- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On August 29, 2008
- 4 Comments
- Don Garber, MLS Schedule
We’ve heard the complaints all week, and rather all year, about the congested MLS schedule. Today in his blog, MLS Commissioner Don Garber addressed that very issue. He like many of us were upset to see a showcase game last week with LA and Chicago lose its luster over the amount of players called into international duty.
He said it was a testament to the league’s quality, and while I agree with him on that it still could have been avoided with proper planning.
When scheduled, the date was one of a limited number during the year that the Galaxy could host an ESPN2 Thursday night game. It is often very difficult to forecast early in the year who will be called up for national team duty. But that is only part of the issue.
The real issue is the ongoing challenge of playing MLS games during the FIFA international fixture dates.
With international club and country competitions occupying many mid-week slots during the season, we simply would not be able to fit our 30-game season into our current window that extends from the last weekend of March through end of November if we did not play MLS games on the FIFA dates.
Our options include reducing the number of tournaments in which our teams participate and/or starting the season in the beginning of March, when weather and low attendance create issues in many markets.
During the next few months leading up to our November Board of Governors Meeting during the MLS Cup Weekend, we will be looking at our ongoing scheduling challenges. While it is not practical to reposition our entire schedule, we will be focused not just on the FIFA dates, but also the number of tournaments played by our teams. Unless we make some changes, we will face even more challenges in 2009, with an uneven number of teams (the addition of Seattle brings us to a total of 15) and with the FIFA Confederations Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup taking place in the middle of our season.
Good at least they will address it. Or so they say. In all honesty they should do what most have been calling for a while now. Move the schedule up to start in March and forget about some of these meaningless tournaments like the Pan-Pacific Tourament. Not to mention they have to find a clearer balance between the clubs who participate in SuperLiga and the CONCACAF Champions League.
I know they don’t really want to move things up earlier into March but I think they have to at this point. They won’t redo the schedule to be like most of the world, which in all reality is fine because MLS is more of a summer league than a fall-to-spring league. The money for one just doesn’t make sense for MLS to play from August to May like most leagues. Then there is the weather issue. Sure in March it will still be cold in most MLS towns. That can be avoided with proper planning too, plus some people actually like soccer in colder weather.
Begin the year at the start of March and end the season when you do now. This should allow the league a little bit of extra space for those international dates and for those extra club tournaments.
What do you think? Push the schedule up or keep it like it is but make only minor changes? I don’t even mention the other (switch to a Euro-style of schedule) because I just don’t see it ever happening here…like promotion/relegation…which is another topic for another day I suppose.