What if, every two to four years, there was a nationwide competition, displaying the top amateur talent from across the country while pitting states against each other in friendly competition?
Well I've got an idea for that. The United States Cup.
The idea is simple. All 50 state associations assemble their best amateur players into a state team, and play each other in a March Madness style knockout competition. In year one, you do things easy. Top 16 states by population are automatically seeded. The next 30 are in the qualifiers. The 4 states with the lowest population play a home and away qualifier, The First Four.
After that, you randomly draw the next 16 home and away qualifying games. Those 16 winners move onto the United States Cup proper. If you make it to the second round, you automatically qualify for the next edition. Eventually you could do away with this by playing friendlies and having a coefficient.
Think about. With time, this could become not just something really fun, but really important to the American Soccer Landscape. And if you take away college players, it becomes the perfect platform for displaying top adult talent to pro teams around the world.
The layout for the Inaugural United States Cup, presented by American Pyramid, looks like this.
For fun, I put names in a hat, and pretended this actually happened from start to finish. Here are the results. All results were determined after a roll of dice with random hat drawings to determine match ups. With help of my cousin Greg, this nerdy game got underway.
The First Four - Result over two games, aggregate score.
North Dakota 6 - Wyoming 5
Alaska 7 - Vermont 4
Qualifying - Results over two games, aggregate score
Idaho 9 - Nebraska 3
Minnesota 10 - Delaware 9
Montana 9 - Wisconsin 6
Colorado 7 - Nevada 5
Alabama 10 - North Dakota 5
Alaska 10 - Missouri 5
Rhode Island 8 - Louisiana 5
Maryland 11 - West Virginia 5
Oregon 8 - Hawaii 6
South Dakota 10 - Mississippi 2
New Hampshire 10 - New Mexico 4
Oklahoma 9 - South Carolina 3
Connecticut 9 - Kentucky 5
Indiana 7 - Iowa 3
Utah 10 - Kansas 5
Maine 6 - Arkansas 4
Now we enter the tournament proper, single game elimination. PK's happened 3 times, rolled the dice to see who would win, best of 5.
Utah 4 - South Dakota 2
Alaska 5 - Rhode Island 2
Pennsylvania 4 - Massachusetts 1
Oklahoma 4 - Montana 3
Maine 6 - Illinois 3
Colorado 4 - Virginia 2
New York 3 - Ohio 2 (PK's)
Florida 5 - Maryland 3
Arizona 2 - Idaho 1 (PK's)
Georgia 6 - Washington 4
Tennessee 6 - California 2
North Carolina 5 - Michigan 3
Connecticut 3 - New Jersey 1 (PK's)
New Hampshire 5 - Texas 2
Minnesota 5 - Indiana 1
Alabama 6 - Oregon 2
Arizona 5 - Minnesota 4
Colorado 3 - Alaska 1
Utah 6 - North Carolina 1
New Hampshire 5 - Georgia 2
Maine 5 - Connecticut 4
Florida 6 - Pennsylvania 5
Oklahoma 5 - Tennessee 4
Alabama 6 - New York 2
New Hampshire 4 - Arizona 1
Florida 6 - Maine 3
Oklahoma 2 - Utah 1 (PK's)
Alabama 4 - Colorado 2
Oklahoma 5 - New Hampshire 3
Florida 5 - Alabama 2
Third Place Game
New Hampshire 6 - Alabama 5
Florida 6 - Oklahoma 4
And there you have it. Florida are the inaugural United States Cup Champions.
While this might be the nerdiest thing ever written on AP, it was actually a lot of fun. If you want a recap of the rules to play yourself, let me know.
Anyway, a tournament like this has the potential to be something truly special in the American Soccer Landscape. What do you think? Is this a good idea? Would you watch it or attend the games Let me know!
If you follow US Soccer at all, you'll know it's a train wreck right now. Lawsuits, leagues and teams facing the threat of going out of business, all kinds of shady money. Enough to make you go crazy. But it does make me wonder: What if we had an organized pyramid in the US? Not one with a bunch of made up teams, but one made up only of the teams that exist. Would there even be enough teams to create a functioning top three levels of the pyramid? That was my first big question.
Here's how many pro teams there are right now, per league. We aren't counting NISA teams, or the three expansion teams NASL mentioned in the lawsuit: Atlanta, Detroit, and New Orleans. Or the Chicago NASL group. This is only for teams that actually exist, either with a team on the field now, or announced plans to put a team on the field by 2019 at the latest.
68 pro teams! First off, I'd say that's awesome to see. 68 pro teams planning to take the field next year. Hopefully USSF can sort things out, and we'll see a few more take the field in 2018.
Now, what if you stacked it up to have three leagues at the top of the pyramid? It would actually be quite easy.
