team in every tier. The talent production will not be outsourced any longer, it will be done correctly, with continuity and with the players’ long-term development being the only thing that matters, not winning youth trophies.

        The lack of pro/rel is the number one reason we have such a hopeless player development system. We have yet to produce a truly world-class player in 25 years now, and almost all of our kids still go to college. Pay-to-play continues to be the norm. None of these stifling measures will persist if pro/rel is implemented. It is the driving force in world soccer’s player development, and the reason we are behind everyone else.

        • Mason says:

          The threat is nothing if the gap between the first and second division is too large, which it currently is. At that point it’s just a stupid artifact of league construction without any competitive purpose. Pro-rel works in other countries because the gap between the 20th place PL team and the 1st placed Championship team is small. It’s not the case here.

          The proper way to deal with that is to expand the first division until it needs to be split. Then you have a competitive first division and a competitive second division that – more importantly- can compete with the first division.

          • Jeremy Gallagher says:

            You just don’t “get it”. Typical ignorant fanboy. Your lack of understanding is glaring. You really need to learn something, because it’s clear I’ve wasted my time on you.

            • Mason says:

              Oh… And you’re wasting your time because no one with the juice is going to listen to you.

              Why don’t you go get mad about something useful?

          • Mason says:

            Learn this: NASL sucks. USL sucks.

            They can’t hold a candle to MLS. Placing one to three NASL-patsies on every MLS team’s schedule every year wouldn’t affect the development of the game in the slightest, and could be detrimental to the stability of the league. There is no upside.

            • Jeremy Gallagher says:

              God your dumb. Read what I have written above, twice now, and then ask someone older and smarter than you to explain it. I keep trying to explain to you that NASL and USL, indeed, suck because of the lack of pro/rel. You clearly aren’t very knowledgeable or intelligent so I am done with you. You could have learned something today, guess you choose to continue being a fool.

              • Mason says:

                “God your dumb…”

                I rest my case…

              • bryan says:

                “(they) suck because of the lack of pro/rel.”


              • Mason says:

                You’re suffering from magical thinking.

                You have no evidence that NASL and USL will improve on the field or off it if pro-rel were implemented, but you blindly accept it to be true. They’ve been bad for years. Why would they change given the chance to lose to Chivas USA?

            • Jeremy Gallagher says:

              I have explained it several times above, but you people are LITERALLY too stupid to understand it. The proof is the fact that every other lower tier in the world develops youth players because of the possibility of promotion and the threat of relegation. Because we don’t have that, yes, there is no incentive for teams to develop players themselves. That is why there is no youth development in this country and it is all done by college and amateur youth clubs.

              You people are just too dense to understand it. These are unchallengeable facts that we have never developed an answer to. The joke is on American soccer, we have the worst player development system in the world because of the lack of pro/rel.

              Educate yourselves.

            • Jeremy Gallagher says:

              Mason, why does NASL and USL suck?

              • Mason says:


              • Jeremy Gallagher says:


              • Mason says:

                No one watches them play. Low gate means limited funds for scouting youths, and they can only sign players at NGO-wages. These players suck, so no one watches them play…

                The soccer economy in this country can’t support your 200-academy fantasy, because to do so you’re relying on NASL and USL sides to step up. Hell… you’re also relying on PDL and NPSL teams to set up academies.

                Again… With what money?

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                Well, many teams don’t have money. Successful teams all over the world don’t have money. What they do is, they develop their own.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                It really doesn’t cost nearly as much as you think. Here is the problem, this is the only country in the world that doesn’t receive compensation for youth players exchanges. That is an enormous percentage of the expenditures for clubs around the world. Teams are afraid that child-labor laws would be violated in the event of payment, but it’s untrue. Legal scholars have recently looked into it and payment would not violate any laws. That area is the other great handicap in our paradigm.

              • Mason says:

                Oh… Are you going to tell me that 2 million euro a year is cheap again?

