Approximately a month ago the MLS playoffs started. During that stretch some teams played a single game, others played as many as four. Every team has had a least one weekend off, some two. It's just a long time when you realize there are still two more matches before MLS Cup.
The new playoff structure for the First Round is only partially to blame. Dodging the international breaks is the biggest reason that MLS fans sometimes forget that their teams are still alive in the second season.
This is a challenge that few other sports deal with and there are really no good answers. MLS has tried putting the international break right before MLS Cup. Of course, that created pushback.
They tried putting the international break between the regular season and the playoffs, which stalled the time when the most eyeballs should be on the league.
Ahead of the conference finals could make sense, but that would require starting the season at least two weeks sooner and/or adding more midweek games. Rather than potentially 3-4 teams playing in snowy playoffs that would mean most of the league plays through snow in February, some several times.
MLS is likely the most difficult league schedule in American sports. There are multiple international breaks, including a big one basically every summer. There are three concurrent competitions (one wholly invented by the league). Some organizations still want the opportunity to host midseason friendlies. The All-Star Game, which gets pushback on social media from hardcore fans, is beloved by the general audience and by corporate partners.
It's a mess of less-than-ideal choices.
And in this case, these less-than-ideal choices lead to one pause just before the end of the regular season and other just before the conference semi-finals.
During these pauses, two-thirds of MLS teams are cutting players (former Sounders Will Bruin and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez are out in Austin). There's also a trickle of awards released during this two-week pause. That helps to give some attention to the league.
But next week, as the league resumes a competitive round of eight teams still competing for silverware its American fans will also be focused on the friends and family events surrounding Thanksgiving.
Is there a better schedule? Probably not. The wheel weaves as the wheel wills.
And us? We just have to be ready to cheer on the Sounders again, whenever they play – I had to look it up, it's November 26th, which is nine more days of no local pro soccer.
Puget Sound Soccer
This weekend's action includes three Sounders plus the USMNT
Nouhou played 8 minutes in Cameroon's 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Mauritius. He seems to have come in as a CB in a three-back set.
United States men's U17 vs France U17 in the World Cup at 4 a.m. PT on FS1 and Telemundo. Stuart Hawkins is the Sounders lone representative this cycle.
United States men's U23 vs Iraq U23s in pre-Olympics play at 8 a.m. PT. You'll likely have to follow this one via social media or the US Soccer website. Josh Atencio is Seattle's player attempting to earn the call to Paris.
Looking back at the week's news
Gotham won the NWSL and didn't have a parade.
Winning a trophy is massive. It's fun. And the tradition around the United States is that winners have parades. Phoenix Rising had a parade. When the Seattle Storm won their last title they had a parade. Gotham was so surprised by their title that they did zero prep to have a parade (due to permitting in most cities this needs to start around when the team qualifies for the playoffs). Instead Gotham will host the trophy at a bunch of iconic places in and around New York city – which they should do, after a parade. One thing I know, without any doubt, is that Reign will have a parade when they win their Cup.
- Four biggest questions Atlanta United must answer this offseason. One of those questions is whether or not they give up on Pineda.
- Ballard FC to Compete in 2024 U.S. Open Cup. There are teams that have turned down Open Cup invites. Good on Ballard for declaring their intent to compete.
- The Sounders are still in the playoffs, but Craig Waibel is already thinking about what to do when their run ends. Soundernavia looks at the status of the roster. SaH subscribers can track the depth chart and salary cap on our site.
- City of Everett and New Enter Into Agreement Over Professional Soccer Stadium
- Report: Bhathal family in exclusive talks to purchase Portland Thorns. The Thorns appear to have their buyer, barring any final snags in the sale process.
- Spokane Velocity FC Hires Leigh Veidman as Club’s First Head Coach. United Soccer League (USL) Spokane has hired Leigh Veidman as the first head coach of its USL League One professional men’s Spokane Velocity FC team.
- The SAG-AFTRA strike is over. During the both that action and the WGA strike Sounders minority owner Drew Carey bought meals for striking creators. He spent seven figures supporting them.
- Sounders backup goalkeeper Andrew Thomas helped find a third star in a far off system, I think. He's really smart. Here's the paper he published.
- We're on Mastodon and Bluesky.