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Happy Monday!

Breaking News: Zinedine Zidane is pulling a Jupp Heynckes and coming out of retirement (of sorts) to return to European powerhouse Real Madrid where he won multiple Champions League titles with during the past few years.

Following the embarrassing Champions League series loss against Ajax just last week–highlighted by the 4-1 loss at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium by the team from Amsterdam–coupled with less-than-stellar performances in La Liga this season, Real Madrid has been in veritable crisis mode. It’s the reality of incredibly high expectations for a club that’s been the king of the Champions League with Mr. Zidane as their manager.

And now Real Madrid’s real leader has returned. Of course, winning the Champions League is not an option in 2019. Catching Barcelona, a team that’s 12-points ahead of Real Madrid, for the La Liga title also seems unlikely in 2019. So what’s left?

Mr. Zidane must right the ship immediately by basically winning out the remainder of the 2018/2019 schedule with style and renewed energy while searching for his new Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid will be looking to throw insane amounts of money for its next world-class x-factor. And finding this player where “x marks the spot” will be Mr. Zidane’s greatest challenge.

Oddly enough for Real Madrid, that spot marked by x (well, actually three x’s) may very well be located in Amsterdam. Just ask Barcelona.

Have a Better Week Than Last Week. 

P.S. I  have to say that I called Ajax upsetting Real Madrid in their Champions League series. However, I definitely did not foresee the blowout win that transpired. That was shocking. Who saw that coming? In Madrid no less! Now hopefully Bayern Munich can pull off a similar upset against Liverpool this Wednesday at the Allianz Arena. 

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The New 5-Second Rule

There have been recent reports that the MLS brass is strongly considering flipping the American soccer fan’s world upside down by switching the MLS schedule to sync with the European leagues: From March-November to August-May. While on the surface it may seem like the natural progression to make, think about how much you really like cold weather. Let me clarify: how much do you like sitting in cold weather for 2-2 1/2 hours during the American Winter season?

The reception to this proposition is likely to be more than just chilly (yes, that just happened).

Snow coupled with bone-chillingly cold winds will sweep into several of the MLS stadiums (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Colorado, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Chicago, Columbus, Montreal, D.C., Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey, Boston/Foxborough, Toronto) during what will be critical matches early on, where 3 points, impressive performances and late game heroics will be needed. Will this weather be conducive to coach’s and player’s expectations on the field for a significant and vital portion of the season?

Oh, and let’s not forget the fans. MLS, though growing, is still not Europe and will not automatically sell-out games, especially in frigidly cold weather. It’s also important to note that the Winter season in North America is more intense than the Winter season in much of Europe. Granted, Europe takes a month long break, ranging from part of December-part of January. Still, the first few months of the new year in North America is always cold.

At this point, there appears to be too many risky variables involved. While it would be cool to play games on the same schedule as the best leagues in the world, reality must also be considered. Currently, Summer in America mostly consists of soccer and baseball. That’s a good situation for MLS.

If there should be any changes to MLS, the top priority should be to bring back the Shootout: 5 seconds to score on a breakaway from 35 yards out. However, the starting spot should be moved to 25 yards out from goal to allow for slightly more time for the attacking player to be creative.

Bottom line: the shootout was always exciting!

With all the world class talent in Europe, could you imagine if those leagues adopted this measure? If you remember how exhilarating it was to watch MLS players participate in this overtime thrill ride, just think about Messi, Ronaldo, Robben, Özil, Van Persie, Iniesta, Rooney and Torres using their best tricks at pace on Neuer, Casillas and Buffon in a must-score/must-save situation!?

Now that would bring heat and electricity to “the beautiful game” in even the coldest weather.