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.

12 thoughts on “Lessons of the London Snow: MLS Has it Right”

  1. The old ASL played right through the winter, blizzards and all, in the Northeast and in New England, in the 1920’s. The idea that soccer is a “summer” sport is a weird North American mental affliction that was born with the NASL in the 1960s/70s because it was felt impossible to “compete” with the NFL.

    Well, guess what, with our current schedule MLS “competes” with NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, and NASCAR, anyway, in all four seasons of the year! And we are going to have to play more and more games in colder weather, anyway, due to FIFA international calendar, World Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, etc.

    I suggest you get this into your heads right now: soccer is in its origins a winter sport and we are going to end up playing matches in the winter, no matter what schedule MLS tries to adhere to, because we are playing the World’s game, on the World’s schedule. This is a current day fact which we have to recognize: calling it “Anglocentric” is just silly posturing. “Globalcentric” might be more accurate.

    We’ll be better able to deal with this fact when all MLS teams have their own SSS and we can control our own domestic schedule. You know what happens when you have a blizzard? You reschedule the match. Just like they are doing right now in England. This isn’t rocket science, people. You don’t need a three digit IQ to figure this stuff out.

    Even in Russia with far worse problems of cold weather, they can figure out how to take some of the summer off to make way for the FIFA calendar. A few cold weather matches won’t kill you, people! The Russians don’t seem to mind. A little snow isn’t going to ruin your day. Gawd, when did soccer fans in North America become such foul weather wussies? We used to stand out in the open in the middle of winter to watch a match. Now a bunch of wussies and soccer moms complaining “it’s too coooooold to play or watch soccer! little Timmy might get sick!”.

    Dear lord in heaven! Play the game; reschedule it if a Blizzard intervenes! It’s not that difficult to figure out!!!!

  2. Right on Kartik, we need to do things our way while respecting the FIFA calendar. Both are possible. One of the main reasons MLS gets knocked down is because of “soccer snobbery” The English aren’t the only ones that thumb their nose down at MLS. Critics come from all over the world. I’m glad MLS has the schedule it has, we have a sport to follow, without MLS we would be stuck with baseball.

  3. DAVE:

    Just a little heads up: As a matter of fact, the Russian Premier League doesn’t play in Winter; it plays March to November. It is too cold to play. Wouldn’t ya know it, it’s roughly the same schedule as MLS!

    It appears the Russians seem to mind after all!

    Here’s a simple fact you seem to have forgotten: most European leagues don’t get the same weather as North America. The ones that do either play a March-November league, like Scandanavia and Russia, or the take a winter break because they don’t want to play in snow! Romania is currently on a break until the end of February – a stoppage time that’s actually longer than the “off-season” summer break.

    You’re right; it’s not too hard to figure out. MLS should keep doing what it’s been doing.


  4. I agree with MLS not to try and play a schedule like most of Western Europe and would even go one step further.

    I would like to see MLS season end no later than the end of October. Pretend MLS is one of the worlds top and respected soccer leagues all you want. Its NOT respected in the US borders primarily because its championship season happens when the US most followed team sports is in mid season, i.e. the NFL and College football.

    For me, I’d like to see the MLS Calender mirror baseball, complete with NO playoffs and championship in November. I guess I should not that its possible baseball’s World Series could have a game 7 in November this year.

  5. Has anybody taken into consideration that most of Latin America has Apertura and Clausura, two shorter seasons in a year which do not coincide with the European schedule. I think that we have to make it work for us, just like the salary cap. Ideally, I would love to see the season begin in February and end in September.

  6. I remember going to Old Trafford in December (right between Christmas and New Years) a few years back and thinking of how decently mild the weather was compared to New Jersey…

    I don’t mind putting up with the monsoons or freezing weather in the Meadowlands around March/early April and October/November, but I would be upset if it was like that all the time. I can’t tell you how much I love a warm summer evening, drinking a few and then seeing a soccer match.

  7. “soccer is in its origins a winter sport”
    Wow – that insight is incredibly shortsighted, and attempts to completely negate the sport’s history in places that either have NO winter as we know it (eg Latin America, southern Europe, AFRICA), or that have much milder winters than the US (England, as Kartik points out).
    Sure, it’s very manly to play through dismal icy cold weather. I remember my German-American U-16 soccer team practicing outside in 6 inches of snow during our INDOOR season because… well, because it was manly. But what good did it do us to practice in the cold night with snow packing into our shoes?
    In its origins, American football players used no helmets or pads… baseball players used no gloves or batting helmets… hockey players – well, let’s just say the average hockey player looks a hell of a lot better than he did 40 years ago and can actually eat an apple without cutting it up first.
    The ORIGINS of a sport do not necessarily represent either the apogee of the sport nor are they a set of “best practices” for every place it’s played.

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