The September international break has got to go.
Every season, only weeks after most club leagues in professional soccer across the world kick off, an unwelcome hindrance interrupts all of the wonderful matches we've been waiting on. From now until the weekend of Sept. 10, we'll be deprived of all top level club soccer so nations across the world can dive into World Cup qualifying. And it sucks.
I love international soccer as much as anyone, and I know how important World Cup qualifiers are on the journey to the World Cup final in 2018. But these particular dates at the beginning of September are such a nuisance that we have to find a way to get ride of them.
Let's look at all the ways this break is awful.
Teams lose all their momentum
Look at the English Premier League. Three matches have been played, and some teams already look primed to separate from the pack. Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are all 3-0-0. And all those clubs have double-digit players going away on international duty. That means no training or matches, and no way to build on their fast starts.
But unless you're a fan of one of those clubs, I doubt you'll have sympathy for them. How about Hull City and Middlesbrough? Both began the season at a lightning pace, despite their status as likely relegation candidates. The minnows of the league have to get points when they can get them, because dry spells will certainly come. Stopping them in their tracks while they have a hot hand could be a huge detriment to their campaigns to stay up.
And it isn't just fans that see this as a problem. Managers have spoken up, as well. Here's what Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino had to say.
"It's crazy that we stop again in the Premier League. It's not a complaint, it's just about our players. We have 75 per cent of our squad involved," Pochettino said.
"It's not a perfect break because all of the international players are involved in their international teams. We need time, a few months, to get all the players at the same level."
Injuries are bound to happen
Last season, the almost-equally ridiculous October international break sent multiple Premier League clubs into injury crisis. It's no surprise that it was in this period that those clubs -- such as Manchester City, which began that season on a torrid pace -- began to fall off, and a club like Leicester City, that didn't send many players off on the break at the time, flourished.
Whenever there's a match played, injuries are possible, And no one will dispute that international matches must be played during the season so that we can get the fields for international tournaments. These World Cup qualifiers are starting to look do-or-die for some nations. But that's why injuries can occur so easily.
Many players who busted themselves all last season and this summer have more intense matches to play. Early season club matches are typically laid back compared to matches later in the season. A long calendar let's you play into the season a little bit. You don't have to push for a win in the first few matches of the season as much because you know there's time to make up those points. Tired legs running as hard as they can for 90 minutes is a recipe for injury. And on the club level, players just aren't doing that at this point in the year.
New signings can't begin to adjust yet
The September break isn't just at the beginning of the season, it's at the end of the summer transfer window. Most clubs have done some kind of business in-between the days before the deadline. If that's a top player being brought in, they've got to go out immediately to play for their national team, extending the time it'll take to mesh with their new club.
Take Arsenal for example. The Gunners finally made a long-awaited deal for a truly top center back, signing Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia. Arsenal need Mustafi to come in and quickly assume a spot in the first 11. But Mustafi has to go play with the German national team for a few weeks, instead of acclimating to his new club so that he can contribute right away. Without much time between the end of the break and the beginning of club matches on the other side, it's unlikely Mustafi has the time to get ready for the Gunners' first match back.
This coin has two sides, though. The Gunners also signed Spanish striker Lucas Perez from Deportivo la Coruna. But Lucas -- as he's known -- doesn't play for the uber-talented Spanish national team. Lucas is a good player, but unlikely to ever break into the Spain set-up. So Arsenal has him all to itself. Lucas can rest and prepare to contribute when Arsenal plays next.
We just spent an entire summer watching international matches
Copa America Centenario. Euro 2016. The Olympics men's and women's soccer tournaments. Between all that, I am pretty international soccered out. What I didn't get during the summer is club matches, and I'd really like some of those right now, instead of matches that are only a prelude to the big tournament.
So can we figure out some way to abolish the September international dates? Lengthen a couple of midseason breaks or rejigger qualifying so that a couple less matches are needed if you have to. Because something has got to give. Club soccer gave me a little fix, then international soccer came in and stole my stash. I'm jonesing over here, man!
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Cy Brown writes about soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.