                Spare me.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                I was merely offering a reference point. The biggest clubs in the world, with the best youth players fund their academies at 2 mil. That is the amount now, not when they started. It has to start somewhere and it’s built up. It can absolutely be done. They can even go pay-to-play in the beginning to attract youth and stabilize through player sales. When a state of equilibrium is reached, self-sufficiency would ensue. There is no proven alternative for an effective player development model. We’ve failed for far too long and have lost two generations of players. It’s time to do it right.

              • Mason says:

                And if they get it wrong, half of USL just disappears overnight.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                Get it wrong how? Come on man, third tier teams in Croatia produce prospect after prospect. They all have productive youth academies. Believe me, the ain’t doing it a 2 mil euros a year. The top academies do it at that, they fly in players the world over for trials, fly in teams from around the world for week-long stays and scrimmages, maintain an army of scouts on every continent, eat the best food, have the best amenities in the best facilities, etc. Lower tier clubs need to just need to develop local players for sale or to gain promotion.

                If it is a proven winning formula for lower tier clubs in crapholes across the world, there is no reason it won’t be possible here. It at least needs to be experimented with, start small, maybe only with the 2nd tier at first and go from there. But it needs to happen, we have failed miserably at developing players in this country and 16 MLS academies, soon to be 19 just ain’t enough. USMNT players today aren’t that much better than their counterparts from the ’90s.

              • Jeremy Gallagher says:

                Sorry for the rude remarks before, the “dumb” and “stupid” comments and whatnot. I’m just too emotional at times, I take it back. You have a better grasp of things than I initially surmised.

              • Mason says:

                The bigger deal to me is the treatment of youth/development contracts. The way MLS handles them and often ignores them is absurd. Fix that, and you might not even need promotion, because then teams could develop and own players. That said, to achieve the goal of even 100 clubs developing players for future sale, you’d need to convert about 50+ amateur clubs at the 4th division level to professional clubs. That is a much bigger shift than changing how MLS handles contracts or even the institution of pro-rel between some divisions. That kind of organic professionalization* took decades in other countries.

                By “get it wrong” I mean overextend financially. Bad signings, overpayment, drop in revenues, or any combination of the above will cause a club to go bust. Right now, the system has stability (though that stability declines as you go down through the levels), and going to the much more unregulated approach in common in the rest of the world has risks. The main risk is that teams will be financially irresponsible and fold. It happened to Rangers.

                *I differentiate between the “organic professionalization” that occurred over decades in and the “forced professionalization” of Japan where Toyota decides it will field a soccer team.

  47. NASL TO EL PASO TX says:

    How about MLS 2?
    How about a simple promotion relegation, as in no MLS 1 teams go down, just reserved two spots or four spots for division 2.
    How about red bull becomes cosmos, since red bull is going to die sooner than later. MLS should buy red bull and rebrand it to cosmos.
    How about just say, will get 26 to 30 teams in MLS 1.

  48. wandmdave says:

    I don’t see pro/rel working with a salary cap and I’d always prefer the salary cap if its a choice. I’d rather have parity then knowing the exactly who can even hope to contend for the title year in, year out.

  49. Vermonter says:

    Question for the history buffs: when did, say, the last 5 leagues to implement Pro/Rel for the first time in their league actually implement Pro/Rel? I ask, because while everyone knows that Pro/Rel is implemented in most of the soccer world…when’s the last time a league had to actually ask itself “It Pro/Rel something we need for our league?”

    • Mason says:

      J-League, maybe?

      The first division was formed in 1993. They established a professional second division in 1999 and a professional third division last year.

      Hard to make a direct comparison, though, because J-League teams, like their NPB counterparts don’t really operate in a vacuum as a stand-alone institution. Most of them are owned by large corporations as a marketing thing.

      • Mason says:

        A-League has no promotion.
        K-League has a 22 team First Division (Classic) and a 10 team second (Challenge) with no pro/rel below that.

      • Vermonter says:

        From what I could glean from Wikipedia, the J-League first relegated a team in 1998. So that was ~15 years ago. Likely the closest thing to anyone making this (for lack of a better phrase) “league management” decision in modern times.

        Before that? Are we talking about a culture of “We have Pro/Rel, because we’ve always had Pro/Rel?”