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Blue Notes: New MLS Playoff Format, Pierre Called Up, KC Current Honored, Apple TV Update, SKC Rumored Signing

Plus more information on the new Apple+ deal with Major League Soccer and a silly rumored Sporting Kansas City signing.

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MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Did you miss a story about Kansas City soccer? How about MLS or NWSL? Almost certainly, so let’s swing around the city and their various leagues and get caught up.

MLS Playoff Format Changes?

The Athletic is reporting that “Major League Soccer is considering a massive change to its playoff format for 2023.” The rumor, from sources insides the league and clubs, is that the change will move the playoffs to a competition with up to 30 games, instead of the current 13. Partially this has to do with the new Apple TV deal (more on that below) and increasing important games for the platform.

The format would move to a World Cup style format, but the exact layout isn’t known. One theory had it climbing to 16 teams making the playoffs (up from seven per conference, 14, now). Then, divided by conference, two groups of four would be split up with the top two seeds per group hosting two games and the bottom two hosting one. The top two teams from each group would advance to a single elimination tournament, still split by conference.

These games would be scheduled so there are games on nearly every night. For more check out the full story over at The Athletic.

Kayden Pierre Called Up!

Sporting Kansas City’s 19-year-old right back Kayden Pierre got another call to the USMNT’s U-20 team. The camp already started on October 25th and runs through November 6th and joins a senior camp underway for MLS players who are possible World Cup roster contenders.

There are no official games tied to this camp, but it’s in preparation for 2023 U-20 World Cup cycle. The United States have already qualified for that competition as well as the 2024 Olympics based on winning the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Pierre will be eligible for the U-20 World Cup based on his date of birth.

KC Current Honors

Not to be outdone, the women in KC are being recognized as well. The Kansas City Current have three players on the NWSL Best XI: Lo’eau LaBonta, Hailie Mace and AD Franch. LaBonta made the first team Best XI, while Mace and Franch were on the second team.

Sadly in the other “End of Year” award categories, the Current were snubbed. Matt Potter, who took the Current from last to the NWSL Championship, didn’t win Coach of the Year and Franch got snubbed on GK of the year. In fact, Potter finished third... come on!

The Current will look for the last laugh on Saturday as they play for the NWSL Championship.

MLS and Apple+ Update

Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a 10-year deal back towards the beginning of the year, but there is still so many unknowns despite the launch coming in February. What we slowly figured out as the season came winding down is that local broadcast teams are out, as Nate Bukaty, Jacob Peterson and Aly Trost-Martin all said their goodbyes.

What replaces them is still unknown, but The Athletic is reporting that over 200 candidates have interviewed for the various broadcast jobs (theoretically any or all of KC’s former broadcasters could be among the candidate pool). They are competing for at least 12 English language broadcast teams (it’s unclear if this is a play-by-play, color and sideline reporter per each of the 12 teams), at least 12 Spanish language teams and another three French language teams. The plan is also not to force teams to stay together but it could change as chemistry develops.

Those teams will fly to the stadiums and call the games live, which will be a nice change as often the road team called it off monitors remotely. There is just something about being in the atmosphere and being able to look at places the camera isn’t pointed. Another cool twist is that fans can choose to turn off the commentary team and flip on an option to use the home radio broadcast (the away broadcast could be available in the future), so those who don’t apply for and get hired into these roles, could still at least be calling the home games.

A few other points stood out, without giving everything away (go sign up for The Athletic, they do great work in multiple sports):

  • No blackouts, except for fans in Mexico during the Leagues Cup (why?!)
  • Most games will be on Wednesday and Saturdays
  • There will be pre-game, halftime and post-game shows
  • They are also planning a whip-around show on Saturday night, which sounds like an NFL Redzone (my words not theirs) style presentation to cut in on broadcasts
  • A “significant number” of games could be free on Apple TV, not behind the Apple+/MLS paywall (approximately six of every 14 games or 210 of 493 games)
  • The goal is for the playoffs and MLS Cup to not be behind the paywall and also be on linear TV (e.g. ESPN, FS1, Univision ABC, etc.) through 2026, though no linear deal has been reached yet
  • Each MLS club will have it’s own Apple TV channel where they can produce their own content (I need the return of the Benny Feilhaber Show please!)

There is a ton more information in this story, be sure to check out the whole thing.

A Quickly Shot Down Sporting KC Rumor

A rumor emerged yesterday about a soon to be 38-year-old right back, Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, being linked to Sporting Kansas City. Obviously you’d drop your club legend RB, Graham Zusi, to make that deal. It was shot down instantly.

While I’m sure it has no value, the team does shoot down things that end up being true as well if they aren’t ready to announce. But this feels like a safe bet to be wrong. This team doesn’t need to get older in defense.

Quick Notes

  • SKC Academy keeper, Jack Kortkamp, earned a call to join the USA U-15s for a camp in Kansas City. Kortkamp is just 14 and the camp is well underway ending on the 30th. This is in preparation for the CONCACAF U-15 Boys Championship next year.
  • Eight months into the 15-year deal, St. Louis City SC, who have yet to start play, have lost their stadium sponsor.
  • Josef Martinez is on his way out of Atlanta United.
  • I do enjoy the social media game of the KC Current: