MLS/LigaMX Merger Thread

sbrylski

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Some readers will hate this thread and its subject matter. It's also probably too early to make a megathread about it, given it's still just rumors and speculation about something that might happen by the end of the decade. <Insert stadium thread joke here.> But I find it fun to speculate and track these developments and rumors.

A few semi-recent articles to get things started:


I personally think a merger of some form is more likely than not, and by that I mean more than just an expanded interleague tournament. The benefits are largely about media rights, and I think in the end they will need to package actual league play together in order to fully leverage the potential -- LigaMX owners will want equity in SUM. Its possible they hope the Leagues Cup will somehow overtake league play in importance and therefore eyeballs and media value, but I don't think a knockout tournament alongside regular league play will accomplish that and they will have to go bigger.

My biggest question is whether the LigaMX owners will stick together to negotiate a full merger with all teams, or if they'll immediately cave to an MLS request to only accept the most valuable. Knowing capitalists, I think it'll be the latter.

And all that said, the next question becomes which teams are incorporated? My knowledge of LigaMX is extremely lacking, but in any scenario, (1) Club America and (2) Chivas are surely in. Assuming more than two, (3) Monterrey is also surely in. The next tier is tough because there's a mix of younger and older fanbases and it's hard to say whether MLS would want rivals from the same city or broader geographic coverage, but here are the rankings according to Forbes Mexico:

(4) Santos Laguna
(5) Toluca
(6) Tigres
(7) Xolos
(8) Cruz Azul
(9) Pumas
(10) Pachuca

Things line up well for a 36-40 team league, with my preference being 36. There's a few good ways to structure a 36-team league:

(1) Add two more US-based expansion teams and add four from Mexico. Divide the league into two conferences and each conference into two divisions of nine. Two Mexican teams join each of the two divisions in the western conference. Each team plays their division twice (16 games), the other division in their conference once (9 games), and one division in the other conference on a rotating basis (9 games) for a total of 34 regular season games.

(2) Freeze US-based expansion and add six from Mexico. Divide the league into two conference and each conference into three divisions of six. One of the divisions in the western conference consists of all six Mexican teams. Each team plays their division twice (10 games), the other divisions in their conference once (12 games), and 12 of the 18 teams in the other conference on a rotating basis (12 teams) for a total of 34 regular season games.

Both setups control for travel without skipping any matchups longer than a single calendar year. They also guarantee an original MLS team in the MLS Cup Final each year.

Does anyone else have some good speculative proposals?
 
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mgarbowski

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This proposal makes the fewest enemies upfront by including as many teams as possible, but pays for it by limiting games against everyone in the future. But it's kind of like the NFL, which obviously works.

MLS expands to 32 as planned.
Absorb 16 of 18 Liga MX teams.
Create 3 Conferences of 16 teams: US East, US West, and Mexico. Divide each into 2 8-team divisions.

Your conference once each = 15 games
One division (rotating annually) of each other conference once = 8+ 8 = 16 games
Play a second game against 3 teams from your conference rotating every 5 years = 3 games
Total 34 games.

Alternate option. Divide every conference into 4 divisions of 4 teams.
Your conference once each = 15 games
Two divisions (rotating annually) of each other conference once = 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 16 games
Play a second game against the other 3 teams in your division every year = 3 games.
Total 34 games.

The difference is whether you want home and away against the same 3 teams every year or mix it up. But the complication of having a total of 16 4-team divisions is you either start with 16 teams in the playoffs even before adding any wildcards, and chances are every year that 2-3 of those division winners will be pretty bad, or you don't even put every division winner in the playoffs.
 
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sbrylski

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This proposal makes the fewest enemies upfront by including as many teams as possible, but pays for it by limiting games against everyone in the future. But it's kind of like the NFL, which obviously works.

MLS expands to 32 as planned.
Absorb 16 of 18 Liga MX teams.
Create 3 Conferences of 16 teams: US East, US West, and Mexico. Divide each into 2 8-team divisions.

Your conference once each = 15 games
One division (rotating annually) of each other conference once = 8+ 8 = 16 games
Play a second game against 3 teams from your conference rotating every 5 years = 3 games
Total 34 games.

Alternate option. Divide every conference into 4 divisions of 4 teams.
Your conference once each = 15 games
Two divisions (rotating annually) of each other conference once = 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 16 games
Play a second game against the other 3 teams in your division every year = 3 games.
Total 34 games.

The difference is whether you want home and away against the same 3 teams every year or mix it up. But the complication of having a total of 16 4-team divisions is you either start with 16 teams in the playoffs even before adding any wildcards, and chances are every year that 2-3 of those division winners will be pretty bad, or you don't even put every division winner in the playoffs.
Can you convince me that MLS would let in *all* LigaMX teams into the "SUM Club?" If you look at LigaMX clubs through the lens of typical MLS expansion, there's definitely some teams that would be at the top of the list, but also a point at which I would rather have a billionaire-backed new club in a place like Phoenix than, say Atlas or Necaxa.

It's possible I'm wrong and that (1) LigaMX would stick together and be an all-or-nothing package or (2) I'm undervaluing the smallest LigaMX clubs.
 
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mgarbowski

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Can you convince me that MLS would let in *all* LigaMX teams into the "SUM Club?"
No. Just spitballin'. Also, just 16 of 18, not all. Huge difference, I know.

In some seriousness, but this is still just a slightly more informed guess, I was simply figuring that the fewer losers there are in Mexico the easier it is to get this done.

And the math/symmetry works out. That was the sum total of my rationale.
 

Sabo

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WARNING CONSPIRACY THEORY

Its entirely possible the LigaMx 5 year suspension of promotion/relegation was to allow all LigaMX clubs time to meet agreed upon MLS/LigaMx minimum team metrics or be dropped.
 

Fantazma

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WARNING CONSPIRACY THEORY

Its entirely possible the LigaMx 5 year suspension of promotion/relegation was to allow all LigaMX clubs time to meet agreed upon MLS/LigaMx minimum team metrics or be dropped.
pfft....you're so late. that was instantly the conspiracy theory to the news of suspending relegation in liga mx among liga mx fans. I personally think they they are very open to the idea since many teams are losing money with COVID situation ( some owners were already having issues before virus). Allegedly second division teams went and sent their complaint to CAS to bring back pro/rel and are awaiting for them to make a decision on the matter.

the SUM money is very sweet for them now so i think many liga mx owners willing to do it.
 
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sbrylski

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Another random thought -- I could see even the possibility of a merger delaying MLS from selling a 31st and 32nd franchise in the near term, say, prior to 2026. I would image an expansion slot post-merger would be an even bigger sell.
 
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