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MLS Schedule Finally Gives Respect to World Cup Qualifying

mls logo MLS Schedule Finally Gives Respect to World Cup QualifyingThe day has finally come for all of us who support our clubs in Major League Soccer. The announcement of the 2011 regular season schedule was finally released on Thursday, February 10. Finally all of us can now plan our road trips and use our vacation times to travel and see our teams play against each other.

But while we are awaiting the dates to be announced by US Soccer for rounds proper of the US Open Cup, I found a fantastic bit of news that will satisfy everyone that has yelled, screamed, begged and disgusted us for disrespecting the International Calendar of FIFA. For the first time in the history of MLS during World Cup Qualifying, those International dates will be respected.

After writing down the dates of matches featuring my New York Red Bulls, I noticed that the two Saturdays of September 3 and October 8 were not filled for a home or a road match. I took a look at the full MLS Schedule and compared the International Calendar with a fantastic surprise: Both of those dates have been untouched for 2014 World Cup qualifying! Yes I understand that Saturday, November 12 is during the playoffs, but let’s be fair here. If that third Saturday is a bit unavoidable, we got a miracle that wasn’t expected.

As most of you know, the rumors have been told of CONCACAF starting World Cup qualifying a year earlier and changing the format which will start eight groups of four then four groups of four in 2012, then two groups of four in 2013 to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil and none of the matches will involve the USA and Mexico facing each other. Well it looks like that this clinches the rumor into fact.

This is another positive moment for Major League Soccer as they finally have understood how to create a regular season schedule and make room for those important International competition matches that are not the Gold Cup or a friendly. But give the guys in the front office a chance and they will listen to your pleas. If taking two weeks off during the group stages of this past World Cup was a fantastic start to respect the International Calendar, World Cup qualifiers are the next step towards the proper way.

I understand everyone wanted these changes to happen quickly and I agree that it got a bit tiresome forcing myself to choose between my club and the National Team. Thank goodness there is a DVR to do this, but honestly it shouldn’t have to come down to that. But as I have said many times and will say it again, these changes will happen by a snail or a turtle’s pace. Rushing to fix the problems will only make it worse.

But right now this is a happy day for all of us who follow MLS and the USA Men’s National Team. For the first time in a long time within the heart of the regular season schedule, we don’t have to worry about a conflict of interest and being annoyed about DVR’ing a league and national team match at the same time. Our voices have been heard again and MLS has listened. Well done Don Garber, a job well done.

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19 Responses to MLS Schedule Finally Gives Respect to World Cup Qualifying

  1. Evan K. says:

    I noticed the weekends off as well. I’m glad to see it. All that’s left is to release the schedule a lot sooner and I will have no complaints.

    Also, does anyone know if SKC requested that long road trip to begin the season in order to get their new stadium ready? Or was it a coincidence? I’d find it odd if it was. What are you thoughts?

    • Daniel Feuerstein says:

      It’s intentional so that Sporting KC can finish their stadium on time. This has happened in the past with FC Dallas & I believe the Crew before their stadium was finished. But the Columbus one I could be wrong about.

  2. ExtraMedium says:

    I criticize MLS a lot. But when they do something like this I tip my hat to them. The USMNT is more popular than MLS, so by taking a break they allow MLS players who are internationals to play on a big stage and prove they’re good players to the skeptics.

    • Daniel Feuerstein says:

      I do criticize them as well, but when they need to be praised then it has to come. Listen I understand it wasn’t the right thing to do when you have an MLS Match being played on an international date, but thankfully seeing the first example of a two week break during the group stages of the World Cup last year was a great idea.

      They finally realized that they had to go further and show respect for the International calendar again and take off for those important WCQ Dates. Even FIFA has reported that fact as well.

      http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/clubfootball/news/newsid=1380920.html

      Patients is tough guys and even I admit I’ve had to hold back a few times, but Don Garber and the boys in MLS HQ will make those changes when they are ready.

  3. Charles says:

    I didn’t see one guy mentioning WCup qualifying when talking about how hard it is to schedule MLS.

    Add it to the list of a gagillion things to work around. A couple of weeks late with the release will hopefully prove to be worth it.

    Garber really is worth his $3 million. I don’t agree with everything ( 10 team in the playoffs ), but I wouldn’t want to build a league with anyone else in charge.

