Seattle and Portland recently drew a sellout crowd to CenturyLink Field. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images).
Major League Soccer may begin addressing scheduling conflicts with international dates by reducing its number of regular-season matches to 28, according to Steve Davis of ProSoccerTalk.
The MLS currently plays a 34-game schedule. It last played a 28-game schedule as a cost-saving measure in 2001 and 2002.
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I am told that the notion began circling the board of directors’ table at meetings attached to Major League Soccer’s All-Star game five weeks ago in Kansas City. The tricky concept of addition by subtraction could create a couple of problems – but it solves a bunch, too.
It creates relief around these international breaks, which aren’t really breaks for MLS clubs forced to power through most of them, never mind the absence of high-dollar stars who are off for World Cup qualifier duty.
The FIFA fixture date problem could be marginalized now (without a league schedule reduction, that is) by cramming additional weeknight dates into the schedule, but that becomes too much of a revenue killer in some markets. (More Saturday nights mean more money for most clubs.)
It would also make scheduling a relative breeze in a 20-team league, which MLS becomes in 2015 with the addition of New York City FC. Play each team in your conference twice (home and away, naturally) and every team from the other conference once (home this year, away the next, naturally). That’s it. Quite simple. That’s 28 games.
A reduced league schedule could free up the MLS' star power for CONCACAF Champions League matches but would not allow for a perfectly balanced home-road schedule because non-conference opponents would only be faced once each year.