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Is parity good for MLS?

Posted on 23 June 2008 by ASN Staff

On any given matchday, it seems, Major League Soccer teams have about a 50% chance of winning their games–regardless if it is played at home, on the road, against the top team in the division or the last placed side.

Whenever a sense of order appears to have been established, something comes along that upsets the whole apple cart. Chicago, Kansas City, Columbus and now New England all had periods of apparent dominance that was undone as soon as it was identified. On the other end of the spectrum, DC United, Real Salt Lake and L.A. Galaxy looked hopelessly out of contention a few short weeks ago. Now? Not so much. Only the expansion San Jose Earthquakes are firmly entrenched in last place–but even they have had their moments and, it stands to reason, can expect several more.

The whole thing may eventually shake out, but for now there is no denying that parity is the state of affairs in MLS. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Or is it?


6 Comments For This Post

  1. Jonathan Says:

    I think parity is food for the short term but not the long term. I think that MLS and USL need to develop and promotion and religation system.

  2. John P. O'Donnell Jr. (S.O.B.) Says:

    This makes MLS so much more enjoyable to watch. I know everyone in the world likes The Epl, La Liga, yada yada yada but it seems that there are thee maybe four teams that have a chance to win. The biggest joy seems to come from ad-voiding relegation. Sorry but that is not American to me and I rather see a little variety over the years. This makes the league worth watching and now the playoffs harder to reach. once the league gets to 16 teams the playoffs should be much more exciting.

  3. Jim Says:

    Parity in the league, at this time, is a good thing and needs to continue for the next 5 years or so. Parity will keep the competition more intense throughout the season, resulting in stronger loyalty from a growing fan base. Once that fan base becomes as loyal and fanatic as what we see int he rest of the world and stadiums begin to have to expand parity will be less of an issue. As regards MLS and USL, USL has certainly tapped into some markets that while MLS might someday consider these locations only a very few might be included in some kind of expansion. (I think the USL ahs a better development and feeder system than MLS.) On the other hand, put in the relegation system wherein USL would function similar to the Champions Division in the UK and now teams, rather than individuals, begin to play with an intensity to perform at the highest available level. If not that, then develop a championship between the two leagues similar to the Super Bowl and satisfy our American desire for a final champion; again this would go a long way in developiong the strength of fan loyalty as well as a larger fan base.

  4. Monkey Boy Says:

    My favorite league to watch is the Bundesliga and MLS is second. The reason for both, great parity. Each and every game is a hard-fought contest where players need to do something extra to come out on top. There are a couple of higher quality teams in MLS, such as Chicago, DC, NE, Houston, but unlike Fulham playing ManU, it’s possible for any team to pull off a win rather than just hope/play for a tie. How exciting is it for a Wigan fan to watch their team get beat up by Arsenal? or how meaningful is it for Chelsea to beat up on team who couldn’t afford the players on their bench?

    The only thing interesting about those leagues is when 2 of the top teams play each other, which happens only a few times a season. MLS games are interesting every week. Now that there are more teams in the league, it’s more difficult to make the playoffs, which I think has had an affect on the intensity of the regular season games. Each of those games will be even more meaningful as the league continues to expand. I just it doesn’t expand too fast and end up diluting the quality.

  5. CBielstein Says:

    I voted yes. I think it’s good for the league on a whole, as it doesn’t end up with one team stuck at the bottom of the table, which would be bad for gathering a fan base. With the way it is now, every team has a shot at it, even late in the season. However, this means that MLS would not be a good candidate for relegation with the way things are. You would end up with the Crew or Dynamo winning the cup or shield and then possibly getting demoted the next season right at the last. I don’t think that the casual American soccer fan will watch his team once they fall to USL, or whatever the lower league would be. I guess the flip side of this is that USL sides (some of which have a large group of passionate supporters) will never see the media light that MLS gets… but I digress. Parity for MLS is good for most supporters, but sometimes I tire of who is jumping from the bottom to the top and vice versa. Maybe this is because I haven’t identified myself with an MLS team that I support through every match. Overall, though, what is in the interest of the league is what I want. Parity keeps every match interesting and, like Monkey Boy said, we don’t want the “Big Four” here.

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