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The Daily Dirt, January 3: Running on Empty

A different version of the Silly Season

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

LIverpool manager Jurgen Klopp sounded exasperated after yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland. You could see his frustration with the crowded fixture list at this time of the year, something that has been often criticized in England. However, the general response from many pundits was, “Well, it’s not going to change, so just get over it and stop complaining.”

In this country, one of the big criticisms of the youth game is too many games in too short of a period of time. Tournaments where teams play 4-5 games in a three day period is grueling. I was once part of a NPSL club organization that went through U.S. Open Cup qualifying in a similar format. It does nothing for good soccer, the competition only becomes about survival at that point.

Yes, from a fan’s perspective, the Christmas season is fun in the Premiership because of the sheer number of games. However, turning around 44 hours after playing an intense game against one of the leaders to play again is ridiculous. The game becomes sloppier and more players get injured due to overwork.

It’s doubtful that MLS will go to the August-May calendar anytime soon. When they do, let’s hope that they look at other European countries for scheduling formats rather than an insane flurry of games around Christmas. A winter break creates much better soccer than doing the opposite, scheduling even more games than usual in the holiday period.

Even midweek games, which are somewhat of a necessity, can be a struggle for teams with a lack of depth. The intense physical demands of the game, especially in teams like Klopp’s Liverpool, Marsch’s New York, and possibly Martino’s Atlanta, make playing multiple games in a week a difficult proposition.


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