Your Questions Answered (Part 4 of 5)

Sacha Kljestan (ISIphotos.com)

                                                                              Photo by ISIphotos.com

Good afternoon folks. As you can tell, it's been a bit of a slow news period. That doesn't mean we won't be able to provide you with some good reading material and updates on both MLS and European soccer as they become available.

Here is part four of the most recent Q&A. Yes, I know, it's taken FOREVER to get to these, but I'm convinced the longer it takes to do these the tougher it gets to finish them (and between fielding more than 120 questions and removing the ones from people trying to ask five and six different questions it can get pretty tough). I'm determined to knock them out though and after this batch, there will be one more part before I post the next Q&A. I am shooting for either a New Year's Eve or New Year's Day Q&A so keep an eye out for that.

For now, here are some more of Your Question Answered. Enjoy:

ART- What did you think of Don Garber’s State of the League address this year? What topics were not addressed by the Commissioner but should have been?

IVES- I think he covered topics that needed to be covered, such as expansion and roster size changes. I don’t think the subject of the salary cap was discussed enough. Obviously the CBA is about to expire so it’s probably a sensitive subject but I think the league is trying to shy away from the fact that MLS teams aren’t happy with the meager increase in the cap.

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JIM- As always, great site Ives! Any update on the RBNY practice facility?

IVES- I expect to have an update after the new year.

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RICH- Which players left unprotected by their clubs in the MLS expansion (and/or not traded in advance of the Expansion draft) surprised you? Also, how well did Seattle do in the expansion draft?

IVES- I would say that the following players surprised me by being made available in the expansion draft:

  • Corey Ashe

  • Brad Evans

  • Eddie Gaven

  • Ante Razov

  • Johann Smith

  • Stephen King

  • Kevin Hartman

  • Mike Randolph

Two names I'm sure people were expecting to see were Marco Pappa and Jeff Parke. I was initially surprised to hear that they would be left unprotected but after hearing the stories behind them being left unprotected it made sense and therefore I wasn't shocked when I saw the lists.

As for how Seattle did in the expansion draft, I thought Seattle did okay, but not as good as it could have. If Jeff Parke winds up signing with the Sounders (which I hear is a possibility) then their expansion drafts winds up a good one.

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WILLIAM- There appear to be many strong candidates for 2011 MLS expansion and the Wilpons didn’t even submit a bid (yet). When do you think the next expansion application deadline will be and for what year and for how many teams/cities will expansion be targeted? Thanks for doing this!!!

IVES- William, it's tough to say when the next deadline will be but if 2013 is the next year for expansion, then January of 2011 would make sense as a target date.

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JACOB A.- Any more buzz about Renken to Arsenal been heard from the deeper sides of US Soccer that the normal ear cant hear?

IVES- Haven't heard anything new about Charles Renken but it should be pointed out that Renken cannot sign a professional country outside of the United States until he turns 18 so while he might be able to join Arsenal's youth academy, he wouldn't be under a binding contract.

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BRETT- why is it that we put so much emphasis on the MLS Cup?? i know follows suit with the regular prime time US sports as far as playoffs and CHAMPION… but why dont we put more emphasis on the Supporters Shield?? why does the media look at the MLS cup as the big prize, while the SS which is the true champion of the league, gets overlooked (for the most part)?? and i know the SS winners get into all the outside tournys, but the media as well as the world sees the MLS Cup the crowning of the league…

IVES- Brett, just because YOU think the Supporters Shield is the "true championship" doesn't make it so. In the United States the champion is determined by the playoffs. That's for all team sports (well, except for college football). Winning the Supporters Shield is an accomplishment, but in the United States, being able to perform and deliver in the playoffs is the ultimate accomplishment.

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JACOBI MILLIONAIRE- How do you pronounce your name?

IVES- Eye- viss.

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Q- Ives, thanks for the site. Great work. You have said on a couple of occasions that MLS is not one of the premier leagues around the world. I think that most of us would agree with that statement. Can you rank the world's top leagues? I don't know how far down MLS is on your list, but could you rank all the way down to there (if not a little further)? Bonus question: Could you list a best XI of current HEAD coaches (from national or club teams) who were once players? I started thinking about this once Argentina named Maradona coach.

IVES- I have done the ranking of leagues before, you will need to look that one up. As far as where MLS ranks, I would put it somewhere in the 10-15 range, As for a Best XI of current managers based on their ability as players, here goes:

———–Diego Maradona—-Marco Van Basten——Hugo Sanchez————

—————————————-Zico——————————————–

——————-Josep Guardiola————Carlo Ancelotti———————–

Stevie Nicol——–Laurent Blanc——-Steve Bruce—————Markus Babbel

———————————Walter Zenga—————————————

I am absolutely not married to this list so folks who want to point out the managers I forgot are more than welcome to.

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WEATHERMANNX01-

1. What's your preference – American-style team names (New England Revolution), European-style teams names (FC Dallas), or a combination of both (Seattle Sounders FC)?

