Major League Soccer is expanding its regular-season schedule from 30 to 34 games next season following the addition of expansion teams in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Could a single-table format be far behind?
The 2011 season will start March 19 and end Oct. 22, the league announced Tuesday. The league will play through the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with MLS teams losing players to national teams during the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. This year, MLS took off during the first round of the World Cup in June.
Montreal joins MLS as its 19th team in 2012.
The MLS competition committee will meet in New York on Oct. 19-20 and will decide whether the league will continue with a balanced schedule.
I'm all for the balanced schedule. I'm so for it, that I'd rather see the league adopt a single-table format instead of the current division format.
Here are my two major arguments against the division format:
1. It's fraught with logistical problems if they want to keep it balanced going forward.
Portland and Vancouver are going to join the West next year, obviously. So, will there be 10 teams in the West and only 8 in the East? Will the league break up the Houston-Dallas rivalry and shift one of them to the East (even though neither are in the East) and go 9 and 9? Will they move KC back to the West and move
Dallas and Houston (which are further west than KC) to the East? What happens when Montreal and City X join in 2012?
There are, simply, a lot of unanswered questions. And, since scheduling a league is like advanced calculus to begin with, why make it harder?
2. A balanced schedule doesn't need geographic distinctions.
Using a single table in the NFL is completely illogical. The league has an unbalanced schedule and every team plays a member of its own division (geographically established) twice and 10 other teams once. In MLS, with a balanced schedule, that is pretty much a non-issue.
And, if your argument is that going to a single-table would eliminate or diminish geographical rivals, you aren't quite grasping the concept of "balanced schedule."
Of course, that's not even taking into account that the division-system (which, theoretically, aids in seeding the playoffs) has been watered down by determining the last four playoff teams based on overall point total and not division ranking.
As always, I'm open to hearing your thoughts. Even if you disagree with me. (Though, if you want to argue that keeping the divisions is part of MLS' "history," then you've obviously forgotten the East-Central-West format the league used for a while.)
The real question: One day after Russia (which, I believe, has WAAAAAY harsher Winters than the U.S.) announced it was going to a
, will MLS ever (one day, not next year or anything) make the switch too?
The Associated Press contributed to this story.