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.
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.