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Ship's Log, March 11: Bring on the East

If the Leagues Cup stays around long term it should be used to spread awareness of all of the league, not just Liga MX.

Last Updated
4 min read
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend the Seattle Sounders were supposed to play Philadelphia Union for the first time since 2019. With MLS expansion and a global pandemic, the interaction between the Western and Eastern conferences has been highly limited over recent years. Seattle fans will likely never see the Sounders host Inter Miami while Messi is there. Revs fans don’t get to see both LA teams. Toronto and Seattle, which could have had a Lakers-Celtics in the ’80s vibe, just doesn’t happen.

As the league expands the interaction between the conferences will be further reduced.

It’s a shame.

The league season is both long, with too many games and attempts to play through Gold Cups, Olympics and other international dates. And too short to face every team at least once.

Solutions aren’t simple. Other soccer leagues don’t have matches across four time zones, elevations from 12 feet to 5120’, climate zones that include deserts and continental winters. MLS does.

Yet, it’s hard to follow a “league” when half the teams face your local side less frequently than NFL teams do (and they only have a 17-game season to do it).

There are many proposals out there. Most of them start with expansion eventually stopping. Then breaking MLS into smaller divisions with home-and-homes. Teams from the other conference would be on a rotation.

Since MLS isn’t likely to stop expanding soon, the perfect must be set aside for the better.

Better would be shifting the Leagues Cup to no longer be regional. MLS fans would then get not just the increased variety of seeing a Liga MX opponent but also the chance to see a rarely seen squad from across the Mississippi.

Rather than a ninth matchup against RSL over a two-year stretch, the Sounders could face off against a D.C. United, reliving some of the early era micro-rivalry. Or maybe a knockout round match against FC Cincinnati, a team that burst onto the scene out of a successful USL run. Or maybe, just maybe, a match against Inter Messi that isn’t a final. Other possible solutions would be straight seeding in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

With the Open Cup (not quite dead) being regional and the regular season’s home-home being regional, the lack of variety in the schedule gets tiresome. There have been seasons when the Sounders and Portland have played each other more than they’ve played teams in the East!

If the Leagues Cup stays around long term it should be used to spread awareness of all of the league, not just Liga MX.

– Dave Clark

Catching up on Sounder at Heart

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From the Archives

Upcoming pro soccer schedule

Reign and Defiance begin their seasons. Spokane plays their home opener. The state is hosting four pro soccer games.

  • Reign: Sunday March 17 at Lumen Field against Washington Spirit at 3 p.m. PT on NWSL +
  • Sounders: Saturday March 16 at Lumen Field against Colorado Rapids at 12:30 p.m. PT on FOX and Apple TV (free)
  • Defiance: Friday March 15 on the road against Austin FC II at 6 p.m. PT on MLS Season Pass
  • Spokane Velocity: Saturday March 16 at ONE Spokane Stadium against Richmond Kickers at 2 p.m. PT on SWX and ESPN+
  • Tacoma Stars (indoor): Friday March 15 at accesso ShoWare Center against Chihuahua Savage at 7:05 p.m. PT on
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Looking back at the week's news

Everything else you need to know.

The NWSL starts its 11th season this weekend. Bay FC and Utah Royals are the new teams to the league. Read more ASA previews like Red Stars and Current and Dash and Racing to get ready for Reign's quest for their first Cup and fourth Shield.

The W Gold Cup ended with the US winning, which wasn't a surprise. The struggle for results showed just how much the hemisphere's talent has improved over the years.

There are few voices that advocate better for mental health in pro athletes than Bethany Balcer. Here's another video showing her wisdom beyond her age.

The lockout of the best refs in the nation continues. ESPN says it's the league that is suffering.

Spokane Velocity scored first, but lost 3-1 in their inaugural match.

FC Cincinnati suspended coverage privileges of one of the reporters covering their team the longest. Laurel Pfahler says the team will have a single reporter eligible to go to practices.

Earthquakes II are now known as The Town FC. The amateur team Town FC will control non-soccer operations under the licensing agreement and will play in Moraga, Calif. on the campus of St. Mary’s College.

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