What's the biggest problem with MLS? According to Adam Smartschan of the Cape Cod Times, the league's problem is the fact that even if the New England Revolution had lost its opening five games, it wouldn't be out of the playoff picture. "The MLS regular season," Smartschan writes, "a seven-month ordeal stretching from the last week of March to the waning days of October, is simply too long -- especially when it leads up to the league's everybody's-a-winner playoff format."
Eight of the league's 14 teams, or 57 percent, make the MLS playoffs, more than other major professional sports in the United States. MLS is followed by the NBA and NHL, in which 53 percent of teams qualify for the playoffs, the NFL (38 percent) and Major League Baseball (27 percent). Of course, once the league adds Seattle and Philadelphia to its roster, that percentage will go down, but Smartschan wants to know: what, then, are the 30 regular season games for?
Meanwhile, teams with truly mediocre records, like last season's 10-10-10 New York Red Bulls easily qualify for the postseason, while those with losing records, like the 9-14-7 Los Angeles Galaxy, nearly do. Says Smartschan: "Think about that. It's entirely possible for a team to throw away two months' worth of games, be a little above average the rest of the way ... and make the playoffs." It may be time for a scheduling change in MLS, he says.