MLS commissioner Don Garber says it would be "almost impossible" for the league to make a full shift to a winter schedule. (David Goldman/AP)
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said on Monday that his desire to shift the league’s schedule to align more with European leagues has been put on hold.
“I think our friends in Colorado this weekend are hoping we don’t make that change,” Garber said, referencing the Rapids’ match against Chivas USA played in wintry Denver weather on Sunday. “We went through a deep process … but from a weather perspective, I think it is almost impossible, with the number of teams that we have and the weather that we have in the United States and Canada, to make the kind of change that would be a full alignment.”
Garber spoke about the potential schedule shift during a press conference announcing MLS and U.S. Soccer's new eight-year broadcast deal in New York on Monday.
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In the past, Garber has spoken about the research process MLS carried out to possibly shift from playing during summer to playing during winter. In the meantime, the 2013 MLS Cup final in Kansas City kicked off in 10-degree weather, and the United States national team played in a snowstorm in Denver in March 2013.
Since then, Garber said he has paid close attention to Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s discussion of shifting the Bundesliga calendar to a summer schedule. Rummenigge suggested in January that it makes more sense to play during the best weather of the year and not through the bitterly cold German winter.
“I’m not convinced that we’re 100 percent wrong here,” Garber said of MLS’s current schedule. “I just think that we’ve got to continue to do everything we’re doing with our local clubs: build their fan base and continue to get local commitments and local connection and continue to expand that calendar in bits and pieces. The full shift, I don’t really see happening at this point anytime soon.”