Corrections the MLS needs…

With the start of the MLS playoffs coming up in the coming weeks I sat and pondered at the future of this young league and I think its time for some change.

Yes, next year there will be some change. Another new franchise will kick up with Toronto (don’t call us Inter) FC. Looking at how things are going in the league there are currently 12 teams split into two conferences, an east and a west. Right now each year the top four teams advance at the end of the season to the playoffs.

Now conventional wisdom would tell this young league that eight teams in the post season is too many considering you only have 12 teams overall in your league. Not to mention what are the changes with adding an odd number to the mix next year to make it the unlucky 13.

I look at it like this, it is the perfect time for the MLS to finally do what the world does and play in a single table format. Scheduling can still be the same but it is time for what every league in the world basically uses. Having the odd number of teams really allows the MLS to explore this opportunity for at least a season and see how the fans respond to it.

Honestly, in a way they have always had a slight single table format with the competition for the League Shield, which goes to the team with the most points in the regular season. I love the League Shield and want to keep it if the single table format does take place next season.

Sedondly, I think the MLS needs to redo their playoff format. Even if they stick with the current conference format, there should be no reason to allow over half of each conference into the playoffs each season. It’s really a lose-lose situation. It devalues the regular season for most teams, like a FC Dallas or a DC United who basically knew they were going to make the playoffs since about the middle of July.

Single table or no single table, I do like the playoff system. Its an American thing to do, and even some smaller European leagues are doing it for their promotional purposes to their top tier leagues. Keep the playoff system but only take the top teams, meaning that if it is a conference slate, only take the top two teams from each. It will put more emphasis on the regular season and give fans something to cheer a little harder for. Less is more for this type of situation.

And even if things get switch to a single table format, take the top four teams. It would still work in the same capacity. Take four teams, first round be a two legged series (like they do in the opening rounds of the playoffs now) and then have the wonderful MLS Cup.

Once this season ends it will be the perfect time to explore these options. It will only improve the product that is growing more and more each year.