2. I keep up on details of sports stadiums. Of the already-existing teams, all have plans for a stadium if they don't have one already. Red Bull Arena is underway, and the Wizards are finally moving closer to making the Bannister Mall site a reality. Past that, there are no real firm plans. Houston is looking at a site near Minute Maid Park, and they only want $10 million in financing from Harris County. The Earthquakes have a spot near San Jose International Airport, but the economy may be putting the project in Jeopardy. We've also heard that the Krafts are looking at Somerville as a home for the Revs. And D.C. United has Poplar Point in their sights, but the city is balking at financing; Prince Georges County has said that if the city won't take the team, they certainly will. Beyond Kansas City, which seems to have the deal as good as done, which team will be the next to get a stadium? And do you see Bob Kraft paying for a stadium himself like he did with The Razor, should no one want to fund the project? Thanks, Ives, for all you do. Only one of two blogs in my bookmarks!

IVES- 1. I think both can work depending on the name, but I probably prefer American-sounding names, maybe because they're less difficult to mess up.

2. As for stadiums, I don't think any stadium projects after KC are truly close to done. Houston has that major funding hurdle to get over, and if that is cleared next month, you can add a Dynamo stadium to the list of projects that look good for completion. Funny enough I think the St. Louis stadium will be done before any of the existing MLS teams without stadiums (except for KC and Houston). And yes, I think St. Louis is getting a team.

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MARK- Ives, in your opinion, what are the top 5 colleges that have produced the best MLS talent? Thanks!

IVES- I'd have to think about that one, but here's a quick stab at it:

Virginia

UCLA

Indiana

Maryland

Wake Forest

Those may not be the schools that have produced the most MLS players, but when you talk numbers and quality, those five are pretty tough.

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SEISCO- Will Red Bull Park, excuse me Red Bull Arena, be far and away the best stadium in MLS? And why did they change it to "Arena"?

IVES- From what I know about the stadium's design, I think it will be the best stadium in the league. Right now I'd give that honor to Rio Tinto Stadium. As for the change to Red Bull Arena, I guess Arena sounds more official than Park.

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JJ- What's the story with Marvell Wynne not getting a call up for this qualifier? Is he really that far down the list? Considering who is not there (Gooch, Boca, Dolo, etc.) I would have thought he was a shoe-in.

IVES- If we're talking about the Guatemala qualifier, I'm not sure what the deal was there. I still think Wynne will get a long look in 2009 so I wouldn't worry about him missing one  qualifier. Now, if he were to not be called in to the January camp then you could start wondering what the deal is.

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KAYLA- Ives, Why does your site ROCK so much?!

IVES- Thanks Kayla, glad you think SBI rocks. If it does, it rocks because enthusiastic readers make it fun to run SBI.

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SCOTT- With all this economic turmoil and consensus among experts that this is "only the beginning," I'm wondering what your take is on how this might affect the sudden influx of interest in MLS expansion teams? Looking at the latest stats on the economy and you'd think new investors like those in Vancouver, Portland, Montreal, St Louis etc would be nuts to place bets on soccer right now.

IVES- Well Scott, plenty of economist would argue that projects such as the public/private stadium projects MLS specializes in are exactly the type of job-producing endeavors that we need to see more of during tough times. Times are hard, but the only way out of this mess is to believe in business and the American consumer. Deciding to close up shop and not build anything new is exactly the type of thinking that will keep us in this recession.

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KPTX- I know this is out of left field and could never, ever happen, but imagine the US national team playing in the EPL or La Liga – how do you think they would fare? Would they be fighting for a spot in Europe, mid-table or fighting against relegation? Like I said, completely hypothetical, just wanted to know where you thought the team would stand against that kind of competition. Thanks and keep up the great work.

IVES- Interesting question, not totally unique, but still interesting. I remember asking Clint Dempsey if he thought an MLS all-star team could do well in the EPL and he basically said no. That said, I think the U.S. national team could be somewhere between 7th and 12th in the EPL. Now if someone wants to actually try this out in Football Manager please leat me know how it turns out.

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DAVE- 1) Do you think sacha kljestan makes a move this summer and what would be a good league for him? 2) Best movie you have seen this year?

IVES-  1. I actually thought Kljestan would move in January. As for what leagues are good for him. I think the Dutch League, French League and La Liga are three leagues I could see him playing in. 2. I would probably say Dark Knight, but maybe I'll have to do a Top 10 list this week.

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CA- What do you think of the first year of the US Soccer Development Academy? What should be the next steps for the US Soccer Development Academy?

IVES- I think the academy set-up has been a huge success and has done well to create a uniform direction for youth soccer in this country. I don't think people realize the challenges faced when trying to bring youth soccer in this country under one umbrella and heading toward common goals. The way so many programs have embraced the academy tells me that there is a widespread belief in this being the right way to run youth soccer in this country. As for what the next steps are, I don't think you can have just one year and suddenly chart a new course. The program will be tweaked, I'm sure, and youth programs late to the party will start to join. I see nothing but positives so far, but I'm sure there are folks who will focus on negatives, which is part of it all.

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HOMEY- I hear a lot of debate in MLS between having a traditional regular season champion vs. a playoff format. As it stands, there's very little reward for finishing on top in the regular season. I have a unique idea for a compromise that might satisfy both sides. Why not have the regular season winner get an automatic berth in the title game. Then the next 8 can play over 3 weeks in a playoff format to determine the other participant. Then, while the regular season champ is waiting, they can play home-and-home with the USL champion. Is this such a crazy idea?

IVES- While I agree that there should be more of a reward for being regular season champion, I don't think your suggestion is all that reasonable. My suggestion was to have conference champions receive byes in a six-team playoff format. Now that we'll have 15 teams in 2009, we will stay with eight playoff teams. I think going back to the three-game format makes the most sense, with the higher seed hosting two of the three games.

