Major League Soccer schedule change unlikely for 2014 season

Bryn Lennon

If you weren't paying attention to Twitter this morning, you may have missed a flurry of rumors about MLS changing to a fall to spring schedule. While it won't happen in 2014, that doesn't mean that the league isn't thinking about it.

There was a flurry of activity on Twitter this morning after the New York Daily News ran a rumor that MLS was considering moving to a fall to spring schedule, perhaps as early as the 2014 season. Dan Courtemanche, an executive vice president with MLS, immediately jumped to Twitter to play down these rumors, saying that the timing for MLS First Kick in 2014 will be "very similar to the current season." While I don't know the origin of the New York Daily News' piece, I would think that it has something to do with a fan survey that the League recently sent out which asked, among other things, about how fans would feel about a switch to such a schedule.

The reasons for MLS asking this question now range mostly from the merely speculative to the conspiracy theories. The merely speculative are things like making international windows line up, harmonize the schedule so teams are in the same form as the rest of Concacaf during the Champions' League, and allowing the league's playoffs and MLS Cup to be cross-promoted with the end of the Premier League and with UEFA Champions' League games. These things would be nice, but I don't think that they rate a change in the league's schedule, putting it up against the NFL, college football, the NHL, the NBA, and college basketball for all of those sports' seasons.

The main conspiracy theory is rooted in the last time that MLS surveyed this change, which was ahead of the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights. The theory goes that if FIFA were considering moving the World Cup from Qatar, US Soccer and MLS might try to entice them with a change in their schedule, something which Sepp Blatter is known to want. The schedule would run from August to December, include a six to eight week break, and then run mid-February to June. I am not going to try and divine what is going through the minds of the FIFA ExCo and Sepp Blatter, but this theory seems farfetched at best. However, it would be careless of MLS to not at least research changes that could benefit the health of the league as a whole.

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