MLS Gets It Right Regarding International Breaks
Who remembers the last time that Major League Soccer played a regular season match during an international date? Who remembers the last time when an important World Cup Qualifier was being played while the New England Revolution faced the Los Angeles Galaxy?
Well for the last three international match days, we finally know what it means to take a break from league play. Now obviously there have been some games rescheduled due to weather (such as Hurricane Irene, which forced three games to be changed from late August), but it’s still a fantastic feeling when you can wear your national team shirt and give your club side a break.
Now we all know what it’s like when the rest of the world takes a break for the international calendar and watches an important qualifier or a friendly match. If we remember when the word came out about this fantastic change, it was during the time when FIFA’s Executive Committee was trying to decide which confederation would get a certain amount of spots.
Before the scandals of CONCACAF were big news items, General Secretary Chuck Blazer and former President Jack Warner were trying to find a way to improve the qualifying and we thought we would get an upgrade from 3 ½ to 4 full spots since Brazil is the host country.
Major League Soccer who gave the schedule for the 2011 season in February gave fans the shock of their lives when they showed a few Saturday dates not filled with league games during World Cup Qualifying. That would have ensued that a new Qualifying format would have the USA starting play this year.
But sadly for CONCACAF they would be given 3 ½ spots while South America would remain with 4 ½ spots (or 5 ½ if you count Brazil as the host country). So the hexagonal has remained and so has the idea from Major League Soccer of taking a break for the international calendar.
As you have read some of the reports on MLS Talk the 2012 season might be starting early March. The hope then is to take a break again for World Cup Qualifiers in June, September and October. Let’s also remember last summer when the league took a two week break during the group stage of the World Cup.
While MLS did take a step back during the Gold Cup this past summer, we have to be fair and say that progress was being made. It’s been a slow and steady pace, but if you saw the MLS Cup Playoff schedule, the league has condensed it so the November international dates of 2011 wouldn’t have any interference.
I believe the league has heard the complaints from their fans and have found a way to make the necessary changes. While I do believe that friendly games played on the weekend will not be rescued, those that are most important will be.
But we can see that Major League Soccer is listening to us and they understand what changes need to be made for everyone that follows America’s top flight league.