I like the idea of the MLS champ playing the USL champ but that's a conversation for another day.

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PICO- Hey Ives, thanks for the great work on the site. I am afraid the network guys are going to block it since I visit it so many times during the day. Having grown up watching and listening football broadcasts in Spanish, I have to say none of the English announcers come close to the Spanish ones, or Portuguese for that matter. What would be the English equivalents for terms like "un delantero de enganche", "un pivote", "volante de contencion", "un carrilero", "un clasico numero 7, 9, 10". Do we have US players that conform to those positions? Also, one of my favorite phrases is: "El portero se tiro para la foto". Besides Ray Hudson, I cannot think of any colorful lines. You have any? Cheers

IVES- I'll agree that Latin soccer announcers give the game much more life and excitement than their American counterparts, but I do think English announcers in the EPL do a good job of telling the story. Not sure what it will take for American announcers to show real passion that comes through feeling like real passion, but I would agree that there is something lacking.

As for your Spanish soccer positions, here goes:

Delantero de enganche-Think you mashed up two positions here.

An Enganche is a playmaker, at least that’s how I understand it in the Spanish I’m used to.

Pivote- Defensive midfielder Volante de contencion- Also defensive midfielder, more central midfielder

Carrilero- wing players, either fullbacks or midfielders, I’ve hard the term used for both. Comes from the Spanish word Carril, which means lane, as in running up and down the lane/flank.

As for funny soccer lines, Nobody tops Ray Hudson, but I'd also argue that you don't need funny lines for a soccer game to be entertaining.

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SCOTT M- What happens with the RBNY goalie situation next year? Does Conway get cut and Cepero automatically become the starter?

IVES- If I were a betting man I would bet on Conway being traded, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see Conway and Cepero battle for the job, with Conway regaining the job. That said, it's hard to ignore how well Cepero did in the playoffs, which is why I think the Red Bulls will listen to good offers for him and while some folks might not think Conway has trade value I would argue that he played very well before first learning about his suspension. That knowledge clearly affected Conway's game and he was never the same the rest of the year.

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51 Responses to Your Questions Answered (Part 4 of 5)

  1. jloome says:

    Hmm, that answer on the “supporters shield vs the cup” question is a bit jingoistic. How about a good reason other than “that’s the way we do it here?”

    The reason so many fans bring this up is it smacks of the ongoing insistence on injecting Americanisms into soccer. We got rid of the shootout; now maybe logic would dictate rewarding the team that is the best performer over 30 games, not the one that is the best performer over five games.

    It’s not an issue of tradition; it’s common sense. And yes, it is one more issues that keeps “eurosnobs”, as MLS fans like to call them, from supporting the league. There are a lot of soccer fans in North America who don’t bother to follow MLS because of this kind of silliness.

    So the argument back is, perhaps, that it IS a tradition to have playoffs in the U.S. Well, there’s nothign wrong with that. Lots of soccer leagues elsewhere have playoffs: it’s what’s at stake that’s important. Give them a cup, fine. Then, like a lot of leagues, you have two cup winners and aleague winner.

    But save the title for the team that did the most to earn it.

  2. Ives says:

    Jingoistic Jloome? Come on, that is beyond weak. As a matter of fact, many of the comments in your statement are just flat wrong.

    “There are a lot of soccer fans in North America who don’t bother to follow MLS because of this kind of silliness.”

    Really J, you take a poll? Or are you basing this on some conversations with like-minded Euro-influenced soccer fans? It’s funny that you made the above statements when playoffs are the standard in North America. Last time I checked every sport in Canada is decided by a playoff. I don’t hear all the hockey fans up there clamoring for the regular season champ to be the official champion (or the CFL for that matter). The same applies in Mexico with its soccer playoffs.

    So no, it’s not a United States only thing. Using playoffs to decide a champion are the preferred system on this continent. That’s just how it is. Are there people who would prefer the European style of crowning a champion? Of course, but the majority of people who live on this continent prefer playoffs and that isn’t going to change, no matter how many different ways the minority say it’s “wrong.”

    The “it’s common sense” line is truly hilarious. It’s not an issue of common sense, it is an issue of preference. The majority of sports fans on this continent prefer playoffs and it isn’t exactly a stretch to say that the minority of fans who prefer regular season results be used to determine champions have been influenced by European soccer (still waiting for the argument against the UEFA Champions League, since it is, after all, a playoff).

    So what exactly makes your way the right way JLoome? I’m still waiting for a strong argument, not just from you, but from anybody.

  3. Justin O says:

    jloome,

    Is your objection to play-offs in soccer limited to MLS? You mention that other countries use them. (And I assume you realize they do so to determine their champion, not just a Cup winner.) But you don’t give much of an indication whether you also regard other counries’ use of play-offs as “Americanization”.

  4. Chris says:

    “As for funny soccer lines, Nobody tops Ray Hudson, but I’d also argue that you don’t need funny lines for a soccer game to be entertaining.”

    Here in Houston, during September and October, we have funny soccer lines on the field, and they in fact make the game -less- entertaining, almost hard to watch.

    Just saying.

  5. Modibo says:

    “we got rid of the shootout”

    Tell that to France.

    Also, regarding the question “imagine the US national team playing in the EPL or La Liga – how do you think they would fare?”

