Report: MLS considering a switch to European schedule

SnowyRedBullArena (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

After 18 seasons of going against the grain of what FIFA desired, Major League Soccer is reportedly considering a move that would put the league in line with the biggest leagues in Europe.

According to a report in the New York Daily News, MLS is contemplating changing their schedule from a summer season to one that begins in either late-July or early August and ends in late-May or early June of the following year, with a six to eight week break in the middle.

(UPDATE: MLS Vice President of Communications, Dan Courtemanche, has responded to the report on his Twitter account, saying “We recently conducted a survey and it had some questions about possibly moving the schedule. We regularly conduct market research on a variety of topics. Our fans’ preferences are important to us and we’ve proven to be good listeners.

“‘Rumors’ is an appropriate way to classify (the report). MLS has reviewed many possible schedule formats throughout the years. We hope to announce soon, but the timing will be very similar to the current season.”)

Based on the response from MLS, it doesn’t sound like there is much validity in the report.

FIFA has long desired for MLS to move their calendar towards the kind that is seen in the big leagues in Europe, with seasons taking place through the winter, though certain countries like Germany and France do have winter breaks as well.

If the report is accurate, it would see northern MLS teams like the three Canadian franchises as well as the likes of the Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls, and New England Revolution all playing parts of their season in bitterly cold temperatures, potentially on frozen fields as well. Both Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact began the 2013 seasons playing in domed stadiums in March, before moving into the regular stadiums in April.

Just last year on November 7, the New York Red Bulls home playoff game against D.C. United had to be postponed one day due to inclement weather, which included gusting winds and several inches of snow.

The report claims that MLS Commissioner Don Garber has wanted to move the MLS schedule in line with Europe for “a number of years” but talks have “intensified” recently into actually doing so. Since it’s inception in 1996, MLS has played their schedule through the summer. The 2013 league schedule began on March 2 and is set to conclude on December 7 in the MLS Cup final.

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What do you think of this report? Do you believe this is a good idea for the growth of the league? Would you attend matches in winter temperatures? Do you believe the clubs themselves are behind this potential schedule change.

Share your thoughts below.

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198 Responses to Report: MLS considering a switch to European schedule

  1. Ben says:

    Don’t do it. The league isn’t in a position to get fans to show up in sub zero temperatures. Also, unreal as it may seem, I know a few Brits who actually follow MLS since it is during summer, a soccer fix for them.

    • Mike says:

      This is a good point. MLS HAS to be on during the summer because that is the lowest point in the US for sports. They only have to compete with a too long baseball season.

  2. Matt says:

    I can understand that Don wants the schedule to switch because that’s what the rest of the world does. But the rest of the world doesn’t have to compete with the NHL, the Nfl, college football, college basketball, and the NBA all playing during that time, while we do. In the summer we only have to conpete with baseball

    • Kyle says:

      I think you can use the competition arguement, but I don’t think MLS’s competition is other US sports. I think their main competition, if they switched to a European schedule, would be European football. I think there is a very large segment of the MLS and other american league supporters that are independent and don’t overlap much if at all. This obviously isn’t everyone, but I think it is a large number of people.

    • BamaMan says:

      The problem now is that MLS’s championship competes with college and NFL football. That is a battle that MLS can never win. Switch to the Euro calendar and take a long winter break and you kick off your season in a down time for sports (MLB is in the middle of the season, NBA/NHL are done, football is yet to start) and finish with weaker competition (NBA/NHL; early season MLB) than we face currently. MLS has to get folks watching at the beginning and the end of the season to grow its fanbase. I think this will work out if they handle the winter break right.

      • Ted in MN says:

        I’d ask you which is more importan financiallyt: the 15 games total in the playoffs for 10 teams or the 296 played by 19 teams?
        The MLS playoffs can struggle against competition but there’s at least the natural draw of it being the playoffs that can raise some interest. There’s no comparison however on the damage that would be done week in and week out for months of the regular season when it isn’t the playoffs or even the playoff race.
        The MLS Cup’s just gonna have to grow stronger on the merits of the league because switching to winter-spring would kill the fan interest of MLS much more quickly than anything else.

  3. Marcus says:

    I’ve always been curious if FIFA is also actively trying to get other countries like Brazil, Japan, China, etc to also switch to a Fall/Spring schedule. It’s not like we’re the only outlier in the entire world…

    • beachbum says:

      me too and well said

      at this point I like the way MLS plays when others don’t. would be much happier to simply see MLS not schedule during FIFA dates

      • Paul says:

        I agree. The only thing MLS has to do is align with FIFA dates and the international transfer windows.

  4. papi grande says:

    not sure this makes sense. the majority of mls fans are suburban families more so than hard core soccer fans. I have my doubts that the suburban families will brave the elements to watch mls soccer…especially when you can watch top level European soccer at home on a 60″ flat screen while laying on there leather couch in a climate controlled environment.

  5. jrowe says:

    Not a good idea, this will plummet attendance figures. I imagine that David Beckham and the potential Miami bid are behind this. ;)

  6. Tom says:

    I get that we want to be like all the other sneetches on the beeches…but I’m just not a fan of this. Even an 8 week vacation, all of December and most of January, means teams will be playing in extremely cold weather. Here’s the average high/low temperatures for six MLS teams in February:
    Chicago: 36/22
    Boston: 39/25
    Columbus: 42/22
    Denver: 49/18
    Montreal: 26/15
    Toronto: 32/22

    What percent of current fans will want to sit outside for an early February game if it’s 25 degrees out? 80%? I think the league would see significant attendance drops if it goes through with this.

    • GJJ says:

      Chicago already has problems getting fans from the city out to Toyota Park due to it’s location in the suburbs. Move those games to February and you’ll be able to hear a pin drop.

      • BamaMan says:

        None of the cities with soulless surburban stadiums are doing particularly well in attendance. I don’t think that’s weather. I think it has a lot more to do with Chicago doing a poor job at developing a local fanbase like Sporting KC, Portland, Seattle, etc. MLS cannot continue to hold itself back to protect the clubs that are lagging behind.

    • BamaMan says:

      It’s pretty simple. Take an 8-week break throughout the last half of Dec, all of Jan and halfway through February. Don’t play in the cities above until early March (those teams can survive 3-4 weeks on the road). Toronto and Montreal could each play a game at their local domed stadium during that time.

      Do that and you’re not really playing in any of those cities in any colder weather than they do now. I’d suggest the same for Houston/Dallas in July.

      • Dominican Lou says:

        I think this is the most logical response. If they go to a fall-spring schedule they would just need to take a break from the first or second week of December to the first or second week of February and play the games nearest to the break in warmer weather cities. If Miami, Orlando and Atlanta are added to the league you can expect decent weather in:

        Kansas City
        Houston
        Washington DC
        Miami
        Orlando
        Atlanta

        Dallas
        Los Angeles x2
        San Jose
        Portland
        Seattle
        Vancover
        Colorado
        Salt Lake City

        Add the 24th team to St Louis and you could get 16 host teams during the last two weeks before the winter break and first three weeks after the break. If a long road trip is the biggest drawback, then it isn’t the worst thing in the world.

  7. BamaMan says:

    For me, it would be a lot easier to follow MLS if they followed the European model. I don’t have a hometown MLS team. The two sports I follow closely are football and soccer. With MLS as it is, I follow things fairly closely until September (minus international tournaments when the MLS games are garbage with international players out) and then have a difficult time following things from there on out. Games are routinely scheduled against the World Series and big college/NFL football games. And then of course, the MLS Playoffs which takes place during the heart of college football season.

