Tuesday, August 4, 2009

8/4/09: Yeah, Let's Just Change Around The MLS Season For Friendlies

Friendly madness is like a disease that turns normal soccer fans into crazed zombies.

Dave Checketts and shootouts may have been bypassed by the second most moronic idea of the week, suspending the MLS season for friendlies.

Yep, big time USA Today writer Beau Dure is advocating possibly changing up the MLS season to make room for popular European friendlies and Gold Cup boredom, even though both are just money grabs that have no influence on club or national team standings.

Quote from Beau Dure's article:
The best news for MLS: The largest crowd was at a game that included an MLS team. The Rose Bowl drew 93,137 fans to see the Los Angeles Galaxy take on Barcelona. Sure, the big draw was a European champion that plays an attractive game.

But these exhibitions, along with the MLS All-Star Game and the Gold Cup, boost the argument that MLS should take a break in the summer. The league can't play a European-style August-to-June schedule without a substantial winter break, but perhaps teams could take four weeks off for international play, then three weeks for exhibitions and the All-Star Game leading into a resumption of play in late July or early August.

Man, this guy writes on MLS for a national paper!? Really?

Look, MLS already plays from March 15th to the final in November. Where exactly are we going to fit in all these missing summer fixtures with an extensive winter break? Also, I'm sure that January 15th fixture at Crew Stadium will be lucky enough to attract 2,000(with mostly all of them being in the Nordecke). Yeah grand idea.

Here's a thought why don't Barcelona, Chelsea, etc. take four weeks off in December(in the middle of their season) and play a bunch of exhibitions over here. Since they get more attendance in the World Football Challenge than MLS teams, their attendance shouldn't drop off as much in winter. And, they all want that American money.

If you think that sounds crazy, moving our season for friendlies is just as crazy. But, apparently idiots that read the USA Today and probably don't have an inkling on MLS soccer(like those people whose only game of soccer a year is at the World Football Challenge) think friendlies are of more importance than the MLS season.

Frankly, I think we have had friendly overload (after the first couple, the interest in another boring preseason battle wears off on me), and I find friendlies a bit boring since you know they don't mean anything.

And, overall, MLS relies still a lot on families (they have started to build a hardcore base) but not enough to make it through playing in the cold for more than one or two playoff games. The league, which seems to have the best future out of any American soccer league venture, would definitely become defunct or close to it, if it played until around December and resumed in February.

And, sorry Europhiles. But, the most important thing is that this league survives and flourishes, it's not seeing Ronaldinho's goofy grin 14 times a year.

Overall, I just can't believe a top soccer owner and a top soccer sportswriter are this clueless about soccer. Like how did they get to where they are at today? Baffling. There are reasons why MLS is how it is and the current setup for the season is fine. Friendlies don't even really affect teams like the Columbus Crew who are more interested in their season and winning championships instead of pointless friendlies anyways (as the Crew even rejected some big time friendlies). Hell, the Crew even performed better during the international Gold Cup with two of their stars missing.

Teams across the world have to deal with international call ups and etc. The season is how it is for a reason. The best thing to do is train your reserves and deal with it, instead of whining every season that we should change this or that in the style of Toronto FC, Beau Dure, and Dave Checketts.


  1. Especially with the Garber's hard-on for expansion teams. it'd be impossible for this to work out and benefit MLS or our clubs

  2. Italianano Crew UltraAugust 4, 2009 at 11:23 PM

    Thanks for pointing these things out, man there are a lot of clueless sissy's that surround this game here.

  3. I'm as surprised as you at the vote, frankly. The suggestion I'm tossing out -- not married to it -- is that MLS break for the World Cup or Gold Cup and then ease back into the season with a couple of friendlies and the All-Star Game.

    And I still wish someone could tell me why the World Football Challenge gets such good ratings. Attendance, I can understand -- you only get so many chances to see Ronaldinho play with your own eyes. But on TV? He's on TV all the time in much more meaningful games.

    So you're right -- I don't get it!

