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MLS considers a 34-game schedule

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Major League Soccer is considering a move to a 34-game regular season schedule, an increase in four matches per team.

You can read more about the details here at SI.com, where I first had the news in a piece posted this morning.

But this is no slam dunk. Two committees (the technical committee and then the influential competition committee, which includes some high-profile owners and coaches) will help make a recommendation. Owners will then vote during meetings at November’s MLS Cup in Toronto.

I can also tell you that there are few “proceed with caution” attitudes among some team officials. They know that opening the stadium doors provides, in most cases, more opportunities to make money. Most markets have reached the point that even a midweek contest will put a few more coins in the club bucket. (Maybe not as much as a weekend contest, but markets where teams control the revenue stream can, at the least, make a few bucks even when attendance is relatively light.)

But … (click forth for the “but”)

Some team officials are also concerned about players overuse. (Because all of this was discussed in closed-door owners meetings, coaches, GMs and technical directors can’t go on the record just yet as they talk generally about these things.)

With U.S. Open Cup, SuperLiga, CONCACAF Champions League and then the MLS playoffs, teams could easily reach 45 competitive matches.

I know what you’re saying: teams in Europe hit that number all the time. Fair enough. But the travel in most of those countries doesn’t come close to what teams face here. And the weather is obviously a different animal, too. Step outside and you’ll see.

So, the choice of whether to go to 34 games is really all tied into the important decisions ahead on roster expansion and the newly recreated reserve division.

I like the idea, personally, but I do see the other side of it all.