Miguel Herrera says he believes Major League Soccer’s March-October schedule will prevent it from competing for global talent as players realize it hurts their chances of playing in the World Cup.
The former Mexico manager, now in charge of Club America in Liga MX, said in an interview with BeIN Sports this week that Mexican players like Giovani dos Santos, Jonathan dos Santos and Carlos Vela will face a disadvantage in competing for spots in Russia this summer because the MLS season does not start until March.
“The players also have to realize that this league won’t give them the chance to go to the World Cup,” Herrera said, according to Goal.com‘s translation. “It will give them the chance to make a bigger name for themselves, but not to get in a good rhythm of play, unfortunately.
“I always say MLS is a league that’s growing a lot but while they don’t change their calendar, it will continue to be a league that can’t compete with the rest of the world.
“It can compete economically. The United States is a very strong country economically. The Americans have built a strong league on an economic level, bringing in players, but when the players have realized that the league isn’t going to help them be able to compete in other countries, they leave. Several players have done that.
“Those who have gone there to retire go back to their countries and say, ‘The rhythm of the league doesn’t give me what I need to play where I want to play.'”
The Liga MX Apertura regular season ended on Nov. 19 and the Clausura begins on Jan. 5. The Mexican league will then take much of the summer off like top European leagues, while MLS plays straight through.
The Dos Santos brothers both play for the LA Galaxy, who missed the MLS playoffs and last played on Oct. 22. They will not resume competitive games until March 4, and Herrera said four and a half months is too long of a lay-off, even if they can earn higher wages in the U.S.
“I don’t think they’re going to come in with the same rhythm the others will because they don’t start until March,” Herrera said. “That’s two months. They have four months of vacation. A player has to put in the balance if the economic comes before the sporting.”
In the past, MLS players have sought short-term winter loans abroad in World Cup years, as Landon Donovan did with Everton in 2010 and Clint Dempsey with Fulham in 2014.
But Herrera, who did not select any MLS players to Mexico’s 2014 World Cup squad, said he would not consider bringing anyone into his current America team before MLS resumes.
“We sought out Jonathan, but unfortunately he decided it was better to go to MLS,” Herrera said. “We’d love to have them but if it’s bringing them in and having them return in March? For 10 matchdays? If it’s a player who is important and making a difference and after that you lose him and don’t have him, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to think about a player like that who will play for only 10 matches.
“And at the same time how do you explain that to the team? Those are the circumstances you have to think about with a player like that.”
A debate over the MLS schedule could play a factor in the current U.S. Soccer presidential race, as Eric Wynalda in announcing his candidacy mentioned his long-sought desire to switch to a European-style calendar.
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.