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MLS Schedule: Why we need a Traditional Calendar WITHOUT Single Table

mls badge MLS Schedule: Why we need a Traditional Calendar WITHOUT Single Table

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We’ve read for many years that a “traditional” calendar will never work in Major League Soccer. Stadium issues, weather and competition from other sports forces MLS to play over the summer.

After many years of defending that policy, I have to the realization that for once (and only once) Sepp Blatter may be on to something. The MLS calendar is misaligned not only for FIFA and world football, but for the best marketing possibilities here at home.

Let’s start with the Football side of things as they stand now

Transfer schedules are misaligned.

  • The ability to take young players on loan from top European clubs is limited
  • MLS struggles in the later stages of CONCACAF competitions because it is pre-season.

Now let’s lay out the marketing side of things.

MLS ends its season competing with the NFL and College Football

  • The MLS playoffs get in some key markets less ink and lower attendance than early regular season games that compete with sports that generate less in the way of TV viewership and media coverage
  • MLS plays through the summer when many Americans take family holidays and tune out sports.

The obvious retort to the idea of moving the calendar is that the weather is too brutal in Chicago, Toronto and Boston to play through the winter. I respond that the schedule can be framed strategically to avoid these troubles.

Playing through the summer has caused weather problems. Constant thunderstorms and violent weather in Washington, low attendance in steamy Dallas, the folding of the two Florida franchises, no other southern presence.

Football is difficult to play in the South during summer, just as it is difficult during winter. It’s also dangerous in the summer: As a Manchester City supporter, my mind often harkens to Marc Vivian Foe’s tragic death at the 2003 Confederations Cup, when temperatures were over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit in France.

The failure of many northerners to take into account weather in the Dallas as contributing factor to the poor attendance at Pizza Hut Park is nothing new: in all aspects of society people living in the Northeast tend to think all of America should think and look like they do and if they do not, then they are doing something wrong. After all, if Boston’s side cannot play in the winter, Dallas’ side must be the same, or at least should be.

My solution to MLS’ geographic imbalance towards the north would be simple. A setup, where the season runs August to November, breaks and returns in late February and concludes in late May or early June.

This would also allow MLS to conclude its season up against the Major League Baseball and even the NBA Playoffs which get lower cable TV ratings than College Football, the NFL and the end of NASCAR’s season. This would provide the largest potential audience for the MLS playoffs, while properly aligning the league with the top championships in Europe for transfer and loan purposes.

Before I get accused of euro snobbery, let me remind our readers that I DO NOT subscribe to either the single table or balanced schedule schools of thought for MLS, and actually think a single table would be damaging to the league’s development.

Here is why:

I believe, Football throughout much of the world is about regional rivalries and derby matches. That’s where a lot of the passion comes from. USL’s First Division has tried a single table format for the last few years and it has, in my opinion been a complete failure, as clubs are forced to track cross country and play teams 3,000 miles away as often as the club around the corner. Perhaps this helps to explain why so many USL First Division clubs either fold or want to bolt the league. Single table works in England because the distance from London to Manchester is similar to the distance from Houston to Dallas, Miami to Tampa, New York to Boston and closer than LA to San Francisco.

MLS needs to cultivate local rivalries and derbies, while reducing the amount of travel cross country which not only affects budgets but quality of play. The English pundits who watch MLS and claim the league is “slow” fail to account for the sheer size of this nation and the amount of travel within MLS (even though the nation’s most populated region, the Southeast, lacks a team within its borders, though DC United is just across the river from Virginia). These same pundits also fail to account for the climate in summer throughout the US lends itself to slow possession football.

My solution to MLS calendar would be to realign the schedule August to May, with a break in order to align with the best marketing potential and transfer/loan  possibilities and to further develop conferences and divisions much like the Primera Division in Mexico has done. Promote regional rivalries and supporters groups to travel to as many away matches as possible. A single table with teams flying cross country constantly (like USL-1 currently) does not achieve this goal.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, MLS, MLS Attendance, MLS Single Table. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

48 Responses to MLS Schedule: Why we need a Traditional Calendar WITHOUT Single Table

  1. Bad First Touch says:

    You concept is fine, but please stop with the generalizations, re: “in all aspects of society people living in the Northeast tend to think all of America should think and look like they do and if they do not, then they are doing something wrong.”

