Advantages And Disadvantages Of Mls

BossNYC

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Just wanted to compile a big list of advantages and disadvantages MLS has to get a better sense of what this league can be:

Advantages:
-Big population, 340 million and growing
-Tremendous amount of variety in our demographics that people all over the world might find interesting
-4 time zones, West coast syncs well with East Asia, East coast syncs well with Europe
-Salary cap , no relegation, and revenue sharing keeps teams competitive and more financially stable
-Large stadiums in most of our MLS cities to play important games in
-4 other well-run major leagues to work with and draw investors from

Disadvantages:
-4 other powerful, established major leagues to compete with
-Travel time and distance
-Lack of dedicated stadiums
- No Uefa Champions League
-Salary cap holds our top teams back
-Lack of a TV presence
 

MyBoyVilla

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Just wanted to compile a big list of advantages and disadvantages MLS has to get a better sense of what this league can be:

Advantages:
-Big population, 340 million and growing
-Tremendous amount of variety in our demographics that people all over the world might find interesting
-4 time zones, West coast syncs well with East Asia, East coast syncs well with Europe
-Salary cap , no relegation, and revenue sharing keeps teams competitive and more financially stable
-Large stadiums in most of our MLS cities to play important games in
-4 other well-run major leagues to work with and draw investors from

Disadvantages:
-4 other powerful, established major leagues to compete with
-Travel time and distance
-Lack of dedicated stadiums
- No Uefa Champions League
-Salary cap holds our top teams back
-Lack of a TV presence
I think the biggest disadvantage is our culture. For whatever reason, most Americans find soccer to be boring. We can change the league structure or build stadiums or create new international competitions; but changing a cultural attitude is a long and painstaking process that takes decades if not centuries.
 

MikeDatTiger

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I think the biggest disadvantage is our culture. For whatever reason, most Americans find soccer to be boring. We can change the league structure or build stadiums or create new international competitions; but changing a cultural attitude is a long and painstaking process that takes decades if not centuries.

I think you need to tweak that. American culture, moreso than Europe, has a plethora of competing sports options. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL all provide major team sports leagues, and that's before we get into stuff like PGA and NASCAR.

You also have the problem that Americans are used to their sports leagues being the undisputed best league in the sport. Champions are "World Champions." Americans have a culture desire to be the best, so it's an issue for MLS when it'll be a while, if ever, before MLS is one of the best.
 

einwindir

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I think the largest hurdle is the salary cap. It's a dead horse at this point so there's no sense explaining why it's bad.

I understand why it was implemented and it is just an archaic form of thinking.

Here's where my ignorance will shine brightest though: is there an MLS Players Association? Or any bagaining unit for players like MLBPA or NHLPA? Or some association that can actually fight the league to have the cap raised or removed?
 

MikeDatTiger

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Yes, there is a CBA & an Union. CBA actually expires at the end of this year so while I don't think the salary cap will be eliminated there's going to be a big fight over how big it is.

For reference, you have to have a union in order to have any kind of league wide rules in order to be legal under anti-trust provisions. For example, a draft would be terribly illegal in the US unless you had a union that okayed it.
 

Falastur

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There are a few more disadvantages that you can add:

- Teams do not play every other team both home and away - does not give a fair estimation of a team's strength relative to their opponents.

- Lack of relegation system means that teams at the bottom have nothing to play for once it becomes clear they won't reach the playoffs.

- Salary cap prevents league competing with other leagues for world class talent.

Then again you also have advantages in the US sports culture - the way you guys support your teams all the way from high school through college to the big leagues is incredible, and something that Europe is sorely lacking - it really prepares your players for big, high pressure games in a way that just doesn't happen over here.
 

NYCFCFan10

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There are a few more disadvantages that you can add:

- Teams do not play every other team both home and away - does not give a fair estimation of a team's strength relative to their opponents.
Mmm...

I disagree that this is really a disadvantage. I suspect when the league hits 24 teams they'll have 2 conferences of 12 teams each. You'll play every club in your conference home and away and you'll play every club in the opposite conference alternating home and away every year. Total of 34 game season. I suspect this is what they'll stick with even as they add more teams past 24 but they'll just keep expanding the number of games in a season to make it work. Everyone on the East Coast will want to go play the LA clubs, Portland, and Seattle and everyone on the West coast will want to play the NY clubs, Miami, Toronto and maybe DC and Chicago get it back in gear.

That's pretty fair, everyone plays everyone else, everyone will receive an equal amount of home games and away games. It's as close to balanced as we can get and really uneven schedules is why we have playoffs to begin with.
 

MyBoyVilla

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I think you need to tweak that. American culture, moreso than Europe, has a plethora of competing sports options. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL all provide major team sports leagues, and that's before we get into stuff like PGA and NASCAR.

