Record cold and nasty on the way! So, FIFA calendar change for MLS, anyone?

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Perhaps we have our regular “Should MLS switch to FIFA calendar” debates at the wrong times. Seems like we speak of this coming transition – men on high keep saying it’s a matter of “when,”  after all – around FIFA fixture dates or around MLS All-Star game.

And plenty of those dates occur in far more pleasant weather, in times when we may sip cool beers beneath starry skies in scenes Vincent van Gogh himself could best appreciate.

But let’s poke this bear once again – because I do so love poking this calendar bear:

Anyone want to go see some MLS soccer this weekend?

This is the question that MLS officials must answer as they consider a realignment to a season that more or less follows FIFA’s annual calendar: How in the world would an MLS season work in this weather?

Have you seen what’s coming to our poor friends in the Northeast? Or the preposterously cold weather

Yes, MLS commissioner Don Garber has told us that a realignment – Major League Soccer currently kicks off in March, runs through the spring and summer and ends with MLS Cup roughly in the first week of December – would require a winter break. And, yes, we would be presumably be smack in the middle of the winter break right now.

But our land of less predictable weather can get this kind of cold, nasty unpleasantness anytime from November to early March. Remember what was going on last February?

source: APEverybody remember the MLS playoff game postponed for a day at New York’s Red Bull Arena (pictured below)? That happened in November. Or how about the unforgettable Snow Clasico, the United States vs. Costa Rica match in World Cup qualifying? That happened in March. Late March!

Bottom line here: the window of bad weather in this country stretches further than any reasonable “break” could possibly extend. Anything longer than six weeks or so is not a “break,” it’s a stinkin’ off-season!

And let’s be clear about this: the argument that “NFL goes on” or that “NHL’s Winter Classic” happens just won’t fly. Fans will bundle up to brave dangerously cold weather for special happenings (like the NHL’s greatest annual moment) or NFL playoff games. They certainly did in Kansas City for MLS Cup 2013 – and here’s to ya, heartland faithful!

But a regular season game in MLS? Too many fans will play it smart and take a pass.

The alternative is worse: it only takes a couple of postponements in the tightly packed soccer calendar to seriously screw up the entire scheduling works.

I’m not saying this thing is never going to happen: just saying MLS has a ton of work ahead to make this thing even possible.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.