Reports are circulating on Wednesday that MLS is seriously considering the switch to the more traditional September-to-May season from their current March-to-November season. If these reports are true, then MLS would be taking two steps back rather than continuing to step forward.
Soccer is not most popular sport in America; that’s a fact, but one of the positives that MLS has with the current season model is the lack of real competition for an audience during a big chunk of the season.
During the beginning months of the MLS season, it has to compete against the NHL and NBA, but those sports do not have television networks wrapped around their fingers. ESPN only shows NBA Basketball on a few nights a week, the same with the NBC Sports Network and NHL, so finding time slots for televised matches really is not too difficult.
Once June comes around and those two leagues have wrapped up their titles, then the only competition nationally is with MLB. As with the NBA, ESPN has MLS televised live on Wednesday and Sunday, sometimes other nights towards the end of the season.
By switching to the traditional season, MLS will be in direct competition with the NFL and NCAA Football at the beginning points of the season. The league will not be able to generate momentum that the new season will bring with it and by the time American football goes away at the midseason point of the MLS year, you are leaving the casual fan having to catch up with what has already happened.
The fact that the MLS stretch run and postseason are going up against football right now is not ideal, but by this point in the season, the fan has decided whether they will continue to watch the team or not. MLS has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade and are looking strong going into the future, but they cannot change to the traditional schedule without taking a few steps back.