U.S. Soccer, MLS Must Implement a Pyramid System For Future Success

MLS Logo Ball

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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  • Jason

    This is how these articles always go:

    1. Implement promotion/relegation.
    2. ????
    3. Profit!

  • Dave Ostroske

    It may be too soon for pro-rel. All three pro leagues in North America are currently expanding. Fresh blood does get into the game by expansion, and the health of these leagues (from both athletic and business standpoints) is encouraging for the future of the game in North America. At some point, the pro leagues will fill up, then it will make sense to shift teams around. That would involve the semi-pro and amateur leagues as well. Which are also currently expanding!

  • MK

    Soccer is still a fairly new sport in the US, but that’s actually one of the reason Pro/Rel is needed. What made the collegiate sports so popular down through the decades? One reason is that everyone has their own school. All states are represented, all markets are taken advantage of to one degree or another. And today college football is the 2nd most popular sport in the country surpassed only by the NFL.

    So think about it, why should only the largest cities be fortunate enough to have MLS franchises? That’s the way all other leagues work and none of them truly compete with the NFL despite being in all the “right markets.” The way to grow the game is to give everyone a local team to cheer for! Start with 3 leagues of 20 each and then you can grow from there, but 60 US & Canadian markets gives direct access to an awful lot of people.

  • trucker pearson

    Distance will always be a problem when running a traditional style national league, I think a champions league style format would work well in the states. The cream will soon rise to the top.