    It just make it seem as though you have an inferiority complex.

  2. Rob says:

    “MLS plays through the summer when many Americans take family holidays and tune out sports.”

    I disagree a little. From my experience growing up in a suburb of middle-class Americans, Vacation time is during the winter and in the spring. In the summer, you do trips to go to baseball games and other cities. Spring break is when everyone hops ship.

  3. Martek says:

    KK, I think you are definitely on to something.

    I also have always argued that single table would be a waste. Also, the playoffs are a lot of fun and the “hot tournament team” always makes for a great, and well-followed, storyline.

    This is why I think that MLS also should adopt a multiple championship format. Award the regular season champion not some obtuse title like “Supporter’s Shield,” but rather “Season champion.” Then call the postseason tournament winners: “MLS Cup Champion.” This is hardly radical, as this is football (or soccer, if you must) after all, and multiple championships and trophies are part of the sport’s structure.

    Aligning to the prevalent world schedule with a short winter break would be just fine. However, this still makes sense even without a winter break. We all know that snow storms happen in New England and Toronto and even Chicago from November through April, but that never seems to stop the NFL from playing in the stuff. Indeed, NFL games played in arctic conditions have comprised some of the sport’s best storylines over the years. If you’re worried about it, skip December and January, but I don’t think you incur deal-killer problems by playing through it or not.

    I have lived in Houston most of my life, and in New England for a period in the early 90s. Winters there are indeed tougher than summers here, but only just so. We all adjust around it. But I would argue that there are far more, when you look at all sports, injuries that result from playing in excessive heat than come from playing in excessive cold.

    As for Miami, you are far more knowledgeable about that market than I, but I don’t really believe that a schedule shift would bring about success there. If you’re going to go into the Southeast market, I think Charlotte makes more sense than any market in Florida. But like I said, my knowledge base is limited in this area.

    Nice post KK.

  4. Charles says:

    You fail to mention that if the MLS expands at all from 2009, and they are going to add two teams in 2010, they will have to have an unbalanced schedule or else add games.
    What about if they get to where we hope they will with 30 teams ?
    Play 58 games ?

    • Ata Dizdar says:

      No, at least here we can still have the conferences if the league is 30 teams, split evenly. But only Western teams would play only Western teams and the same for the Eastern teams. Travel expsenes would be reduced and players wouldn’t have to adjust all that much to new time zones. What most people fail to understand when single table is proposed, is that the US is a huge country. It has more than enough cities to have a league with 30-32 teams (I’m hoping for 32 teams eventually, I can dream can’t I?). Travel would be a virtual nightmare if it was single table and only 20 teams. At least in Europe, the countries are small enough to make the single table concept work and do not span multiple time zones.

    • Ata Dizdar says:

      Kartik, I think you make a good point on the “normal” schedule. I think that most stadiums would or do have the technology to heat the field in case of a snowstorm. It also would definitely keep in sync with the rest of the European leagues. My problem with this is the fall to spring schedule would be another sport is an already crowded sporting landscape during this time period. Another problem is this, Scandinavian leagues and the Russian Premier League already play the type of schedule that MLS plays now, and nobody from FIFA complains about that. What should make the US any different? I’d like to see the other Euro leagues try out the spring to fall schedule and see how that works out.

  5. francesco says:

    though single table doesn’t support the notion of fostering local rivalries and derby matches the fact that you fail to mention is that in a county as big as ours only a few teams have a derby match within a four hour drive. what about chicago, san jose, colorado, salt lake, columbus, kansas city, seattle and toronto (not to mention that a four hour drive is pretty lengthy in itself)? only in a few MLS cities is traveling to an away match realistic. travel is inevitable in MLS and the idea that teams can play each other home and away does give the league more parity.

    also kartick, taking a three month hiatus in the middle of the season would really take away from any moment the teams at the top have. not even germany has a break that long. though following the international calender would be beneficial not only to avoid games on FIFA dates but also for the fact that the season finale will be competing with basketball and baseball instead of american football however until MLS can establish the right fan base and TV ratings it will have to stick with a mismatched international schedule.

