Most of you probably know that the Seattle Seahawks have a chance to be the worst team in NFL history to make the NFL playoffs. With just 7 wins they could win their division of 4 teams and advance. As MLS is still adjusting their new MLS Cup Playoff format, it is important to realize that at some point in the near future MLS will not be able to have a double-round robin schedule. When that happens the league must not make the mistake of creating tiny divisions, and not playing each other team at least once.
Sure, Real Salt Lake won the MLS Cup with a losing record, they didn't do it as a regular season division champion. They were considered a poor team and then won a few games.
Seattle's other football team could enter the Playoffs as a "Champion."
My dream structure for the league is a way to get the most markets in North America with top flight soccer where every team plays every other team at least once, and every team in their Conference at least twice. A regular season Conference victory can only be meaningful though if it is of a certain size. Four is clearly too small. Nothing says awesome like being the best out of 4 awful to mediocre teams.
With unbalanced schedules playoffs become more necessary. The Playoffs correct for schedule differences.
What is my dream league structure under these strictures?
If two Conferences - 24 teams. 22 games within Conference and 12 outside.
If three Conferences - 27 teams.
14 16 games in Conference and 18 against other Conferences.
If five Divisions - 30 teams. 10 games in Division and 24 against other Divisions.
That last concept borders on the craziness that is this year's NFL, but it would mean that a 45 point team (in a 34 game season) won their division. How the MLS Cup Playoffs are structured at that point would be more important. Mediocre, or average, teams do not deserve the privilege of home-field advantage.
While Don Garber often looks to the NFL for guidance, hopefully he sees their is greater folly in what could happen this year than the geography lessons we've gotten in MLS the past three years.