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31Dec/11Off

MLS Length of Season

By: Ed Blythe Twitter: ed_blythe

On October 10, 2011 US Men National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann made comments about the length of the current MLS season.  I didn’t think too much about it until news keeps coming out about MLS players going on training stents with European teams or just working out on their own.  Sporting Kansas City’s own CJ Sapong said as much during his interview with Yanks Abroad about his call up to the USMNT.  Now why is Sapong working on improvements taken from the USMNT coach own his own or at the max with just a few people?  For the development of the league and US players something needs to be done.  I did some comparisons of MLS Teams (LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting KC), European Teams (Manchester United, English Premier League; Barcelona, Spanish La Liga; AC Milan, Italian Serie A; Nottingham Forest; English League Championship) and Mexican Team (Tigres UANL, Primera de Mexico).

 

Below you can see how much difference the number of games and length of breaks taken throughout the world is and why it seems that MLS players take so much time off. The first thing that many people know is that FIFA’s world football calendar runs August/July to April/May. MLS does not run this way but they are the only major league. Mexico runs two separate seasons with the top eight teams going into a home and home aggregate playoff.  They take a small break in winter and a longer break in summer.

 

Calendar year 2011

 

TEAM

GAMES PLAYED

LEAGUES

DAYS BREAK

LAST GAME/ FIRST GAME

ManU

62

Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield

70

UEFA Champions League/FA Community Shield

Nott Forest

53

English League Champions,  FA Cup, Carling Cup

87

English League Champions/English League Champions

Barcelona

60

La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup

77

UEFA Champions League/Super Cup

AC Milan

50

Serie A, UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, Coppa Italia

75

Serie A/Super Cup

Tigres UANL

42

Primera de Mexico

76

Primera de Mexico (Clausura 2011)/ Primera de Mexico (Apertura 2011)

 

FIFA Season 2010/2011

 

TEAMS

GAMES PLAYED

LEAGUES

DAYS BREAK FROM 2009/2010

DAYS BREAK TO 2011/2012

ManU

60

Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield

90

70

Nott Forest

53

English League Champions,  FA Cup, Carling Cup

87

81

Barcelona

60

La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League

104

77

AC Milan

51

Serie A, UEFA Champions League, Coppa Italia

105

78

QPR

49

English League Champions, FA Cup, Carling Cup, Barclays Premier League

96

97

 

MLS

 

TEAMS

GAMES PLAYED

LEAGUES

DAYS BREAK FROM 2010

DAYS BREAK TO 2012

Seattle

49

MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup

127

126

LA

46

MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup

120

107

Sporting KC

39

MLS, US Open Cup

146

131

 

As you can see from this small sample size the MLS teams play a significantly fewer games then their European counterparts and take a much longer break in between their seasons.  Even if a team is playing in the MLS Playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League their break is still long.

 

What is there to do about the significantly long breaks for many players? Is this something that the MLS should be worried about? Does it affect the players that are off for 140 days or so? Does it ultimately hurt the League in the way of prestige, talent, competitiveness? There are so many questions that can be asked and solutions that can be guessed on.  Some of the more fortunate players are afforded the opportunity to train with a European club or even go on loan to a European club.  But are those few players getting the most for their time or would it be better spent with their club here in the MLS?  This is a problem that MLS will need to look at sooner rather than later.

 

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