  6. Soccer John says:

    Good thinking on August to May. How about Apertura-Clausura? I think that solves a lot of problems and teams that area washout early, still have something to play for late.

    I like that with the Apertura ending in Nov, and the Clausura running February to May.

    As for needing to foster local rivalries, a balanced schedule still works. USL’s single table has not failed. If anything, it has helped the league be more competitive and interesting. I also like the USL innovation of giving the regular season champ a bye into the semifinals of the playoffs. MLS should adopt that also.

  7. Dutch says:

    I can’t agree more regarding an unbalanced schedule and adopting, what I would suggest, is three divisions. East, Central and West. Have a balanced schedule within each division and minimize the travel distance and time zone changes as much as possible. It would be good for the fans to travel and for the teams that have to endure long distance travel. I also think the schedule could run from August into mid December and pick up the middle of March. Some games may have to be rescheduled if the weather is not good, but with most teams getting their own stadiums this should not present a problem.

  8. Tony H says:

    Really, really good piece Kartik.

    I agree on all points.

    I do want to point out here in Tampa, we had a huge dip in attendance from June to early September other than July 4th. That’s a big part of the reason the Mutiny is gone. Couple that with Youth Soccer which runs September to May and you’re base of support is gone for those months. We have the second largest youth soccer structure in the country.

    Has the Mutiny and MLS been on a traditional calender, the team would have been a success. Next year, the Rowdies, whatever league they play in, will suffer the same letdown during the summer when it is brutally hot, families are on vacation and youth soccer is in recess.

    I am guessing this is a nationwide problem.

  9. 1916home.net says:

    How do you get around the fact it will be snowing in some stadiums from August to May? What do you do about the snow?

    • Brian Zygo says:

      The same thing that is done in Throwball and in northern Europe, you clear the snow from the pitch before the game and at HT.

      • eplnfl says:

        While Kartik presents a workable solutions with December and January off, games in the cold weather cities should be on the road the last half of November and February. February in Chicago is just as bad as January weather wise. This season opening day in Chicago was nasty!

        All due respect Brian, but when your in the middle of a 10 inch snow storm you do not just clear off the field. You do not play in it period. Can some of the Fire fans present explain what a wind chill factor feels like! Yes, Kartik is right that hot weather is a danger to the players. Extreme Cold is a danger to all who comes out.

        • sam says:

          not a fire fan but from south western new york were the weather is worse than chicago, the lake effect snow is awful, we may not have the wind of chicago but i wouldn’t want to play in that weather, same goes for toronto, weather this cold you would need large jackets and pants, if not you will get frostbite and hypothermia, no matter how much you run, yes they play football here in buffalo in the winter but you cant compare the two sports, soccer is played on the ground with your feet while football is thrown, or carried, and their not on the field for 45 min at a time, 5-6 min go off throw on a parka, plus the pads and stuff

  10. JM66 says:

    Good stuff, Kartik.

    But it’ll never happen. the manufactured excuse making which is repeated ad nausea by MLS fans and sounds like diarrhea of the mouth will really come out if your proposal ever saw the light of day.

    Just like we have people on another thread comparing Landon Donovan to Ricky Villa, we’ll have people here saying “it is too cold,” “MLS does it best,” and “stop comparing MLS to foreign leagues.”

    I like Kartik’s work for the most part, but some of the comments on this site have become borderline unbearable lately.

    Why do MLS fans have such a chip on their shoulder? Why do they always act like they are under siege from people who watch other leagues or give constructive suggestions or criticisms? Why do they complain about this site when it and Match Fit are the only two places that actually make valid critiques about MLS structure and level of play. So many people here just want cheer leading stuff, like “YEAH MLS!”

