When it comes to announcing their schedules for next season, the two semi-professional ultimate leagues could take a cue from Major League Soccer. As of writing this post, neither the MLU nor AUDL have announced anything pertaining to their schedule – including playoffs.
With some prodding on Twitter, the AUDL did share that each team would receive a 14 game season, all intra-division, followed by 2 rounds of playoffs and a final four setup similar to last season.
A betting man might tell you that the two leagues are waiting for USA Ultimate to release more of their Triple Crown Tour dates so that the leagues can plan their events – and especially the championship weekend events – around that schedule. You’ll remember that in the past, Jeff Snader and the MLU were not very happy when USAU changed the dates, which led to a conflict with the Eastern Conference Finals.
The two leagues already know of several events that should probably be taken into consideration: WFDF’s World Championships of Beach Ultimate in Dubai (March 8-13) and U-23 World Championships in London (July 12-18). The WCBU might not play a major factor in scheduling, but considering that some of the major stars that have come to define the leagues are on one of the Team USA rosters, it might be worth a second thought. Presumably it would only cut into practice time, but still a consideration to have when planning, since this could mean a more grueling season for many of these players. The U-23’s are in a similar boat if you glance down the Team USA roster, with players not only needing to appear at the actual event, but presumably at training camps beforehand.
Besides the Triple Crown Tour, the two professional leagues also need to accommodate the College Championships over Memorial Day weekend in late May – as players may miss time – and the newest event for USAU, the beach division. On May 2nd and 3rd, teams will be convening at Virginia Beach for USA Beach Nationals. Again, players may miss time for this event, so it may be worth scheduling around or at least packing a lighter load of games.
Yet still, they wait for the big events. The two leagues wait for the Triple Crown Tour event dates, not only for the major tournaments that USAU will announce, but for the other major tournaments that aren’t an official TCT event to announce their dates as well. But why wait? As Hector Valdivia (Madison Club player, Hodags coach) put in a series of tweets (one, two, three, and four), not only do teams of club and pro-leagues have to start making decisions – but so do the players.
So in the interest of that, why not do what the MLS just did when they announced their 2015 schedule? On January 7th, they released their schedule and, aside from one FIFA international dates-related break in the middle of their playoffs, they don’t budge one bit. They are playing through dates in March, June, September and October when some of their best players may be missing due to national team duties. Sure there’s no World Cup this summer, but the Gold Cup does net CONCACAF’s best players.
As the SBNation article put it, the “MLS is showing little regard for FIFA international dates.” And it might be high-time that the two semi-professional ultimate leagues do the same. Especially when you consider that USA Ultimate has said repeatedly in the past (and mentions a bit in the Ultiworld mailbag) that they’re going to be moving up their season. While the mailbag answer from Will Deaver states that early October could be the date for Club Nationals, it would mean that Sectionals and Regionals are moved up as well from their typical late September/early October dates. That wouldn’t directly affect the AUDL or MLU, it’s that their players who also play on USAU club teams will now have a tighter schedule for both playing and training.
While the mailbag answer also mentions USAU’s preference for an earlier event release date, which may eliminate this problem all together, perhaps the semi-pro leagues should move ahead with their schedule anyway. It’s January, and about time we had a glimpse into the next season for at least one option of ultimate.