While although there may be Soccer fixtures taking place in Central America, the same cannot be said for the United States and because of this, it means there has been a pause in MLS proceedings.
The latest MLS comeback news suggests that the competition will resume on May 10th, although with the way the world is struggling with the Coronavirus pandemic and these shores in particular, that date may prove to be a little optimistic.
Especially when you consider that another competition has recently hit the wall and although it is the cousin of Soccer, the news that the XFL has ceased operations will certainly have made its way back to MLS headquarters. In fact, the only competition at the moment that might be safe is the NFL, where they hope to start the season in September. At the moment everything is going smooth for NFL and people expect the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl again.
However, that’s not to say that the MLS is in danger of collapsing anytime soon and with the legacy it has already built during its first 24 years of operation, it is in a much safer position than Vince McMahon’s pet project.
Although, that’s not to say the MLS can be too dismissive of the current sporting climate and the fact that a nascent league has gone to the wall, will only highlight just how treacherous things are in this current day.
While with the restart date being mooted for the second week of May, there will be an obvious knock-on effect in terms of scheduling and the league’s showpiece event now looks set to be held in December.
Although that potential pushback for the MLS Cup is still very much up in the air and if there are further delays, there will then be a question mark as to when the crowning of the 2020 champions takes place.
Who’s the best import in MLS history?
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 13, 2020
One scenario is that further delays sees the 2020 MLS Cup finally take place in the next calendar year and to be honest, that would not be the worst outcome. With that said though, it might have to be a sacrifice elsewhere in the schedule that is required to take place.
If we assume Don Garber and his MLS cohorts want the MLS Cup main event to be played before the end of the year, it might be that a simpler domestic season schedule is put in place and one that scraps the lopsided 34 game season that was installed previously.
In any lopsided league format, there is always a debate regarding sporting integrity and with the current schedule seeing some franchises face each other twice and others only once, the imbalance does not sit all that well with supporters.
Therefore, a fairer resolution for one year only is to scale down the schedule to just 25 games instead – meaning that each franchise faces each other just once (although of course, there would still be questions regarding home and road meetings)
However, unlike European matches there is not necessarily swathes of away supporters traveling to MLS fixtures and that means the whole notion of ‘home advantage’ is one that does not have as big a bearing on team performance.
Because of that, the fact that teams wouldn’t need to worry about meeting both home and on the road suggest that a 25-game schedule is the fairest one and it also adds an extra layer of flexibility should it be required.
Because if there are further delays as expected, then the simplest move would be to scrap the playoffs and just decide matters at the end of the league format. It may mean no MLS Cup final but at least the season would be concluded in a fair manner.
It wouldn’t be perfect but in such uncertain times, sacrifices in all forms of sport are going to have to be made and you get the feeling that the adoption of a 25-game schedule (whether it be with or without play-offs) is certainly the least worst option.
Ultimately it all boils down to just how long the MLS season is delayed for, although the longer it continues the less likely Don Garber will see his vision of a 34-game lopsided schedule come to fruition.
However, with more teams joining the MLS party in the next couple of years, this will certainly become a reality in due course. Although for now, all Garber and the rest of the MLS decision-makers can do, is sit back and let this global crisis come to some sort of positive resolution.