Thursday, December 11, 2014

Major League Soccer Offseason. Bored? Fall to Spring it be!

MLS needs 5-6 more Southern U.S. based clubs, (for example: a minimum of one more Florida franchise, a Tennessee club, a Carolina club, a third Texas team, Las Vegas and San Diego). And the Major League Soccer season needs to run from early August to late May/first week of June.

Why? Glad you asked.

Major League Soccer's playoffs need to stop going up against college and professional footballs' most exciting few weeks, Mid-November through Mid-December. Trying to grab mainstream TV, print, and radio attention this time of year is a losing battle at this point in Major League Soccer's development. If the playoffs and MLS Cup final finished before the NBA and NHL finals' series started, there would be very little in the way of headline grabbing, competitive overlap for viewership.

Major League Soccer could start the first three weekends of August play seeing the Southern tier clubs travel north. Winter break would start after the weekend before Christmas. The final two weeks of the fall portion of the season would see the Northern clubs travel south.

Now...the most exciting part!

After a three week winter break, all league clubs could gather in one or two cities like Las Angeles, CA., Las Vegas, NV., Miami or Orlando, FL. The NBA does a July summer league in Vegas, and it gets more and more popular every year. Three weeks of winter training and games in true winter destination cities would provide the league an opportunity to really sell itself and its players at a prolonged, up close, fan-oriented event. Think supporter's summit, bar hops, etc. The possible tie-in events are legion.

The Spring half of the season could start the first or second weekend in February. The first two or three games could once again take place in the league's Southern cities.

This schedule gets Major League Soccer on FIFA's calendar. It leaves seven weeks of the summer open for national team competition and a pre-season summer version of the winter carnival in one or two of the mostest fun Northern MLS cities. As a bonus, there would be no need for the MLS, what the hell are we doing?, All-Star game.

I've not been a fan of changing the the past. Now that the league is back in Florida, hopefully in Las Vegas, in Atlanta, etc., I am jumping to the other side. The change makes sense in so many ways.

It may take a few more years and teams to make this possible (maybe a scheduling genius could make it work with only two or three more Southern United States based clubs?), but little things like the rhythm of North American life, weather patterns and maximizing exposure seem to indicate, at least through these rose-colored glasses, a change is needed.

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