CARSON, Calif. — Bruce Arena sounded off at MLS schedule-makers on Sunday, insisting that the league's difficulties in syncing up with the FIFA calendar “damages the competition.”
He said so at the end of his postgame news conference following the LA Galaxy's 1-0 SuperClasico victory Sunday night over Chivas USA, as the conversation turned from the benefits of having a full roster to the prospect of losing Landon Donovan for a month or during the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.
The Galaxy had their first-choice backline together for the first time in nearly three months, and Robbie Keane was playing just his eighth game with LA this season.
“It's kind of like the first time we're playing together for the year now ... and it's going to take us a little time,” Arena said.
The Galaxy head coach was asked about Donovan, who is on the preliminary US roster for the Gold Cup, and the wisdom of losing him to play for what amounts to a B team in the confederation championship. Donovan, who last played for the US in a 1-0 victory at Mexico last August, is hopeful to return to a regular role with the national team, and the Gold Cup could be his pathway.
Arena isn't so supportive of the plan.
“That's what this league is. This is the way the league operates,” he said. “When you can't be in sync with an international calendar, that's the reality of things. We've been well aware of [the Gold Cup conflict] before the year started. It's crazy. It skews the competition in the league, but it is what it is. What are you going to do?”
When it was suggested he might tell Donovan not to join the US for the tournament, an unlikely occurrence, Arena noted that “no decision's been made yet” about the veteran midfielder/forward's participation.
“I think the whole thing is foolish, to be honest with you, coming off the players disappearing for a month with the World Cup qualifying as well,” said Arena, who was without center back Omar Gonzalez for three league games this month. “It's a major problem we have with scheduling in the league, and it damages the competition. We have to find other ways to fit the schedule in where teams are not impacted due to the FIFA calendar.”