    Pro cycling had a system like this in the 60s to the 80s, I think. Several countries, notably Colombia, formed “national teams” that entered races alongside regular club teams sponsored by corporations. The club teams then as now are mixed nationality affairs but normally the bulk of the riders are from the country of the sponsoring corporation.

    The final verdict: Mercx still won.

  6. kpugs says:

    I wish MLS was fully in line with the rest of the world in terms of rules, format, etc.

    But it isn’t…and that’s that. It is unbearably smug to say there is a “true champion” because they had the best regular season record. Sure, I hate the playoffs. But they exist. Deal with it. And sometimes in a perfect world, the best team wins both, like they did this year.

    (Not to bother going into how some teams play easier schedules, whereas in England, for example, every team plays the same schedule, etc. etc. and so on but Brett is a super genius so he already knows this.)

  7. BlueWhiteLion says:

    allow me to make a statement that will banish me from soccer coolness forever:

    I liked the idea of a shootout. While on many things, I am a purist, it always seemed like the shootout was a better exhibition of player/goalie prowess, and it gave the keep a much fairer shot.

    Okay. Don’t be too cruel.

  8. James says:

    A world where the Crew win anything is NOT a perfect world…

  9. Justin O says:

    Personally, I think having all leagues around the world employ the exact same system, whatever the system, would be boring.

  10. socmin says:

    There are many ways in which the Supporter’s Shield winner is not the True Champion, either. We’ve seen DC United win it with a great first half and then a sorry second. Then we saw them win it with a poor first half of the season and a great run up to the playoffs- where they were bounced again. The point is, you can win it and not be consistent over the whole season- thus, not the “best” team. This year, for me, was great because Columbus WAS consistent over the whole season (a ‘True’ SS winner) AND played well in the playoffs to win the MLS crown.

    Thanks, Ives, for balance on this topic!

  11. Grant says:

    You don’t have to bring the other American sports into it, having playoffs for your league champion has a very strong history is association football too. MLS is not even close to the only league that uses playoffs to determine its champion. Many of the Latin American leagues not only use playoffs, and many more have a split season with Apertura/Clausura or Invierno/Verano seasons. Heck, most of them use both at the same time. I agree that it was stupid to have shootouts after league games, have 4 subs, and a bunch of other things, but to act like the only thing keeping MLS from becoming the Premier League, La Liga, or Serie A is playoffs is ridiculous.

  12. timmyg says:

    Okay, am I crazy if I also agree with jloome (to a degree)?

    Its silly that more than half the league qualifies for the playoffs, be it MLS, NHL, NBA or the NFL (especially when an 11-5 team doesnt make it but a 8-8 does, because of arbitrary conferences). In comparison to the end, the beginning of the season is essentially meaningless.

    I think the MLS should take a page from the pre-Wild Card MLB and only have the top two teams in each conference advance to the title game. Or if thats too harsh, then take the top two conference teams to play in some semifinal. Or the second and third seed face off to play the first.

    And I think whats different between the CL, EURO, and WC being playoffs (which they are) and playoffs for sports here is logistics. In each of the three competitions, theres no way each team/nation could play another and have time for anything else. With sports here, each team plays another once, twice, thrice or even six times, yet still must compete in the playoffs. Which for some raises the question: whats the point of having them then?

  13. Justin says:

    Here is how I would like to see the MLS playoffs:

    8 teams. 4 teams with highest points total in each division get in, no 5 from east and 3 from west garbage. Higest seeds from each division play lowest seeds in first round. Each round consists of home and away match up until the final.

    Then in 5 years up the amount of playoff teams to 10, top 5 from each division. Highest seed in each division gets first round bye, an incentive for doing so well in the regular season. This would be done in conjunction with the expansion of the league from 15 teams to say 17-18.

  14. Modibo says:

    I think that one of the reasons MLS has so many teams qualify for the playoffs is because it’s an expansion league and they’re trying to keep the door open to further revenue for as many teams as possible. League finances have only recently started to look better (eg where is the Miami Fusion? Oh, yeah…).

    Playoffs = sense of urgency = marketing opportunity = increased attendance, $$.

    At least that’s the thinking, anyways. and 8 teams out of an eventual 20 (22? 24? more?) gets more selective as the league expands, so “making the playoffs” might mean the same thing, numerically if not proportionally, over time.

    And RBNY is SUUUURE glad this system was in place in 2008…

  15. Chupacabra says:

    The reason why Wilpon hasn’t submitted an MLS bid for 2011? Someone “made off” with his MLS investment funds!

  16. Joe says:

    The way the playoffs are now doesnt give you any incentive to play well in the season. All you have to do is get in. They should change the 1st and 2nd rounds around. 1st round is a 1 game at the higher seeds field. 2nd round is a home/away, agg scoring round. Winner goes to the final. I also think that they should play the final in other places than just hot weather places. Maybe play the final in a spot that is as close to half way for both teams. NY/Chicago final in Columbus. Something like that so both teams have a equal chance to bring numbers to the game. Just an idea.

  17. Mike says:

    “I think going back to the three-game format makes the most sense, with the higher seed hosting two of the three games.”

    You have to be kidding. That’s a horrible idea. Home-and-home works for EVERY competition in the world, MLS playoffs are already a big enough joke as is, let’s not make it any worse.

