From the nation that brought you the “sports” of chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill and the World Custard Pie Championships, comes a tool the U.S. Soccer system could actually use.
Although England is not exactly at the forefront of innovation in the sports world, the pyramid system stands alone as their greatest accomplishment in the sporting world. The English football pyramid system has blossomed for years, with the top of the pyramid being the Barclays English Premier League, and now nearly every country that plays the beautiful game uses a similar structure that emphasizes the importance of every game.
The pyramid system injects a sense of competition not seen in other sports as it features both promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels that allows every team the chance to rise to the top. The structure allows for competitive intrusion as every year a set number of teams are demoted to the level below while a set number of teams are promoted to the league above. In this system, each team has to really earn its way to the top and cannot simply tank the season away for a better draft pick like in many American sports. Also, the bottom of the table brings about a relegation battle that makes even the most uninteresting game interesting as teams will fight to preserve their current place in the table.
With the growing interest of the game Stateside and a slew of cities seeking expansion bids, the United States Soccer Federation should implement a pyramid system that closely mirrors that of the English Premier League. Adding a pyramid structure to U.S. soccer would not only spark interest throughout the country, but it would also allow for the realization of may expansion efforts around the country.
In the United States, there are three main leagues: Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the USL Pro. These three leagues would serve as the pillars of the foundation of an American soccer pyramid that could have unlimited potential. It would be hard to nail down the specifics in terms of relegation and promotion as more teams would be welcomed in this system, but 20 seems to be a number that just fits perfectly for the top league in the pyramid.
As the interest for the game grows by the day in the U.S., the United States Soccer Federation must look long and hard at implementing this system to the game as they currently have no true rhyme or reason in terms of the method they use of approving new expansion teams. There are only a few particulars that need to be ironed out as the framework for this system is already in place.
The game has continually evolved in this country over time, and a shakeup such as this is what U.S. Soccer really needs to put itself on the global map. With a pyramid system in place, it would only be a matter of time before Major League Soccer and its subsidiaries become one of the most lauded leagues around the world.
Greg Douglas is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.