MLS May Change Its Schedule To Help The US's World Cup Bid

|November 22, 2010|

Prior to Sunday's MLS Cup Finals, league commissioner Don Garber said he wants to shift from a summer schedule to the fall-to-spring schedule typical of international soccer.

This is an obvious appeal to FIFA president Sepp Blatter who has criticized the MLS's unusual schedule. The US is a lead contender to host the 2022 World Cup, which FIFA will award next week. Blatter has indicated that America's March-to-November calendar could hurt the bid, according to the New York Times 

Altering the schedule would also benefit the league's ability to field top-tier talent. Because most international exhibitions and qualifiers are held in the summer, the league's best players are often forced to abandon their MLS teams for international duty.

Keeping consistent with the world's soccer schedule could also catapult the MLS into the international conscience, and attract even more international talent.

But there are severe drawbacks, too. Domestically, this weakens MLS's prospect for gaining traction.

The revised schedule would force MLS to compete with a far more popular version of football during the first half of the season. And the playoffs must find a niche tucked between March Madness, baseball's opening weeks, and the stretch run of the NBA and NHL seasons.

That's a far cry from the current arrangement, where the MLS solely competes with baseball for the majority of its season. The summer weather also benefits attendance figures.

But the MLS figures those concerns would disappear if America hosts a World Cup and solidifies the sport's place in the nation's athletic landscape.

The Water Cooler1 comments
WN on Nov 22, 1:52 PM said:
It just doesn't work for many reasons. MLS was a flop in Florida. Texas has its worst-attended teams. Little interest in an Atlanta or Phoenix move. The places where it's kinda like Italy or Spain in February don't like it. It's a Euro-wannabe blue-state/Canadian thing. And playing in January, outside, in Toronto, Montreal, Harrison NJ, Philly, Chicago, Columbus? The Pacific coast teams are comparable to British weather in winter... so, okay there. But, a lot of the league isn't there. The Russian Premier League plays on the same schedule as MLS for exactly the same reason.