Dennis Justice writes about the future of Major League Soccer, and the potential of promotion and relegation.
The reason you don’t just let the current second-tier cities in is the same reason MLS didn’t let Rochester in their league despite previous second-tier success. (Rochester simply did not have a strong enough bid.) The venues in the current second-tier are just not "ready for prime time."
If Major League Soccer was serious about developing a second-tier and having promotion and relegation, they themselves must establish a minor league, with one team per MLS team, as part of a deliberate, concrete plan for eventual pro/rel.
The stakes are high.
MLS was born out of a promise for the USSF to start a top-tier soccer league to get the 1994 World Cup. I don’t think FIFA would have awarded the World Cup to us if they thought the single-entity MLS as we see it today was going to be formed.
Larger soccer leagues are looking at our league and our desire to pass 20 teams (when FIFA says 18 are preferred) and are wondering why they need to do FIFA’s bidding much longer?
More immediately, the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids will be announced this December. While it seems Europe will win the 2018 Cup, it appears the United States and Australia have become the favorites to win the 2022 Cup.
As I stated in my previous Bleacher Report editorial, “How MLS can save the World Cup bid (if they had the guts to do so)," Australia at least claims it will develop a promotion and relegation system (meaning they will develop a second-tier to do so despite having a younger top league than even MLS), and because they never hosted the Word Cup before, they are the real favorites.
If we fail to win the World Cup bid, it should be rightly blamed on the USSF and MLS for their continual insistence that “the infrastructure is not there yet” for promotion and relegation when Australia is proposing to build their own.