One of the great debates in American soccer has always been which schedule the domestic leagues, namely Major League Soccer, should adopt. Traditionally, most major European leagues begin in late summer and runs through the fall and winter, ending in the spring. However, MLS has opted not to play in the winter, with their schedule beginning as the season shifts to spring, playing through the summer and most of the fall.
Before, it made sense for MLS to not play in the fall and winter, as most teams back in the day played in existing NFL stadiums. From a financial standpoint, they didn’t want to compete with college football and the NFL for dollars, TV ratings, and attention. They opted to play the bulk of their season during the summer, where the only league that really competed with them on weekends was Major League Baseball.
Another major factor has been the weather. MLS has said that playing outside in the middle of the winter here in the United States was something that would not work. And, for most of the country, that would be true. Around 75% of the states in our union have snow on the ground, not to mention extremely cold temperatures that stop people from venturing outside to grab the mail, much less attend a sporting event.
Still, people look on TV and see the Premier League and other European leagues playing right through the winter, despite cold temperatures or extreme weather. They ask why MLS can’t attempt the same to stay on the same calendar as the majority of the world. There are even proposals to work in a winter break during the harshest parts of December and January, and altering schedules to skew towards the places that normally avoid the cold and snow during the winter months. Still, with a league that will have 30 teams in a few years, only a handful are in locales or stadiums that wouldn’t have to worry about a harsh winter.
The question of the week is: do you think MLS can realistically play winter soccer? If you think that the league can handle playing several months by breaking out the orange ball, or if you think that any talk of playing in the winter time is just asking for trouble, hit the comments and tell us why you feel that way!