Promotion-Relegation a Must for United States Soccer

Brandon McManus, Staff Columnist

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Although the United States was a little late to the party, Americans are becoming more interested and passionate about the sport. The only thing lacking is quality soccer, which comes down to a lack of league competitiveness.

There is not a great reward for champions, and there is not a great punishment for being the worst. Adding the promotion-relegation system would push teams to be the best they can be, day in and day out.

Eric Harris quotes US Youth Soccer coach Marty DaPore: “I feel that (the system) would put a better product on the field, and it would force everybody to want to compete to be their best in each and every game.”

Staff Columnist Brandon McManus

Competing just to stay in the league would take American soccer to the next level. The promotion-relegation system is used by professional soccer leagues around the world.

DaPore continues: “This is a system where you have multiple divisions within a sport, like soccer, and the bottom three or four teams from the top division would be relegated for poor performance to a second division, and the top teams of that second division would then be promoted to the top division.”

This format assures that the best compete with the best, and the worst compete with the worst. Right now, winners in Major League Soccer are named champions, but the losers tend to be content with their place, knowing they’ll get another shot next year.

The US Soccer Federation needs to make the change to this universal system. This would increase competitiveness in the league, and with that comes more national interest.

There has been a rapid increase in interest in the game of soccer in recent history, but that interest level would more than double with the addition of this system.

It allows fans to choose a team they want to cheer for, whether it’s cheering as they compete for championships and promotions, or supporting a team as they fight to keep from being relegated to keep themselves in the top divisions.

DaPore said, “When you have that potential to be relegated, I think what you get is a little more desire and a little bit more urgency to produce a better product.”

The promotion-relegation system would certainly spread the game throughout the United States.

Soccer player Sean Gallagher said, “If you look at England, for example the English Premier League, there are smaller teams in smaller cities that have a real opportunity to play with the big boys, and that puts a lot of excitement into those cities and creates real competition and some real excitement.”

The soccer atmosphere in Europe is totally different than in the US. Although there are multiple “primary sports” in the US, among them American football, baseball and basketball, there is no reason that the USSF shouldn’t do everything they can to expand soccer.

The fact that they have not already brought in this system shows that expanding the game is not at the top of their priorities.

Gallagher is correct when he says, “This (system) would give teams like Louisville [City FC] the opportunity to win their league and get promoted to the MLS.”

Bringing in the promotion-relegation system would change the future of soccer in America for the better. The rest of the world uses this system, and soccer in America needs loads of change. This would be a great place to start.