MLS shifting schedule? Sorry, Sepp. League president says it’s not happening any time soon

12 Comments

PORTLAND, Ore. — MLS is about to align its calendar with Europe’s? That’s news to Major League Soccer; at least, according to league President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott.

In the middle of a wide-ranging media session Tuesday in Portland, Abbott denied by recent claims from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who said on Monday that MLS would soon adopt what’s often referred to as the “international calendar” – the late-summer-to-spring season footprint that’s used by most leagues around the world.

Asked about Blatter’s assertions, Abbott said Major League Soccer, which plays from March through early December, could not make the change at this time, reiterating a view expressed by league commissioner Don Garber in December.

“I saw the comments, we didn’t have a chance to talk to [Blatter] about those,” Abbott explained, “What I’ll say today is what Don (Garber) said last year, which is we looked at it last fall. We concluded that, at this point in time, it is not a change that we could make.”

Note: could, not would. A change in schedule could happen at some point, but there are no plans to sync up with Europe any time soon.

“We don’t rule it out for some point in the future,” Abbott said, “but there’s not an imminent plan to change to the international calendar.”

Blatter, speaking yesterday in Canada ahead of the Women’s U-20 World Cup, said “[MLS] has taken the decision … to adapt the FIFA calendar,” a claim that contradicted Garber’s statements in December at MLS Cup. There, the league commissioner said a schedule change was something MLS would “continue to look at it … to see if we can do this in the future,” but was “not something we are going to do in the short-term.”

In that short-term, Major League Soccer is focused on other things, like getting the league up to 24 teams by 2020. If it is a goal, changing schedules remains a long-term one.