Saturday, November 22, 2008

2009 Competition Changes

Last night Major League Soccer announced the 2009 competition changes. Here's a quick summary and what I think of the changes.

The Reserve Division will be eliminated due to a lack of return on investment

Should have seen this one coming since they reduced the schedule this past season to only be intra-conference. This will hurt the rapids given how many players they've brought up through the reserve team in the last couple of years.

Rosters will be 20 senior players and 4 developmental players

With no reserve division there's no need for reserve players. Two reserve slots get upgraded to senior spots and 4 development slots are eliminated. While the two extra senior spots will help, the loss of 4 reserve players is really going to hurt depth for MLS teams. You have to figure the likes of Brian Graizer, Kwame Sarkodie, and Cesar Zambrano won't make the Rapids next season. Not only that but Generation Adidas players like Tim Ward, Nico Colaluca, and Ciaran O'Brien have to wonder about their futures with the Rapids given how many other developmental players have seen first team time ahead of them.

The season will start early on March 21st to allow MLS to take two FIFA weekends off or to play a limited schedule for 4 FIFA weekends

With the Gold Cup, Confederations Cup, and World Cup Qualifying next year this was a necessity. Plus the shorter the offseason the better!

30 game season. Home-and-home against each of the other 14 teams and 2 intra-conference rivalry games

That means a 3 game Rocky Mountain Cup again next season. I'm guessing the extra game will be in SLC this season since the extra one was at the Dick this year. I bet the other rivalry game will be against Dallas or Seattle (Who, as expected, is being added to the Western Conference).

Playoffs are top 2 from each conference and best 4 remaining teams as wild-cards

Same as 2007. No real change from top 3 each + 2 wildcards, but the games against the eastern teams mean just a bit more with this system.

Top 4 teams to the CONCACAF Champion's League, next 4 teams to the Superliga

The Top 4 teams are both MLS Cup finalists, the Supporter's Shield winner, and the USOC winner. In a case where one team fills two slots then the next highest regular season point total qualifies. This year that's Columbus, RBNY, DC, and Houston (filling Columbus's MLS Cup spot). The next 4 teams for Superliga are New England, Chivas, KC, and Chicago. This is a good move, Houston and New England got beat down with all the games they played this year. Plus FSL got hosed being a playoff team but not in an added competition since DC won the USOC. That's always good to see. ;)

All U.S. based teams will participate in the U.S. Open Cup

Good. The stupid qualification system MLS used the last couple of years made no sense.

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