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MLS Will Take World Cup Break

MLS announced today that, for the first time in its history, it will not schedule matches during portions of the World Cup. League matches will take place June 10, the day before the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, and not resume until sometime after June 25. The league has also decided to not schedule games on the days of the World Cup semifinals or championship.

"The decision ... is part of MLS's commitment to deepen its connection with the millions of soccer fans in the United States and Canada," Commissioner Don Garber said. "The World Cup will be a focal point for all MLS fans and several MLS players will compete with their national teams at the tournament."

The 2010 regular season will run from March 25 to October 24 and include 30 games per club with eight qualifying for the playoffs. Each of the 16 clubs (Philadelphia joins next year) will play every other team once at home and once away -- a truly balanced schedule. MLS Cup will take place Nov. 21 at a location to be determined.

Do you agree with the decision to halt play for a few weeks? Makes sense, right?

By Steve Goff  |  September 16, 2009; 4:08 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Comments

First!!!!!!...........

Time this has been done! Awesome!

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | September 16, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Big Golf Clap from me. It makes a ton of sense.
Thanks for the news Goff.

Posted by: DadRyan | September 16, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Thank God

Posted by: Kev29 | September 16, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

This is definitely the right decision. It's too bad MLS had to be beat up about this for the past 3 years. If they made the announcement long ago they would have saved themselves from a lot of ridicule.

Now the USMNT just has to make the semi-finals!

Posted by: Golden_Child | September 16, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely agree....this is a step in the right direction. Next on the to-do list is to free up international dates and to ditch the All-Star game. Schedule congestion is out of control....DC UNITED HAS 16 GAMES IN 2 MONTHS THIS YEAR!!!! And I don't believe it is a coincidence that we fell apart this year and last year at identical parts of the year congested with too many games.

Posted by: AtlantaMLS | September 16, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Duh!

Posted by: ussccr | September 16, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind the All-Star game, it's the Champions League that has to change. Two-legged ties, no group stages, please.

Posted by: Kev29 | September 16, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I am not going to applaud this decision because its the right one. It should have taken MLS this long to figure it out. that doesn't mean I am not glad about it happening though...

I think I am more excited about a truly balanced schedule, to be honest.

Posted by: therealfootball | September 16, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I meant...should NOT have taken MLS...

Posted by: therealfootball | September 16, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I think I am more excited about a truly balanced schedule, to be honest.

Posted by: therealfootball | September 16, 2009 4:30 PM

+1

When's the single table announcement? ;-)

Posted by: Kev29 | September 16, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The real question is whether it will remain a balanced schedule after we move to 18 teams in 2011. My math tells me we need 34 games for that to happen.

Posted by: PC__ | September 16, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse


When's the single table announcement? ;-)

Posted by: Kev29 | September 16, 2009 4:31 PM

Soon, I'd wager. It's practically a single table right now with how tight the playoff race is, and they've been treating it almost as such on the MLS website and on Extra Time.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | September 16, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Holy Crap! The sky is falling!

Posted by: PabloChicago | September 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Perfect, until someone decides that US Open Cup games or (God forbid) the SuperLiga can be played during the break. No good deed goes unpunished.

Now MLS - Make our day complete with a single table, even for one year. No reason to have divisions with a balanced schedule.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | September 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

This is great news. Now we can wait for Emilio and Fred to return from the competition as soon as it is over. :)

Posted by: UnitedDemon | September 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Schedule congestion is out of control....DC UNITED HAS 16 GAMES IN 2 MONTHS THIS YEAR!!!!

Posted by: AtlantaMLS | September 16, 2009 4:25 PM

If they keep playing the uninspired, offensively-challenged futbol they've been playing, this won't be a problem in 2010. No playoffs this year - likely no CCL or SuperLiga next year. Come to think of it, maybe that's not so bad.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | September 16, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This would have made more sense in previous cups than the next one.

