I see that Garber and the gang over at MLS are finally going act on the continued shambles that is the MLS schedule as it relates to international competition, both club and country. I don’t really like the idea of the split schedule, though I see its merits, especially with the Gold and Confederations Cup taking place next summer alongside WC qualifiers.
Looking at the FIFA calendar (attached here), there really isn’t a good way of doing things other than splitting things up. Of course, how do you apportion the schedule out between the halves? Do you play everyone once in the first half and play the reverse fixture in the second half? If my math hasn’t let me down (and Lord knows, it often does) that would mean 28 regular season matches in total or 14 per half. That seems okay to me. It’s the playoffs I am most confused by.
Next up comes the playoffs question. How do you apportion spots in the postseason? I’ve balanced the schedule, so I am assuming we’ll finally go single table. But more questions immediately shoot to mind:
- Surely a playoff spot will go to the winner and possibly even the runner up of the first half of the season, how do you incentivize those two teams to play down the stretch in the second season?
- How on earth do the other playoff spots get filled? If you go with an eight-team playoff over my preferred number of six, how do you ensure a system that is both fair and somewhat comprehensible to the average fan. To me, the most fair system would be to take the two split season champions and the four next best records in either season. A six-team system would better reward each season’s champ by giving them a bye in the first round. But again, I don’t really know how to make the other four spots work.
- How will the Supporters Shield work? Will it be to the team with the most points over both split seasons? That would be a way to dissuade teams from tanking, especially if a Champions Cup slot come with it.
- How will Champions League spots work? Assuming one goes to the MLS Cup winner and one goes to the Open Cup winner, maybe one goes to the MLS Cup finalist and the last one goes to the Supporters Shield winner or the team not already in Concacaf with the best point total aggregate over the two seasons.
- Where the heck can the Superliga fit into all of this? I don’t really think it can.