SI.com: Is it possible you may have some teams not playing each other at all in the regular season next year?
Garber: Yeah. Just by the fact it'll be unbalanced. That's possible.
SI.com: That sounds like a bummer.
Garber: But this goes back to: The amount of vitriol and nastiness that I get from core fans on this issue doesn't surprise me because I love the passion. But as a passionate fan I would hope they'd understand what we're trying to achieve, which is a league that's more popular, more valuable and that growing attendance and TV ratings. Just to have a balanced schedule for its own sake, to be like the English Premier League and affect the quality of our competition and the opportunity to grow our fan base doesn't make sense to me.
It would require 38 games that will require our teams to travel 20, 30, 40 and 50,000 miles across two countries. Requiring more play on FIFA dates, playing earlier in March and later in the fall pushing into December. All things which affect the quality of our games. What we're focused on is having a quality competition, not just being balanced because that's what they do in the Premier League. We want to be a North American dialect for the world's game. At some time we'll get to the point where the people who are fans in the U.S. and Canada will embrace our identity and believe in this league because it's in their home and not think it has to be like England.
I speak to [former MLS deputy commissioner and now Arsenal chief executive] Ivan Gazidis. He is home at night on almost every single game that Arsenal plays throughout the Premier League season. He is having dinner with his family. This concept of a conference-based schedule is going to be a requirement when we have 20 teams. So we want to get on it now. We're asking for our fans' support. We're making this decision because we believe it's best for the competition. It will create an environment that will make our league better, our games more competitive and raise the quality of our play. And we will have to sacrifice a connection to what happens in England. It's time to get over it.
Ideologically, I'm in the 18-20 team, balanced schedule, promotion/relegation camp. I can't help it. That style of league, running concurrently with multiple cups—that was part of the exoticism and mystery that hooked me when I was transitioning from player to fan.
Practically? Much as I hate to say it, the commish is right.
(Hate it when that happens)