It's not like the old days of MLS where most teams lost a handful of players for national team call-ups. I remember the days where DC lost 6 players on international dates. I doubt many teams will lose more than 2 players for the World Cup.

This might not be a bad time for tournament games. The players need to stay in shape and you tend not to play your stars during these games anyway.

Posted by: muskratinator | September 16, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Funny, because I talked about this last night in another thread. I owe MLS an apology. Really, it's silly to try and play during the Cup, if only because soccer fans are not going to be watching MLS. Of course, someday, the league would hope to have a bunch of players who will be playing in the Cup finals, instead of just Blanco and less than a handful of Americans. So, the league will have to work around the Cup -- with an even longer break. Still, it's a start.

I really don't see the single table happening. The league is invested in the playoffs, so the regular season title is still barely noticed. As more teams are added, conferences look like an even better option. At some point, it will be impossible to play each team twice every year -- which will serve to build interest in the MLS Cup in the way it works in other sports, especially football and baseball.

Looks like we're in for a brutal schedule next year, with fixture congestion for all teams. C'est la vie.

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The spindocter is slowly realizing that we've been right this whole time.

Posted by: StewartDC8 | September 16, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

mark one more thing off as a sign of the apocalypse

Posted by: FatSickBoot | September 16, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

More on the single table -- it's really just another way of listing the teams, until and unless the league disposes of the MLS Cup playoffs. Since that isn't going to happen, the talk of single table is really just pointless fetishizing. There already is a single table, since there is a balanced schedule and a Supporters' Shield to the top team. If you mean having a celebration of the regular season champion, instead of the MLS Cup champion, do you really think that's going to happen? If not, then you're obsessing over the way newspapers and websites list the teams by conference. -- and the conferences validate the idea of the Cup champion as the real league champion.

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Eh, a 2 week break will be nice for the players.

Posted by: alecw81 | September 16, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, MLS!

Thanks, Goff for the info.

Posted by: Kosh2 | September 16, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

AtlantaMLS:

You think a 2 week break in the middle of the season will somehow decompress a schedule taking place over the same amount of time as this year's and last year's?

It's the smart thing for MLS to do, but let's not make things up. Losing 2 weeks of time to schedule games means more midweek MLS games. If you're a team in the CCL, Superliga, or pushing for the later rounds of the USOC, you will be playing every 3 days from basically July until the end of the season.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 16, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

How good or bad this break is does depend on how they stack the schedule though. If the league plays the same additional game tournament schedule they've trotted out the past few seasons some teams might have to play three games a week.

Posted by: Solnoir | September 16, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

If not, then you're obsessing over the way newspapers and websites list the teams by conference. -- and the conferences validate the idea of the Cup champion as the real league champion.

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 4:56 PM

Then what IS the point of keeping conferences? To stick it to "Eurosnobs"? No, they have to keep them to eventually unbalance the schedule again in 2011 - which will put us back to square one and make your "fetishizing" point moot.

MLS have been working slowly throughout the Garber era to become more of a traditional soccer league, just keep that process going. Single table, balanced schedule, get rid of Superliga, get rid of lame Champions League group stages, leave the playoffs. Plenty of sports have playoffs and no conferences.

Posted by: Kev29 | September 16, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

No brainer, IMO.

If you're MLS, whatever issues it causes you deal with them.

Posted by: KireDCU | September 16, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Makes sense.
CCL, Open Cup, and even SuperLiga were my first thoughts as well though.

Posted by: sitruc | September 16, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we'll have to go to a schedule where we don't play each team home and away will we? With 18 teams that's only 34 matches vs. 30 now. Didn't there used to be 32 games? And right now DCU adds in those extra "special games" to the season ticket package anyway which means roughly the same number of games anyway. It would only make the season maybe a week longer.

Given the current playoff structure a single table makes perfect sense. It would be non-sensical to have east and west since you play everyone else the same number of times anyway. Take the top 8 teams and make them playoff if you must. Or just ditch the playoffs altogehter. The teams have trouble selling tickets for playoff games anyway.