    I know Kartik probably doesn’t want to lose traffic, but I would feel better if the “YEAH MLS” crowd went somewhere else like Soccer by Ives or Steve Goff’s “official” US Soccer Insider.

    • LI Matt says:

      Why do MLS fans have such a chip on their shoulder?

      Gee, I dunno. Maybe it’s the fourteen years of hearing “pub league” and “Mickey Mouse” and “Beckham is wasting his time”.

  11. SAWR says:

    I like the idea of August to May but would argue the single table is the reason some of us prefer USL to MLS.

    Being without either league, USL actually resembles soccer from other countries. Single table, balanced schedule, reserve (PDL) sides, lower division, a form (though a bastardized form)of promotion/relegation, teams owning players, etc, etc.

    I wonder if your recent shots at USL are not designed to win back some love from the MLS fans who hate on you constantly. Some advice, Kartik. The MLS fans JM66 refers to is going to hate on you anyway, because you view things with a critical lens and you are most likely just trolls for the league that do not watch a whole lot of soccer beyond the US Nats and MLS.

    I’d ignore them if I were you. We want USL coverage back on this site. It has disappeared!

  12. timmyg says:

    Pretty much all of Scandinavia and the Baltics adhere to the schedule you put forth Kartik. Not to mention Russia, which overall has a colder climate.

    The issue is that the MLS season could easily be shortened by a month or two. The season started March 19 and ends October 25. Then there is another month of playoffs. That is eight full months and nearly 36 weeks long.

    Yet here we are with a month left and some teams have 4 games in hand because of the ridiculous scheduling that is completely uneven. And then the playoffs begin.

    If things were more streamlined, it would be easier for the “casual fan” to follow. And isn’t that what MLS is really targeting anyway?

  13. Rex says:

    I agree about the not having a single table. MLS needs rivalries, MLS needs drama.

    I cant agree with your view on the FIFA calendar. Weather in Dallas was a poor example, its hotter in Houston but they dont suffer. Weather isnt just about fan support anyway. You can play a game in the heat, you cant play in snow; balls dont roll on snow. Plus its hard to grow grass and it will just give northern teams more excuses to play on that awful turf.

    Maybe i just like the current format because its what made me an MLS fan. I found MLS because of the void in my sports calendar.

  14. Eric Altshule says:

    I think you underestimate how difficult it is for the MLS to compete with the NFL and NCAA in the fall. Look at the LA Galaxy for their last two home games. Despite the fact that they are in the thick of the race in the West and that they have their full squad (including Beckham) available, they posted two of their worst attendance figures of the year – under 19,000 for each game. Why? Because they were up against the USC-Ohio State game one week and the UCLA-Kansas State game the next. This problem would only grow in Dallas and other southern sites where football is even more of a religion. In fact, I found out from my Galaxy representative that the Galaxy will close off the upper deck at the HDC for their first playoff game if it is on a Sunday because they cannot compete with the NFL – and LA does not even have a NFL team!!! If the MLS had to compete with the NFL for the first five months of the season both for butts in the seats and ink on the page, they will be completely outclassed. It would be the death of the league.

  15. peter osgood says:

    Herr Krishnaiyer, to your mind why does the single table need to be left off even if there continues to be an unbalanced schedule?

    One of the most exciting aspects of futbol anywhere in the world is how one week of fixtures can mash-up the table incredibly. A fantastic new feeature of soccernet.com is the live table, updating as matches are in progress. Very cool.

    Doesnt matter if in one particular season it is more of a disadvantage for the Galaxy to play Chivas 3 times as opposed to DC United playing Red Bull thrice, the extra matches between regional rivals is understood, and it can all still be charted by a single table for maximum interest and excitement on a week to week basis.

  16. Vnice says:

    I can’t help but think Kartik is wrong on this one. MLS is not in a position to pick and choose when it wants to play yet. Hell, some teams still don’t even have their own stadiums.

