Photo: Courtesy MLS Soccer
All teams must submit their protected list to the league for Expansion Draft by 2pm today with the lists being released publicly at 5pm. The draft will commence at 2pm on Wednesday.
The league made two big announcements on Sunday, one concerning the shift to a conference-based schedule, the about changes to the playoff format aimed a rewarding those teams with better regular season records.
With 19 team teams for the 2012 season—ten in the East with the addition of Montreal and nine in the West—the league schedule will be unbalanced. Looking at the Eastern Conference schedule, “Each East club will play seven of their conference opponents three times each (21 total games) and the remaining two conference opponents twice each (four games). To complete their full slate, East teams will then play the nine West teams once each. Those nine games will be split either five at home and four away or vice versa. The locations will be reversed in 2013.”
The league also said that the 2012 schedule will be announced earlier then it has been in previous years. The 2011 schedule was not released until February 10, little more than a month before first kick.
Regarding changes to the playoff format, first off, no wild cards. Second, while there are no wild cards, ten teams will still qualify with the fourth highest ranked team in each conference hosting the fifth ranked team in a single elimination game to advance to the quarterfinals. Third, the conference championship will now be decided over two-legs. Last, the Cup final will now be hosted by the highest ranked team still alive in the playoffs rather than the previous policy of rotating the final to different venues throughout the league each year.
LA’s win means Seattle will automatically advance to the group stage of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League as the team with the second best record in MLS.
LA’s win marks the first time a team with a Designated Player has won the league championship. SI’s Steve Davis wonders if the win will result in more clubs putting out the cash.
Don Garber tells SI what makes the fan experience different in MLS. “When you’re a fan of other major leagues in America, the experience is somewhat similar. You’re in a bright facility and you’re watching your team, but there is an institutionalization of sport that in many ways forced the fan to be an observer more than a participant. In soccer, the fan is that third key constituency. We’ve even seen the downside of that, but that’s very positive for us today. That’s what we want to instill and create in our fans.”
From a San Francisco Chronicle article looking at the rise of soccer in the US, “Cross-fertilization will produce a bumper crop of players at home as competition for team places motivates homegrown kids to strive and learn from the soccer networks of other nations. Global soccer evolves on this principle. America is finally plugged in.”
Sheanon Williams talks about the excitement of playing for the USMNT U-23 team and the possibility of playing in the Olympics. He also says he’s aware that many Union fans think he’ll be the first Union player to break into the senior squad. “I’ve heard it. And I’ve definitely talked to people who have said they hope I get called up to the full team. If that day ever comes, it will be extremely exciting. But right now, I’m focused on what’s ahead of me with the 23s. Hopefully that can lead to something further. You’ve just got to keep pushing yourself because you never know who’s watching what you’re doing.” (Claudio Reyna discusses the recent U-23 camp here.)
MLS Talk thinks Justin Mapp might be an ‘intriguing” option for Montreal in the Expansion Draft, “I’m repeating myself a bit at this point, but Mapp was such a good player for Chicago and has been an ok player for Philly, you have to wonder if Montreal would want to give him a chance to try to see if he can be that Chicago Fire version of himself.”
Unholy Union has a eulogy for the Union’s 2011 season.
Sebastien Le Toux was one of several MLS players, including Chris Wondolowski and CJ Sapong, who took part in a reading for children at a library in California that was refurbished through the efforts of MLS W.O.R.K.S., the LA Galaxy and the National Education Association.
That American football game between Villanova and the University of Delaware took place at PPL Park on Saturday and ended with a win for the Delaware. A Villanova blog said, “Reports are that the turnout was good, but not great for Villanova in the first game at PPL Park. The paid attendance was announced as 14,107, but it looked a little less than that at the game.”
University of Delaware’s men’s team were defeated 1–0 by No. 4 ranked UCLA in LA on Sunday night to be eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. Delaware finished the season with 13-6-4 record.
Connestoga topped Upper St. Clair 1–0 at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday to win the PIAA Class AAA state boys’ soccer championship.
Lenape made it five NJSIAA Group 4 girls’ state titles in a row with a 2–0 win over Ridge.
Pennridge lost 1–0 to Peters Township in the PIAA Class AAA girls’ soccer final, snapping an 18-game winning streak that dated to mid-September loss to Hatboro-Horsham (Go Hatters!). It was Peters Township’s second consecutive state title.
Despite a valiant effort, Moorestown lost 1–0 to heavily favored Northern Highland in the NJSIAA Group 3 girls’ state final.
USWNT coach Pia Sunhage says she would like to return to coaching in Sweden when her contract expires after the 2012 Olympics.
Sepp Blatter said in a German newspaper interview that he expects at least one FIFA Executive Committee member will have to resign because of the ISL kickbacks case, on going for some ten years. FIFA, which has long blocked access to Swiss court documents regarding the case, will release the ISL dossier on December 10. Speculation suggests Ricardo Teixeira, head of the 2014 World Cup organizing committee, is the executive committee member who will be forced to resign.
Carlos Tevez has been spending his time while AWOL from Manchester City winning golf tournament’s in Argentina. I’m serious.