Monday, August 2, 2010

Fixture Congestion and Getting PO'd

Over the years there has been a lot of conversation about fixture congestion, particularly for MLS teams with their limited rosters. This season, MLS teams may have 24 players on the roster plus 2 homegrown players. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to ignore the arcane rules that permit 'non-roster' players to compete in some of the non-league competitions.
But despite those rules, the combination of congestion and short rosters(relative to Euro Clubs), has been the most oft referred to reason for the failure of MLS clubs to achieve success in its most important international club tourney. I am referring, of course, to the CONCACAF Champions League. No MLS club has won the competition since 2000 and in years of late, MLS clubs haven't been able to progress very far, either in the tourney's old iteration as the CONCACAF Champions Cup, in which MLS clubs were granted instant access to the quarterfinals, or the new incantation of the CCL. In fact, MLS performances have been so lackluster, that I can easily see it losing one of its 4 slots in a couple of years.

This subject seems particularly topical with the new rules in the EPL coming into play this year. Rosters are limited to 25 players with unlimited players 21 and under. Once rosters are submitted to the league, they may not be changed until Jan 1. I linked to many stories on this subject over the last couple of weeks. Go read some of them to get a better idea of what English clubs will be wrestling with this year. What I don't know is how the new rule effects EPL teams in the Carling Cup and FA Cup. I suspect there will be no effect on those competing in the UEFA Champions League or Europa Cup, which have had similar roster restrictions in place for a while now. But let's face it, what established player will want to be on the payroll but not on the 25 man roster just to play in the supplemental competitions but ineligible for league play? It's a story to watch as the EPL season unfolds.

Update: The EPL rules explained. Including what it means for the Carling Cup and FA Cup.
Here's an article on how the new rule is effecting Man City.

Fixture Congestion for MLS Teams
7/25/10 MLS
7/27/10 CCLCCL
7/28/10 CCL
8/3/10 CCL CCL
8/4/10 CCL SL
8/5/10 SL MLS
8/7/10 FriendlyMLS MLS MLS
8/8/10 MLSMLS
8/11/10 MLS MLS
9/4/10 MLSMLS
Days38 36 42 36 43 36 29
Games88 1161066
Games/Day4.8 4.5 3.8 6.0 4.3 6.0 4.8
CCL=CONCACAF Champions League - SL=N.A. SuperLiga - USOC=US Open Cup
All Fixtures for MLS Teams Since Season Start to July 21
Games2020 2123181922
Games/Day6.0 6.0 5.7 5.2 6.6 6.3 5.4
Includes CCL, SuperLiga, Open Cup, Nutralite Championship, Friendlies

I haven't forgotten about the other two USOC semifinalists, DC United and Chivas, but neither play more than one game per week until the semis, as which time both have 3 matches in 7 days. And yes, I know not all teams played on opening day, but what the hell.
In addition to the competitions listed in the table above, the money machine that is the 'Summer of Soccer' has seen 12 MLS teams play friendlies or mini(money) tournaments since the season began. RBNY leads that list with 4 matches, followed by Chicago with 3(all in late May). There will be three more this week, including the much balleyhooed LA/AC Milan match. Given their sudden descent into terrible form, the Galaxy seem to have the most to lose if their focus doesn't remain properly fixed on their 2nd leg CCL v Puerto Rico and the onrushing RSL in the chase for the Supporters' Shield and it's automatic bid to next years CCL.


  • Speaking of mini tourneys, there was a nice little one across the pond, with AS Roma, Paris St. Germain, Bordeaux and FC Porto participating.
  • Steve Davis' weekly review of  the week that was in MLS. Worth the read.
  • The good folks over at Unprofessional Foul, a regular read of mine, have put out a request for assistance for a group heading over to a South African orphanage to build playgrounds and more. If you can help, here is the link.
Sometimes I get really pissed off

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I read really ignorant posts or comments that have no factual basis or just plain piss me off, I reply in my head with a really scathing attack. But alas, I just can't bring myself to call someone a f*cking moron, or a stupid pr*ck, or some other expletive that is rattling around my brain. So I think I'll just come up with some abbreviations that salve my turbulent brain while not being publicly rude. Here's my preliminary list and a few examples of a scenario in which I'd use them.

  • IM - no not Instant Messenger, but Ignorant Moron
  • HUYA - Head Up Your Ass
  • AYAFI - Are you a fucking idiot?
  • CBBOM -- Check brain before opening mouth
Some actual stuff I've read in the past few days and my in brain response...

"The game's not on in HD, I just can't watch it" - AYAFI
" The team name is stupid, I won't support them" - IM
"Vancouver, Portland and Seattle outdrew half of MLS while in USL" - CBBOM

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