Manchester United arrived in Boston yesterday, and already, Sir Alex Ferguson has some ideas on how MLS can grow:
"I always thought the problem would be the size of the country," explained Ferguson. "Travelling from Boston to Los Angeles is a long haul.
"But in Brazil they have two leagues. They could easily do that in the United States if it takes off and they got more clubs involved.
"In fact, you could have four leagues because of the size of the country and the population base. There are unbelievable possibilities for the United States."
Could MLS be broken up into two leagues? Four? We'll take apart this quote, after the break.
The first line hits on something that was talked about pre-season. In organizing these international friendlies, there have been attempts made to get Manchester United to come out to Los Angeles, but the team sees it as too much travel. In Champions League play, the farthest Man Utd. might fly during the year, a flight to Rome is only two and a half hours. From the UK to Moscow is only three hours. So the idea of traveling six hours for a league match must seem baffling to him.
I know little about Brazil's Serie A. I know it has the FIFA standard 20 teams, but runs May to December; similar to MLS. But when Sir Alex says there are two leagues, it's not an East / West split, like I imagine it would be in America, it's a national championship and the preexisting state championships.
It all looks very confusing. I imagine MLS could exist in a two league structure, like MLB, allowing East and West to grow as separate entities. A West Coast MLS headquarters could be set up, in Los Angeles or Seattle, and the MLS Cup would be a competition between a true East and true West champion. None of this Colorado winning the East and the Cup rubbish.
Relevant to this discussion is the information Elias published this morning. Four teams in the West have amassed more points than any team in the East. The Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, and Real Salt Lake have compiled a 31-8-23 record when facing teams outside the group. This includes a 20-2-11 record at home. Over the last two months the teams have gone 20-2-16 (14-1-8 at home). If the power is going to be more and more centered in the west, it could make sense to let the West and East expand and compete on their own.
It'll never happen, but it was an idea worth fleshing out. Sir Alex tends to have those. I wonder what his asking price is for that little pea guy?