    With intelligent scheduling (don’t play in Dallas/Houston in July/August unless you wanted to do a kickoff game at JerryWorld or Reliant; don’t play in Toronto/Montreal in February unless you want to do a return-from-winter-break game at the Rogers Centre or Stade Olympique), there’s no reason for the weather to be any bigger deal than it is now with the league playing at the end of February and into November.

    The most important thing to bring casual fans into the MLS, in my opinion, is to get them watching at the end of the season. Right now, that’s impossible. King Football and the MLB Playoffs are always going to dominate the November storylines. May and early June don’t have nearly the competition. You’ve got early season baseball, NBA, and the Stanley Cup. I think MLS can go head to head with all 3 in the US (in part because there are fewer matches). The Canadian sides may be the most opposed to this change because it would put MLS head-to-head with hockey. Even then, the two sports are totally different and the type of competition (single championship game rather than seven-game series) gives MLS a good shot.

    Besides, shouldn’t the soccer championship be played in the best weather of the season rather than the worst?

    • MisterJC says:

      I’m on board…

    • Paul says:

      I see the logic behind your idea, but I don’t agree. Speaking as someone who played soccer in NY, playing games in November, early December and late February can be bitterly cold. I think the main point of any move should be lining up the MLS calendar with the global transfer windows and observing all FIFA dates.

      Shifting play dates to warm weather locations would give those teams playing away for 2 months an unfair disadvantage. How about training? Most of these teams train outside. Not all leagues play on the European schedule. Also, games during the summer is a great advantage because there is nothing else going on. There is a lot going on in the Fall in the American landscape. Most sports (including soccer) get ratings by attracting casual observers/fans. I say this because I have 2 friends who work in sports marketing (one actually works with soccer as well). That is easier in the summer, but will prove to be much more difficult with the 2 biggest fan sports playing (NFL and College football). Not to mention that NHL and NBA start and the most popular part of baseball is going on.

      It annoys me when some people (not directed at you personally) want to cave to FIFA without discussing every aspect. I have lived on 3 continents and what FIFA suggests does not work for everyone. It does not even work for every in Europe.

      • BamaMan says:

        Your point on fall is well taken. Which is why, although MLS competes with the NBA and the NHL on attendance, it absolutely gets destroyed by both of them when it comes to ratings for the championship. MLS currently schedules its playoffs in absolutely the worst possible time of year for casual fans to follow in the US. This could get that fixed. Imagine an MLS Cup Final on Memorial Day in primetime.

  8. manicmessiah says:

    I guess it shows a (delusional) confidence in the league’s popularity.

    Knee-jerk reaction is mistake, time is more likely to make me think big mistake instead of not being a mistake.

  9. Smith says:

    Nice way to kill attendance. No one wants to go to a game in Colorado in February.

    Part of the joy of MLS is that it takes place when other leagues are off.

    Idiots.

  10. tga says:

    keep it summer….but wake up and put the international breaks into the schedule….how arrogant or idiotic….

  11. A.S. says:

    Nice picture. Pretty much sums up my thought about what would happen if MLS ever implemented this moronic idea.

    • BamaMan says:

      Oh, you mean the awesome US-Costa Rica game that SportsCenter covered for days afterwards? The one that people who don’t even follow soccer were talking about? The one that fans had a great time at? Yeah, it would be awful for MLS to earn that kind of media coverage.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Why don’t you get out of “Bama” once in a while and try sitting in the stands at a game in the northern US or Canada in February?

        • BamaMan says:

          Why would they play in those places in February? Take a winter break, then sends those teams on the road in the South until early March. Toronto and/or Montreal could do a “Back to Soccer” game at their local domed stadiums. All it takes is smart scheduling.

          I’d suggest you try sitting in Houston in 110 degrees in July. It sucks. The smart thing to do would be to send teams like that on the road in July and the first part of August. It really would not be that hard.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        You’re confusing spectacle with player and fan safety and fan interest. Fans might have shown up for the USA because they bought tickets for an isolated quali but if you have to play in this on a weekly basis people may get hurt and attendances may be impacted.

        I also don’t think a “NASCAR wreck” audience of people interested in televised craziness as opposed to the sport played well in appropriate conditions.

        I’m also going to throw in as someone who lived in England for a bit that they still have some weather postponements but that their season gives a misleading impression because the Gulf Stream keeps the temperatures warmer than otherwise, if flat. That is to say, it will be 35 all day, unlike the larger variations in the States. So even though it’s cold it freezes and snows less often than it might (think Seattle or Vancouver), which allows games through winter. I think the experiences of northern continental Europe are more relevant to North American winters (for the northern tier like Boston, NY, Toronto, Ohio, Montreal), and Germany takes a month off, some of the Scandinavian leagues play something more like we do.

        • BamaMan says:

          England certainly is more temperate than here. But they don’t take a winter break. Germany, Denmark, and Russia all play July/August – May and have weather every bit as cold as ours. We’re talking here about taking a long winter break and, most likely, scheduling most December, February, and March matches in warm weather climates or indoors. There is no reason to believe this could not be done.

  12. Travis in Miami says:

    I’m not sure this is a great idea, although with MLS popularity where it’s at I think starting the discussion is appropriate. It’s conceivable that attendance could handle the competition with other sports. Weather is another thing entirely.

    The most important thing in my opinion is creating a schedule that will break during FIFA dates. It’s increasingly the case that teams are majorly effected by this. For those who like the arguement that Brazil’s league doesn’t break for FIFA dates – their domestic league players are less likely to be playing internationally. Most of the Selecao are European based – of course there are exceptions – and they don’t have a as many foreign players being called in by their respective national teams. So MLS can address this two ways – change the schedule or have less foreign players/ USMNT players (like the Brazilian league).

  13. Eric says:

    I actually really like MLS having a March-October schedule, it provides plenty of soccer in July and August while the European leagues are in the offseason and preseason. Really, all that needs to happen is for MLS to adhere to all the FIFA international breaks. Switching entirely to an August-May schedule is overkill.

  14. sean says:

    Agreed that this isn’t necessary. But if they do do it then one option would be combining the break in the middle (Dec/Jan) with Nov and Feb games hosted disproportionately in warmer climates.

  15. bottlcaps says:

    Kiss of Death.

    It only takes one really bad decision to doom the MLS and this is it. Be prepared to see the attendance drop 20-50 percent. TV contracts shrink or non-existent, and coverage of the sport lessen as they compete with college and pro sports.

    Right now, the MLS enjoys competition with only baseball, imagine if it had to compete with NFL football, NBA basketball, NHL hockey and College sports.

    Now imagine being the only outdoor sport played in January, February, March on the Eastern seaboard and the NE US.

    This really bad move has come at the prompting of FIFA, and specifically UEFA, who, being in their own sports world where soccer reign supreme, have little knowledge of US sports economics and TV broadcast history.

    The US is the only nation that has 5 major Sports Leagues and a HUGE college sports following in football and basketball. Having to compete with most all of them for a league that is only just starting is not well thought out and probably suicidal. I hope Garber,et, al and Gulati are doing this as a sop to FIFA, and not on their range of things to do

  16. blokhin says:

    although a Fall-Spring season can be done in cold climates as seen in Ukraine and Russia, I don’t see the point for MLS to do it relative to its market position in the U.S…. late May/early June is NBA/NHL playoff time and the only benefit to MLS would be lack of overlap in certain markets (heavy Pacific NW, no Florida) but in Chicago, LA, texas and the Northeast I don’t see how MLS won’t get buried under NBA/NHL playoffs… the biggest open window in the American sports calendar is post NBA/NHL post-season and pre Labor Day start of NFL/College Football-early July to early Septmber… if MLS wants to maximize exposure it has to keep games gonig during that time-either regualt season or playoffs- bu simply switching to fall/spring and giving up the best window of exposure for the worst (going up against both NFL/College Football in the fall and NBA/NHL/March Madness in the spring is a folly in my opinion

  17. Kodi says:

    Living in Houston currently, and selfishly, I’d like this a lot. Try going to summer games in Houston. Its hotter than hell.

