When will we see MLS teams again? Sooner than you think

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Major League Soccer’s offseason may seem interminably long by world soccer standards, an idea that gained real momentum once U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann drew a circle around it two years ago and cited it as an impediment to the Major League Soccer-based players being the very best they can be.

While MLS has done a lot to shorten the off-season (on both ends, that is, starting earlier in late-winter and going far deeper into late fall), the gap between seasons remains long compared to a lot of leagues.

But compared to traditional American sports, this thing is a short stack of pancakes.

Consider that the layoff between NFL’s Super Bowl and the very front end of training camp for the “helmet football” teams is nearly six months.

A three-plus month gap separates the NBA finals from the opening of training camps. (The gap for most teams is far longer, as the NBA playoffs last almost two months.)

Major League Soccer’s gap between the MLS Cup and the opening of training camp? About six weeks. (One staff member from Real Salt Lake saw me after Saturday’s MLS Cup final and, remembering an annual preseason trip I take into Arizona for MLS networking and fact-gathering and such, he quipped, “Well, see you in two weeks in Arizona!”)

So when, exactly, will we see MLS teams again?

Next year’s MLS draft is set for Jan. 16, 2014 in Philadelphia. There will be plenty of off-season news between now and then, but that is the first really solid newsmaker day.

Typically, teams spend about six weeks in preseason training. With a March 8 first kick for MLS in 2014, expect clubs to begin reporting a few days after the draft (the week beginning Jan. 19). They’ll conduct physicals and jump a few other procedural hoops, and probably get on the field that week or early the next week, latest.