CARSON, Calif. – Bruce Arena thinks Major League Soccer could use some knowledgeable advisers when determining its competition structure – especially the recent tiebreaker tweaks and unbalanced schedule – and he's more than willing to give his opinion if asked.
When asked following the LA Galaxy's training session on Thursday morning at Home Depot Center what he thought of the decision to make goals scored – rather than goal difference or head-to-head results – the first standings tiebreaker, Arena gave his honest opinion.
“You don't have control of that stuff,” he said. Pressed on the matter, Arena said the “playoff things are one thing,” then fiercely criticized MLS' unbalanced schedule.
“The playoff things are one thing,” Arena said, “but I think the whole construction of the schedule this year with an unbalanced schedule is stupid. Absolutely stupid. To have a Supporters' Shield for that, it's stupid. I don't know how that ever got through, but I can tell you that most people think it's stupid.”
The league played a fully balanced schedule – home and away against every other team – the past two seasons, with 30 games for 16 teams in 2010 and 34 for 18 last year. The Montreal Impact joined the league this season as the 19th team, and trying to devise a workable 36-game slate, with international dates and climate concerns at each end of the calendar, wasn't possible, Commissioner Don Garber has said.
Arena doesn't buy it.
“Without a doubt, the way to put together a schedule in this league is home and away,” he said. “Period. End of story. And if they need somebody to help them figure it out, the coaches would be glad to sit down with the people in the front office of MLS and show them how to do it. We would be glad to do it.
“Actually, we would probably prefer to do it with ownership.”
Buddle suffers setback
Edson Buddle was set to return to action in Tuesday's MLS Reserve League victory over Chivas USA, but a little inflammation in his right knee ended those hopes. He says it's “not really” a step backward in his rehabilitation from meniscus surgery in early June, that it's “just getting a little more treatment, just being cautious.”
But with Sunday's SuperClasico against Chivas (11 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) apparently out of reach, he can't help but be a tad disheartened.
“It's tough,” he said. “Right now, I've been out a while. I don't want to show too much frustration, be negative in the locker room, because you want to be as positive as possible, especially being an older player.”
Arena acknowledged Buddle was “not ready yet” but that it's too soon to know if he could return for the Aug. 15 game at Columbus.