With the announcement of the recent World Cup qualifying draw, the USMNT learned its upcoming path to the 2009 Hexagonal and ultimately the 2010 World Cup.
But what was also learned should benefit Major League Soccer as well. Whether it actually translates into a beneficial scenario to the fans is another thing, but given the league's track record it probably will mean more logjams ahead for the American soccer fan.
The US will open with either Barbados or Dominica on matchdays in June with specifics to be determined. But the semifinal round will be played on the following days:
Wednesday, Aug. 20
Saturday, Sept. 6
Wednesday, Sept. 10
Saturday, Oct. 11
Wednesday, Oct. 15
Sunday, Nov. 19
While the MLS schedule won't be announced until sometime in late January or February, whoever makes up the league schedule should go ahead and avoid scheduling games on those specific days.
Shutting down for entire weekends, especially in September and October, is probably out of the question. But for sure MLS can avoid scheduling midweek games in August, September and October. While that won't prevent MLS teams from losing key players to the national team, it would at least let fans follow the international game without having to ignore the domestic product.
For years, MLS has done nearly everything wrong when planning its calendar with accordance to the international fixture dates and international tournaments. How MLS can continue to play during the World Cup is beyond me. MLS commish Don Garber told us before the 2006 season that the league wouldn't play through the 2010 World Cup. I'm going to hold him accountable for those words when the World Cup comes around next time.
Anyway, the US has now a series of important dates spread out over the latter part of 2008. It's not the federation's responsibility to try and avoid scheduling games that would conflict with the league. It's the other way around, and typically other countries just shut down. Again, the league would likely never consider simply not scheduling dates on weekends in during the season. The least they could do is to not schedule any games on USMNT matchdays.
And while we're on the topic, here's the calendar for Hexagonal matchdays in 2009:
Wednesday, Feb. 11
Saturday, March 28
Wednesday, April 1
Saturday, June 6
Wednesday, June 10
Wednesday, Aug. 19
Saturday, Sept. 5
Wednesday, Sept. 9
Saturday, Oct. 10
Wednesday, Oct. 14
There you have the matchdays. No excuses, MLS.