  18. Michael V says:

    I’ve always wondered why fans are willing to brave the cold temps to watch a NFL game but not a MLS match. The only conceivable reason is because it’s etched in our brains that soccer in this country is a warm weather sport. It’s a mentality, I guess. I live in Denver and I am well accustomed to the craziness of our weather patters. It can literally be 75 degrees on March 1 and 25 degrees on March 2nd with 12 inches of snow. Hell, I’ve seen this happen in the course of 12 hours. Spring is usually our snowiest months. Moving to a Euro schedule, much like the current MLS schedule still wouldn’t bypass those months. I personally don’t care if they switch. I can and have braved the cold at Dick Sporting Goods Park — see US vs. Costa Rica. it wouldn’t hamper my support of the Rapids and the league. However, I’m aware that I might be in the minority.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Soccer isn’t supposed to be played in snow. Sure, it can be but it’s a lot different than football, which can be played in pretty much any condition, although obviously the weather can impact the game quite a bit.

      • Michael V says:

        Playing devil’s advocate — who says it’s not suppose to be played in the snow?? Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, many of the central and eastern European nations have matches played in snow. It’s not all that uncommon. Heated pitches help limit the unplayable conditions. Also, having an 8 week “winter break” helps, too. However, like I said previously, it doesn’t matter to me if the schedule is changed. March and early April still wouldn’t be bypassed and those can be and often are the snowiest months in Denver.

        • SJ says:

          I know RSL’s field is heated, and I believe the Rapid’s field is too. We saw what that means when the USMNT played CR in Denver this year, and the same when the USWNT played Mexico in 2010 at Rio Tinto.

          There isn’t a “perfect” answer to this question.

    • Ted in MN says:

      Because the NFL has existed at that schedule for 90 years and soccer in the US has always been played summer schedule including the old NASL. The NFL is so popular in the US that it can get people outside in the middle of winter and, while MLS attendance is strong, I wouldn’t want to make that bet especially going against the NFL.

      • bottlcaps says:

        But even the NFL does not play football in January, February or March, (except for the SB, which is indoors or in a warm climate. They are not dumb enough to hold major sporting events in the dead of winter.

  19. Jim says:

    MLS recently sent out a survey asking fans about switching to the European schedule. My guess is they got a lot of positive responses if they’re now discussing the switch seriously.

    Personally, I think it’s worth risking the poor weather if it allows for greater attention on the playoffs.

  20. timothy says:

    As a rapids fan, I might cancel my season ticket. I love the rapids, but I moved here to snowboard

    • Err says:

      1-2 games a week will stop you from snowboarding… I see

      • timothy says:

        Almost all games are on the weekends and I work during the week. I could ride one day and watch soccer the other, but i’d rather make threats. Its never too hot in Denver for soccer games at night, but kickoff would have to be at 1:00 in the winter to be fine temperature wise most days

  21. dude says:

    Winter appears to be FIFA’s favorite season. All countries have to play soccer during that month, so that Qatar can screw everyone equally.

    This isn’t a good idea. Competition with other sports leagues is bad enough, playing in horrible winter conditions is worse. This is all so MLS can be considered part of FIFA’s empire, but it’s not good for anyone but Garber’s ambitions, and Blatter’s… whatever subhuman process goes through his mind. We want to be considered part of the big boys, but we haven’t truly captured the imaginations of Americans yet. Seattle, Portland, and the Canadian franchises have a firm hold, but until the knowledge of MLS’s existence becomes common knowledge, which it still isn’t on par with the other leagues, this move is useless.

  22. slowleftarm says:

    Horrendous idea. I’ll cancel my NYRB season tickets if this happens and watch the games on TV rather than pay to sit in 30 degree weather and watch it live with the handful of people who would be there.

    I disagree though with those who say that this would be worse in terms of competing with other sports. In April/May, MLS would only have to compete with the NBA/NHL playoffs which is a lot better than competing with the baseball postseason, NFL and college football. Right now, the MLS Cup final is up against some huge college football games that same day.

    That said, this is a terrible idea because the weather makes it impossible.

  23. Josh says:

    Don’t like the European schedule here. Not because just because of the weather. If you want to grow the sport of soccer and MLS in America, you’re not gonna do it when it with a European schedule where it has to compete with the NFL and the NBA season.

  24. RBNY says:

    Was at the snowbowl at RBA. Was the coolest unplayed match I’ve ever been to lol. As a supporter, I would much rather go to cold weather matches in January than the annual match or two that takes place at 1pm in July with 100 degree temperatures.

    • slowleftarm says:

      I was there and back the next day when the game took place. It was a miserable experience and not just because of the result. I don’t think, based on the attendance that day, that many others would prefers to watch games in those conditions.

      • RBNY says:

        Yea you’re probly right about that. One thing is for sure, our supporters sections will remain full. Can’t say the same for the rest of the stadium.

      • Bill Brasky says:

        Yeah, but you’re potentially getting those conditions under either scenario. The question is would you rather it be a regular season or playoff match in Nov & Dec?

    • Jose from the Bay says:

      name one MLS match that was played in 100 degree weather. NONE,

  25. jordan says:

    THESE ARE THE TWO BEST COMMENTS (THE PLAYOFFS NOW ARE AGAINST EVERY SPORT SO WITH THE CHANGE PLAYOFFS WILL ONLY BE AGAINST NHL AND FOOTBALL)

    The problem now is that MLS’s championship competes with college and NFL football. That is a battle that MLS can never win. Switch to the Euro calendar and take a long winter break and you kick off your season in a down time for sports (MLB is in the middle of the season, NBA/NHL are done, football is yet to start) and finish with weaker competition (NBA/NHL; early season MLB) than we face currently. MLS has to get folks watching at the beginning and the end of the season to grow its fanbase. I think this will work out if they handle the winter break right.

    The most important thing to bring casual fans into the MLS, in my opinion, is to get them watching at the end of the season. Right now, that’s impossible. King Football and the MLB Playoffs are always going to dominate the November storylines. May and early June don’t have nearly the competition. You’ve got early season baseball, NBA, and the Stanley Cup. I think MLS can go head to head with all 3 in the US (in part because there are fewer matches). The Canadian sides may be the most opposed to this change because it would put MLS head-to-head with hockey. Even then, the two sports are totally different and the type of competition (single championship game rather than seven-game series) gives MLS a good shot.

    Besides, shouldn’t the soccer championship be played in the best weather of the season rather than the worst?

    • slowleftarm says:

      Good point except it’s freezing and unpleasant in the the northern US and Canada in winter. There are very few places in Europe where the winter is as severe as it is in those areas and those places mostly have a summer schedule.

  26. SoccerGuy says:

    This would be a big issue for me as an MLS season ticket holder in a cold weather market…The vast majority of the current season is played with baseball being the only competition. Move the league to winter and on a typical Saturday the league will compete with the NHL, NBA and college basketball. Also, there will continue to be NFL overlap.

    Being able to tailgate throughout the summer in great weather is also a huge plus for the league. I skipped some early season games this year due to cold weather and playing a large part of the season in the colder months would be a big negative for me. I wouldn’t stop going to MLS games but I wouldn’t purchase season tickets…I would just pick and choose select games throughout the year.