  18. Ko'd says:

    jloome,

    I don’t have a lot to say about your post, but I would point two things out, non-soccer-related. First, you don’t know what jingoism is. You botched that and it is clear that you don’t understand what the word means. You tried to sound smart and you came off ignorant.

    Second, you done got schooled Ives-style. Ives’s response was poignant and informed, which is the exact opposite of your commentary.

  19. Frank says:

    I prefer balanced schedules with every team playing each opponent once at home and once away. As the league expands, maybe we should create a Western and an Eastern League, where teams from the East would not face anyone from the West until the playoffs.

  20. Ives says:

    Mike, why exactly is that a horrible idea? It worked just fine for years in MLS, with the biggest problem being that the lower seed was getting a mid-week game and drawing poorly because of it.

    I still preferred having six playoff teams with the regular season conference champs getting buys to the conference final. I also think that the away goals rule would help things.

    What I think most people accept is that the current playoff system needs tweaking, NOT complete elimination in favor if the European model.

  21. brett says:

    kpugs- how very kind of you to call me a super genius :D

    Ives- im not trying to rid the MLS of the Playoffs, but why not hold the MLS cup as nothing more then just a glorified Cup?? why MUST we label them as the Champions?? i am merely asking why we cant label the Supporters Shield as the league champions and the MLS Cup winners as the MLS Cup Champions?? for the life of me i couldnt call a team who barely made the playoffs the Champs simply b/c they had a good couple games post-season (regardless of who wins it)…. if the fire would have beaten NE in the 07′ season and moved on to the cup and won, i would say we were Cup Champions, but DCU would still have been the league champs in my eyes… guess you and others dont have to agree…

    this bothers me in all US sports, not just the MLS… simply when i think of champions i think the top team of the league…

  22. JMAC says:

    WHy not just go for the top two from each conference qualify.

    Have a Western 1st v Eastern 2nd, and Eastern 1st v Western 2nd semi-finals, being played over two legs (home and away), then the winners playing in the championship game?

    This would mean that the regular season winner from each conference gets declared ‘Western/Eastern Champion’, and the MLS Cup would have some spice to it, with the top 4 teams in the country (according to their regular season record) competing for it.

  23. SonicDeathMonkey says:

    Jloome, you are aware that there are other leagues besides in Europe, right? And in some of these leagues, they actually have playoffs, right? MLS is not the only league in the world with a playoff system. You fully deserved the smackdown that Ives gave you.

  24. nate says:

    MLS needs “events” for now, both to benefit TV and attendance. Chicago is a prime example. Past 2 playoffs have seen packed, passionate stadiums in primetime ESPN Thursdays. There is at least a small buzz within the city’s sports community. Doesn’t happen with a single table at this point the league’s infancy.

    If the title is detemined by the Crew defeating New England on a Wednesday in September, that doesn’t do the league any good. I personally don’t agree with it, but I understand the value the league gets out of the playoffs.

    If they want to stay with this mentality, a small tweak I would suggest is to put the final at the site of the team with more points.

  25. jacobi millionaire says:

    Chupacabra with best post so far. Any money the Wilpons had left to spend on soccer just got guaranteed to Francisco Rodriguez.

  26. Speedball says:

    Then in 5 years up the amount of playoff teams to 10, top 5 from each division. Highest seed in each division gets first round bye, an incentive for doing so well in the regular season. This would be done in conjunction with the expansion of the league from 15 teams to say 17-18.

    Posted by: Justin | December 29, 2008 at 03:06 PM

    A *minor* flaw in this system is that after the first round you would have 3 teams in each division left.

  27. Speedball says:

    Ives – I personally would pick Dunga over Ancelotti for your Manager’s Best XI.

  28. scott47a says:

    These arguments just seem to come up over and over and over again.

    You know, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl last year having played in a Wild Card game. You don’t hear any American football fan saying they aren’t legitimate champions because someone else had a better regular season record.

    Frankly, I think the way we do it here is very much preferable to the EPL, where we already know that about 17 teams have no chance to be champion this season (and haven’t since the first ball was kicked).

  29. jloome says:

    Jingoistic Jloome? Come on, that is beyond weak. As a matter of fact, many of the comments in your statement are just flat wrong.

    < <"There are a lot of soccer fans in North America who don't bother to follow MLS because of this kind of silliness."

    Really J, you take a poll? Or are you basing this on some conversations with like-minded Euro-influenced soccer fans?>>

    Garber seems to think there’s an unwashed mass of euro footie fans MLS will never reach. Why not label that pessimism and figure out why?

    < >

    Strawman argument. They’ve never had the alternative, so they must not want it. Oookay.

    < >

    Again, just as much an assumption. In fact, pundits and fans of multiple pro leagues in North America have complained about using dozens of games to determine that most of the teams make theplayoffs anyway. Sure, that’s improved since the heyday of the NHL putting 16 of 24 through; but the reality is, the North American system has been predicated on extending the experience past ths season. To automatically assume that, just because the other system has never been tried, it must have been weighed and found wanting ignores a whole bunch of realities, not the least of which is money.

    < >

    It’s a logical assumption that a team that makes a whole season in first place had a tougher time than one that went through five games. So why, if it’s logical, do you not see it as common sense?

    < >

    It’s also a separate-but-parallel competition in which all league participants are not invited. So it’s apples and oranges. I’ve nothign against running a second concurrent cup here in playoff format. Cups work well in playoff formats.