Posted by: fedssocr | September 16, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

If you keep using fetish in a pejorative way, I am not going to show you my Audrey Hepburn shrine.

Posted by: OWNTF | September 16, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Outstanding decision, particularly for the first two weeks of the WC, when most of the MLS players who represent their countries would be playing (and whose teams would most likely be bounced out early, anyway).

And how much you wanna bet MLS Cup will be held in Philly? One would think it's just a question of waiting for the 2010 NFL schedule to be sorted out so MLS and NFL can get together and have it played at the Linc.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 16, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we'll have to go to a schedule where we don't play each team home and away will we? With 18 teams that's only 34 matches vs. 30 now. Didn't there used to be 32 games?
========
For the immediate future, single-table and a balanced schedule are feasible. If MLS ever expands beyond 20 or so teams, then conferences and unbalanced scheduling are probably a must.

Posted by: ashleybone | September 16, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Most definitely. Way to go MLS.

Also love that we will only have home and away series for all teams, instead of just playing 1 team more than another.

Excellent.

Posted by: DJTruco28 | September 16, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

About time. It's tough to get excited about an MLS match in the midst of the world cup finals. Agree that a single table would be great.

Posted by: hacksaw | September 16, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I would have to say the break was a long time coming. There will probably be a USOC round or two scheduled in there somewhere, but overall the MLS won't have to compete with the WC, a really bad idea for the MLS. I wish they would move the start of the season a week or so earlier though, what is the difference between mid March and late March?

I really hope as well that the MLS uses this chance to move to the single table, the playoffs could simply be 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7 and so on. It would prevent stupid situations like the 2008 Western Conference champion NYRB. And does anybody know whether there is any anticipation in Philly for the new team (ie will it be anything like Toronto or Seattle)?

Posted by: rademaar | September 16, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

@rademaar: Last time I checked, Philly had pre-sold around 9,200 season tickets so far.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 16, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Even at 34 league games, teams would be awfully stretched. But, the league is going to 20 teams sometime this decade. Expansion might not even stop there. At some point the league will have to go to unbalanced schedule. In part, that would be a recognition of how much bigger this country is than almost any other. I foresee an MLS with 4 divisions, possibly organized into conferences, possibly not -- and an unbalanced schedule. Playoffs with division champions and runner-ups, maybe additional wild-cards. Schedules might start to more resemble other leagues, with extended road trips -- for 2 or 3 games. The East Coast swing, West Coast swing, etc -- why waste entire days and $$ flying back and forth across the country, when you can train on the road for a few days and make a short trip to the next stop? All this by the time the World Cup comes here in '22. We're not England, or even Germany. That's true with regard to weather, and also geography. Other countries' models don't make sense here. MLS will have to be its own creature.

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

From Freddy Adu's twitter:

"Hey guys coach wants to take it easy with me or the first couple of games so dont worry. Like i said one step at a time."

Posted by: spikeman | September 16, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I will never, ever understand the push for a single table. Why does it matter? Why don't you clamor for a single table in other sports?

What's the big deal about conferences and playoffs? They're still soccer games.

I swear, sometimes I think certain people watch soccer for a completely different reason than I do.

Posted by: ChristopherMc | September 16, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

DC UNITED HAS 16 GAMES IN 2 MONTHS THIS YEAR!!!! And I don't believe it is a coincidence that we fell apart this year and last year at identical parts of the year congested with too many games.

Posted by: AtlantaMLS | September 16, 2009 4:25 PM
------------------------

Yeah it has nothing to do with a sub-par coach, and too many either totally sub-par and/or aging and slow players.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 16, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

For all the jonin' on watching reruns we heard earlier, I must say that this atmosphere and drama in this OM/ACMilan game is second only to a Sounders match...

