In the near future, winning the Supporters’ Shield could earn more than a shiny trophy and recognition as the regular season’s best team.
Those rewards, Garber said, “could be more allocation money, could be where they are seeded, it could be what to do with our draft, we could simulate promotion/relegation.”
The issue was raised by ESPN commentator Alexi Lalas, who asked Garber if the team emerging on top after the grueling regular-season schedule should be compensated in some way for ending as the league’s best—especially after the announcement that 10 teams will make the playoffs next season.
The topic will take on more added importance next year, when each team will have a regular season schedule comprised of 34 games due to the addition of expansion clubs Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers.
Furthermore, some teams will participate in the CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup, or SuperLiga. The added games and international travel can take a harsh toll on any side – just ask the Columbus Crew, who lost the bang they started out with as their legs grew tired because of battling on three fronts.
“We've got to find ways … for teams to have more of an incentive [to win the Shield],” said the MLS commissioner.
Those incentives, said Garber, could come very soon.
“You could see us trying to put those kinds of pieces in place for next year or maybe the year after that.”