Michael Bradley admitted that he is frustrated with missing out on the chance to join up with the U.S. men's national team for upcoming friendlies due to Toronto FC's MLS schedule.
The U.S. is set to take on rivals Mexico on September 6 in the team's first post-Gold Cup friendly before facing Uruguay four days later.
Gregg Berhalter's 26-man roster was unveiled on Wednesday, with the absences of Toronto FC stars Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore among the more noticeable exclusions.
The two, and teammate Omar Gonzalez, were left off the USMNT squad due to their club schedule, as MLS is one of the few leagues around the world to play through international breaks.
MLS has long played through those dates, including summer tournaments like the World Cup and Gold Cup, as a result of scheduling issues with the league insisting that it must go through those dates in order to get through the regular season and postseason in a timely manner.
Toronto FC has league matches on September 7 in Cincinnati and September 11 against NYCFC as the club continues to battle for a playoff spot, currently sitting just below the red line but level on points with seventh-place Montreal Impact.
"It's the worst part about the league: the fact that teams play through FIFA dates because as you're trying to give everything you have for your club team and the national team, there's too many moments where you're missing something," Bradley told reporters after TFC training on Thursday, according to TSN.
"It's got to be one of the next steps for the league in terms of respecting the FIFA dates, not playing through summer tournaments. And it always comes back to scheduling issues and all this. I get it but it has to become something where it gets worked around.
"Because you can't have the rest of the world respecting the FIFA calendar and FIFA dates and then there's still a full slate of MLS games ... It's not the right way to do things."
Berhalter acknowledged that he finds himself in a "difficult position" when it comes to making these choices, ones he knows all too well as an ex-MLS coach.
Formerly in charge of Columbus Crew, Berhalter did opt to take other players with matches during that break with LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman, LA Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget, NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson and Seattle Sounders duo Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan all joining the squad.
“We’re in a very difficult position because we’re only allowed to play certain times of the year,” Berhalter said. “One thing I’ve been a little bit disappointed in is the MLS teams opting to play in FIFA windows.
"It’s infringing on the time we have with players. I understand their situation in not wanting to play mid-week games during the year, but it also puts us in a difficult spot, where we have to make some of those [decisions] that are difficult for both the player and the club.
“Having worked in MLS, we try to be somewhat accommodating and try to work with the clubs, but sometimes there’s not perfect solutions and sometimes we just have to say, that’s just the way it is.”
Bradley, who has earned 150 caps for the USMNT and featured throughout this past summer's Gold Cup, says he understands Berhalter's decision as he looks to guide the 2017 MLS Cup champions back to the playoffs this season.
"I love playing for the national team. I'm very committed to what's going on there and with Gregg Berhalter and his staff," Bradley said.
"But for right now, for this next period, given how many games we have, given how important the games are here, it's really important that I'm here."