If I Was Commissioner of North American Soccer…

Welcome to MLS Chattanooga! (photo from Marc Viquez at Stadium Journey)

MLS Cup was a few days ago and around that time, Don Garber gives his State of the League address. For the last decade, expansion has always been the center of the press conference and this year was no different. With MLS handing out franchises like hotcakes and cities/states throwing millions to get them, there seems to be no end to the conversation and new teams coming on. What’s the endgame? Well good news. I, Sean Rowland am the new commish and in this fantasy world, stadiums are built and teams are in place, they just need a place to play. That’s my specialty as I am here to figure that out. Promotion/Relegation is a debated item and while I don’t believe that it fits our current system, a 30-team league in the world of soccer just does not work as well as it does for other sports. So, I’m proposing a pseudo Pro/Rel system. One within MLS and one within the “Minor Leagues”, which we’ll call USL. Let’s start with what I call MLS1 and MLS2. I’ve set up teams (both old and new) based on where I think they’d belong based on popularity/franchise strength. I’ll break down how it works after the list of teams. Oh yeah, I’m taking care of the ridiculous FC and SC attached after each city name. This is the U.S. (and Canada), where we have team nicknames. We don’t have to do everything Europe does because they are supposed “masters” of the sport. I came up with some new nicknames on a quick whim, while others I left blank for future thought. Let’s start with a breakdown of the new MLS:

1.  Cincinnati Monarchs

2.  DC United
3.  Houston Dynamo
4.  Los Angeles Galaxy
5.  Kansas City Cauldron
6.  Montreal Impact
7.  New York Red Bulls
8.  Orlando Lions
9.  Philadelphia Union
10.  Portland Timbers
11.  Sacramento Republic
12.  Salt Lake City Brigade
13.  San Antonio Scorpions
14.  Seattle Sounders
15.  Toronto Reds
16.  Vancouver Whitecaps

1.  Atlanta Silverbacks

2.  Carolina RailHawks
3.  Chattanooga (Nickname)
4.  Chicago Fire
5.  Colorado Rapids
6.  Columbus Crew
7.  Detroit Rogue
8.  Dallas Goats
9.  El Paso Chuckos
10.  Louisville (Nickname)
11.  Miami Fusion
12.  Minnesota Loons
13.  New England Revolution
14.  San Diego (nickname)
15.  San Jose Earthquakes
16.  St. Louis Rivermen

How this will work is we will have a 30-game regular season, so each team plays the other one home and away. Given the harsh winter in the north, the international calendar and other cup competitions this leads to a nice season from early March to the end of September, with six open weekends to account for an international break. All CONCACAF Champions League games will be mid-week, as will the US Open Cup and Canadian Championship competitions. The US Open Cup will get a deserved weekend, showcase final. In this new MLS, there is no more Supporters Shield. It is either a champion via playoff or via regular season in my league and we are choosing playoff. 25% (not the current 60%) will make the postseason and it will be a 4-team playoff in October to determine the MLS (1) champion and it will be an aggregate home/home for the semifinal and then a final at the home of the higher seed. There is promotion and relegation between the two leagues and the bottom team in MLS 1 will get relegated. Down in MLS 2, it’s the same playoff format as the winner will get promoted into MLS 2. How do we get the teams set in MLS 1 and MLS 2? We’ll just have one combined season where each team plays each other once and the Top 16 are in the upper division and the Bottom 16 are the lower division. I’m sure the team choices up there are interesting and I’m all about including cities that don’t have many professional sports as you will find their full attention will be on soccer. The success story of Chattanooga FC made me include them and you need to have a few smaller places in there to make it fun. Note, that there is no reason LA and NY get only one team

Because we can’t have MLS owners go too far down the division rung since they paid a buttload of money to get in, we will have a separate “Minor-League” system. These teams can be affiliates of an MLS counterpart, but they will have their own First and Second Division to add some intrigue into their season. Screw the MLS Reserve Teams currently in USL, they can have their own league where they play in front of 50 people. The following is the United Soccer League (USL) First Division and Second Division, with the format including the same season type, pro/reg and playoff structure as what was laid out above.


1.  Birmingham (Nickname)

2.  Charleston Battery
3.  Connecticut (Nickname)
4.  Edmonton (Nickname)
5.  Jacksonville Armada
6.  Indy Eleven
7.  Las Vegas (Nickname)
8.  Nashville (Nickname)
9.  OKC Energy
10.  Pittsburgh Riverhounds
11.  Richmond Kickers
12.  Rio Grande Valley Toros
13.  Rochester Rhinos
14.  San Francisco Deltas
15.  Tampa Bay Mutiny
16.  Wilmington Hammerheads

1.  Albuquerque (Nickname)

2.  Bethlehem Steel
3.  Boise (Nickname)
4.  Colorado Springs Switchbacks
5.  Des Moines Menace
6.  Halifax (Nickname)
7.  Hershey Wildcats
8.  Long Island RoughRiders
9.  Ottawa Fury
10.  Phoenix Rising
11.  Reno 1868
12.  Saskatoon (Nickname)
13.  Tulsa Roughnecks
14.  Western Michigan Bucks
15.  Wilmington Hammerheads
16.  Winnepeg (Nickname)


Will this ever happen? No. Is it fun to dream it? Yes.


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