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About that radical MLS calendar shift to a “winter” league: MLS commissioner Don Garber says it’s not happening soon

Dec 3, 2013, 6:50 PM EDT

MLS snow

Remember those breathless reports (creating layers of breathless discussion) about how that long-talked about calendar shift for Major League Soccer was upon us?

You didn’t buy that did you?

Because it was never happening – not for 2014, that is. It does not even sound like it was every up for serious discussion. And a betting man wouldn’t put any money on such a thing for 2015 — or probably even for a bunch of years past that.

But absolutely, positively not in 2014, Garber reiterated on Tuesday.

This massive shift may occur someday, the commissioner has long said, but it really is such a complex and radical maneuver, with more moving parts than most observers probably realize. The shift is question is this: moving from the familiar calendar of professional soccer in this country, the spring-to-fall set-up in place since the North American Soccer League was passing and trapping more than 40 years ago, to a league that starts in late summer, plays through the winter (with some kind of short break, perhaps) and finishes in the next spring.

“We will continue to look at it … to see if we can do this in the future,” Garber said Tuesday during his State of MLS address and his question-and-answer session with journalists afterward. “But that is not something we are going to do in the short term.”

Garber didn’t say so Tuesday, but the original story erroneously trumpeting that such a thing could be close to happening, was a misinterpretation of a survey that an MLS-attached group sent out. The survey was attempting to begin gauging the public temperature for such a radical shift. It was just a small piece of the ongoing research from which MLS will continue to look at this thing. So the original report of this shift, which appeared in the New York Daily News, was, as we call it in the business, some very bad journalism, the kind that mis-informs rather than informs.

  1. talgrath - Dec 3, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Aside from the financial implications of playing (and competing for attention) during the NFL’s biggest weeks heading into the playoffs, from a logistics standpoint playing close to the winter is a recipe for major problems for a soccer game. Take a look at Toronto’s weather for the week, right now they are forecasting a high of 32F, if the MLS Cup was happening in Toronto this week it would occur in below freezing weather; any potential precipitation (the forecast calls for none on Saturday at this time, admittedly) would be hail or snow. Toronto might see snow on Tuesday, for example. In order to take a break and not risk snow cancellations you would have to take a two month break for December and January, at the least. If you’re going to take a two to three month break, why not just have that be the offseason? The Euro schedule works great, for people in the more mild climates of Europe and the warmer climates in South America; just because they do things that way doesn’t mean we have to.

    • mikeevergreen - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      Canadian team all have access to domed stadiums. Toronto has Rogers Center, Montreal has the Olympic Stadium (which it has packed before), Vancouver has BC Place.

      The US, on the other hand, doesn’t have these stadia in the northern US cities likely to be affected by snow and/or cold.

  2. 76bean - Dec 3, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    I wonder if Mexico’s split season has been looked at as a possible model.

    • danielofthedale - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:51 PM

      I hope they don’t think about the split season.

      • mikeevergreen - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        Why not? It involves a nice winter break.

  3. bobinkc - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM


    Thank you from all of us for being willing to cover and blog about US soccer. I know the rest of MLS fans will agree that we appreciate you for your work when most of the others at ProSoccerTalk cover only the EPL and/or European leagues.

    As far as split seasons or snow cancellations go, the forecast for Saturday is 22 with a 40% chance of snow. Welcome to the winter wonderland of MLS soccer.

  4. chadmoon1 - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    I think the winter season won’t happen because there is a mindset in US that soccer is a warm weather sport, not a cold weather one. I know that SKC park will be packed on Saturday for the championship, but would it be packed for a regular season game with Chivas USA (please go away!) with the same weather conditions?

    I know it would not be in Dallas (sorry, Frisco).

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