Snippets: On The MLS Cup Final & More

More from the Colorado Rapids 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in Toronto Sunday night and around the league news today:

• It’s not the coaches Paul Gardner; it’s the officiating

Nearly 100% shut down amid a brutish clash....

Noted curmudgeon Paul Gardner had a notorious moment on last week’s MLS media conference call with Don Garber’s State of the League address.

Gardner ranted about the quality of the league and suggested that MLS front office did little to aid coaches in his estimation–like Jason Kreis–who were putting a sublime product field.

Gardner’s opine would be way off-base in describing last night’s affair. The causal relationship last night stemmed exclusively from the loose regulation by the referees.

It is somewhat incredulous that, in a nationally televised game on a major cable station, the league didn’t see fit to ensure that it’s referees called a game that would produce a more flowing match.

As the game wore on it became increasingly clear that imposing your body on the opponent was a necessity to either maintaining possession or maintaining a tackle.

Cause and effect of that? Boot City up the field as both teams looked to bypass the attritional endeavor in the middle of the field.

• Have the Rapids done enough to uplevel?

Two pieces of commentary last week and last night in the wake of the Rapids victory.

Colorado Rapids owner Stan Kroenke: How about upping the ante with a DP big guy and tossing around ideas of the "d" word.....

One, an interview I heard with Rapids’ assistant coach Paul Bravo where he mentioned that it was a “big thing” for Colorado to take a private charter to Toronto. Shouldn’t be.

And…had the occasion to speak with Matt Crawford who played for the Rapids from 2003-2007 last night at the bar. Crawford is an “uber-Rudy” if you will, chosen 38th in the MLS SuperDraft in 2003 and given little chance to make the team, Crawford made the cut as a defender, but went to play four strong years in the midfield on guile alone.

Crawford hung up due to injuries–a nasty hip one (see Kyle Martino); he didn’t get jettisoned due to skill.

Asked Crawford if the Rapids operation was as below average as many suggested.

His positive reply, “Oh yeah, atrocious. We really didn’t get any amenities at all.” Two of the better owners in the league, “Phil Anshutz and Dave Checketts.”

Nice to have a Rapids vet to commiserate with last evening.

• Okay, maybe we can sneak this guy through

Okay, we’ve been head down in MLS Finals and frankly diapers. Anyone care to fill us in with who to expect to be protected and cut loose for today’s MLS club expansion lists?

Who are the Whitecaps and Timbers looking at?

More notes:

» Seattle Sounders wingman Steve Zakuani goes to Goodison (home of the Everton Toffees) for training.

» From last week: Freddy Adu (we don’t cover him much at TSG for good reason) possibly headed to Danish club Randers. Playing time Freddy. Doesn’t matter where you go. Just, you know, do it.

You think Nike is a little bashful up their Adu hype at this point at all? (This one’s good too.)

» One from the EPL: The Dirty Tackle skewers Dimitar Berbatov who after acting interested earlier in the season has now went missing.

Even the great Jonathan Wilson occasionally gets one wrong.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/11/22 at 2:24 PM

    What did you think about the MLS Commissioner comments about the *potential* for changing the calendar to sync it with the international community and promotion/relegation?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/22 at 3:13 PM

      I think they’d have to look at it.

      And while some folks might think it is due to a call for it from FIFA for the USA World Cup bid, I think it’s more something now in consideration because the TV ratings haven’t been that great.

      Let’s see where it goes…


      • Posted by FutbolAmerica on 2010/11/22 at 5:45 PM

        It’s going to be a rough go of it for the first few years if this happens. Overlapping with baseball wasn’t a huge concern as most people prefer one or the other. However, with an overlap with american football, hockey, and the nba it could be a tough draw; even with the ever-growing popularity here.

        I, personally, would rather see a split schedule similar to how it is done in scandanavian and russian leagues where there is a winter break of several weeks during the worst time of the year. This would allow us to have an international viable schedule and make it so the players and fans don’t have to suffer too much in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, and Vancouver.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/11/23 at 5:29 AM

          Matt – I did think it was potential lip-service in the run up to 2nd Dec.

          FutbolAmerica – I very much agree with the winter break idea, but I am concerned about the length that this could be due to bad weather in the north east and Canada. NFL has enough hardcore fans for them to brave the elements (and perhaps only go to one or two games per season), but I am sure MLS does not – at the moment. Personally, I think they should stick to the current season format and continue to grow MLS in terms of quality on the pitch, and bums on seats. They have done a good job so far, so to compete head-to-head with said sports and the bad weather might not be the best idea. Definitely a consideration should *you* want to do it, once the sport is strong enough.