You also have the problem that Americans are used to their sports leagues being the undisputed best league in the sport. Champions are "World Champions." Americans have a culture desire to be the best, so it's an issue for MLS when it'll be a while, if ever, before MLS is one of the best.
I disagree. If you put an American in front of a Champions League Final match, most of them will not last more than 20 minutes. I am talking the highest quality in the sport, without competing against other sports - not asking them to be a fan, or like this better than some other sport - they just will not enjoy it. I obviously do not have data to back this up, but that is the impression I get from people I know.
 

Falastur

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Mmm...

I disagree that this is really a disadvantage. I suspect when the league hits 24 teams they'll have 2 conferences of 12 teams each. You'll play every club in your conference home and away and you'll play every club in the opposite conference alternating home and away every year. Total of 34 game season. I suspect this is what they'll stick with even as they add more teams past 24 but they'll just keep expanding the number of games in a season to make it work. Everyone on the East Coast will want to go play the LA clubs, Portland, and Seattle and everyone on the West coast will want to play the NY clubs, Miami, Toronto and maybe DC and Chicago get it back in gear.

It's by no means an unworkable system, it just opens you up to problems. Say in their first season, NYCFC and NYRB have an identical record in games against teams in their own conference, so in the race for the title, or the last playoff spot or whatever, it comes down to games against the other conference. RBNY gets home games against the Galaxy, Seattle and Portland and home advantage let's them scrape 5 points out of 9 there. They then win the away games against the other teams, who for the purposes of this example are all playing terribly and are like taking three points from a baby.

NYCFC plays the same teams but in reverse. Obviously they win the three point bankers against the weak teams but against the three hardest teams have to play every game away and get absolutely destroyed as there's no City fans there to encourage them. NYRB win the league by the exact five points (or hey, for drama call it one point) which they gained from their home games against the league's toughest teams.

In that case, the league has just been decided by home advantage giving one team a far easier set of fixtures than their rival. In Europe, that would result in legal challenges questioning the validity of the result.

Or to put it another way - if the eastern conference in 10 years' time became known for being incredibly strong and the west had no real strong teams at all, but above all others Chivas 2.0 put on a good run of form and only dropped a half-dozen points against teams in their conference, then picked up just enough points against vastly superior eastern conference teams to win the supporters shield, because all the far better eastern teams were evenly matched and no one could win away in that conference, you end up with the league's 11th best side having the best overall record, despite not really deserving it.

I understand that the sheer size of the US makes playing this many games hard for teams. I just think that this system opens you up to accusations of unfair match scheduling.
 

MyBoyVilla

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Every league in the US has 'unfair match scheduling' and I dont think anybody in this country has a problem with it. I don't think it will harm the success, growth, or quality of the league, despite being a fair point about US Sports in general.

I mean, in the NFL, teams literally jump from last to first every year because the schedule is so inequitable. But nobody really complains.
 
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MikeDatTiger

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I disagree. If you put an American in front of a Champions League Final match, most of them will not last more than 20 minutes. I am talking the highest quality in the sport, without competing against other sports - not asking them to be a fan, or like this better than some other sport - they just will not enjoy it. I obviously do not have data to back this up, but that is the impression I get from people I know.

This is where the "Free Beer" movement has a point. You don't just hope they switch on to watch a soccer match; you need to watch with them so they have someone to ask what the hell is going on. For instance, I watched the World Cup in 2010. Didn't understand anything about the rules or what the "Premier League" or "Champions league was." It made it hard to follow. Now, I lasted through it but a lot of americans won't.
 

MikeDatTiger

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Every league in the US has 'unfair match scheduling' and I dont think anybody in this country has a problem with it. I don't think it will harm the success, growth, or quality of the league, despite being a fair point about US Sports in general.

I mean, in the NFL, teams literally jump from last to first every year because the schedule is so inequitable. But nobody really complains.

Unfair scheduling isn't as big of problem when you have a playoff. So sure, in the NFL a team can take advantage of a weak schedule to grab a No. 1 seed but then they have to prove it against the better teams to take home the trophy. People don't mind it because there is a counter balance whereas in the EPL or a league without a playoff it would be horrible.

We haven't also noted another major problem with the MLS schedule: it doesn't stop for the international break. There will be MLS matches while many of the best players are in Brazil. That's sort of a problem for teams like Seattle and Toronto who have invested heavily in USMNT talent. Matches against those kinds of sides during that time are easier than usual. Now, MLS is in a tough position here. It's kinda hard to have a summer league where you stop for a month during the summer, but on the other hand this is blatantly unfair to the clubs.
 

