MLS Scheduling: Disaster or Catastrophe?

The simpletons who populate the TFC fanbase aside, there are a whole bunch of people who need to take a long, stiff drink of reality with regard to MLS scheduling.

I'm truly sorry, Toronto, but until some of you can stop crying like 9 year old girls who've lost their favorite Barbie long enough to answer a couple of simple questions, then I have no time for your "problems"

1) Why did Toronto only have 25 players on their roster, forcing them to bring in three warm bodies so they could field a team?

2) Given that they DID have three empty roster spots for whatever reason, why did they wait until 24 hours before the Chivas game to fill them?

3) Why do none of you acknowledge that TFC's management shares a good deal of the blame for not taking care of business?

4) Why is it that TFC has this extensive array of "internationals" and yet they still can't beat the Little Sister of the Poor?

5) In it's last 16 games, Toronto has won exactly one game. If I accept that the last one was entirely, 100% Don Garber's fault, who do you blame for all the rest of them?

See, here's how it works: when a good team having a good season suddenly has to play without several key players and loses as a result, they can rightly blame the system.

When a crappy team that loses week after week has to play without several key players and ends up losing yet again, they really don't have much claim to moral outrage.

Frankly, the teams that have a legitimate beef here are teams like New England, DC and Houston, who are being bludgeoned to death with 50 or so games this season.

Did you see the Crew-Revs match on Saturday? Yes, the Crew is on fire right now, but New England is undeniably a fine, fine team and they looked like all they wanted to do was go lay down.

They're tired as hell, their legs are shot and they're looking down the barrel at more games to come.

Same deal with DC, although they're a little harder to figure: from week to week I can't decide whether they're a good team that sometimes underachieves, a weak team that sometimes overachieves, or whether they're well coached or poorly coached or whether the whole outfit is simply riding along on Jaime Moreno's increasingly aged back.

A back which, incidentally, is away on international duty right now.

THEY are teams with "scheduling problems". TFC has no beef next to theirs.

MLS has tried to accommodate all of this by jamming in extra games during the week and freeing up the weekends, or vice versa, and have juggled the schedule as much as humanly possible. There is no more wiggle room.

But a lot of people are now saying that, in addition to easing up the load on Superliga, Champions League, and other tournament teams, they also need to close up shop entirely three or four weekends a year so that 20 players out of 400 or so can go play for their countries.

The only thing that can give here, the only solution left, is to start cutting league games. It's down to 30 now, and to make any appreciable dent you'd have to cut, what, four? Five?

Can I remind you that MLS is the main thing here? That league dates equal league money and you can't demand they cut the number of games each year and then also scream about how the salary cap is too low.

Where do you think the money comes from? Moose milking?

20 or so missing players is a big dent, no question, particularly when they're 20 key players.

But there are 392 players in the league. (Well OK, there are only 389 since TFC doesn't feel they need to carry the full 28 for some reason which TFC fans refuse to discuss.)

Now don't get me wrong here: I would LOVE to see MLS shut it's doors for international dates. It would be terrific on any number of levels, not least of which would be the opportunity to focus fan attention on national team games.

But you know what? MLS would LOVE to see it too, and not just because they're tired of listening to the whining from North of the border.

International games are where stars are featured, and MLS would dearly love to have people focusing on it's US stars.

But this whole enterprise requires making some very, very tough decisions, and this is one of them, and a lot of you need to atop pretending that there's some easy, obvious, simple solution.

There isn't, despite what cretins like Steven Cohen tell everyone every day:

"Shut down the league for international dates and raise the salary cap to $20 million. Problem solved."

Thanks Steven. Go change your t-shirt, you nincompoop.

The only real solution that doesn't involve either starting the season way too early or finishing around Thanksgiving is to expand the rosters and give the teams more money to spend on players.

The problem isn't the schedule per se. The problem is trying to play the schedule with a short roster and not enough money.

Yes, the precious European leagues that so many people demand that we slavishly ape in every particular shut down league play on international dates.

We don't. We probably aren't going to. Instead, what we need to figure out is how to decrease the dropoff in talent between the first 11 and the rest of the team.

As for Canada, the simple solution for them - besides starting their own league where they can have whatever rules they like - is to start doing what they said they were going to do and stock up on Canadian players.

Because judging by the fact that Canada has taken one lousy point from it's first two qualifiers an they're scheduled into Mexico next week, they'll be out of qualifying and out of the WC in no time at all.