January 9, 2012
MLS schedule forgets about WCQ
By Michael Lewis
The longest Major League Soccer schedule was unveiled on Wednesday.
It begins on March 2 -- a little more than two weeks after Valentine's Day -- and mercifully ends before the first snowfall, climaxing with MLS Cup on Dec. 7 or 8 -- a little more than two weeks before Christmas.
Given the length of the season, you would have thought the powers that be would have made room for World Cup qualifying. But the league didn't.
While many, if not most leagues in Europe will not hold matches in and around qualifying matches, MLS is a different animal. Except for the Feb. 6 date, which doesn't fall on any league games, teams will have to make do without some of their best players, and I don't mean only U.S. players.
I'm talking about the Jamaicans, Hondurans, Costa Ricans and Panamanians who perform in the league.
Teams are going to be without the likes of Omar Cummings, Blas Perez, Jerry Bengtson and Oscar Boniek Garcia for league games.
You would think if the league would tack on a week or two at the beginning and another seven days at the end, there would be space and not play through the qualifiers.
No respect for the World Cup, none at all.
Just wonder what FIFA president Sepp Blatter will say about that in the wake of his recent criticisms about the growth of MLS?
One more thing about the MLS schedule: they are running out of room. How much more can they extend the season before it runs into the next calendar year?
Barring a chance to a fall to spring schedule, this is the schedule the league will have to live with for us. It is stretched out enough already, unless someone comes up with the idea of playing in February.
Of course, I never thought the league would play close to Thanksgiving, let alone past it.
In this respect, MLS is like many of the American pro sports leagues as it keeps pushing the envelope on expanding the season, which gets longer and longer.