    If it does go “traditional”, copying Mexico’s calendar seems like the best idea.

    I wish MLS would start a street-soccer league. Then we’d have a distraction if they do move to a “traditional”/western euro calendar.

  17. Cory says:

    Great article Kartik. I’m still on the fence about whether a fall-spring or spring-fall schedule is better. One thing I do strongly believe in, contrary to what you favor in your article, is a balance schedule. Other than MLS, I follow Bundesliga very closely and know that those teams travel by bus to their matches. If a flight from LA to NYC takes five hrs., many bus rides in Germany are comparable. So even with our vast distances that our continent affords, total travel time to matches is not grossly different for teams in both leagues. For fans travel by bus or train is a huge advantage versus airplane (in terms of planning and costs), but not so much for teams in my opinion. Naturally teams in the Bundesliga don’t have to deal with jet-lag, but three hrs. isn’t the end of the world. I like the idea of conferences or divisions similar to Mexico’s league, it certainly can drive regional rivalries. This can still exist with a balanced schedule, which fits FIFA motto of Fair Play. I believe a fair schedule fits beautifully with the idea of fair play. How about three divisions of 6 teams (come 2011) with top two from each division plus two wild cards making the play-offs. With 20 teams we could have four divisions of five teams, again top two making the play-offs. While this would foster regional rivalries, there is the possibility that teams with fewer points could squeeze into the play-offs. This doesn’t bother me as much, b/c with the suggested set-up fans would have a real incentive to root against teams in their division, creating in my opinion more fodder for fans. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  18. Cory says:

    How about…

    Western division: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, LA and Chivas;

    Central Division: Salt Lake, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Kansas City;

    Eastern Division: Columbus, Toronto, New England, New York, Philadelphia, DC.

  19. Vnice says:

    Justo for President.

  20. gg says:

    you say that attendence drops at the end of the year when mls games begin competing with the NFL so you are proposing a move to start the season in the fall and play the entire year during the NFL season? no casual fans are activly looking for mls games to watch right now because there are too many alternatives right now

  21. Padre Joe says:

    Interesting thoughts Kartik.

    I don’t think the issue is snow in the north as much as it is cold. January and February in the Midwest are nasty. I can’t imagine sitting in Toyota Park in -5 degree weather (-30 with the wind chill.) Last year they postponed games in England during weather like that! Chicago, Columbus & Toronto would have the potential of too many postponements, so I agree with you on the winter break. I figured a season from March through June, a break in July, then August through November with the playoffs / MLS Cup in December (how about the cup on Boxing Day at a neutral warm site?)

    As far as a balanced schedule goes, I’m thinking that will only last for a few years. I can see this league easily expanding to 25-28 teams. What about a schedule similar to the NHL? Two conferences – you play a home and away in you conference, and one game against each team in the other conference, rotating who gets the home game each year. It would create local rivalries, limit travel, and make the conferences / playoff meaningful. The only negative is if there is another Beckham like player. Teams in the other conference would only get a pay day every other year.

    The dynamics of the US and Canada are so much different than most other countries. I think Blatter is completely out of touch thinking that the system that works in Europe and South America will work here. Most of those countries are geographically smaller than the majority of single US states. We have multiple time zones and temperature zones to deal with. For as much as I like some of the traditions of Europe, this is the US and we need to adapt scheduling to fit the specific issues of our part of the world. If we try to be Europe, soccer will fail in this country. Instead, lets embrace the quirks in scheduling that will make our league unique in the world while respecting the parts of the game that truly make it the worlds game.

  22. Bolacuadrada says:

    Here, I have the solution. Start the MLS season the first week of February and play the final game on Sunday of Labor day weekend. The NFL starts a week after Labor Day weekend and even though College football schedule games on Labor Day Sunday, they usually schedule the big games on Saturday and Monday night. With the NFL and College Football scheduling conflicts out of the way, the only major competitions would be the European Leagues from February to May and three weeks from August to September. To solve that issue the MLS would have to schedule games in the afternoons and evenings US time. NASCAR and the NBA playoffs would have an TV audience impact but that would be OK. WOW! I like my own idea.