    Also, winter breaks are accepted in certain European countries but it’s not something that American sports fans are used to…sports here do not go away for two months in the middle of the season. I think people will lose interest with that long of a break and start watching something else.

  27. Rich says:

    The European leagues should switch to our schedule. The schedules will always “compete” with someone. That is what forces the league to put a good product out. Keep the MLS on its current schedule

  28. beto says:

    -competing with the nfl and other US sports in the fall.
    this only goes so far..i honestly think there are enough fans in the US and days in the year to make this work. obviously well thought out scheduling needs to happen
    -dealing with the cold weather in the winter
    not a great thing for half interested fans but personally I love watching cold games! soccer is played in the cold winter months in northern Europe and elsewhere.. Id take a cold crisp (or even a little snow) over a humid summer afternoon.
    -loosing all of our quality players to Gold Cups, Confed Cups, Qualifying, World Cups every summer –> this is what I have a problem with.

    I would wait to see what FIFA does with the International Calendar preceding Qatar before changing the league schedule. I would image that they are going to be open up a winter and summer international window. My plan would be to develop a Fall+Spring season. 20 games July-Nov and 14 games Feb-April followed by playoffs in May could work!

    • Felix says:

      If FIFA insists on pushing the winter WC in Qatar, the big Euro leagues are going to get some concessions in terms of international dates and youth tournaments.
      So I agree with you, the amount of international dates will decrease if the big 4/5 get their way.

  29. Frank says:

    Play February to mid march regular season games in spring training sites and it could work-Argentina does something similar in summer (January) when it plays games in vacation spots all over the country

    • FRANK FROM SANTIAGO says:

      It’s pre season, they don’t play games that actually count during the regular season.

  30. Tim F. says:

    I think it would be crazy not to play at least through June and hold playoffs in July; then you could take the rest of July and all of August off, perhaps part of January / February off and games in warmer climates in December and the rest of January and February. But, why?

    Why try to overlap more with the NFL and college football? It’s better now with less overlap (the way it is now.

    • BamaMan says:

      Certainly it would make sense to schedule MLS games head-to-head with the FIFA World Cup. Who would want our best players on the field for the championships?

    • Impartial Observer says:

      Exactly.. there is no way we could have playoffs conflict with the World Cup and to a lesser extent the Gold Cup. Every other year players like Donovan, Dempsey, EJ, Zusi etc would miss the playoffs.

      • Tim F. says:

        Won’t be in place for 2014 and 2022 the World Cup will be held in the winter. Only issue in the next twelve years is 2018 … for that year, will need to finish up early. There’s always a need, from time to time, to have flex scheduling, just like Europe will implement in 2022.

    • Northzax says:

      July would be the worst time to hold playoffs. First there’s weather. Have you been to houston, Dallas, DC, or say Orlando, Atlanta, Miami in July? Makes for an awful game (why do you think Houston plays on such a narrow field?) then, in three out of four years you’d have major national team conflicts (Gold cup, Euros, WC)

  31. AlexH says:

    This could work if the league expands to warm weather cities. If the league started early and ended late (mid August to mid June) there could be sizable winter break (like all of January). If the schedule were made so that warm weather teams would get home stands in the Winter and cold weather teams would get home stands in the Summer then the number of games that would be affected by climate could be minimized.

  32. Dean Stell says:

    I don’t understand why the whole country needs to be on the same schedule. There simply isn’t a 9-10 month window that offers nice weather everywhere in the US/Canada. Why not just divide everything into regions, let the clubs play mostly within their regions at times when the weather is decent, do some interleague play and then do the playoffs kinda like a mini-Champion’s League.

    Especially with Atlanta, Orlando and Miami coming into MLS, you can’t just expect people to sit through all those hot games down there. Those places should be off in the summer. Toronto/Boston/Chicago, etc. should be off in the winter.

    • Excellency says:

      I have always liked this idea, or a variant of it.

      What worries me about MLS is that they may be too eager to cash in the big chips with big indoor stadiums on artificial turf in prime time in biggest media markets..etc.etc. garber seems very accomodative to that approach.

      I wish there were a stronger grassroots movement out there. I think the tortoise beats the hare eventually.

      • The idea really fixes. Lot of MLS issues. The USA is too big for one league to cover all of it. Transportation costs alone are huge because of this. Scheduling problems are obvious. If cities like Indy and Raleigh can support NASL teams and do a bit more it could feasible. Its all about money though. A ten team pacific northwest league and a ten team northeast corridor league may be enticing but the money won’t allow that kind of speculation.

  33. chris says:

    Really dumb idea. I’m not going to watch when your competing against MLB playoffs, college football, NFL, march madness, and NBA playoffs.

    • Ian says:

      You realize the current MLS season runs concurrent with the MLB playoffs, college football regular season, 13 weeks of the NFL season, March Madness and the NBA playoffs already? In other words, your comment was complete nonsense.

    • Impartial Observer says:

      MLS competes with all of those things already, the only difference is that now there are a couple months in the summer when they only compete with MLB. With a winter schedule they would compete with the NFL and college football for a couple more months true. But that’s it, you can throw those other sports out.

      In fact they would compete with NBA and NHL playoffs (which stretch into late June) less than they have to now. March Madness would be the same, MLB playoffs would be the same.

  34. Rory says:

    I’m on that Supporter’s Survey thing from MLS. They made it clear from their questions that they are looking at possibly doing a European calander with a a LONG winter break. I’m going by memory but I think they were looking at taking off all of December and January then coming back in mid Feb.

    But don’t get too excited, the survey before this one was about changing the playoffs, more teams, less team, the same number of teams being the biggest question, then a question over if we preferred the old best of three series format, one-off matches for every round, or home and away champions league style for each round.

    • I got that survey too.

      So, they are considering it. I think the question they are asking, is the fan base mature enough to follow MLS using a normal International calendar?

      I am in agreement with Wynalda on this one. Our player values go up and our ability to compete in the transfer market is better.

      Would fans continue to follow the league under this schedule? I say yes.

      • Jose from the Bay says:

        ” normal International calendar” what is normal? I thin the MLS is normal. Is Mexico normal? Brazil? Norway?

        • Felix says:

          Brazil’s calendar is ridiculous with the league, the state playoffs, the Copa Libertadores, Sudamerica and their national cup.

  35. the original jb says:

    The schedule is ok the way it is, MLS just needs to respect the FIFA international dates. So dumb to hype up the 1-2 games a week on national tv and then have the best 6-7 players out for international duty.

  36. Soccerhorn says:

    “Fifa would like the MLS to switch?” I’m sure Fifa would also like us to build sixteen indoor stadiums that still have natural grass, and pay them a few billion dollars for the privilege. Oh wait, I’m thinking of Qatar.

  37. chuck says:

    Wonder if Apertura/Clausura would be a possibility, with such a big break? Works in Mexico in terms of business, but now the fans are to ADD’ed by it to go back to European style.

    • JCC says:

      I don’t think that would work in North America for the casual fan. The idea of have two championships with two mini-seasons would be jarring to grasp for those that are only familiar with the North American sports landscape.

      • Ian says:

        But that’s the thing about soccer: A lot of fans are not only familiar with the North American sports landscape. The idea of apertura/clausura would be no less jarring than a cup tournament or the Champions League – which are uncommon on the North American sports landscape, but on the rise for MLS fans.

