Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How will the World Cup affect MLS?

Today's big news is the release of the World Cup pots, but there is some other news that will have a real impact on our domestic league. FIFA ruled that any player selected to play in the finals will not be allowed to play any other competitive match after May 15, the deadline for the announcement of the finalists' 23-man squads. The only exception is for players involved with the Champions League final to be held in Paris on May 17th.

For most leagues in the world, this is not a problem, but May will be the second month of MLS's 11th season. MLS has not released their schedule for next year yet, but they have mentioned a slow period during the cup. I'm going to guess that will mean a game a week per team at most. However, this new date adds three weeks to the period where players on national teams will be absent, which is too long of a time for a relaxed schedule. Also, seeing that national players are normally the stars of their respective teams, this is a long time to go without the big names being around.

I think this is the correct decision by FIFA. In 2002, it was obvious that a lot of the European based players were dragging during their matches. People need time to recover from the strain of a season. However, I do worry what this will do for MLS. Will they be able to build a strong season when about two months of it will be played without the best players?


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