Normally when you read the headline "MLS considering continuing playoffs during FIFA international window" you assume it's planning for the future.
There's no reason they would do it this year, right? The playoffs start tomorrow...
They might do that this year?
Saturday, the league rolled out it's playoff schedule, planning the Conference Finals around the international break. As it stands, the first leg of the Conference Finals would be played either Nov. 9 or 10, then a two week break before the second leg kicks off either Nov. 23 or 24, to let players partake in friendlies or World Cup qualifer playoffs during the Nov. 15 to 19 international window.
But it seems MLS hasn't committed to the schedule. On MLSsoccer.com schedule page, no MLS games are scheduled past the first Conference Semi-Final leg, save the MLS Cup final, Dec. 7. They haven't even picked a day or time for the Red Bulls' second leg against either the Houston Dynamo or Montreal Impact, who will play Thursday.
As for the specifics, take it away Grant...
Under the new plan, the conference semifinal and final legs would take place once a week (almost entirely on weekends, with the occasional TV exception) with a two-week layoff before the Cup final. MLS is working with participating playoff clubs to see if 1) any of their players would be needed for important World Cup playoffs during the November date, and 2) their players would be able to beg off having to join their teams for less important friendlies during the November FIFA dates.
For clarity: Instead of playing a mid-week second leg -- which has caught some flack from fans -- the Red Bulls would host either Montreal or Houston Saturday, Nov. 9 or Sunday, Nov. 10. Should they advance from there, the first Conference Final leg would be played Nov. 16 or 17 and the second leg Nov. 23 or 24. The final would remain on Dec. 7.
That's probably a good thing for attendance.
It probably isn't a good thing for the Red Bulls.
It's likely David Carney, Tim Cahill and Roy Miller would get called up for the Australia-Costa Rica friendly in Sydney. Whether they accept the call-up or not, remains to be seen -- and at least Garber and company are looking into it -- but with the Socceroos in a bit of disarray, it's hard to believe the Aussiesstay stateside. It's possible Miller, who just got over an injury and hasn't played much, avoids the call-up, but we all know the esteem in which Costa Rica Coach Jorge Luis Pinto holds the Red Bulls.
It's easy to gush about Cahill, who is easily the team's MVP, but losing Carney -- who would almost have to accept the call-up to stay in the national team picture after a long absence -- and Miller would have just as deep an impact. With Carney and Miller away, the team's only natural left back is Connor Lade, who has been out of commission while battling injuries for much of the year. Meanwhile, off the top of my head, it's unlikely any of the other playoff teams lose anyone significant (unless Jurgen Klinsmann goes with an MLS-heavy roster for friendlies abroad).
You'd have to imagine Head Coach Mike Petke and Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh argue against the move, but if few other teams are likely to really feel the sting, it's hard to envision MLS not pulling the trigger.
But hey, this isn't even the worst thing to happen to the league regarding the playoffs. It's at least on par with a major broadcasting partner deciding they're not interested in airing any playoff games.