Posted by: DadRyan | September 16, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

when the amount of teams grows beyond 18, then obviously we will end up with an unbalanced schedule. for now though we should go with a single table because of the balance of the schedule. i dont think most people that support a single table want to do away with the playoffs, it just makes a lot of sense for the thousands of soccer fans here in the states that only follow european leagues to give them something to go by. after the MLS grows some more, then the US sporting culture of divisions, playoffs etc will take over and naturally we will develop our own footballing culture that aligns with the other major sports here.

@Juan-John- thanks, wonder if that number will go up much before march 2010. it doesn't sound like it's the next toronto or seattle..

Posted by: rademaar | September 16, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I did get to catch Liege take the lead...and that phantom PK call...

Posted by: Reignking | September 16, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

@Reignking -- Well, the ref evened it up later, allowing Arsenal a goal even though it required a blatant handball to keep the ball from scooting out of bounds before the shot could be taken.

The funny thing was hearing the announcer praise the referee, even though he might have missed this or that call. Aren't they supposed to get the big calls right before you praise them?

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

his will work out well for DC because we will not be in any extra-MLS/USSF competition. So the two week break will not have to made up with later congestion and the players will have time for hernia surgery.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 16, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Even at 34 league games, teams would be awfully stretched. But, the league is going to 20 teams sometime this decade. Expansion might not even stop there. At some point the league will have to go to unbalanced schedule. In part, that would be a recognition of how much bigger this country is than almost any other. I foresee an MLS with 4 divisions, possibly organized into conferences, possibly not -- and an unbalanced schedule. Playoffs with division champions and runner-ups, maybe additional wild-cards. Schedules might start to more resemble other leagues, with extended road trips -- for 2 or 3 games. The East Coast swing, West Coast swing, etc -- why waste entire days and $$ flying back and forth across the country, when you can train on the road for a few days and make a short trip to the next stop? All this by the time the World Cup comes here in '22. We're not England, or even Germany. That's true with regard to weather, and also geography. Other countries' models don't make sense here. MLS will have to be its own creature.

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 7:10 PM


Fischy I 100% agree with you here. Too many factors play a role in this country to simply think that a single table would work flawlessly.

Posted by: UnitedFuryForever | September 16, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

And now for Promotion/Relegation!

Posted by: BelovedCartoonMouse | September 16, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else gonna watch this Pachuca/Dynamo game? I wasn't planning on it but I'm doing all my final hotel planning and figure, "Hey, why not?" Maybe a bit of a surprise, but the stadium looks pretty full.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | September 16, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Jose Torres is getting the start. The Dynamo seem to be throwing out 5 regulars and 5 reserves, plus Tally Hall(!) in goal.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | September 16, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching. If I was to have to claim a Mexican side as "mine" I'd have to go with Pachuca. I've seen them trouble DCU enough in different competitions and with a USMNT guy actually playing for them week in and week out it almost feels legit. As much as I like seeing MLS and USL teams excel in this tournament I"m crossing my fingers for a Torres goal.

Posted by: DadRyan | September 16, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I gotta say that I think Houston's goalkeeping future is in very capable hands with Tally Hall. Don't know why he never say action in Denmark, or with the U23s -- but he looks like a heckuva goalie every time I see him.

Posted by: fischy | September 16, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Pachuca plays the Fox NFL song after goals. Is that a real song or something?

Posted by: sec133row5 | September 16, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Columbus 1-0 Saprissa at the Monster's Cave, 1st half. Goal by Eddie Gaven.

Pachuca 1-0 Houston, also in the 1st.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 16, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I saw Pachuca in Atlanta last year with the hopes of gaining a favorite FMF team, and they earned that right.


Fischy: Plus you get to say "Tallllly Halllll!".

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | September 16, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Crew 1-0 Saprissa, half.

Looks like one of Houston's guys was dismissed late in the first half with a second yellow...that's no way to beat Pachuca!

