MLS Should Resist Winter Schedule

October 14, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Posted in General Football | Leave a comment

Sepp Blatter has put pressure on the MLS to switch to a winter schedule mirroring that of Europe’s.  MLS Commissioner Don Garber has stated, at least publicly, he is seriously considering the idea.  He shouldn’t.  FIFA should recognize the unique nature of the MLS, and Blatter should check his almanac for  weather patterns in North America.

Garber says that domed stadiums must be considered if the switch to winter play is to be contemplated.  This means more fieldturf in the league.  This also means reversing the vision which the MLS has had: that of satisfying the true lovers of the game with a traditional approach, which means soccer specific stadia with play on real grass.   Toronto FC will switch to real grass for next season; what are they to do now?  Put a roof on their stadium and switch back to fieldturf?  This will alienate the fans and drive them from the game.

MLS should stick to playing spring through fall, playing under the beautiful sunshine on real grass.  I would argue it is Europe that has it wrong.  A winter break is observed in Germany and other northern European nations.  English coaches are calling for it as well.   Football is best played on slightly wet pitches, not on soggy bogs.

I am fed up with Sepp Blatter’s fieldturf solutions.  His advocacy on behalf of artificial surfaces is inexcusable. The game is much poorer on artificial surfaces. As FIFA president he should be promoting conditions for football to be at its best wherever it is played.  In North America this means playing from Spring to Fall.

What MLS should do is observe a break for the entire World Cup during World Cup years.   Not observing a break for the entire World Cup makes the MLS look like a bush league which is out of touch with world football.  Traditional fans would understand a World Cup break and would happily watch the World Cup in the interim.  MLS teams and fans should not suffer because their stars are away on World Cup duty.

As for Sepp Blatter and FIFA, hands off the MLS!  I like watching my footy during the summer thank you very much.   Attracting better players is a matter of money, not schedule.  During the NASL years some of the world’s top players had no problem coming over from Europe because the league was paying players top dollar.   If the MLS is to approach the quality of football in Europe it must liberalize its rules and structure to allow teams to pay more for better players.  The spring to fall schedule has nothing to do with the fact that top players prefer Europe!

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