Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3/10/09: USL/MLS Promotion & Relegation Talk Ridicoulous

Playing for the USL Whitecaps here, Nicholas Addlery, A D.C. United castaway, has been one of the biggest keys to the Puerto Rican Islanders Concacaf run.

I was watching a Fox Football Fone In Re-Air last night while working out in my gym. And, during the broadcast they had Colin Clarke, the former MLS head coach of FC Dallas and current Puerto Rico Islanders coach, on the air. One of the guys(Cohen or the bald headed dude) on the broadcast said they should have promotion and relegation because of the success of the Puerto Rico Islanders and the Montreal Impact in the CONCACAF Champions League. Colin Clarke agreed and said, "we could make the playoffs in the MLS and be competitive."

Then about 10, not very bright bulbs, called in and said that the Puerto Rico Islanders should be promoted.

Why I Disagree For The Next 20 or 30 years:
1.) USL and MLS have no relationship.
2.) Many USL franchises like Seattle, Portland, and for a little while Montreal were dying to get into MLS. Even Miami who can't even sell enough season tickets to keep their USL team, had a bid with Barcelona for a while to get into MLS. With USL teams like Miami and Atlanta in trouble, their league may not survive tough economic times. Although I hopes it does and I hope it continues to grow as a league under MLS, as I hope the MLS continues to grow and soccer in the US continues to grow. It is worrysome with some circumstances like Miami and Atlanta, and with circumstances like Toronto and Seattle.
3.) Almost every player in the USL rather play in MLS. It's more exposure and it's a higher level of play.
4.) In USL vs. MLS play the MLS wins the series like 70-32-1 or something like that. With 95% percent of the games being in Open Cup where MLS sides usually play their reserves while the USL attempts to play their top game. MLS has won around 69% percent of their games, which is on par with Bundesliga teams over Bundesliga 2 teams.
5.) USL teams have only won the Open Cup once with the Rochester Rhinos since MLS came on the map. MLS have won 12 out of the last 13 years, although MLS teams usually don't give their best effort or roster in the Open Cup until the final.
6.) Many of USL's top players and coaches are MLS Castaways. Just look at the Islanders, their coach Colin Clarke was fired by FC Dallas and many of their top players were not good enough for MLS. Nicholas Addlery wasn't good enough for DC United and Fabrice Noel wasn't good enough to stick with the Colorado Rapids although he has 21 goals in 45 appearances with the Puerto Rico Islanders. Osei Teleford who only made two appearances with Chicago in 2007 has made 19 since joining the Islanders in 2008. Other top players include former Crew player Bill Gaudette, who received 17 games as a back up with the Crew from 2005-2007, 17 appearances out of a total of 96 games (without including Open Cup and other competitions). Gaudette has started almost twice that in one year with the Islanders with 33 in 2008. And, Colin Clarke is going to throw former LA Galaxy player Kyle Veris straight in their backline for the Semifinal against Cruz Azul on March 17th although he only made 10 starting appearances with the LA Galaxy.

Montreal is pretty much the same with Ricardo Brown, David Testo, Matt Jordan, etc.

There are good players and some of these players learned how to excel in the USL when they didn't get their rightful shot in MLS. But, teams can't be sustainable at this point with promotion and relegation. Also, CONCACAF is a tournament, sometimes a team has a good run. And, I believe the Islanders and Montreal approached their games better then teams like Houston and New England, who seemed scared of their opponents. However, this isn't a discussion for the next 20 or maybe 30 years. Once MLS has a good footing and has been around for 30 years maybe it's worth discussing.

I do find that it would make the bottom end of the table more interesting near the end of the season. I do think it would force teams to spend more and spend right. I also think it might attract more American fans who will be fascinated by the idea that teams don't get to stay in the league if they don't do well in the standings. I just think right now it's not anywhere close to being feasible.

Not only does MLS have to stabilize itself, but so does the USL(Miami and Atlanta). Plus, I don't think the MLS can afford to give up that $40 million dollar entrance fee. It's just a ridicoulous premise right now, shelf it, talk about it again in 2029.


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