  23. Justo says:

    August to May won’t happen… NFL.
    Divisions or Conferences should be scrapped.
    One table, balance schedule. Top team is league winner and goes to Concacaf Champions League along with runner-up.
    Keep they Play Offs.
    Top eight teams in the single table goes for MLS Cup.
    Winner gets spot on CCL. The other spot is for US Open Cup champion.

    Thus, we will have two different competions. League and MLS Cup. Both can play before the start of the new season.

  24. CoconutMonkey says:

    I’m not exactly sure I agree with this notion that having divisions will lead to better rivalries and more dramatic games. For every Bears-Packers, Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, there’s an equally lame divisional match up: Toronto-Baltimore, Texans-Anyone.

    Don’t forget that we’ve got (whether we choose to care about them or not) other tourneys throughout the year to “build” (not strategically assign) rivalries. What’s more exciting to you, Seattle and DC meeting in the Open Cup finals 2 in a row, or NY playing New England 4 times a year?

  25. Hal says:

    I’m not sure why the concern with the NFL. Whether MLS plays opposite the NFL/CFB or not, their rating on ESPN is still around 0.2 and average attendance is roughly the same and, in fact, increases as they near and enter the playoffs. We’re not going to convert most hardcore NFL fans. MLS needs to attract the soccer fans that follow other leagues.

    IMO, if you want to move closer to a Euro style calendar, move MLS off ESPN. ESPN should be thanked for giving it more exposure, but it doesn’t promote the league enough and the league gets swallowed by football and basketball. Let them keep showing World Cups and Internationals and Friendlies. I’d do my best to get league sponsors, etc. on board and try to get a USA, FX, TNT or other basic cable channel that just about everyone has, to get a contract there with more promotion, analysis (This Week in MLS?), and work with the network to make it an integral part of the channel. USA has done this with tennis. When most people think tennis, they most likely think of USA, not ESPN.

    • Kartik says:

      Yeah, ESPN canceling MLS Extra Time a few years back was a clear sign that they don’t wangt to expend much time to build the brand. Also, the constant ads for LA Liga and EPL matches that are less competitive and less compelling than any random MLS match is also worrying. Would people rather watch Sporting Gijon lose 5-0 to Barca than a competitive, MLS match? Do people really like watching Sunderland better than MLS?

      If actually made aware of the options by ESPN, perhaps they would opt for the competitive MLS match, that often times actually has a better and more active crowd than the games in Spain, where the stands are half empty and supporters sit on their hands.

  26. Tom says:

    Good article, it is a difficult problem. Why do Dallas play day games in the summer? It is hot, is it that hot at night? Another issue, I love MLS summer night games, I would miss going to Rapids games on summer nights with this proposed schedule. Also, we all know the MLS competes for soccer fans attention with the European leagues, wouldn’t this schedule make that problem bigger? I know I really start to focus on MLS when the European season winds down in the spring. Finally, I hate the early spring/late fall night games in Colorado when it is freezing if this schedule was adopted, I hope they would do more day games, even if they have to compete with youth soccer (which is a big issue).

  27. Derek says:

    I agree about the schedule shift to Fall-Spring. It’s a good idea to align with the other leagues worldwide and also I don’t buy the “competition with other sports” argument. Even with NFL, NHL, NBA, college football and basketball, there still wouldn’t be as many conflicts as there are with baseball in the summer. You can schedule around the NFL most of the time too anyway. And plus, I would think a lot of the MLS/soccer fans in the US like the sport enough to choose it in the event of a conflict. That’s my mindset anyway. There are way more NBA/NHL/MLB games then there are MLS, so I’ll be able to go to plenty of all the different sports games.

    A winter break is fine, maybe not as long as December-late February. One month MAX. I say skip January to avoid the NFL playoffs, and have your All-Star game or other exhibition events at that time in Southern cities to keep fans interested.

