Schedule-Bashing Fun (+ a silver-plated lining)

The Writers Roundtable had a well-justified field-day with what the two-headed Major League Soccer (MLS)/Soccer United Marketing (SUM*) beast has done with the regular season schedule. Some choice outtakes:

(Bill Urban)"Silly me, I forgot, the league schedule is an inconvenience, a provincial backwater competition amid the roundelay of “prestige” friendlies and SUM-sponsored tournaments."

(Urban)"I find it hard to care [about the Superliga] beyond the journalistic necessity to do so about a tournament so clearly set up to sell tickets for SUM. There’s no other point, and the havoc wrought on the league schedule by the SuperLiga makes the regular season more of a joke than usual."

(Ian Plenderleith)"I like properly organized international club tournaments, but Superliga feels like it's been rammed into the schedule. There's been so much going on with Copa, the Gold Cup, the U-20s and The Dave Craze, that we've lost sight of MLS, which has been gamefully struggling for weeks on the sidelines to maintain our attention with threadbare rosters. It deserves to be our priority from now on, but we still have to wait for another three weeks before we can focus again on what is now the centric pillar of pro soccer in this country. I accept that it’s very tough to plan a league schedule in this country, but I can't accept the mess that’s been made of this year by the league, the Fed and CONCACAF."

So sad and, yet, all true. It's amazing how a good concept - and I count the Superliga, in spite of being (fucking) outraged about the lack of TV availability while we're choking on the inanity of the World Series of Football, a good one (if I had the balls and less free-time watching small children, oh yes, I'd boycott it...especially if there was anything else on Saturday) - can mask over the damage that each writer describes. At this point, the dignity of MLS's regular season, arguably even the U.S. Open Cup, almost requires a split season; either that, or give up and turn the damn league into a dog-and-pony show that will outright undermine player development.

That's fairly depressing stuff, if you ask me, though it's rescued by something else Ian Plenderleith says - and I happen to agree with the second half of what he says here as well:

"It's not been a stunning season so far, by any means, but I think the playoff run-in will be one of the most intriguing we've had for years once we get all this All-Star, exhibition and Superliga brouhaha out the way."

Between the topsy-turvy starts of DC United and the Houston Dynamo versus bolts from the gate by Red Bull New York and the Chicago Fire, I liked the early season plenty - but I'm also thinking the end-game will be even better.

(*I'm assuming I've got the pieces of the acronym correct, but don't care to look it up.)



Laurie said...

How about this? Once every team gets a soccer specific stadium, we switch to the soccer schedule followed by the rest of the universe? This would leave our summers free for all kind of extracurriculars as desired. I'm thinking soccer at The Dick in December could redefine the word "fun."

And admit it. Boycotting the World Series of Football has never been an option, has it? There is no chance in the universe that you'd miss Beckham's MLS debut.

The Manly Ferry said...

Your mockery on the World Series of Socball stings me to the core. The shiny lights, a half-fat/half-hungover Chelsea team, the possible absence of Beckham...I'm helpless and shameless as a junkie furry.

If they followed the rest of the world's schedule, half the league's games would require teams of paramedics to evacuate the frost-bite victims...and I'd be the one loitering outside urging people to show their "true fan" stripes by sticking it out in the sub-zero hell.

I'm kidding, of course...though my inner sadist is enjoying a chuckle.

The gap doesn't need to be significant; just a month and a half or so that can be stuffed with as many silly exhibitions as any team could want. And I'm a firm advocate of a shorter season anyway; I'd go as low as 22 regular season games with a 16 team league (is my math right there? Let's see: assume eight team conferences, with a home-and-away series for all inter-conference rivals; add a game against each team in the other conference that goes home-and-away over successive seasons). Anyway, I don't care how they do it, just cut the bloat and give the games more meaning.