MLS breaks for World Cup, goes with a balanced schedule in 2010

Well if Don Garber has a bulletin board in his office with a list entitled “EUROSNOB DEMANDS,” he’s managed to check off two of them as he announced today MLS will not play during the 2010 World Cup group phase, on semifinal and finals day, and that the league will have play a balanced schedule next year.

In truth, this wasn’t so much of succombing to Eurosnobbery as it was common sense. Playing during the World Cup always seemed slightly masochistic and a balanced schedule will help increase at least the perception of importance of individual matches. If the press release is any indications, the divisions aren’t going anywhere.

Anyway, I’ll have more on this later.

Oh, and this doesn’t mean anything as it relates to the still complete impossibility of pro/rel coming to MLS. Trust me.

16 thoughts on “MLS breaks for World Cup, goes with a balanced schedule in 2010

  1. I’ll wait for the link to this story before I believe this. That said, it’s definitely a sensible move. If he’d get rid of the playoffs, I’d be cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

  2. Keep in mind next year’s 16 teams and a 30 game schedule pretty much means it has to be a balanced schedule. Not really a culture change or concession to anyone, there’s really no other logistical way to arrange the schedule.
    Taking a break during the WC is aslo a no brainer, as the fans take a break even when MLS did not…I guess Don realized there’s no point in having games during the WC that no one attends or watches but the players on the field.

  3. No link needed, it’s the top story at

    As far as “there’s no other logistical way to arrange the schedule” I must disagree. Now, don’t get me a wrong, I think the balanced schedule is great. In fact, I prefer it. BUT, the reason for conferences is supposed to be teams will play more teams in their region of the country to cut down on travel costs. As such, another logical (but not as exciting) schedule MLS could have is for each team only play teams in their respective conferences – much like baseball use to do before interleague was introduced by Butt Selig. With playing teams in your conference and only your conference, then you have true conference champions.

    It’s always seemed silly to me that leagues have teams play teams not in their conferences yet still crown them “champions” of the the other teams in the conference when other teams in their conference may have performed better within the conference. For example, hypothetically with next year’s MLS schedule, a team could beat every team in the opposite conference, getting 45 points, and let’s say draw in 5 of its conference games but lose the rest, for a total of 50 points. That could be enough to win “the conference.” But is that team really a conference “champion” when other teams in the conference have done much better in conference play? I certainly don’t think so. Which is why, for next year at least, a straight table would make more sense when considering playoff implications.

    As such, with the balanced schedule, there really is no reason for conferences, though I suspect the league is waiting till it reaches its own announced mark of 20 teams before moving to a single-table.

    Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  4. Balanced schedule cool. But are they still having conferences? Because in a league-wide balanced schedule, conferences are meaningless. I don’t want to lose a playoff spot to another team, despite having a better record over an identical schedule, simply because of my team’s geographic location.

  5. Under the current playoff format, that could only happen if you were in 7th place in one division and had more points than the team in 2nd in the other one.

    I don’t peg that as terribly likely.

  6. I’m sure they will keep the same format – top 2 per conference and then the next 4. While I’ll agree a single table is ideal, these are good steps they are making here.

  7. Which is basically how they do it in Mexico – three groups of 6, everybody plays 17 games (once against each other team) in both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments.

  8. In another attempt to try and appear to mesh with the global soccer community, MLS and Don Garber have acquiesced on another minor point.

    Next, we’ll abandon the stilted, closed, TGI Fridays franchise model that has held the sport back here for a century. Right, Donnie NFL?

    If he responded, he might do it a la Charlton Heston:

    Outta my cold, dead hands.

  9. Both 1st and 2nd place teams in each conference automatically qualify, so I’m not sure I understand this post. Could you elaborate EJ?

  10. Let’s say that that the Western Conference has seven teams that have more points than the Eastern Conference’s 2nd best team.

    The playoff qualifiers would be:
    West #1 (automatic)
    West #2 (automatic)
    East #1 (automatic)
    East #2 (automatic)
    West #3 (wild card)
    West #4 (wild card)
    West #5 (wild card)
    West #6 (wild card)

    Meanwhile the West #7 team would be left out, even though they have more points than East #2. That’s the only way that LordRobin’s issue with the current system would play out.

    My contention is that it’s so ridiculously unlikely that the two conferences would be that far out of balance that it’s not even worth considering.

  11. Whew! Thanks for relieving my brain the pain it was undergoing there. Now I get it, and yes, you are right…nearly impossible.

    Rep you if I could. Have a good one.

  12. Looking at the announcement closely, apparently MLS will be playing games between the WC group stages and the WC Semifinals. Or am I reading this wrong?

    In any case it’s a step in the right direction. I’d also + rep Gioca if I could. I do watch MLS games, but I’m don’t agree with the way the season set up. To disagree with the way it’s set up is not Eurosnobbery.

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