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 16, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

William Webster gets a yellow and Sullivan is rambling about the Brazilian central defenders. Is Sullivan watching the game?

Webster went up for the header with his forearm raised, so he may have deserved it.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 16, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Still 1-0 Columbus, 72nd minute...

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 16, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Pachuca 2-0. Aguilar scores from the top of the arc in the 74th.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 16, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Crew 1-0 Saprissa, full time. Columbus escapes the Monster's Cave with three points -- and without Alejandro Moreno or Guillermo Barros Schelotto on the pitch.

Is this possibly the first time an MLS squad has won at Saprissa?

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 17, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

"DC United will match up extremely well with Pachuca because they play similar styles." Christopher Sullivan.

DC United record against Pachuca 0-2.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 17, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Pachuca 2 - 0 Houston Final.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 17, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

So, Olympiakos won in UEFA CL play....a few hours after Zico was named the coach...won with a very interim coach (one day).

Posted by: fischy | September 17, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't think a single table will ever happen. With Garber somehow adding two teams a year, a balanced schedule is not going to happen in a few years anyway. Once you have a single table, then add expansion teams (20 or over), how could you go back to conferences? I agree that it would make perfect sense next year with Philly and in 2011 with Vancouver and Portland.

Posted by: majoson | September 17, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

With respect to MLS scheduling and structure, there needs to be a balance for the good of MLS. What is traditional in soccer leagues around the globe must be balanced with what is traditional in this country. Otherwise, the average sports fan in this country may view MLS as "foreign" which is exactly what the league doesn't need.
For true growth the league must attract more than the traditional soccer crowd and must market it's product accordingly. MLS isn't going to lose soccer loyalists such as us here at SI by not converting to a more traditional league but they may lose potential fans by only marketing to us.

Posted by: croftonpost | September 17, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I'll tell you what excites me. A balanced schedule. That's pretty cool. Could facilitate singled table! At least the Supporter's Shield will have some real meaning! Pretty cool stuff.

Posted by: Matte | September 17, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I guess I'm not very bright. It took me a while but it just dawned on me that the reason for the MLS to finally take a World Cup break is so Beckham won't miss too many games. Duh!

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | September 17, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the "the." I started to type the league and switched to MLS without removing the offending article.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | September 17, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Can we ditch SuperLiga while we're at it?

Posted by: bs2004 | September 17, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

BlackandRedRedDevil -- You're assuming that Becks will still be with LA then. Big assumption.

Posted by: fischy | September 17, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Fischy -- Posh scored big kudos at New York fashion week this week. She has really found her niche here in the US. We know who wears the pants in the family (and who wears the sarong). My money says he stays here as long as Posh wants to, or until the US gets tired of her (just as the UK has).

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | September 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

BOOOO! This is HORRIBLE news!! They are ruining what started out as a world class system. Who is running the show now, and why do they insist on making sense?

Bring back the Shootout! Bring back the clock ticking down to zero regardless of play! Bring back Doug Logan!!

Posted by: beergorila | September 17, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I didn't pick up on that either BaRRD. Very perspicacious.

My assumption is that Becks will retire from England after WC10 and return to finish the season for LA before retiring professionally and, as speculated, investing in a Montreal team. Then he'll move his family to NY, which is closer to Montreal and better for Posh's fashion designer career. Nothing wrong with that. Then he'll go into his Jordan-Wizards phase and un-retire to play for some struggling London team willing to play him millions.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 17, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

This is the first step in campaign to get next World Cup, very nice. Sorry it took them so long, but get ready for more positive changes. Great!!!

Posted by: lespaw | September 17, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

good decision. particularly like the balanced schedule.

Posted by: TestudoTheFearsome | September 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

It makes perfect sense. They should also not play at the same time as the national team like every other league in the world.

Posted by: wis193 | September 17, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Whew-hew! Next, the international breaks. Steps in the right direction for the league to finally be taken seriously.

Posted by: dougenglish | September 23, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

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