Major League Soccer will continue to play games during FIFA's international fixture windows next season, MLS commissioner Don Garber confirmed on Wednesday before adding that the league could rethink that approach for 2017 and beyond.
"I'm not sure we have it 100 percent right," Garber, in an interview with ESPNFC, said of the league's longstanding practice. "There is a large group of supporters, and even some of our club staff and players, who believe that we should break during the international window."
MLS does take some windows off, most recently last month, in the middle of its playoffs. But while the league does give individual clubs the option of skipping other international windows, it does require teams to play through the March FIFA date, which falls shortly after the season begins.
During that weekend this season, expansion club Orlando City was only able to dress 15 players for a match in Montreal because of injuries and national team call-ups.
"We all know that we have schedule challenges, and that we're trying to fit a lot of different things into our calendar," Garber said. "It gets very difficult to do everything we want to do. In 2015, we gave teams the option of taking a break [during FIFA fixture windows]. We'll go forward with that approach in 2016. We'll look again if that's the right way to manage FIFA dates in 2017.
The U.S. national team will play a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March, meaning Toronto FC will likely be without U.S. regulars Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. Other clubs would also be affected.
Asked if he could foresee a day when the influx of international players will make it impossible to play during FIFA windows, Garber admitted that it was a possibility.
"Perhaps," he said. "But I'm not sure when that will be."