    < >

    I’m still waiting for ANY argument from you beyond “that’s how it’s done here, so that must be what we like best.” Typical market-driven perspective, but hardly conclusive in any sense.

    As for the guy who thought “jingoism” is misused, grab a dictionary pal. Jingoism is an exteme expression patriotism; I’d just argued that it was an injection of “Americanisms” that was behind this debate. So how you’re not connecting those two, I’m not sure.

    Again, I don’t hate playoffs. I just think it’s illogical to use 1/6th of the number of games, at the end of the season, when teams are often depleted and at their worst, to determine a league champion which, most people I believe would agree, is supposed to reflect the best. In the current format, you’re getting the best at one point in time, instead of over the course of the season.

    Just because something isn’t done, doesn’t make it illogical. Maybe it’s less exciting; maybe it’s less profitable; maybe it takes general managing out of the equation as a pivotal factor. But it isn’t illogical to give the best team over the course of a season the top prize.

  30. jloome says:

    Oops, somehow your half got excised. This should make more sense.

    J

    Jingoistic Jloome? Come on, that is beyond weak. As a matter of fact, many of the comments in your statement are just flat wrong.

    “There are a lot of soccer fans in North America who don’t bother to follow MLS because of this kind of silliness.”

    Really J, you take a poll? Or are you basing this on some conversations with like-minded Euro-influenced soccer fans?

    J — Garber seems to think there’s an unwashed mass of euro footie fans MLS will never reach. Why not label that pessimism and figure out why?

    It’s funny that you made the above statements when playoffs are the standard in North America. Last time I checked every sport in Canada is decided by a playoff. I don’t hear all the hockey fans up there clamoring for the regular season champ to be the official champion (or the CFL for that matter). The same applies in Mexico with its soccer playoffs.So no, it’s not a United States only thing. Using playoffs to decide a champion are the preferred system on this continent. That’s just how it is.

    — Again, just as much an assumption. In fact, pundits and fans of multiple pro leagues in North America have complained about using dozens of games to determine that most of the teams make theplayoffs anyway. Sure, that’s improved since the heyday of the NHL putting 16 of 24 through; but the reality is, the North American system has been predicated on extending the experience past ths season. To automatically assume that, just because the other system has never been tried, it must have been weighed and found wanting ignores a whole bunch of realities, not the least of which is money.

    Are there people who would prefer the European style of crowning a champion? Of course, but the majority of people who live on this continent prefer playoffs and that isn’t going to change, no matter how many different ways the minority say it’s “wrong.”

    – Strawman argument. They’ve never had the alternative, so they must not want it. Oookay. Sometimes, it’s more profitable for the market to direct traffic than let the public decide.

    The “it’s common sense” line is truly hilarious. It’s not an issue of common sense, it is an issue of preference.

    – It’s a logical assumption that a team that makes a whole season in first place had a tougher time than one that went through five games. So why, if it’s logical, do you not see it as common sense?

    The majority of sports fans on this continent prefer playoffs and it isn’t exactly a stretch to say that the minority of fans who prefer regular season results be used to determine champions have been influenced by European soccer (still waiting for the argument against the UEFA Champions League, since it is, after all, a playoff).

    – It’s also a separate-but-parallel competition in which all league participants are not invited. So it’s apples and oranges. I’ve nothign against running a second concurrent cup here in playoff format. Cups work well in playoff formats.

    So what exactly makes your way the right way JLoome? I’m still waiting for a strong argument, not just from you, but from anybody.

    I’m still waiting for ANY argument from you beyond “that’s how it’s done here, so that must be what we like best.” Typical market-driven perspective, but hardly conclusive in any sense.

    As for the guy who thought “jingoism” is misused, grab a dictionary pal. Jingoism is an exteme expression patriotism; I’d just argued that it was an injection of “Americanisms” that was behind this debate. So how you’re not connecting those two, I’m not sure.

    Again, I don’t hate playoffs. I just think it’s illogical to use 1/6th of the number of games, at the end of the season, when teams are often depleted and at their worst, to determine a league champion which, most people I believe would agree, is supposed to reflect the best. In the current format, you’re getting the best at one point in time, instead of over the course of the season.

    – Just because something isn’t done, doesn’t make it illogical. Maybe it’s less exciting; maybe it’s less profitable; maybe it takes general managing out of the equation as a pivotal factor. But it isn’t illogical to give the best team over the course of a season the top prize.

  31. Brokenbil says:

    I, too, wish MLS would consider the Supporters Shield as important as the MLS Cup, but it’s not going to happen. Soccer is, above all, entertainment and MLS is a business. Playoffs are undeniably exciting to watch and profitable for the league. Besides, the Cup has to be worth all the marbles or no one would take it seriously. (Hello, Superliga.) At least the league acknowledges the regular season winner and rewards the team with a CCL berth.

    The best way for MLS to win the attention of the so-called “eurosnobs” is to continue to build a competitive league which improves the level of play in North America. MLS will get there with or without these fair-weather fans.

  32. Ives says:

    JLoome, I’ll boil our whole playoff/no playoff argument down to this. Far more people prefer the playoffs, both in this country and throughout North America. Are there those who hate it? Of course, there are always people who dislike things or have opposing preferences, that doesn’t mean the system is broken or needs to be changed. If the majority of fans were opposed to playoffs there would be far more public disdain for them. Last time I checked, most playoff games have great crowds and great excitement. Apparently those people didn’t get the memo that playoffs are pointless.