    As for the balanced schedule, as long as they can do it(before it expands too much), the league should. As a fan I could care less about rivalries(and only NY and LA have any real regional rivalries anyway in North America as has been pointed out by other posters). I’d rather see a fair schedule as opposed to my team potentially getting beaten out for a playoff spot because other teams had easier schedules(which happens several times every year in every other sport). Other leagues in the world use single tables and the rivalries do fine. Plus with playoffs, USOC and CCL games there will be other opportunities for rivalries to thrive. As for the playoffs, I love them, most American sports fans love them, so keep them. A balanced single table is still the best way to determine qualification for playoffs. If/when MLS goes over 20 then bring back the conferences, but as long as you can have a perfectly balanced competition, I’m all for it.

  28. Andy says:

    I appreciate the optimism Kartik, and I love MLS, but sometimes I think you spend too much time thinking about soccer and not enough in the real world. We are a niche sport/league in this country, and that will never change until the USMNT wins something big and we get our first “superstar”. Changing the schedule won’t speed up this process, or get people who pretend to have an attachment to some club in Europe to buy the games.

    People need to be patient. The reason we can’t get young players from Europe on loan is because the level of play is too low in Europe’s eyes and the coaching is sometimes laughable. The reason attendance goes down in fall in some places is because American football is king, and you can’t just wish it away. A winter break would still mean Concacaf is played when teams are just rounding into shape. I think the current schedule is fine because the league will continue to add teams and fans, so the season naturally spreads into feb. right through the end of nov., with dec./jan. off and feb. preseason. This could be a selling point, some players like to play year round, while some would like the GUARANTEED 2 month break they get screwed out of nearly every summer thanks to fifa.

    Face it people, even if you love the sport as much as I do, that our domestic league will take time to build with no TV presence or national footprint with 30 teams. Enjoy this portion of the leagues life, so in 20 years you can say like my family “I’m a crew fan since 96″ instead of complaining all the time. The league has many faults, but the fractured nature of soccer between FMF, MLS, England, etc. is here to stay, with only the USMNT to unite fans in this giant country. We are a unique country, we will never be England or Germany or Italy, and there’s nothing wrong with having a unique league. It’s the quality of play that matters, not the schedule or regional rivalries, if you want the “Euros” on board. I think people need to accept they will never be on board until MLS turns the corner, and then they will tell everyone how they were fans from day one. Thats just how people who cling to anything successful operate.

  29. Charles says:

    >>>but I would feel better if the “YEAH MLS” crowd went somewhere else like Soccer by Ives or Steve Goff’s “official” US Soccer Insider.
    .
    I am going nowhere. I love Kartik….YEAH MLS !
    Andy, I agree the MLS will struggle but it is because they are not paying for the talent. Do they put the money and pray, or figure out a way to get Seattle numbers and then build on that ? Vancouver probably will get similar.
    ps. Sounders are opening up more seats next year, to 35,000. If they make a playoff run, the real key is can they open up the upper decks and get it to 50k.

    • sam says:

      that would be crazy, an mls team close to out selling the nfl team, and if were expanding the league bring one to rochester/buffalo are we have the rhinoes and a rivalry with tfc would be crazy, and be within 2 hours at the most to travel to game both teams would sell out, and were also very close to columbus

  30. Seybold says:

    I think Kartik’s on to something here—organizing an MLS schedule in the USA presents unique questions of climate that no other country really has to deal with—both northern, Scandinavian-type climates and near-tropical climates. No schedule really is going to be ideal for either.

    Gotta disagree with the idea that only NYC and LA have regional rivalries. As fun as the Sounders are, it almost feels like a warm-up until PDX and BC join us.

    On another front, it makes me wonder if soccer can truly succeed in the south outside of Texas. Is an MLS franchise viable there? It’s not unprecedented for sports to struggle in various regions. For example in the NW two of the three NBA teams have left in recent years. And the south is known as being the national center of football.

