Lessons of the London Snow: MLS Has it Right
With the proliferation of domestic interest in the Barclays Premier League, calls have intensified for Major League Soccer to move its schedule to what is misrepresented as the international calendar. While I have repeatedly stated that I have difficulty accepting the decision of MLS not to respect international dates, I have also repeatedly stated that MLS cannot be played on the same schedule as the Premier League.
This week’s shocking blizzard in London demonstrates that Major League Soccer cannot play on the English Calendar. Critics of Major League Soccer led by a Los Angeles based call in radio program have dismissed the league for not adhering to the very same calendar and standards as the English leagues. When I’ve argued that winter months are brutal in the US and Canada with Football fans whose primary orientation is that of the English game, I’ve been shouted down.
This week snow, which is rare in London has paralyzed the English game even forcing an extension in the transfer window. I happened to be in London as the temperature was dropping (Friday and Saturday) and it was obvious the place had no preparedness whatsoever to deal with the sort of winter weather that is common place in the United States.
London has a moderate, maritime climate. Often times the more xenophobic and insular elements in the English media as well as Anglophiles in the United States assume that football must then be conducted in an English style throughout the planet. This not only includes scheduling issues, but style of play and other semantics.
We hear complaints about MLS games being too slow. Well I’d love to throw a mid table English Premier League team out on the pitch in Dallas in the middle of summer. We’ll see then how much pace they have. The use of different tactical setups seems to bother these critics as well.
The assumption that MLS must constantly follow an English model to be successful is ludicrous. The growing Latino population throughout the country feels more affinity for the Spanish and Italian leagues and more and more Americans are discovering their love for the game through a national team whose players play club football throughout the world.
Let the London Blizzard of 2009 remind us all that everything doesn’t have to be done the way the English do it.