        • Posted by kaya on 2010/11/23 at 9:44 AM

          Yeah, the consensus seems to be the 30 day time period required to analyze this issue conveniently carries us past the 2018/2022 host nations decision.
          I started out thinking MLS was stupid to go special with the season schedule but have since changed my mind. They’re doing a lot of things right and I happen to think their timing choice is one of them.


  2. Posted by John on 2010/11/23 at 9:17 AM

    As a side note:

    In terms of people in seats quite a few MLS teams outdraw NBA and NHL teams in terms of attendance. Especially in places (like seattle) where there is no NBA or NHL team, and one sport towns like Columbus/Salt Lake.

    For Example here are the current MLS teams (in order of total attendance) with whatever Major Professional sports they have:

    Seattle – MLB, NFL
    Los Angeles – MLB, NBA, NHL
    Toronto FC – MLB, NBA, NHL, CFL,
    Philadelphia -MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA
    New York – MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA
    Houston – MLB, NBA, NFL
    Real Salt Lake – NBA
    Chicago – NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB
    Columbus – NHL (NBA, NFL if you count Cleveland)
    Chivas USA – NHL, MLB, NBA
    D.C. United – NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL
    Colorado – NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA
    New England – NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL
    FC Dallas – NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB
    Kansas City – NFL, MLB
    San Jose – NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB

    Now if we take a (not so great team) Toronto FC and look at their average attendance…

    we see 20,453

    When compared against their other sports

    NHL – 19,281
    NBA – 16,149
    MLB – 20,068
    CFL – 26,374

    We see that the only sport that outdraws the MLS in Toronto is the CFL, which makes sense if you consider the history, and the size of the stadium.

    That is with a Poor team.

    The numbers are comparable in other areas as well, although skewed by successful teams, good followings and large arenas.

    However if we break out LA this way:

    LA –

    Galaxy – 21,437
    Chivas – 14,576
    Lakers – 18,997
    Clippers – 16,343
    Kings – 18,079

    Now lets not kid ourselves here, if the Lakers had 36,000 seats they would probably sell them out (at least for some high profile games) that said, the numbers are the numbers. I don’t think very many people would have to think long between offering them Lakers tickets and Galaxy tickets, but I think there are enough people in LA to support the teams.

    or even

    Phillie –

    MLS – 19,254
    NBA – 14,224
    NHL – 19,483

    I think the point that I am trying to make is that the MLS is currently surprisingly competitive in comparison to NBA and NHL numbers. I don’t know that anyone would see a move to the winter as direct competition against the NFL, but rather competition against the NBA and NHL.

    The biggest problem with a different schedule would be the weather at places like Rio Tinto, Toronto, Colorado, and the NE. That would seem (to me) to be the crux of the issue.


  3. Posted by kaya on 2010/11/23 at 10:02 AM

    I read somewhere that MLS has better attendance numbers than many euro leagues (I remember specifically SPL being mentioned.) While this is good and all, the difference is that there’s a large TV audience in these countries. I know I sound like a broken record railing on about cable, but it’s really pricey to get a package where you’re going to be able to catch all the MLS games. When is ESPN going to get those matches on ESPN2 and get rid of those ridiculous poker and competitive eating tournaments? (Apologies to fans of those endeavors.)
    Soccer can continue to grow with physical attendance and TV viewership can hand in hand, but lots of casual fans aren’t going to pay $100+/month to get the TV that allows them to catch games on tv.


    • Posted by John on 2010/11/23 at 10:34 AM

      Other than Celtic and Rangers – 49k and 44k respectively, the average SPL attendance is 13,980
      With the exception of the top 5 none of the rest of the teams (7) draw more than 10K.

      In the EPL –

      Seattle outdrew 12 of the 20 teams including Spurs, and almost pulled ahead of Everton

      Everton – 36,725
      Seattle – 36,173

      I agree Kaya, the bigger problem is TV Ratings rather than attendance. It is worth noting however that there is a very very good chance of no NBA next year and a better than average chance of no NFL next year.


  4. Posted by John Henry on 2010/11/23 at 10:40 AM

    Kudos to TSG for consistently getting things right. The issue with the brutish and clumsy style of play has a lot to do – maybe even mostly – with the officiating. Sunday night’s was atrocious! Hardly a single tackle went by that wasn’t a clear foul. “Let them play” in this league means “kick shins and push”. That’s not soccer. It turns into an ugly pin-ball game with everyone trying to pass the ball before they get hacked down to the ground. It’s so stupid.


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