    What is it that you don’t get about the playoffs? A few mediocre teams make some runs and the system needs to be scrapped? At the end of the day if a team can’t duplicate it’s success when the championship is on the line then they are not the champion. And who is to say the best team finishes the regular season with the best record? What about teams that face rashes of injuries? Should a team that drops points because of injuries suddenly be eliminated from title contention despite the possibility that they are, in fact, the best team in the league? Should a team that was fortunate enough to avoid injuries throughout the season be awarded a league title and considered the league’s best when the reality is that said team just might have been a good team that was lucky enough to avoid injuries?

    Could the playoffs use tweaking? Sure, but eliminating the playoffs just because it’s not the preference of a vocal minority doesn’t make it wrong. It really isn’t broken JLoome, it’s just not your preference.

    And what’s funny is that folks like you, JLoome, seem to completely ignore the fact that MLS lacks all of the factors that make crowning the champion in the regular season a viable option. Without promotion and relegation, and without Champions League and UEFA Cup places to play for, the MLS regular season would turn into a complete joke once the title contenders pulled away from the pack. All those factors are what help make every regular season match matter in Europe, it isn’t just about the crowning of a champion. Without those other components in place JLoome your preferred system would fall flat and you would replacing the exciting end to the MLS season with a boring and predictable snoozefest where only two or three teams would even matter by season’s end. That, my friend, would be a recipe for disaster.

    So JLoome, about the Champions League, why not have the qualified teams take part in a season-long Champions League that runs parallel to domestic leagues? I mean if the regular season champion format is truly the best way to judge a champion then why ever have knockout rounds? Why have a World Cup when, based on your logic, it is crowning a world champion for four years based on the form of a team during a three-week span. Is that fair? Should we scrap the World Cup? Euros? Every other tournament for that matter?

    It sure seems like it based on the logic you use to argue against using playoffs to determine champions, doesn’t it?

    In the end your whole argument sounds like, “If only Americans tried crowning champions without a playoff they would love it”. You keep saying why does it need to stay this way? I argue why does it need to change?

    And folks, let’s keep this a friendly debate. I consider Jeremy (JLoome) a friend and an intelligent soccer mind, which is why I even engaged in the debate. I may not agree with him on some things, but who says we have to agree with our friends on everything. What fun is that?

  33. Ko'd says:

    jloome,

    You have engaged the wrong person, amigo.

    Looking up “jingoism” in an abbreviated online dictionary is a foolish and lazy way to define the term’s meaning. Jingoism is not merely an extreme expression of patriotism. It is a form of nationalism that is characterized by aggressive foreign policy. If you consider the etymology and even the more contemporary uses of the term, it is undeniably clear that describing jingoism as mere “extreme patriotism” is a haphazard and incomplete attempt to appear far more intellectual than you really are. I am not sure how supporting a playoff system, based on the reasoning that Ives offered, is even remotely jingoistic.

    Why can’t I make a connection between your “Americanisms” and “Jingoism”? One reason would be that I don’t see evidence that MLS, Ives, or playoff-supporters are initiating joint-force strategic strikes on Premier League stadiums.

    As for calling me “pal”–well, I think you should stay in the kiddie pool.

  34. Ives says:

    Speedball, thanks for reminding me about Dunga. I made my list in about five minutes so I figured I forgot some good ones.

  35. Roberto says:

    as for current managers best 11 I feel there a few players that should be in place of the ones mentioned; fabio capello, Nestor gorosito, Leo Astrada, americo gallego, felix magath, marco etcheverry,nestor sensini Steve coppell was a great winger too..forwards I won’t mention cause your choice of maradona and van basten is unquestionable…. But… Walter Zenga, Hugo sanchez and Steve Bruce ???

  36. jloome says:

    < >

    Okay, that’s a good point. It’s always easy to consider it when relegation’s in play to keep things exciting.

    However, it isn’t really a related issue: the imbalance is due to financial disparity among owners, not just on the playing field. Introducing playoffs wouldn’t correct that; you’d just have the same four teams reaching the semis, with the occasional — occasional — upset.

    But sure, I can see the other factors colouring an appreciation for the European system. I suppose, however, it matters a lot how you define the purpose of the playoffs. If the playoff winner were just called the playoff champion and the league winner were called the league winner, the semantics wouldn’t matter as much.

    There is, however, a disconnect as soon as you call the playoff winner the league champion, because it doesn’t reflect league play, the balance of strength of the squad over the whole season or any other the other issues that should determine whether a team is “best.”

    Middlesborough won the league cup a few years ago, and under the system here, could have called itself the league champions. But they wouldn’t have been fooling anyone anymore than the Red Bulls would’ve fooled people into thinking they were the best team in the MLS just from a good playoff run.

    KO’d — If you think the common usage of jingoism is only relevant when accompanied by the traditional “linked to aggressive foreign policy”, you spend way too much time reading dictionaries, and not nearly enough talking to people.

  37. jloome says:

    Damn, did it again. That was a response to this part of Ives’ response:

    And what’s funny is that folks like you, JLoome, seem to completely ignore the fact that MLS lacks all of the factors that make crowning the champion in the regular season a viable option. Without promotion and relegation, and without Champions League and UEFA Cup places to play for, the MLS regular season would turn into a complete joke once the title contenders pulled away from the pack. All those factors are what help make every regular season match matter in Europe, it isn’t just about the crowning of a champion. Without those other components in place JLoome your preferred system would fall flat and you would replacing the exciting end to the MLS season with a boring and predictable snoozefest where only two or three teams would even matter by season’s end. That, my friend, would be a recipe for disaster.