    • DC Josh says:

      I don’t like the two mini-seasons. It has no continuity, just like the current CONCACAF champions league format. An MLS squad playing in the 2013 group stage could look totally different in 2014 knockout rounds. It’s essentially two different teams.

      Regardless of that tangent: the idea of two different seasons with two champions who play each other for another championship seems redundant. Just play one season and get it over with.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      One issue I see with it is that MX plays an 18 team 17 game schedule plus the liguilla. We’re already beyond that in terms of size, and so we wander into fixture congestion and schedule imbalance unless you do something creative like split the league up.

      Another issue would be title glut. You want the fans to care about each Cup but a title every few months is de-sensitizing. Maybe a Super Bowl type game between title winners? I still think it’s too much, each title starts to matter less. Like pro rel I think this aspect is more interesting to purists or fans of other leagues than our own general fanbase.

  38. Ted in MN says:

    ughhhhh can we please just stop this.

    • Jersey2Colorado says:

      yay, let’s be stagnant and hinder our growth!

      • Ted in MN says:

        and switching to a Fall-Spring schedule won’t hinder the growth of the league?

      • slyboy says:

        We could plenty of things without having to change to a winter schedule. As someone who spent plenty of time in the east coast during the winter, i would rather play in heat then on a field covered in 2 inches of snow and bitter cold. And before you say Europe does it, why can’t we? Well USA is far more cold then most of Europe. BTW…go look at the Scandinavian league schedules.

  39. Ian says:

    If MLS wants to move to the European calendar, the cold-weather clubs could start and end the season on the road and have longer home stands in the summer. It’s mutually beneficial for the warm-weather cities as well, who would spend more time on the road when it’s 95 degrees at home in June/August/September.

    The northeastern, midwestern and high altitude clubs would play mostly away in March/April/October/November, while the western and incoming southern clubs would play on the road when it’s sweltering and/or humid.

    On the road during winter:
    Montreal
    TFC
    NE
    NYRB
    NYCFC
    Philly
    DC
    Columbus
    Chi
    Colorado
    RSL

    On the road during summer:
    Houston
    Dallas
    SKC
    LA
    Chivas
    SJ
    Orlando (?)
    Miami (?)
    Atlanta (?)
    San Antonio (?)

    Doesn’t matter because it’s always raining:
    Portland
    Seattle
    Vancouver

  40. byob el paso tx says:

    For the all the non believers, MLS can easily do the international calendar and make more money and help the national team. Why be afraid of MLB (so boring sport, i just watch the playoffs, which are during the week), NBA season is so long that only the last fourth of the league is important, NFL (NFL only plays sundays, NHL support is going down, and NCAA is nothing big because every year, its always the same teams winning in college basketball and football.
    MLS fans need to realize, if the schedule changes, it will be till miami, atlanta and orlando join and what if MLS grows to 26 or 28 teams.
    MLS has 2 LA teams, San Jose, Houston, Dallas, (Salt Lake and Denver depending), (orlando, miami, atlanta for sure) with good weather. Thats like half of the league and what if MLS adds more than 24 teams, like 28 with more warm cities or good weather stadiums.
    For instance, MLS can start on 4th of July or early august. Then have a break around december and come back during super bowl weekend or after super bowl weekend.
    During the break, have a tournament in Hawaii with NASL teams or friendlies in non MLS markets.
    After the break, there is no NFL, no college football, no MLB and you only got march madness and NHL playoffs and boring Nascar.
    After the season ends in May, have the MLS all star game, MLS teams play their friendlies against European teams and have preseason tournaments.
    So lets say MLS tells MLS owners, by 2017-2018 we are going for the international calendar, so get your stadiums ready with roof cover and heating field and good drainage :) whats the big deal

    • Ian says:

      I share you optimism, but I hope MLS keeps it at 24 teams and no more.

    • slowleftarm says:

      As always – total nonsense.

      • byob el paso tx says:

        why? you do know during the summer, people go out of town, work longer hours due to the summer economy. People in the summer just do so many stuff and why is MLS and soccer a sport for the “summer.” Its freaking hot and humid everywhere in the U.S. Crazy rain and heat in the summer is ugly.

      • Mike says:

        + 1.

        Plus after break he just happened to leave out the NBA. They are still around and playing in Feb. and while it might not be big in El Paso in my neck of the woods it’s HUGE.

        • Ted in MN says:

          and he just breezed over the NHL playoffs which as anyone in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, and half a dozen other markets (including prospective ones in Minneapolis and Detroit) can tell you is a pretty big deal up here.

          • byob el paso tx says:

            What about the nhl,nfl and nba fans who drive through snow just to see their team play another typical game of hockey or basketball, when soccer is only once a week. For example, the nfl is like soccer, they only play once a week and make it worth for the fan. So MLS is basically going to be the same thing like NFL.

            • byob el paso tx says:

              by the way, the current schedule of MLS goes against NCAA football season, half of NFL season, march madness, hockey and most of MLB. so whats the difference?

              • Ted in MN says:

                The difference would be cutting off the flow of the MLS season by a 2-3 month break and heading down the regular season stretch in full competition with the NBA/NHL/NCAA. That and the weather.

            • slowleftarm says:

              Well people may drive through snow to watch the NBA but they don’t sit in it when they get there. And saying “MLS is basically going to be the same thing like NFL” doesn’t make it so.

  41. Andy says:

    I think it’s a great idea and very doable.

    Would you want to ‘tweak’ the schedule to minimize the home games in cold months for the colder cities? Sure. We’ve done more drastic things just for one player.

    Do I care about conflicts with other sports? Not really, and I don’t think most other fans would care, either. Do we want to avoid playing at the same time as the Superbowl? Sure, just as I expect MLB to postpone their games if the USA was in a World Cup Final – it’s just good business.

    Most importantly, MLS will never get the next level without this change. Playing in the heat of the summer reduces quality of play too much. Too many games are played with missing stars. Too many games are played during major tournaments (Gold Cup, Euro Cup, World Cup). So, so many reasons.

    • Jose from the Bay says:

      ” Playing in the heat of the summer reduces quality of play too much” as opposed to playing in freezing cold of winter ?

    • James says:

      Playing in the heat of summer reduces level of play significantly less than playing on a frozen field in NY in February. There are some enticing reasons to switch, as you point out, but, despite its growth, MLS is still a league in its formative years, and WILL NOT compete on its own against the major American sports leagues.

      • Ted in MN says:

        or, for that matter, European leagues which have higher tv numbers than nationally broadcast domestic games.

  42. Myke says:

    The bigger problem with the MLS schedule right now is how out of sync it is. There was a point in this current season when RSL had played FIVE more games than Seattle. There’s really no excuse for the schedule to get that out of balance.

    There are also scheduling issues to conclude the regular season: RSL plays at Portland on 10/19 in a game with massive Supp. Shield, MLS Cup seeding and CCL-qualifying implications. Following that game RLS hosts Chivas USA on 10/23; then just three days later Portland plays at Chivas USA on 10/26.

    It’s ridiculous that so much could be decided by Chivas USA playing against two top clubs within the span of 4 days to close out the season.

    In the EPL the final games of the season are all played on the same day and start at the same time. I don’t see any reason MLS can’t do the same.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Why is ridiculous to have Chivas play 2 good teams at the end of the year? How are you supposed to avoid that?

      • Myke says:

        What’s ridiculous is that they play them in the span of 4 days. If RSL beats Portland, expect to see a lot of scrutiny given (from both camps) to what kind of lineup Chivas fields for each of those games. They’re in a prime position to play kingmaker.

        My point is that there’s really no excuse for the MLS schedule to be so out of sync at the end of the season.

