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Garber confirms 2012 season will have unbalanced schedule

Don Garber

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NEW YORK – MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced on Thursday that despite the addition of a 19th team, the 2012 regular season will not feature any additional matches.

“We will a have a 34-game schedule and it will be unbalanced,” Garber said in his 2011 State of the League teleconference.

Garber insisted that a balanced, 36-game schedule for each team would simply ask too much of the league as it continues to balance the regular-season schedule with international dates and other restrictions unique to the league. The Montreal Impact will debut as the 19th team in the league in March.

"It’s simple math: 389 games would almost be impossible for us to execute with the other competitions we’re required to play, the weather issues we have … the challenges in a handful of markets, the FIFA dates," he said. "All the thing we have to do differently in the United States from a competitive standpoint, just the travel impact that exists in our country."

Garber noted that the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps traveled nearly 60,000 miles for matches during their first season in the league, and that the clubs who traveled the least this season still logged roughly 30,000 miles.

"The more games we add, the more travel for our players and reduces the quality of our play," Garber said. "I know fans want things a certain way because they watch the Premier League, but we have certain facts of life in the United States that we have to live through."

Garber also discussed a potential change for the 2012 postseason, stating  that the league's Competition Committee is considering that the MLS Cup might no longer be played at a neutral venue. Instead, MLS Cup team that boasted a better regular-season record will host the event.

“What [the scheduling committee] are working on over the next week, is what is a very strong possibility of awarding the MLS Cup based on regular-season performance,” Garber said. “The remaining club with the most number of points during the regular season would host the cup. Right now, it’s been a neutral site and worked out in gangbusters with the LA Galaxy hosting, but it’s hard to imagine that we wouldn’t be able to do this for every market and the team that earns that right.”