Once some capital has been put into the league, the number of teams needs to increase. Once again, the MLL should follow the Major League Soccer model of slow and controlled growth. Whereas the league originally added four teams in the “Westward Expansion” of 2006, this time around there should be no more than two teams added every two years. This allows the player pool to not experience significant drops in quality as the league grows. Although players from lesser known NCAA D1, D2, D3, and MCLA programs will still enter the league, teams will not solely depend on their “no names” to carry them through a season (however, I will discuss the player pool shortly).
Currently, four MLL franchises are dormant. These franchises will need to be reactivated before any “expansion” can begin. However the dormant franchises will most likely end up in more suitable markets (obviously some places work better than others). Based on the assumption that the economy will be more stable next year, we should see eight MLL teams on the field in 2010 and 10 by 2012. Two more teams should be added every other year after that; the league may find it more practical to add a team per year as MLS has done with Toronto, San Jose, Seattle, and Philadelphia.
To ease the cost of travel, the league would be realigned to ensure proximity. Divisions would be drawn up to coordinate efforts and build regional rivalries. While the league remains at ten teams or less, only four teams would make the playoffs which would still take place over a “championship weekend” at a predetermined neutral site.
As the league expands, the playoff picture expands. Twelve teams would see half of the league in the playoffs over two weekends at three different neutral sites. The second and third team from each division play on Saturday to advance to the division championship on Sunday against the number one team. The winners of the Sunday game play each other a week later at a third site for the league championship. Sixteen to eighteen teams see two playoff games (four teams each) per division with no first round bye. The league should not expand beyond 20 teams.
Once again, staying close to the MLS would be a good idea. Many of the teams have soccer specific stadiums which feature wider turfs and smaller capacities. Operating in the smaller venue is more economical as the rent, utility, maintenance, and staff costs are drastically reduced from NFL and NCAA football stadiums. In some cases the MLL team could be owned by or at least share staff with the local MLS club to save costs for both teams. Targeting some nontraditional cities may also help the league save money and increase their fan base. As would community involvement projects.
Eventually it would be good to break the league into four divisions with two conference playoff brackets. Each team would play its divisional opponents twice, all of its conference opponents once, and every team in a division in the opposing conference once each season. That makes a total of 18 game. I have included the likely expansion candidates and when they would join the league. My proposed organization looks like:
*6 -11 teams: Single table- one site; Day 1 = 1vs4 & 2vs3; Day 2 = winners for league championship
*12-15 teams: Two Conferences- three sites; Day 1 = EC2vsEC3 & WC2vsWC3; Day 2 = EC winner vs EC1 & WC winner vs WC1; Day 3 = EC champ vs WC champ for league championship
*16-20 teams: Two Conferences, four divisions – three sites; Day1 = North1vsEC4 & South1vsEC3 & Mid1vsWC4 & Pac1vsWC3; Day2 = N/EC winner vs S/EC winner & M/WC winner vs P/WC winner; Day 3 = EC champ vs WC champ for league championship
*2010 1. Den 2. at StL 3. at Por 4. Bos 5. Was 6. at LI 7. at Tor 8. StL 9. Por 10. at Den 11. at Bos 12. LI 13. Tor 14. at Was
*2014 1. Dal 2. at StL 3. Sea 4. at Den 5. at Por 6.Bos 7. at LI 8. at Tor 9. Orl 10. Atl 11. at Was 12. at Dal 13. StL 14. at Sea 15. Den 16. Por
*2020 1. at StL 2. KC 3. Dal 4. at Hou 5. at Por 6. Sea 7. SJ 8. at SLC 9. LI 10. Bos 11. at Det 12. at Mon 13. Tor 14. StL 15. at Dal 16. at KC 17. Hou 18. Den