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When will we see MLS teams again? Sooner than you think

Dec 9, 2013, 7:53 PM EDT

MLS Cup-KC

Major League Soccer’s offseason may seem interminably long by world soccer standards, an idea that gained real momentum once U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann drew a circle around it two years ago and cited it as an impediment to the Major League Soccer-based players being the very best they can be.

While MLS has done a lot to shorten the off-season (on both ends, that is, starting earlier in late-winter and going far deeper into late fall), the gap between seasons remains long compared to a lot of leagues.

But compared to traditional American sports, this thing is a short stack of pancakes.

Consider that the layoff between NFL’s Super Bowl and the very front end of training camp for the “helmet football” teams is nearly six months.

A three-plus month gap separates the NBA finals from the opening of training camps. (The gap for most teams is far longer, as the NBA playoffs last almost two months.)

Major League Soccer’s gap between the MLS Cup and the opening of training camp? About six weeks. (One staff member from Real Salt Lake saw me after Saturday’s MLS Cup final and, remembering an annual preseason trip I take into Arizona for MLS networking and fact-gathering and such, he quipped, “Well, see you in two weeks in Arizona!”)

So when, exactly, will we see MLS teams again?

Next year’s MLS draft is set for Jan. 16, 2014 in Philadelphia. There will be plenty of off-season news between now and then, but that is the first really solid newsmaker day.

Typically, teams spend about six weeks in preseason training. With a March 8 first kick for MLS in 2014, expect clubs to begin reporting a few days after the draft (the week beginning Jan. 19). They’ll conduct physicals and jump a few other procedural hoops, and probably get on the field that week or early the next week, latest.

  1. talgrath - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    I think Klinsmann’s gripe has less to do with the gap between MLS cup and more to do with the gap between the regular season and the start of the next regular season which is a bit more valid. The last ball was kicked in the regular season in October about a half of a week shy of the end, the final wasn’t until a week into December. I know some people don’t like the quick two game weeks but I think it’s the best way to decide this. Half a week for the single elimination round, then a week for the semi-finals, a week for the finals and then give a week or a week and a half to prepare for the MLS cup. That’s a month tops to get this thing done. If MLS insists on extending this season into December, then you should still be playing games in November if the playoffs take a mere month.

    Overall, the issue isn’t that simple; a long layoff is more or less inevitable given US weather patterns as the year is so amply demonstrating with Blizzards in early December. Blizzards will continue into February in some parts of the country (as the USMNT snow game demonstrated). Starting games in February will lead to cancellations and problems, while ending in December is a problem too. There’s no way around it, the country has a wide range of weather and unless you start the MLS season in the sunnier parts of country exclusively there’s no way to start the season early than mid or late February and no good way to let it extend deeper into December.

  2. chadmoon1 - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    So this means that coaching vacancies need to be filled no later than Christmas??

    Dear Santa:

    All I want for Christmas is Eric Wynalda as FC Dallas coach installed by the big day.

    Thanks from your buddy,

    Chad

    PS: No, I have not been good. Give him to us anyways!

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