  43. DC Josh says:

    Attendance would certainly fall if MLS switched to the European soccer calendar. A 1 month break in January or February would help with the bitter cold, but it is still too cold for most casual fans.

    In 5-10 years, when teams are consistently bringing in 20,000+ rabid fans, then I can see it working.

    • byob el paso tx says:

      no, you gotta believe son. We are talking about 25,000 seat stadium with cheap soccer tickets. Once MLS gets warmer markets and makes MLS teams upgrade their stadiums with full roof covers ( not your typical roof cover), heated pitch and good drainage…..and dont forget about expansion teams. MLS is looking at the big picture and in reality, MLS is fed up with NBA,NFL,MLB stealing their ideas and fans.

      • fischy says:

        Indeed. I could see MLS getting all of this in place by….2050….if the league wins several $300 million-plus lotteries.

      • Paul says:

        You are not making any sense. You are allowed to believe what you want, but your logic is flawed. If I spent time responding to everything you have said in your 3/4 previous postings, I would have hand-cramps. Do you know how expensive heated fields are? Not all teams in the UK have them! Not all teams in the NFL have it! Converting stadiums? You do know that most MLS are still NOT PROFITABLE.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I also think the break would kill off the momentum aspect of fan interest. If it’s one long season, the fans start to care about their start, oh my team is w-l-t, whammo break, how bout them Texans and Rockets, break over…..wait, how are the Dynamo doing again? You also risk losing fans to the winter sports they watched during the break.

      Germany and Sweden can do this because soccer is still pretty top dog. But soccer in the US is still fighting for a niche and looking for attention span. I know in terms of TV it already has to fight college (local TV) and NFL football (playoffs) this way.

  44. martin says:

    I love you MLS but I also love the NFL and NHL. You won’t have a lot of my attention from September to January for football and April to June for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    • Ted in MN says:

      Exactly, too many people here are taking the position that you can only be 1: the die hard soccer only fan. Reality is that the majority of the people in the stands aren’t limited that way and the growth of the league has been and will be in large part contingent upon casual fans (which is not to say that anyone who watches another sport must instantly be labeled a casual).

      • greg says:

        you are partially true, but there is not a huge overlap of fanbases. for example in seattle the seahawks and sounders season ticket base overlaps by a measly 2% only.

        • Ted in MN says:

          In person attendance is less the issue as compared to the broad swathes of tv audience. That’s where the league is looking for more money and its also where it faces the most competition.

  45. Grant says:

    I want to read all the comments, but also wanted to throw my .02 out there. Screw FIFA! They’ve wanted MLS to change the schedule for years, and when MLS finally does… they’ll have to change it back to accommodate the winter world cup in 2022. Stay with what you have now MLS. It’s turned out to be a great schedule and is developing a strong following as a summer time sport.

    Every time I catch a match the stadiums keep getting better the crowd and atmosphere are improving and the level of play is also on the up. Screw FIFA!

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Amen. You look at Emirates Stadium and the look and naming rights concept of the place are swiped from here. Seattle has massive crowds. We need to get over our complex.

      MLS probably has better temperature/attendance records than us, but I’d think their sweet spot is 50-90F and a summer schedule maximizes that. Surely rather than sending out speculative surveys they could just run some graphs of temperature versus attendance, factoring in quality of opponent.

      Practically speaking, I think the competitive landscape depends on your perspective. The Sounders could probably play year round and the ticket buyers would show. I think you’d lose fans to bowls and NFL playoffs still, but they’d get theirs. But weaker teams might struggle. Teams in colder regions with less fervent fan bases might struggle. Some teams in Canada would maybe do fine though. Attendance would drop overall and you’d lose tons of TV viewers in January. I actually think we benefit from competing against the ultimate fixture congestion of MLB, and playing in warmer months.

  46. Scott e Dio93 says:

    MLS has way too long break, and USNT’s players totally fit because MLS’s season just starting.

  47. Dan says:

    I don’t see what interest FIFA has in the MLS schedule beyond making sure it accomodates International matches (which I understand). As another poster pointed out, it’s silly to hype up a game on TV and then have the best 8 players be out on national team duty.

    Why not just start the season earlier (i.e. the week after the Superbowl) and have the Northern teams open up the season with 4-5 road games. They get the favor returned in July/August. That way the Southern teams play more home games when the weather is perfect and avoid having to play at home in the summer when many cities (Houston, and in the future Atlanta, Orlando and Miami in particular) are humid hell-holes. Everyone wins. People will complain about having to play so many road games in a row, but if all teams have to go through it at some point what difference does it make?

    By stretching out the schedule you allow for more “off weeks” for FIFA matches/major tournaments.

  48. RB says:

    Significant expansion plans already entail risk to the league. A significant scheduling change of any sort would also of course entail risk to the league. Doing both things at the same time would be foolhardy.

  49. fischy says:

    Y’all are focused ont hequality of play. How about the fact that no noe is going to come to these winter games. NYRB had a miniscule crowd for a playoff game in November last year against DC. A playoff game. Imagine some regular season match against San Jose or Vancouver.

    • fischy says:

      Oops —

      “the quality of the play” —- and —- “no one is going to come”

    • Bob says:

      i read that there would be a winter break. I don’t see a problem with attendance.

      • Chupacabra says:

        You’ve apparently never faced the prospect of sitting in a freezing stadium after driving though snow for two hours to make what usually is a 30-minute drive. It’s a horrible idea for fans of every MLS team except the ones on the West Coast and in Texas – 2/3 of the league.

    • Scott A says:

      And imagine the effect on DC. They get miniscule crowds in perfect weather. The last couple years have been abysmal.

  50. mike says:

    How about just push the schedule up three weeks to start just after Superbowl. The most northern teams could start with a two week swing south and west. During international dates take the breaks like major European leagues. The time during World Cup will be offset by the early start and each team can promote during this time to keep momentum from MLS players coming back, and focus on reserve league play or whatever they want to call the second level of play. Then 2015 start right after Superbowl again thus giving clubs time to plan their stadium building projects with the idea of more covering and heated fields, I think TFC is the only club with this system now.

  51. Bob says:

    they should move the schedule. But its going to take more than that to get American soccer fans to tune in to MLS. There a handful of things MLS does that turn off a lot of soccer fans in this country.

    • Felix says:

      I’m not saying your wrong – however; I honestly believe even if they went to a winter schedule, introduced pro/rel, and abolished the playoffs, salary cap and current ownership structure a lot of the Euro/Liga MX fans still wouldn’t watch.
      The soccer fans that won’t watch MLS made up their minds a long time ago, and rationalize their disinterest with MLS’ unique rules.

      • Bob says:

        i think the majority of them would watch. Of course, you’d still have those that wouldn’t watch. But when you talk to people who refuse to watch MLS it always comes down to MLS being a rogue league that refuses to get in line with the rest of the world.

  52. beto says:

    the real issue behind this decision is when to host the playoffs. personally i think that putting the MLS Cup playoffs in the heat of the football seasons and MLB playoffs (also during the cold weather) isn’t the best time of year. The best time of the year for the playoffs would be May . Champions League and every other league finals, nice weather everywhere, early MLB season and NHL playoffs are the only other thing on.. plus it would be a nice lead into the summer FIFA/Concacaf tournaments.

    if you keep the schedule in tact we will continue to run the most important MLS games, end of the season + playoffs, during the fall when we all agree is less than optimal time. if we must play games in June & July, during the biggest international games, at least they will only be the first 8 or so games..

    outside of the playoffs and the “end of the year”; there would still be games in the same months just a 8 week break between the 26th game and the 27th game

    • dan says:

      good points!