  4. Beau,

    Fair enough. I'm just slightly worried that soccer fans and luminaries are getting carried away with European friendlies. If a MLS team wants to play in one, fine. If they want to risk their players(even though they are in the middle of their MLS season) that's fine too. But, it's a team and their management's decision whether they want to take the risk. And, I think the current setup is fine because of that (no MLS team is forced to have a friendly midweek between MLS games, they make their own bed by accepting the friendly). I even find it interesting because it shows which teams are more in it for the trophies and which ones are trying to make cash first, while securing trophies second. So, when Seattle has played three friendlies in July(along with their regular schedule) and their team becomes exhausted, that's the management's own fault. They can only look at their cash hunger(although I get that it's near impossible to turn down 70,000 for a Sounders game) when they are trophyless in November.

    And, you can have as many World Football Challenge friendlies as you want, heck bring over 16 teams next year. No reason to suspend the MLS schedule if you play the games in non-MLS cities and if no MLS teams are involved. And, most MLS teams I assume have a choice in friendlies. I mean does Seattle really have to host Chelsea and Barcelona in the middle of their season? No, they sell over 30,000 a week. Does Toronto need Real Madrid in a middle of a debilitating two weeks? No, they can survive just fine without the extra revenue.

    I'm sure some teams like LA don't have much of a choice because of the Don(and that's why I'm glad Columbus is a bit less glamourous). But, should friendlies be that important to take 3 weeks off? I would scratch that off the list. I can understand possibly during World Cup. But, how many MLS players make the World Cup squad? Maybe 5 to 7, not exactly debilitating. MLS even survives just fine during the Gold Cup. When teams may lose 15 players in total between the US, Canada, Costa Rica, etc. So, is it really necessary to take four weeks off for these tournaments? Play isn't dropping off enough during these tournaments to lose out on summer months where attendance will be up compared to playing in November or February where attendance will be down. MLS fans are not distracted by WFC and Gold Cup, not even enough by the World Cup. In fact, I think MLS receives a boost during the World Cup, because average Americans watch and then become curious and decide to check out a MLS game during that month. And, no matter what's going on in the Summer; 30,000 are in Seattle, 20,000 are in Toronto, 15,000 are in Columbus, no matter what. You think these same numbers show up in a blizzard?

    And, what's next? Bringing these big time teams over and having them play a mini-season under US City names. Yes, that has been done before, didn't work out.

    Anyways, I get what you're saying with the World Cup and etc. But, our season starts already in mid March and ends in November with the final. Where exactly are we going to slot in extra games in an August to June schedule with an extensive winter break? I just don't think that was well thought out. I mean I agree it would be great to take some months off for these things, but we would need 3 more sunny months to do so. Unless global warming gets out of control I doubt it.

    Btw, apoligies for coming off personal. I get annoyed by some of the new ideas on MLS like changing the season and shootouts. I have read the USA Today before and your stuff, and I get that because of the audience sometimes things may be a bit dumbed down. Anyways, thanks for the response.

  5. Hey, I've been called worse.

    I suppose what I wouldn't mind seeing is an international break, quick friendly or two, All-Star Game and then back at it. Maybe during a Gold Cup year, you could have another couple of international friendlies between depleted MLS teams and preseason Euros -- then the international absences don't hurt the MLS teams as much.

    Overlapping with football in the fall is getting to be less of a problem now that more teams have better stadium situations. So I could see running a little later in the fall. Maybe even a split season.

    Still not seeing August-June -- that would have to be a long winter break. Early December is one thing -- Feb. 1, yeesh.

  6. True, maybe it could work. I think 7-10 years from now definitely. I would be interested in seeing some dates for this sort of schedule though.

    And, yeah a quick international break wouldn't be bad. Especially for World Cup's since the USA doesn't usually leg it to the final.

    Heck, make it a 2 1/2 week international break(hey if teams lose out on their stars for Gold Cup for a week, that's better than 3), play the all star game the next week, and then a few friendlies to round out the month. A one month break in the Summer may be doable, two months(right now) is stretching it.

    The above probably wouldn't work out so hot with the US making the final of Gold Cup or the World Cup since none of the MLS stars would be at the All Star Game. But, hey, the league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto misses every All Star Game and they get along fine. So, it's not a big deal.

    I would even be okay with abolishing the All Star Game. I just don't think it's really necessary or that exciting to watch on TV.