29 January 2011

Houston moves East

Today the MLS announced that due to Portland and Vancouver joining the MLS this season (and both are quite "western" in geography), the league has moved the Houston Dynamo to the Eastern Conference.

Seeing some of the reaction on Facebook, there are some pretty ignorant people out there (I'm talking to you, person who just hoped that DC United wouldn't be moving to the Western Conference since Montreal is joining the league next year...oh dear) with strong opinions about simply the idea of conferences and why the MLS has them when most soccer leagues around the world don't. Back in November, I didn't like the idea of conferences, but since then, between all of my reading and spending time looking at the MLS as a whole and not just an entertainment service, I can see the value in them.

Here's a couple, simple reasons why conferences belong in the MLS

1. multiple conference championship games = more revenue

I personally think this is the biggest reason for the League and should be the biggest reason MLS fans should want to keep it around: more money! You look at how the MLS is financially structured (beeteedubs, me and Sam still are sure how) and the League is really where the money needs to go if North American soccer fans want to keep a professional soccer league around. Yes, go out and buy gear from your favorite teams store, but don't forget that the League itself needs money too!

2. creates a familiarity for NA sports fans

You look at every other professional sport in NA and you will find some kind of conference system (Speaking of Facebook, I also saw a fan suggest that the MLS move to conference system like the NFL, with 4 team "mini-conferences"...ugghhh). A lot of people go with the argument, "Hey! European leagues don't use conferences! Shouldn't they be our model?" My answer is simply, "No." Sure, federation soccer started there, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they've done everything right, or that everything that they do would work here stateside. Culturally and politically we're very different, therefore not everything thats going to work there is going to work here and vice versa.

North American soccer fans: be proud of your league! Don't wish that the MLS was exactly like the Euro-leagues. Now, I know that if you look back over the past couple of months here at Crest First, you would see an article, written by me, about me wishing that MLS soccer teams would adopt more European style team names. I take it back! I might not like the fact that the LA Galaxy don't have any traditional styling in their name like FC, or United, but it makes the MLS a little different. The Aussie league is very similar to the MLS in that fashion.

- Zach

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