Could MLS go to a European style schedule in the near future?

Richard Wolowicz

The latest MLS Soccer United Council survey includes a question about the possibility of MLS going to a "European style" schedule. It's one of the most returned to topics in the debate about the future of MLS, so its serious discussion is intriguing.

MLS loves to poll fans about the possible future of the league, and the potential direction of the league hinted at in these surveys never fails to create buzz. The latest Soccer United Council survey includes a question about the possibility of MLS going to a "European style" schedule. It's one of the most returned to topics in the debate about the future of MLS, so its serious discussion is intriguing.

The scenario fans were asked to imagine had the season beginning in mid-July, about a month before the European season kicks off. They would play half the regular season games through December. In Mexico this half season is called the Apertura. Then there would be a two month break during the winter months of January and February lasting eight to ten weeks. The second half, or Clausura, would go from March to May with the playoffs going from May to mid June.

What separates this schedule from the Latin American schedule is the lack of an Apertura playoff champion. The longest break of the year wouldn't come after the closure of a champion crowned, it would simply be a holding period. The transfer window in January would keep interest alive, and teams would get a chance to make changes for the next half.

Since it would still be essentially the same break that MLS has now, it alleviates the concern about playing through harsh American winters. A few more weeks in December isn't going to break anything. Teams that don't make the playoffs would have a longer break before the next season.

Which would be one of my concerns, that a team coming off an MLS Cup win wouldn't have much time to prepare for the next season. It would, however, make transfer between MLS and the rest of the world easier. For example, Sporting Kansas City losing Kei Kamara mid-season isn't the greatest example of MLS being a major league.

MLS and its surveys have created buzz before that went nowhere, polls about possible targets for a Chivas USA stadium in Los Angeles or a DC United stadium in Maryland or Virginia. Thus far, they've remained data stored away for a rainy day.

At this point it's just a survey question, but it's clear that it's being considered every time MLS executives sit down and discuss the next year's schedule. Any thought of a European style schedule has to also be measured against the rumored 28 match season come 2015.

With the World Cup next season, MLS almost has to maintain its current course. It'd be preposterous for half the US national team to have to find loans to stay fit. However, if this is a long term goal taking into account New York City FC, the next round of expansion, and World Cup 2018 it just might work.

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