While most leagues around the world are pausing for the international break, Major League Soccer isn't one of them. The league running from February to November, instead of the standard European August to May cycle, brings complications. One well-known one has been the difference in transfer activity compared to the rest of the world with the summer transfer window being smack dab in the middle of the season, but the one rearing its ugly head right now is the issue of international breaks. Due to trying to finish the season in a timely manner, MLS plays through standard FIFA international breaks.

Teams do release their players for these breaks, but it causes issues because they then don't have their full squad and are forced to use reserves to fill those spots, which is unusual for major first divisions in the world. When MLS didn't have many players with European and South American commitments, it was a smaller issue since it was mostly Concacaf nations calling their players, but the arrival of Lionel Messi at Inter Miami has brought the conversation back to the forefront, especially considering that MLS will not be taking a break during Copa America despite the tournament taking place in the United States.

"We received a request from Red Bulls to postpone this match [due to FIFA date] and we agreed, but the federation didn't approve. It's something that will have to be considered, the league will have to continue assessing [playing though FIFA breaks]," Tata Martino said about his missing players.

Generally, if a postponement is agreed on by both teams the league tries their best to work out a solution, but with Miami playing in the Concacaf Champions Cup and Leagues Cup, the question of where should the match fall on the schedule seemed to have no good answer. Not moving it means that not only will the game be played without Messi, who is currently injured, but Red Bulls' Emil Forsberg will also miss the match due to international duty for Sweden. As MLS's global appeal grows, it's not great to play matches without your stars when it can be avoided.

This is a league-wide issue too. The Philadelphia Union will only have 14 outfield players available for their trip to Portland on Saturday, in addition to Martino having nine players missing due to injury and international duty with Miami. There are players who can be called up from their MLS Next Pro sides but that doesn't make it a solution when this issue can be avoided.

Considering the weather in the United States, it makes sense that the league can't play during a standard schedule, but there are options from splitting the conferences into their own tables, shortening the season, since there is already an imbalanced schedule, or even shortening the Leagues Cup. With MLS pulling some teams out of the U.S. Open Cup, scheduling issues have risen to the forefront and it's something that Commissioner Don Garber and the league will need to review sooner than later. If MLS will continue to become a destination for top players, making teams play during FIFA windows without them is counter productive.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Saturday, March 23 | Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • Location: Red Bull Arena -- Harrison, New Jersey
  • TV: None  | Live stream: MLS Season Pass
  • Odds: New York Red Bulls +115; Draw +240; Inter Miami +230