Major League Soccer has played a spring-fall schedule since its inception in 1996. That could change as early as next year.
MLS is considering switching to a European-style schedule in 2014. The season would start in July or August and conclude in May. The new calendar would include a six-to-eight-week-long winter break, according to the New York Daily News.
“MLS Commissioner Don Garber has been considering adopting the calendar used in Europe for several years but talks have intensified in recent weeks, according to a league source,” the report says.
The proposed calendar falls in line with those of most of Europe’s major leagues, which start in late July or early August and end in late May or early June.
The idea of adopting a European-style schedule has been discussed since MLS’ early days, but there is a greater chance of it happening now because most MLS teams control the venues in which they play. Currently, 15 of 19 teams play in soccer-specific stadiums, and that number will grow in the future.
The 2013 MLS season ends in early December. It’s expected that the 2014 season would start in March, and league games would take place during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Changing to a new schedule would disrupt players’ careers, as a potential seven-month gap between games would rob them of both form and fitness. Players who expect to represent their countries at the World Cup would probably seek loan moves to maintain their sharpness during the break.
However, the switch could benefit American soccer in the long run. Most games would be played during cold-weather months, and the speed of play could increase. Also, it would make it easier for players to transfer to and from European clubs. Player movement is more prevalent in the offseason, as that is the time when coaches build their squads. Synchronizing schedules would facilitate the business of European clubs buying and selling MLS players (and vice-versa).
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