Pretty cool looking, no? What teams would be in these leagues? Easy! I took current standings of all the leagues and organized things. Bottom two MLS teams and LAFC join NASL. Top thirteen non MLS 2 sides join NASL.
Toronto, NYFC, Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, NYRB, Montreal, New England, Philadelphia, Orlando, Vancouver, Portland, Kansas City, Seattle, Salt Lake, San Jose, Houston, Dallas, Minnesota, LA
Miami, North Carolina, San Francisco, Edmonton, Puerto Rico, New York, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, LAFC, Cal United, San Diego, Louisville, Reno, San Antonio, Charlotte, Charleston, Phoenix, Tulsa, Tampa Bay, Rochester, Cincinnati, Bethlehem, Sacramento, Oklahoma City
Orlando B, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Harrisburg, Richmond, Toronto 2, Real Monarchs, Swope Park, Orange County, Colorado Springs, Rio Grande, Seattle 2, LA 2, Vancouver 2, Portland 2, Fresno, Las Vegas, Nashville, Austin, Birmingham
I know this is crazy, but it's Monday, and I wondered what something like this might look like. Just a fun exercise and something that was on my mind.
Interest in amateur soccer in the US is at all time high. More and more people are watching teams play, and people are starting more and more teams nationwide. But there are little issues below the surface that are starting to bubble up. Little issues that could cause major fissures if not addressed soon, and if not addressed properly.
In the last month I was speaking with one of my friends who runs a team in the NPSL. Interest in the league, and teams interested in joining their conference, are at all time highs. Good things, right? Maybe not.
You see, this past season his team played 14 games in 10 weeks. Read that again. 14 games in 10 weeks. That's a lot of games, and the season is limited to a 10 week window due to the reliance on college players.
NPSL wants to add more teams to his conference. This means more games in the same season window. If 1 team wants to join, they are looking at the prospect of playing 16 games in 10 weeks. 2 teams means 18 games in 10 weeks. That's not just incredibly draining, but risky for the players involved as wear and tear and fatigue make a player more susceptible to injury. And if you make the playoffs, that even more games.
Why hasn't NPSL addressed this? Why do they keep expanding with no stated design of a longer schedule, especially when the easy fix is right in front of them?
What's the easy fix, you ask? It's a two-fold solution: 1, fix the number of teams in a conference. 2, when that number is met, or is being exceeded, you start a new conference beneath it and start doing promotion and relegation.
For example, NPSL's Southwest Conference has 10 teams. Based on what I'm hearing, that will probably be more like 12 next year, so here's what you do: Take the bottom 3, Oxnard Guerreros FC, City of Angels FC, and SC Corinthians USA and form the Southwest Conference 2. All new expansion teams go there until it reaches 6 teams, then you start a Southwest Conference 3. One up, one down at every level.
Not only does this mean 10 games in 10 weeks, it keeps schedules even with every team playing every week. This set up also allows NPSL to grow as much as it wants. What's to stop them from having 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or even 6 conferences of 6 as long as the interest is there?
Anyone, I'd love to hear what you think of this plan in the comments below, or of course, on Twitter. Is this a good plan for NPSL? Is this actually something they should consider?
Would you look at that map? Here we are, one week into the 'launch' of American Soccer Clubs United, and there are forty two teams that have joined up from coast to coast and north to south. I'd say it's a really solid start and shows the desire of teams to work together, make their voices heard, and help each other thrive and become sustainable.
To be clear, this last week hasn't been all smooth sailing. For every club eager to sign up, we've had a club that's voiced concerns or had questions over the initial thrust of the ASCU to unite clubs for an open system, and have even been met with stone cold silence from teams that have voiced support of some of the issues ASCU was created to help clubs address.
Now, if you're one of the forty teams that has joined already, once again, welcome! Glad you're with us. You'll be receiving detailed material from us later today about what we hope to see ASCU become, as dictated by the member clubs.
For those who haven't signed up or are still thinking it over, I want to make things a little clearer for you. ASCU exists to serve the best interests of it's member clubs, as dictated by the clubs. This isn't simply an attempt to throw weight behind the promotion and relegation movement, but an attempt to give teams a united front to push for change and reform in the areas they deem important. Could be promotion and relegation, could be more of voice in league affairs, or more input in decisions that are being made by the USASA or even USSF. ASCU is designed to become a member driven vehicle to whatever end its members see fit to drive it to. Not only that, but because of its size vendors can be brought on as business members offering clubs discounted services because of the potential client pool. And who doesn't want cheaper stuff so more money can go into the club?
As it stands, we have forty two member clubs representing over one thousand players, coaches, administrators, staff members, volunteers and owners. That's a pretty big deal. No one has ever tried to get teams collaborating on such a large scale. Let's keep going. Regardless of how the promotion and relegation fight goes, ASCU will still be here, working to give clubs a fair shot at sustainability.
Will you join us?