MLS has its Hands Tied with Scheduling Due to U.S. Weather and Attendance

Major League Soccer is now in its 20th season and entering the fourth week of scheduled games. The first three weeks have been quite exciting and seen an increase in the quality of play. However, 57 MLS players will be unavailable to play this week because they will be playing for various national teams around the world. klinsmann

Unlike the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and many other domestic leagues around the world who shut down play due to the windows set aside by FIFA for international matches, MLS will field lineups missing many stars throughout the league. There could have been more players missing had U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann chose to select known-commodities such as World Cup starters Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Graham Zusi.

Klinsmann has always been at odds with MLS over their refusal to work around international dates. He and MLS Commissioner Don Garber have been at odds over this scheduling issue for some time now.

During a conversation recently with national reporters, Klinsmann shared his thoughts on the subject.

“I just come from the overall, general perspective of leave our FIFA fixture dates alone as much as you can so we can develop the younger teams and have everyone available. I come always from that simple, logical approach, hoping that sooner or later it will change.”

Having grown up and played in Germany, Klinsmann sees things from a European perspective. He believes MLS players do not play as many games as leagues oversees because players play for their national or club team, but not both when they are forced to play for one and not the other.

Garber says playing with the MLS schedule to keep dates open for international game windows is not as easy as it seems. Starting the season earlier is not an option due to the winter weather in most of the MLS cities.garber

Klinsmann counters that MLS teams in the colder cities could play the beginning portion of their season on the road until the weather warms up. There are two problems with Klinsmann’s idea. The first is that the weather in the U.S. is too unpredictable. Last week’s game in Philadelphia between the Union and FC Dallas was cancelled due to a snowstorm. Secondly, MLS games moved from weekend dates to days during the week decrease in attendance around 50%. MLS wants to put the best product on the field, but also does not want to lose a significant amount of money in order to accommodate FIFA’s windows for international dates.

In defense of MLS, they have shut down for the group stage of the last two World Cups and reduced the amount of games scheduled during July’s Gold Cup.

In a perfect world, the MLS cities in cold-weather states would have stadiums with retractable domes. However, that will not happen anytime soon…or ever so MLS will continue to have its hands tied in regards to scheduling.

And that’s…as I see it!

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