The MLS schedule has always been a subject of controversy, especially during the summer months when there are big international tournaments planned across the globe. 2021 is an even busier summer than normal because of the impact of the pandemic.
The CONCACAF Nations League final four started off the whirlwind summer at the beginning of June with the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras all calling a plethora of players from MLS to represent them. While the Nations League final four is only two games for players, there is the CONCACAF Gold Cup as well that kicks off in July which will require even more players to be absent from MLS fixtures.
However, the CONCACAF tournaments are just the tip of the iceberg as the European Championship was also moved to June 2021 after it was postponed last summer due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. While UEFA holds their biggest international tournament, CONMEBOL will also be holding the Copa America. Both the Copa America and European Championship are scheduled to commence on June 11th.
As a result of the international tournaments taking place this summer, MLS clubs will be forced to play without some of their biggest stars and inevitably the quality of the product on the pitch will take a hit. The legitimacy of the league itself could also be argued to be compromised as well if teams are unable to field important players because they are busy playing for their national teams.
While the MLS schedule during the summer months has always been problematic, it’s become even more of an issue this year with so many important tournaments taking place around the globe.
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Story by Marco D’Onofrio, Soccer 360 Magazine