- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 6, 2009
- 4 Comments
- Schedule Talk
I’m working on a few things right now at the office and for here. Busier Friday than normal around here but I will get to posting some things shortly. I just wanted to pass along a very very interesting article from Jack Bell (read his stuff if you don’t already). He decided to tackle the always fun issue of getting MLS to switch their season schedule from where it is now (a summer league) to the traditional August-May format that most of the world uses.
I have been around this before with people and think its a very tough thing for the league to actually switch to but Bell’s article really brings up some strong points on the subject.
I will quote the ending part of the article for you because I found it the most interesting…could it actualy work? I think so.
With 18 teams in 2011, M.L.S. teams could play a 34-game regular-season schedule, with each club playing every other club home and away. The majority of those teams would be playing in their own stadiums. That year is also notable because there is no World Cup qualifying and few international competitions, other than the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Start the season early in August. “The E.P.L. kicks off the first or second week of August, a hot time of year, and also plays in the coldest time of the year,” L’Hote notes. Then league can then take a break from mid-December through mid-February. In that fallow time, schedule the SuperLiga, U.S. Open Cup matches and perhaps a tournament or two in warm-weather locales.
Not all games in November, December, February and March can be played in warm-weather cities, so why not play up north during the day, instead of playing games on Saturday or Sunday nights. Then again, don’t N.F.L. fans show up at strange hours in terrible weather or siting through an hour of TV commercials to see a game. At least M.L.S. fans have the benefit of games televised without commercial interruption!
Playing through the hottest months in the United States could degrade the level of play, even if the match is at night, and severe heat could put players’ health at risk. If you ask the players what they prefer, nearly all say they would rather play in the cold than in extreme heat.
What are the league’s priorities? Up until now, M.L.S. has never turned down an opportunity to play in an international competition. Remember when D.C. United made a long and trying trip to Chile for a Copa Sudamericana match? Officials have also expressed a desire to see M.L.S. teams in the Copa Libertadores tournament. How about a midweek road trip to Argentina?
The addition of the Champions League, which was thrust upon the league by Concacaf, the regional governing body, means that the four M.L.S. teams involved in the 2009-10 edition could be playing up to eight more games this calendar year. All four M.L.S. teams in the last tournament performed poorly, with only Houston advancing to the knockout stage, but the sense is that M.L.S. H.Q. told its teams to concentrate more on the league.
Switching to a European calendar would make it easier for M.L.S. to engage in sensible and productive loan deals in coincidental seasons while also synchronizing the international transfer periods.