TORONTO - Major League Soccer is ready
to get in step with the rest of the football world and align its
schedule with the international calendar, MLS commissioner Don
Garber said on Sunday.
"Long term we believe we will probably have to find a way
to change to the (international) calendar," Garber told
reporters ahead of the MLS Cup between the Colorado Rapids and
"We're working with our clubs to see what impact it would
have on them.
"It really is going to be a lot of work but we are making
"I'm not saying we're doing it, we're doing the work to
see if we can.
"There's no rush. It is going to take us a long time even
after we have decided to execute a plan like this."
Garber's announcement will be welcome news to FIFA
president Sepp Blatter who has long complained that the MLS
must synchronise its schedule with the rest of the world.
Currently the MLS season runs from March to mid-November
with fixtures routinely clashing with international dates on
the FIFA calendar.
The timing of the announcement could also help the U.S. in
its bid to secure the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA will vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts on December 2 in
"As we go out to Zurich and try and bring the World Cup
back to the United States we're basically saying to the world
we're going to do the work we need to do to figure this out,"
"The idea is that we want to try to have a calendar that
aligns with the international format so that we could avoid
playing on those FIFA dates."
Fitting the MLS schedule into the world calendar will
present numerous challenges, particularly for the league's
northern outposts like Toronto and expansion franchise
Montreal, who could find themselves playing in February in
The MLS Cup - to decide the MLS champions - being played
in Toronto later on Sunday was the coldest on record at 43
degrees Fahrenheit but the game still attracted an
enthusiastic sellout crowd of around 21,000.
Garber outlined one rough plan that would see the league
begin play in late summer, break in early winter and start up
again in late February with a championship game in the late
"This game (MLS Cup), if we were to change our calendar,
would be a regular season game here in Toronto and today it is
our championship," said Garber. "How do you play games in
Montreal in February. It's a matter of growing the fan base.
"We're telling our fans we have a goal and vision to be
one of the top soccer leagues in the world.
"In order for us to do that we are going to have to do a
wide variety of things over the next number of years and the
calendar is one of them."
Garber also announced that the league would expand the
number of teams making the play-offs from eight to 10 and with
two new teams in Vancouver and Portland will expand the
schedule by four games from 30 to 34.
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