  38. RedLine55 says:

    I thought they changes it to ‘Red Bull Arena’ as an ode to the legend: Bruce Arena. No?

    and it’s REALLY eye-viss!? this changes everything….

  39. jloome says:

    Oh, and Ko’d, I’d suggest you take your own advice about online dictionaries.

    Here’s the origin of the word, and you won’t find too many references to foreign policy.

    link to worldwidewords.org

    If you’d kept reading those online dictionaries, however, you’d have found that most of them characterize it as a extreme expression of nationalism TYPIFIED or expressed by foreign policy. But given that nobody’s going to mistake a soccer blog for the U.N., that context probably isn’t really necessary here.

    As for the kiddie pool, you’re officially in it, and punching way over your weight, wet boy.

  40. Ko'd says:

    jloome,

    That makes zero sense. You are telling me that I should ignore what I learned about world history from academia in favor of relying on ignorance. Truly–what you are saying is that I shouldn’t base my understanding of a principle on well-founded, academic knowledge (say, from a class on United States military history in college). Instead, I should rely on people like you to help me define these principles. By the way, wasn’t it you who said I should go look at a dictionary?

    Fewer ridiculous things have been said on this blog, save for the occasional suggestion that Michael Bradley should play right back for the USMNT. Your arguments, as Ives said, are weak. I would add that they are ill-informed and indicate the narcissism of the writer.

    Maybe you could look up narcissism in the dictionary.

  41. scott47a says:

    JLoome,

    You continue to be wrong in one aspect. Most people recognize the champion of post-season playoffs as the champion in all major sports in North America.

    Do you know anyone who talks about the New England Patriots as champion of the NFL because they were undefeated in the regular season?

    Now I imagine your argument to this line of thinking is to just ignore anyone who is talking about other American sports because they are not soccer. But most Americans are much more likely to ignore European soccer than they are other American sports.

    You are in a small, small minority on this one.

  42. jloome says:

    Ko’d — Conveniently ignoring the history of the word from a website that actually exists to provide …. the history of words doesn’t look like narcissism on my part, o pool dipper.

  43. jloome says:

    Ives, seems Ko’d and I have derailed this one. Sorry about that. Gotsta go, good debate though. peace out.

    J

  44. George H says:

    “So what exactly makes your way the right way JLoome? I’m still waiting for a strong argument, not just from you, but from anybody.”

    Sounds like somebody has gotten a case of the Mondays:(

  45. ko'd says:

    Indeed, Ives. My apologies. Back to soccer in a moment.

    jloome, I will let this go because it is clear that I am right. You just told me that “worldwidewords.org” was your source. That’s atrocious. “Jingoism” is not merely a word defined…there is history and nuance. What do you think “typified” means, anyway? Let me sum up–”typified”, in this case, means I am right. If you need a lesson, you know I will school you.

    The playoff system is a necessity in this market, in the position that MLS is in. As Ives alluded to, there are few other feasible options.

  46. DaveW says:

    As to making the regular season more meaningful why not use the Mexican league’s idea of higher position in the table settles a tie(no extra time)? I would still prefer extra time in the title game.

  47. RJ says:

    why cant weeee be friends, why cant wee be friendsss

    Jloome, just dont criticize the best soccer guy out there! its a lose lose all around my friend

  48. Andolini says:

    jloome and Ko’d have derailed this whole discussion. You guys are on the fringe of a debate of whether dictionaries should be used to simply compile words and their usage or whether they should be used to delineate the proper usage of words. I’m sure there are many books on that subject alone. Another problem that you run into when you cite to dictionaries is cherry-picking — depending on the type of dictionary (e.g., medical dictionary or a scientific dictionary vs. Webster’s, legal dictionary vs. Webster’s, or even Webster’s vs. Oxford’s) the supposed meaning of a word can be slightly different. Specifically, “Jingoism” in the context of foreign policy or military history may have a more specific meaning than it does to the majority of Americans while discussing sports and patriotism. I think that debate is beyond the scope of this blog (thank God).

    Personally, I remember Jack Edwards getting a bunch of crap about his announcing on the world cup in ’02, and i found this passage from an ’02 New York Times article with a quick google search: “One can only speculate that if the United States had won, ABC would have stayed well beyond 9. But that would have come at a price: hearing jingoistic babble by Jack Edwards, the lead announcer for ABC and ESPN. Remember his ”mine eyes have seen the glory” after the United States beat Portugal? And his ”land of the free and the home of the brave” to mark the end of the United States’ victory over Mexico?”

    It seems to me that jingoistic doesn’t always have to involve expressions of foreign policy, but it would be nice if we could all just agree to disagree.

  49. Tony B says:

    How about this for playoffs:

    Top 3 each division. Home-and-home within the division (3 games total) or double home-and-home (6 games) to determine the finalists. One-game MLS Cup.

    I don’t necessarily favor this, just throwing it out as an alternative.

  50. anon says:

    I heard celtic made an offer on sacha but mls denied it…offered 5 and mls wanted 6

  51. Justin says:

    Where did you hear that from anon? I haven’t seen anything on it.