    • Ted in MN says:

      They may be the most important games but there’s only 15 total played by at most 10 teams. You’d be saving that and destroying the 296 played by 19 teams. Which hurts business more? At least with the MLS playoffs competing against other sports, they’re putting their best product forward which can try to compete on its own. By comparison, the regular season games which make up the overwhelmingly more important section of tv and attendance would get destroyed.

  53. David M says:

    All those who give Russia as an example of playing in the winter, I suggest go to Russian soccer sites and see the Russian fans think about that. You’ll find very few, if any, opinions supporting the switch (which happened just two years ago) to the “fall-spring” season. Moreover, they don’t actually play in the winter. There is a 3-month winter break — the last games this year will be played on December 6th. The next game day is March 8th.

    Ukraine takes a very similar extended break in the winter as well.

  54. divers suck says:

    Who cares about the European league schedules?!….MLS only needs to worry about steering as far clear from the NFL and NCAA football schedules as much as possible. That is the biggest threat to revenue. Not basketball, baseball or hockey. In doing this they also must do everything possible to NOT have matches on International breaks (especially WC qualifying dates).

    • Bob says:

      would really have to look at survey data to see if American soccer fans and American football fans are the same people.

      I don’t think they are. But only the data will give definitive answers on that.

      • Smith says:

        I am a Red Bulls ticket holder & lifelong NY Giants fan.

      • slowleftarm says:

        There’s definite overlap. I’m not a huge football fan but I watch a decent amount. There are some people who are just sports fans and like lots of sports, including soccer.

      • NRB says:

        I’m a huge college football fan, born and raised in the Southeast. I live in Kansas City and love SKC and also follow the Chiefs. I’m not the only one here in KC either.

        • Bob says:

          well, right now the most important part of the MLS season occurs during the NFL season. So what’s the big deal?

  55. Paco says:

    Make. The. Switch.
    Folks, this is about the timing of the end of the season, the playoffs, and the championship. These should be happening in April/May when the competition on the sports landscape is early season MLB (yawn), NHL playoffs (regional sport), and the NBA playoffs. The big king in this North America at present is football. Football ratings dwarf other sports. It captures the attention and culture in a huge way. No other sport comes close. At present, the best and most exciting time in MLS competes directly with the NFL and college football, not to mention MLB playoffs, early season NBA and NHL.
    Start the MLS season in late July, much like many European leagues. There will be a good push and good attention paid to MLS at this time, a relatively quiet and non-congested time in sports. Play games through mid-December. It would be good to have games the second and third weekends in December as college football is in a relative down time between conference championships and the bowl season. The league would then break until early February, just after the Super Bowl (alternatively, MLS could schedule an afternoon game or two on Super Bowl Sunday as a lead in to the game). MLS starts back up in February and plays through May. Cold weather sites have the option of moving to an indoor stadium for a couple of home dates like Toronto and Montreal have done, or they will have a few weeks on the road. By March, most places should be very hospitable for home games. The playoffs and championship would stand a much greater chance of capturing the attention of the North American sports fan in April/May. TV ratings would grow. Let’s face it, growing TV ratings would be a league-altering sea change.
    What do we miss by switching to this calendar? June and early July games. In the south, this is an absolute plus. People in Houston and Dallas avoid going to games at this time. It’s too hot. Plus, the quality of play is poorer. Add Orlando, Miami, and Atlanta to this argument if expansion goes as expected. Furthermore, what is happening in June and early July? Major international tournaments. Every year. The World Cup. World Cup qualifiers. The European championships. The Confederations Cup. The Gold Cup. Any possible future Copa America that includes CONCACAF. The best players will be gone in June/early July most years anyway. Soccer will be at the forefront of the sports landscape at this time anyway.
    The time frame that games played in is not much different. MLS misses a few weeks in June/July when they shouldn’t be playing anyway. The season starts about three or four weeks earlier and with smart scheduling it will be more pleasant for everyone. Home games in Houston, LA, Orlando, and Miami in February – yes, please! Northern tier sites still have plenty of home games during good weather in late July, August, September, October, April, May.
    Ultimately, we want to raise the awareness of the league and grow TV ratings. This will change everything. The US Men’s National Team is now mainstream. The real transformation of soccer into a mainstream sport is already happening. Switching the calendar is one more step along the way. It’s growth. No more playing during FIFA international windows. No more burying the playoffs in the football fog of late autumn.
    Soccer is happening. It’s time.

    • Austin says:

      Doubt anybody read any of that.

    • beto says:

      i am sold. once the switch is made the MLS Cup final on Memorial Day Weekend (after the UEFA CL Final) will be a legit big time game. Our midsummer friendlies will be pre-season games and our rosters will full of international (mostly USMNT) stars.

    • BamaMan says:

      Absolute total agreement. Kick off the same time as the Mexican league in July. Leverage the interest in the World Cup to get folks to follow MLS First Kick a week after the final.

    • Joe Soccer says:

      Just out of curiosity, what indoor stadium will New England move to for those cold weather month games? Or Columbus? Or Chicago? Or Salt Lake? Or Kansas City? Or Denver? Or Philadelphia? Or New York?

      Everyone who thinks this is a good idea should sign up to make the grand tour of cold weather cities in the first February they switch. And then when they thaw out they can tell us if they still think it’s a good idea or not.

  56. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    NO! JUST NO

    I am supposed to trade inmy mid July games for January games ? Why because some whiner who does follow MLS wants it that way.

    NO JUST NO !

    • Bob says:

      won’t be any games in January. There would be a winter break.

      • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

        FINE December, February…I dont care, almost no one going to games is in favor of this…and breaking up the season is stupid an solves nothing.

      • Chupacabra says:

        Right. Because winter only happens in January (never mind that the biggest snowstorms in the US usually have occurred in February and early March).

  57. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    One more thought…anyone that is in favor of this and wants to post so, needs to post that they have season tickets to a northern team and MLS is you favorite league…otherwise go to some where that it never gets cold….and take your opinion with you.

    • Beto says:

      Colorado STH and in favor.

      I would hope that our stadium gets a few upgrades buts its only about 4-5 games that would be moved to cooler times. As you all knnow Colorado can snow a lot in February but it can also be really nice.

  58. Masshole says:

    If this forces Bob Kraft to change his ways or sell the team, I’m all in.

    (sox over dodgers. 3-2)

  59. Mueller says:

    They should go wherever the money is. If they think there will be more by switching the schedule, then switch. If not, then don’t.

    Even if they do decide to switch, I think they should wait until 2018 so they can switch in a World Cup year and there will also be 4 more warm weather cities.

  60. Scott A says:

    “Our fans’ preferences are important to us and we’ve proven to be good listeners.”

    Yes, admitting Man City USA to the league–greeted with a snore by NYC–after the Chivas USA debacle proves that.

  61. Neruda says:

    If switching makes sense for MLS fans it’s fine but MLS won’t do it just because FIFA wants it. FIFA wants the winter schedule without thinking about what makes sense for MLS. I’m sure a list of pros and cons have been but the winter league has to many cons at this point. Starting the league earlier so MLS cup is in November would be good.

  62. PD says:

    Make the switch but do so within reason, This is a big enough country that northern teams can play away during the dead of winter and southern teams can head north during their… what monsoon season? It’s gonna be a long time before MLS has a season that runs as many weeks at the big leagues, so there’s still room for wiggling. At the very least please move toward a schedule that doesn’t directly conflict with FIFA dates. It would solve a lot of problems (like Arena b*tching every time his players get called up to national sides). Love the use of the picture for the article though… SBI not so subtley telling us how he really thinks?

