Internationals taking a toll on Toronto FC

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:09 PM ET

As a sign of good faith between the national program and Toronto FC, Canadian coach Stephen Hart decided to return Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario and Nana Attakora to the Reds in time for Wednesday's key MLS game in Chicago.

But all three were on duty for Canada as Toronto FC lost in Dallas Saturday, a defeat which has now put the Reds five points out of the final playoff spot.

Now, Hart has said over and over again that the conflict between international match days and the MLS schedule is an "MLS problem" and that he feels that Toronto FC is put in a bad spot by the league.

Echoed

This sentiment has been echoed by supporters groups and on the radio call-in shows.

But, MLS is hardly the only league to play through international dates. Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia all played league games this past weekend. And, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina all boast leagues which you'd rate in the world's top 20.

I've criticized MLS in the past, but in 2010 the league did a decent job meeting FIFA halfway; it managed to clear the schedule for most of the World Cup, including all of the group stage.

Fans, though, have to realize that FIFA's international calendar is skewed heavily to help the major European leagues, which begin in August or September and wrap up in May. The leagues that, for climate reasons, have to play in July or August -- whether it be MLS, Scandinavia, Russia or anywhere else in the Americas -- are always asked to make holes for the World Cup,which is always held in June and July. So a World Cup year is difficult for MLS to schedule.

What if FIFA were to treat soccer as a global game, and not simply cowtow to the Euro leagues?

What if it was to say that, to be fair, it would design the international calendar in this four-year cycle to help out other leagues, with qualifiers throughout the northern hemisphere's fall, winter and spring and the World Cup itself in November?

Betcha that we'd see La Liga, Serie A and the EPL all decide to play games through the international dates.


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