    I like Cory’s idea for three divisions of 6. Top 2 for the playoffs plus the next best two. Also like the idea of “Regular Season Champion” for best record. That’d keep it interesting at the end. Just award a trophy for it, before long it would matter.

  31. dftgdfgdf says:

    what most of you don’t realise is the 3 month shutdown happens in quite a few northern/eastern european leagues

    Denmark
    Ukraine
    Romania

    all shut down from mid december to the beginning of march, so that they crown champions in the spring rather than winter.

  32. RedWhite&True says:

    Why do we want to copy Denmark, Ukraine, or Romania? Those leagues are crap. MLS should play April to October. Playing matches in Toronto in February is insane.

  33. Ivan says:

    Single table is a must. With changing rules of who gets into the playoffs, I can’t tell you the current rule of who makes the playoffs to save my life. You don’t need to be a “Euro-snob” to detest playoff system in determining a champion. every country has a national club which is a fun competition and utilizes the playoff format. But when it comes to the league championship, every game must matter, hence, the champion being determined by highest points total at the end of the season.
    Season running from early August through early June should have happened long time ago. A 2 and a half month winter break will solve the weather problems.
    Come on, Don Garber: single time !!!! It is about time!!!

  34. C’mon Kartik, join the revolution and stop rearranging the deck chairs on the umteenth attempt to franchise soccer in this country since 1894!

    - and remember, Eurosnobbery is a term that actually means “American Insecurity”

  35. eplnfl says:

    For those who think you can just go out and clean off a field in a snow storm, please view the following:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZcOzQXf6Hk&feature=related

  36. Chris says:

    Did you forget that the MLS already has a balanced schedule? Next year it will be 16 teams and 30 games, each team players each other twice. What is the purpose of maintaining the conferences if the schedule is balanced? You arguement would hold…maybe, if there was a more imbalanced schedule. But we know a balanced schedule is not only possible (they do it now), but it makes no sense to keep the conferences in light of that.

  37. Luke says:

    The traditional calendar is a myth. Only Europeans play that schedule and even then, Scandinavian and Baltic countries play a summer schedule as we do. So does Brazil, Japan, Korea and Australia. The rest of central and south america play double seasons, a spring and fall schedule. The winter schedule is a mainly European thing and MLS has enough time finding viewers without fighting with the NFL, NBA, NHL and the major European leagues.

  38. nhu says:

    ar is a myth. Only Europeans play that schedule and even then, Scandinavian and Baltic countries play a summer schedule as we do. So does Brazil, Japan, Korea and Australia. The rest of

  39. Why the hell is the outdated blog still alive? It is two months behind time.!!

    This gives MLS a bad name.

  40. stephen says:

    Two major problems exist.

    Transfers/Loans & International Competition

    The MLS season calendar means that no meaningful market can exist between UEFA teams and the MLS. The transfer windows there fall awkwardly for MLS teams (hence the Beckham back and forth). It effectively kills any normal transfer of players for loans or permanent moves unless it’s a big name or retirement/end of career move. (eg: Ljundberg/Beckham). The season misalignment is THE reason that middle of the road Europeans can’t come here, except as walk ons. NOT the status of the league. An English player making the same money in the conference on the bench would prefer ‘top flight’ football in the States. The MLS has a slightly better reputation than you give it credit for.

    How utterly ridiculous to be playing regular season football during the World Cup. There’s simply no smart way to explain that. The MLS wants to be taken seriously, but how can it if it implies ignorance of the biggest event on football’s international calendar?

    If the MLS was a tiny league with no prospects then a summer league is fine. However, this is not the case. The MLS wants to be a viable, strong league that ultimately exchanges players with European/ SAmerican clubs and for its champions to be able to compete on the world stage.

    How silly will it be if the US wins the right to host the World Cup and plays MLS games the same month its hosting the finals?

    The weather excuse is b/s. Plenty of outdoor sports survive the cold and heat. The marketing is also a rubbish excuse. Plenty of people have latched onto the idea of the MLS and being played the same time as NFL or NBA/MLB won’t matter.

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