    • Daniel Feuerstein says:

      Well Charles, I thought my MLS Talk partner Robert Hey would catch it in his report. Sadly he missed it. :-P

      Just kidding Robert. We were all excited about the schedule coming out when it finally did.

  4. Dan says:

    Definitely like that the schedule so far, just hope that they teams that aren’t getting national TV time on ESPN/or The Spanish channel get some national tv time on either FSC/or Versus (who ever gets the deal done).

    I prefer Versus because i have that channel currently.

  5. Dan says:

    I am still very pissed about CONCACAF changing qualification, Mexico v USA is one of the biggest rivalries in the world and they are destroying that.

    • Daniel Feuerstein says:

      I agree Dan. World Cup Qualifying is exciting and hotly contested no matter what Confederation your in, but not having the USA & Mexico match up in the Final Round or in any of the rounds in this new version of CONCACAF WCQ is like not allowing England & Germany play each other inthe World Cup it’s self.

      If they want to kill the rivalry, their own fault.

      • Charles says:

        Just stupid, first of all, its not like the US is playing too many meaningful teams in qualifying. The HEX was tough to win, but not that tough to qualify from for the US or Mexico.

        That is true with most teams outside of S America, but it is a golden opportunity to play a top 16 team a lot in games that mean something.

        Plus the fan interest is HUGE. The Sports Guy even writes about it.

        Long live the HEX !

  6. Alex says:

    thats a good step in the right direction. MLS HQ is starting to learn about soccer which is good. im not a big fan of garber but i have to give him a pat on the back for that. slowly but surely MLS is starting to align itself.

    plus yea i still have no idea why Concacaf took USA vs Mexico out of the picture but they said that changing the format will help strengthen the confederation which i hope it does, IMO concacaf is the weakest confederation in the world and we have to do something in order to strengthen it. so in the spirit of helping make concacaf a respectable confederation (and as a result give USMNT actual worthy opponents as opposed to mexico to help strengthen the team) i support the change. im still sad about not having the game though

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      Wait a sec. DId you just say Mexico isn’t a worthy opponent?

    • Charles says:

      I disagree with CONCACAF being the weakest.

      And if you said Mexico wasn’t a worthy opponent, there is no way you said that, but you did, I disagree with that too.

      Mexico makes the WCup final 16 more often than any team outside of the VERY elite. And I am not talking England-type elite.

    • Dave C says:

      I think Oceania (or whatever they call that region now) is by far the weakest, especially since Australia left to join Asia.

      I’m not sure if Alex meant that Mexico was not a “worthy” opponent, or if he just meant it would be nice to face a worth opponent other than Mexico for a change (although I’m not sure how that could happen as long as the US is in CONCACAF).

      I think the best thing to do (in terms of getting decent competition for the US and Mexico, AND in terms of making qualification an actual challenge for both of those teams) would be for Mexico and the US to somehow join CONMEBOL. Although since S America seem to be pretty happy with the format of their qualifiers, I don’t know how likely it is that they would agree to that.

      And @ Charles, I know you love to make up easily falsifiable statistics AND make gratuitous criticisms of the England national team wherever possible (or both at once in this case), but I don’t see the point of your comment about:

      Mexico makes the WCup final 16 more often than any team outside of the VERY elite. And I am not talking England-type elite.

      Anyway you look at it, England has a far better world cup record than Mexico. So does that mean England are part of the “not England-type” elite? I mean don’t get me wrong, Mexico have consistently reached the second round. But given that they (a) essentially get a free pass through qualification and (b)often get seeded in the finals, despite only making the QFs twice in their history (both times with home advantage), that’s not much of an achievement.

      • Robert says:

        USA is in the same region as Mexico and USA finished dead last in 98′. Concacaf is not a cake walk and does not guarantee you to pass to the round of 16.

      • Tom says:

        Since ’94, when England didn’t qualify, they have always made it to the round of 16. Plus, before 94, they made it ’90, ’86, and ’82. Compared to Italy and France, who won tournaments and missed out on rounds of 16 in the past decade and a half, England are a model of consistency.

        What is Mexico’s record since 94? All round of 16 exits. Thus, Mexico is actually the model of consistency, but England have had 3 quarterfinals and a semi final since then, so England are better.

  7. Robert says:

    This a step in the right direction.

  8. eplnfl says:

    A sign of a maturing league with world wide concerns. A good step in the right direction. Just stick to the spring usmmer and fall schedule!

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