    At any rate, I don’t know a single MLS fan that has season tickets that would blow off and MLS match to watch college football or baseball.

  63. Shaggie96 says:

    Those who seem to be in favor of changing to the European schedule are using the elimination of the conflict with FIFA dates as one of their primary arguments. The schedule isn’t the issue. It doesn’t matter if MLS keeps it’s current schedule or goes to the European schedule, avoiding the FIFA dates and keeping the playoffs are mutually exclusive without playing a significantly higher number of midweek games which is going to hurt attendance. The Euros and other leagues don’t have this issue because cups are played during the season. MLS sacrifices six weeks of game time that could be used to avoid FIFA dates to have the playoffs. So even if MLS changes the schedule, it’s still going to require playing over FIFA dates, eliminating the playoffs or playing 7 or 8 more midweek games. There are only 52 weeks in the year. What happens when the league moves to 24? It’s only going to make the problem worse.

    I’m not sure whether switching to the Euro calendar makes sense or not, but that by itself is not going to solve the FIFA date issue.

  64. Brew says:

    Something that no one has brought up is it’s not necessarily about the ‘common fan’ but about corporate sponsorship. If MLS moved its schedule to fall-spring they would be competing for the same corporate dollars as NHL, NBA and NFL teams. Anyone will tell you that teams don’t make money by selling a $ 20 ticket to the common fan but they make their money by sell luxury boxes and field level seats to the big wigs. Also by advertisements at the game and on tv and radio.

    For example I don’t live in Chicago but let’s use it as an example. If you went to 100 presidents of different companies in the Chicago area (law firms, marketing, accounting) and said look I can get you 4 season tickets to either: Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls or Fire so that you can pass along to your clients would you be interested and which one would you want?

    You could argue what the order might look like but I can pretty much assure you that the Fire would be dead last with maybe and I mean maybe 3 or 4 takers out of the 100. The rest would put their money toward buying Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks tickets.

    This example works with any market: Bay Area ( 49ers, Warriors, Sharks) Philly (Eagles, 76ers, Flyers)

    This is what you have to look at before making this switch. It’s not about competing for the common fan these days it’s about competing for the corp dollar. Feel free to disagree with me.

    • BamaMan says:

      Corporate sponsors would be a lot more interested in an MLS Cup Final on Memorial Day than they are in one that takes place against a bunch of college football and/or NFL games drawing 20x the ratings.

    • byob el paso tx says:

      But what if fire had a beckham or donovan and a real soccer stadium like red bull or skc. Why? Because chicago fire deserves better in dps and stadium. But in reality, every MLS team deserves a real stadium with drainage, heated field and roof cover, no matter what and if course, real owners.

  65. Chicago Josh says:

    I would love to see a neutral, warm-weather city such as Orlando or Phoenix host February MLS double-headers.

  66. Myke says:

    Let’s assume they decide to switch; how would they even pull off the transition? Would there be one REALLY long off-season from December (last year of old schedule) to August (first year of new schedule)?

  67. Josh D says:

    Snow wouldn’t be as much of an issue if they had a major winter break like the German league and if the league set aside money to put those burners under the field to melt the snow. Premier League stadiums have to have that feature so it’s nothing new.

    My opinion: anything to get away from these stupid games during the international games.

    • Josh T says:

      Yea, sure it is never cold in December, January, February or March. If you want to destroy the league, move to the winter format. MLS has created a small niche and it should be happy.

  68. Nick says:

    I’m all for a winter schedule. It will align with the international breaks and schedules.

    On a personal note. I’m a season ticket holder and in the summer I want options to have fun outdoors (camping, fishing, hiking, vacations). Many times these personal obligations conflict with MLS schedule (at the stadium and on TV) and can be a drag. I have nothing going on outside of summer. I enjoy spring and fall games more because I’m free to enjoy the time with my friends and look forward to pre and post game activities. In the summer I tend to only show for the game.

    Warm summer nights are great at the game. However, I would prefer the normal season with a long break in the dead of winter.

    Lets put our scarves to use, instead of just for show.

    ~n

  69. Mat says:

    A dumb idea totally disconnected with the realities of North American climates. How about this crazy idea: just don’t play during Fifa dates. You know well enough when they occur. Slightly modify the schedules to accomadate but don’t make mls play in good awful winter weather. Frozen fields, sub zero temps, blizzards. Why when the totally reasonable jusy cited works well?

    • gmonsoon43 says:

      I agree, that the climate in the northern cities would make it difficult. The main argument against a change to the “European schedule” is the 2022 World Cup though. The European leagues are talking about changing their schedule. So it makes no sense to change the MLS to the European schedule in a year or two just to change it back around the time of the 2022 world cup.

  70. bottlcaps says:

    The whole idea of moving the MLS season came from Sepp Blatter and UEFA’s (not FIFA’s)
    The MLS said, “OK, we wiil study the idea” and that was the announcement, that the MLS is “studying” the idea. But there are too many good reasons NOT to move it that will be conveyed back to FIFA (and UEFA) in a well-reasoned and factual finding that will put this idea to bed for good. (If anybody in the MLS is reading this, look no further than the reasoning many of the pundits put forth, both pro and con, to show that it’s mostly a bad idea, and has some very good reasoning behind it.) Then tell Blatter to blow it out his ____)

  71. Northzax says:

    Ok, so MLS cup is December 7 this year. Preseason starts in February (the Carolina Challenge Cup is Feb 22, so teams are practicing what, two weeks before that? Maybe As early as February 1? So exactly what would be the difference in switching to the euro schedule? More games in December and February, when the weather north of the Mason-Dixon Line is super-iffy? Right now the season starts in march and goes to December (not counting preseason) and people want to switch to starting in August and ending in May? So we trade games in June for games in December? Right now there is a roughly ten week break between MLS cup and the start of preseason.figure a winter break lasts roughly that long, add a ten week off season in June/July and you now have a 32 week season, figure two more weekends for fifa dates, and you have 30 weeks. Once we’re at 20 teams, a balanced schedule means 38 games. Everyone has at least one open cup game. CCL teams have a minimum of four group stage matches. That’s 43 matches for at least four teams. Most teams will have nine two match weeks as many as six will have 13 two match weeks, and none have a bye. So at least nine times, a team will play a weekend game, a midweek game then a weekend game. With several hour flights in between. That’s insane.

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  73. BamaMan says:

    I think the problems here are all surmountable (8 week winter break; start the season mid-July; play late December, February, and early March games all in warm climates or indoors). The upside of an MLS Cup Final on Memorial Day in primetime is huge. The upside of an MLS First Kick a week or two after the FIFA World Cup Final is huge. The upside of MLS Playoffs in May rather than getting swallowed up by king football in November is huge. The upside of getting aligned with international transfer windows is huge.

    Everyone who supports this understands there will still be problems. But there are huge problems now
    1) Playoffs garner less interest from the general public than midseason games due to competition with the most popular sport in the US;
    2) The season begins and ends in terrible weather;
    3) The season overlaps with international soccer tournaments like the Gold Cup and the World Cup. Accordingly, 3 out of every 4 years, the MLS has to choose between breaking for a month for these tournaments or going head-to-head with them (which hurts attendance);
    4) We’re not aligned with international transfer windows, which costs the league money in transfer fees (I think we’re still a selling league).

    I think #3 is the number one reason MLS is considering this switch. MLS wants to piggyback on, rather than compete with, the Gold Cup and the World Cup. To do that they’re going to need to take a one-month break 3 out of every 4 years anyway.