Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MLS Doesn't Bend During World Cup Qualifying

As 2018 World Cup qualifiers get going again Thursday, March 23rd through Tuesday, March 28th, most of the world's professional soccer leagues will be on hiatus until at least Saturday, April 1st. None of the elite leagues from Europe, South America or Liga MX are playing during these Qualifiers, from Thursday to Tuesday. MLS is the exception. MLS has three league games scheduled for Saturday, March 25th, including one on national Tv (UniMas), New York vs. Real Salt Lake.

Traditionalists say that MLS is acting in a counter-productive way by not following the international soccer calendar. Purists call the scheduling maneuver by MLS as disrespectful. But, it's not a slap in the face to FIFA. It's simply keeping the league alive in the minds of U.S. sports fans during the busy American sports calendar.

There's no downtime for the competition to MLS for U.S. sports Tv ratings. Besides WC qualifiers, there are other robust contests going up against MLS for Tv ratings during this time, including college basketball's March Madness and playoff positioning games for the NBA.

By going iconoclastic, MLS is setting a tone for its future and sending a message to the rest of the world. One could say that it is part and parcel to the Americanization of MLS. Whether it's having more than 20 teams in its league, having a playoff system to determine a champion, not promoting/relegating or scheduling games during WC qualifying, MLS has decided it wants to control what it can, when it can. Going against FIFA protocol may not be popular, but it could end up benefiting world soccer.

MLS could be the league that finds a 'happy middle ground' for fans of club teams and national teams. An idea for substituting players at a different rate has been proposed. If fans want to see their favorite players not miss a beat of playing time, then there has to be a more creative way for players to enter, leave and return to game play.

As FIFA's rules committee arm, IFAB, shows more transparency to try and improve the game, nothing should be taken as 'written in stone' like things were done in the past under 40 plus years of corrupt administration regimes.

Comments from Marco Van Basten, FIFA Chief Officer for Technical development, show a desire to display a better game for fans. Recently, he spoke about making the most of time keeping and not allowing for wasted time. He also mentioned sin bins that would put a team on a 'power play' similar to how the NHL administrates its penalties, adding substitutions, and making changes to the offside rule.

Van Basten's discourse was a peek into how discussions may be forged for a game in the future that demands more practicality for high IQ sports fans. New ideas and new ways of getting things done is how FIFA wants to proceed. FIFA wants a different modus operandi, while MLS wants to be the visionary.

No comments:

Post a Comment