MLS is "preparing a significant overhaul of its regular season and playoff schedules" for the '19 season and beyond, according to sources cited by Miki Turner of THE ATHLETIC. The potential changes would "involve a shortened regular season and a more measured playoff schedule." Currently, the MLS regular season "runs from March through October," with the six-week playoff schedule of the MLS Cup "stretching well into December." Sources said that the proposed changes for a new schedule "could be implemented" at the MLS BOG meeting next month. The "tentative plan would see the MLS final played before the November international break." Though specific dates have not been disclosed, playing the MLS Cup final prior to the international break would "likely set the final" somewhere between Nov. 8-15, depending on the year. Sources confirmed that the regular season "would end prior to the October international break," with "Decision Day" in '19 being held Oct. 6. This would "condense the league's playoff schedule to about a month, potentially making home-and-away legs logistically difficult." Sources also said that MLS is "likely to approve a single-elimination style knockout tournament to replace the two-legged conference semifinals and finals" at the December vote (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/19).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The NFL will "return to Mexico City with a regular-season game next year" after moving last night's Chiefs-Rams game from Estadio Azteca to L.A. Memorial Coliseum over player safety concerns, according to the AP. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Mexico President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met and "confirmed" the '19 game. The date of the game and the participating teams "won't be known" until the league's '19 schedule is released in the spring (AP, 11/19). YAHOO SPORTS' Shalise Manza Young noted this season was to be the "third straight year a regular-season game was played in Mexico City," and earlier this year it was announced that the NFL and the Mexico Ministry of Tourism had "reached a new agreement, with annual games continuing" through '21. After Mexico City "felt 'colossal shame' for having this year's game canceled," it seems likely the Estadio Azteca field will be "absolutely pristine next year for whichever set of teams face off" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/19). THE MMQB's Albert Breer wrote the NFL "didn't want" to move last night's game out of Mexico City. It was an issue, "pure and simple, about an unplayable surface" (SI.com, 11/19). In Boston, Ben Volin wrote Mexico City officials are "lucky that the NFL still wants to hold games there in the future." There is "absolutely zero excuse for the field not being in tip-top shape." Few would "blame the NFL for pulling the plug on the Mexico City experiment after this disaster" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/18). Fox Sports Radio's Jason Smith last night tweeted, "I guarantee you the NFL is thinking 'Man, if we had this Chiefs - Rams game in Mexico we'd have an expansion team there NEXT YEAR'" (TWITTER.com, 11/19).