MLS 2013 Schedule and Another Big Loss

Right after MLS Cup 2012 we pointed out that MLS was running into some huge question marks when it came to 2013 season. No David Beckham and possibly no face of US soccer in Landon Donovan. Now as it announces its 2013 schedule it’s faced with yet another loss, that of Seattle Sounders goal scoring maestro Fredy Montero.

Montero

Montero had been Seattle’s main offensive weapon during it’s 4 MLS seasons. With his transfer to a Colombian club all but signed, MLS and the Sounders face the very real truth of losing a young goal scoring machine that they could have built a very prosperous future upon. Tie this into the release of the 2013 schedule and you can’t help but wonder if the travel has something to do with it.

MLS is a hard league. While other North American sports are just as tough travel wise few leagues have the influx of foreign players that MLS does. From LA to New York, Montreal to Houston and Seattle to…well anywhere, the airline miles rack up pretty fast.

Besides the time on airplanes, the MLS plays in 4 different time-zones and multiple climates and elevations. From the rainy soaked Pacific Northwest to the high altitude of Salt Lake and Denver to the heat and humidity of south Texas and the freezing temperatures of eastern Canada during the early spring. It’s a commitment to the team, fans, league and sport just to play a season in this league.

Look at the Barclay’s Premier League. They play in a country the size of California’s Central Valley.Travel is a non factor their while in MLS it can mean the playing in the playoffs and having an early off-season.Does this travel affect foreign players? Absolutely. Does it shorten the career of US born players? Maybe. One can’t help but wonder how Landon Donovan would feel if he didn’t fly all of these MLS miles plus the US National Team plus the loan spell to Everton.

The MLS should really look at this seasons exodus of talent and PR with a spoonful of salt. The scheduling needs to improve but before it can the league needs to get a 20th team in the door and fast. Whether it’s New York or Atlanta just get a team up and running. Having Montreal play matches at San Jose then in New York 4 days later in the first month of the season is just draining. There is a better way to do this, not a perfect way, but a better way and with that better way comes players like Donovan, Beckham and Montero sticking around with their clubs.

BALL DON’T LIE

BALLDONTLIE

90 seconds. That’s how long it took for the New York Knicks Rasheed Wallace to be ejected from a game against the Phoenix Suns. 90 seconds.

He had just entered the game when he was called for a technical foul. When Suns player Goran Dragic missed a free throw Wallace shouted out, “BALL DON’T LIE!” The ref’s then delivered a second technical foul to Wallace which sent him to the showers before he could even break a sweat.

Whether you agree with the call or not. Whether you like Rasheed Wallace and his 317 career technical fouls or not, you have to be impressed with this scene. Wallace could be heard clearly in the arena and on TV which says something for his vocals and not a lot for the New York fans. It would be safe to say that fans at a PGA event make more noise than the Knicks fans. In the end the NBA, the Knicks and Wallace can feel good about one thing, creating Internet gold.

BALL DON’T LIE!

Adapting to the Weather

Some years ago, when there was a Big 8 conference in collegiate athletics, the University  of Colorado was changing their offense from an option team to a three WR team. Most people mocked the move with the ‘you can’t run a pass based offense in this conference. At least one game a year you’ll get wind, rain, sleet or snow and then what?’

Well Colorado did change their offense. Some time after that Bob Stoops became the head coach at the University of Oklahoma and won a National Title with the ‘Air Raid’ offense. By that time Oklahoma and Colorado where in the Big 12 conference and proved the weather nay sayers wrong week in and week out. Other schools followed suit including Kansas and Missouri.

Sports has shown an amazing ability to overcome the elements and provide amazing moments. From football to the NHL’s Winter Classic. Now a another weather challenge looms on the immediate horizon, global warming.

Global warming has been effecting athletes for years. There is no better example than the fall football camps. Oppressive heat forcing teams to alter practice hours and closely monitor their players health. Now sports must adapt to storms such as Sandy that battered the eastern seaboard.

Think about this, if the San Francisco Giants didn’t sweep the Detroit Tigers in four games in the World Series when would they have been able to play game five? The outer edges of Sandy were already being felt in Detroit bringing high winds, rain and a big drop in temperature. What if the New York Yankees or the New York Mets had made it to the World Series. Would they have been able to play at all?

MLS had to swap locations of a playoff game from New York to DC because of Sandy. They then ran into a snow storm delaying the second leg of the playoff series forcing the match to be played a day later. All this, one could argue, factored into DC not being at full strength in the next round which resulted in them being bounced out of the playoffs by a fresher Houston side.

Some professional leagues like the NFL, MLB and MLS have all talked about or already extended either their season or playoff structure in the name of revenue. Now these sports are running into situations, in particular MLB and MLS, where their playoff games could be put in jeopardy because of global warming. Placing both leagues in the unenviable position of possibly sacrificing profits just so they can get the games played.

The NFL is looking to expand it’s footprint. One way of doing that is going to an eighteen game schedule and placing a franchise in the United Kingdom. This years London game between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams was played without incident however the trip home became complicated due to Sandy. New England moved up their charter flight to get home before the storm hit but did have a contingency plan which meant staying in London for a few more days until it was safe for them to return to Boston. Luckily, they had an off week the next week.

As we can see, sports are not exempt from the effects of global warming. Dealing with it is going to play a major role in how and when games are played. Leagues, coaches, layers and fans better get use to it because it’s not around the corner but a fact of life right now.

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The Games Must Go On

Superstorm Sandy threw a serious body blow to the Northeastern United States and in particular to the New York metropolitan area. The word “distater” is not overstating this. People have lost their lives and the region will never be the same. All the more reason for sports to stand up and provide relief.

This is a time when people need something else to think about instead of “when is the power going to come back on?” or “how am I ever going to recover from this?” Sports can give these people a brief moment of grace. For a few hours they can recapture a moment of that “normal life” and cheer on their team.

The storm has effected the teams as well. From the New York Giants changing up their schedule to their opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, coming into New Jersey the day of the game due to their host hotel in New Jersey not having power. The Giants players have had their own troubles with some moving into hotels and others rooming with each other.

These two teams were not the only ones effected. The Green Bay Packers star WR Greg Jennings was to have surgery in New York on Tuesday but had to postpone due to the storm. This postponement pushes his possible return to the field back a few more weeks.

The MLS Cup playoffs have swapped cities with the New York Red Bulls playing game one of their two game set in DC instead of their home ground of Harrison, New Jersey.

The NBA has postponed games including the home opener of the Brooklyn Nets in their new digs of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the New York Knicks.

The teams are not the only ones effected. Just about everyone has an office in the New York area. The NFL pushed back their trade deadline by 48 hours mainly because it was going to be too difficult for the league, who’s offices were closed Monday and Tuesday, to get the necessary paperwork done.

After all the cancellations, delays and postponements it’s time for sports to take center stage again. It’s time for sports to take the people’s mind’s off the distater, even if for only a few hours, and give them some relief. It’s for fans, players, and workers alike to find some sort of normalcy in the midsts of chaos.

Let the games continue.

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