MyBoyVilla

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I think it is only a matter of time before MLS switches to a winter schedule. JK is a major advocate for it, and they clearly have a lot of respect for his vision of the future of US Soccer. The logistics are very reasonable. Scheduling will have to be adjusted to make cold city home games more towards the warmer parts of the year, and there will have to be somewhat of a winter break. However, I think it gets done before the next World Cup.
 

einwindir

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This is where the "Free Beer" movement has a point. You don't just hope they switch on to watch a soccer match; you need to watch with them so they have someone to ask what the hell is going on. For instance, I watched the World Cup in 2010. Didn't understand anything about the rules or what the "Premier League" or "Champions league was." It made it hard to follow. Now, I lasted through it but a lot of americans won't.
What do you mean "free beer movement?

You raise an excellent point about folks not watching because they have no idea what's going on. This is a primary reason why I don't watch American Football, and exactly the reason I started watching soccer. I was able to watch games (and still do by the way) with someone very knowledgeable of the sport and he reluctantly answers whatever questions I may have, good or bad.

[EDIT: nevermind, http://www.thefreebeermovement.com/]
This website should be stickied somewhere. Or permanently linked on the front page. It's a great idea.
 

Falastur

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Oh I was never suggesting that other US sports don't also have issues with unbalanced scheduling, nor that as Americans you aren't happy to let it slide. But the question is comparing MLS to European leagues, and in this regard - where, for example, the PL has a panel of members whose specific job is to ensure that home and away games are evenly spread for every team and so on, I think the Euro leagues have the advantage.

I also get the play-offs balancing it argument - though as a Brit I don't really like playoffs - but what about a hypothetical scenario where unfair scheduling affects who gets into the playoffs?
 

MikeDatTiger

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Oh I was never suggesting that other US sports don't also have issues with unbalanced scheduling, nor that as Americans you aren't happy to let it slide. But the question is comparing MLS to European leagues, and in this regard - where, for example, the PL has a panel of members whose specific job is to ensure that home and away games are evenly spread for every team and so on, I think the Euro leagues have the advantage.

I also get the play-offs balancing it argument - though as a Brit I don't really like playoffs - but what about a hypothetical scenario where unfair scheduling affects who gets into the playoffs?

Well, it certainly can but right now there's 5 teams from each conference 10 teams total for little more than half the league. The playoffs have expanded such that it's really hard to say you deserve a shot at winning the title when you haven't earned at least the 5th best points in your conference.
 

MyBoyVilla

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Oh I was never suggesting that other US sports don't also have issues with unbalanced scheduling, nor that as Americans you aren't happy to let it slide. But the question is comparing MLS to European leagues, and in this regard - where, for example, the PL has a panel of members whose specific job is to ensure that home and away games are evenly spread for every team and so on, I think the Euro leagues have the advantage.

I also get the play-offs balancing it argument - though as a Brit I don't really like playoffs - but what about a hypothetical scenario where unfair scheduling affects who gets into the playoffs?
Fair enough. I thought the OP was looking for strengths and weaknesses in terms of the league's ability to grow into one of the best leagues in the world. I think we agree that unbalanced scheduling is not an obstacle to that.

In terms of personal preference, I get why you would prefer the balanced schedule. For me, I find that most league finishes are boring and determined weeks before the season's end (although that is not always the case), while with a playoff system, there is suspense until the very end.

With the unbalanced schedule, yes, maybe the best team will not finish the regular season with the best record, but it will almost certainly NOT miss the playoffs. And yes, maybe a team that makes the playoffs is worse than a better team with a tough schedule, but if that is the case, they probably are not good enough to win the title, and if they do, maybe it was more than an easy schedule that led to their success.

I mean, you can never really have an equitable schedule, with teams experiencing injuries, good and bad runs of form, different weather, etc etc etc. A balanced schedule makes it "more" equitable, yes, but not perfectly so. It is a matter of degrees, and IMO it is not really significant, especially because most of the time it evens out (the original example with NYCFC + RBNY is extreme and uncommon).
 

NYCFCFan10

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I think it is only a matter of time before MLS switches to a winter schedule. JK is a major advocate for it, and they clearly have a lot of respect for his vision of the future of US Soccer. The logistics are very reasonable. Scheduling will have to be adjusted to make cold city home games more towards the warmer parts of the year, and there will have to be somewhat of a winter break. However, I think it gets done before the next World Cup.
I struggle to see MLS ever going to a winter schedule. You can't play soccer in the North during January and February outdoors. It was either at or below zero like every single day both of those months (that's like -20 degrees C for you, Falastur) That's not even an exaggeration.

The players were pissed off at how cold the championship game was in Kansas City in early December. January and February are even worse!

I think we have to hope that the Euros were serious about switching to a summer schedule themselves. If they do that, then all of our problems will be solved as far as scheduling goes.
 

NYCFCFan10

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I also get the play-offs balancing it argument - though as a Brit I don't really like playoffs - but what about a hypothetical scenario where unfair scheduling affects who gets into the playoffs?
Just curious what you think of Champions League then since that is just European playoffs by another name (No one mention the group stage either -- a tournament is a tournament)
 
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