Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Monday, August 22, 2005
  Is it Real-ly necessary?
I'm not really that big a fan of all these friendly's against big Euro teams in the middle of the season. But I will admit to enjoying the games last money even if they were a temporary distraction from the league. Perhaps it would have been better those matches were schedule in place of the All-Star game and the league just took a break during the tours. But it's over, the visits were brief and the All-Star game...well, it seems to have been a total waste of time.

However, I'm bothered about this match against Real Madrid tomorrow. Some of the leagues top players are currently in Madrid getting ready to face the Spanish giants tomorrow. Silly me allowed myself to get distracted...though probably not as much as Don Garber. Thankfully, Ives Galarcep got me back on track.

Never mind that six of the league's 12 teams are set to compete in the U.S. Open Cup, the oldest competition in American team sports. Never mind that MLS is heading into the heart of its schedule and players such as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are already worn down from double duty with MLS and the U.S. national team. The main reason this game is a bad idea is because the league's decision to play it, and to force its teams to provide players, basically sends the message that an international friendly against a high-profile opponent is more important than the U.S. Open Cup or MLS Cup.

I wonder how much Real Madrid are paying MLS for this match? It's got to be more than the USSF is able to come up with in prize money. It bothers me that the Open Cup is still not given much credit by the league. Only the hardcore fans really seem to be giving the competition the respect it deserves. With luck, Minnesota and Rochester will move to the Semis and maybe wake someone up.

Here's an idea, why don't we focus on making the domestic league as good as possible...then maybe work on an MLS team actually knocking a Mexican club out of the Champions Cup...then maybe we can worry about how we stack up against top Euro teams.
Cup competitions always play second fiddle in every league though. The only difference is that it's playing second fiddle to an international friendly as opposed to domestic fixtures.

I mean besides the FA Cup semi-final and final, what actually draws good attendance in England cup-wise? There are some matches played by Premiership teams that are played in front of MLS size crowds in the cups.

Now the UEFA Cup and Champions League, that's a different can of worms.

The Open Cup has a lot worse issues than this MLS select match - for example having to play at non-league venues. Of course that's an SSS problem and will hopefully be remedied. But until the matches are played at actual stadiums (and preferrably in two legs) the U.S. Open Cup will never garner respect.
In the long run, I believe the Real Madrid game is more important.
What makes the Real Madrid match more important? It's a meaningless friendly. I'm sorry, but it counts for nothing and even if the MLS XI win, it still doesn't prove anything.

The FA Cup draws good crowds most of the time, you may be thinking of the League/Milk/Coke Cup which usually gets poorer attendance even in the later rounds. But still, the reason for poor attendance here has nothing to do with the facilities or the competition, it's the way the league and the USSF treat the competition. The players want to win...the coaches see it as an oppertunity. it's the head-honchos who make it the way it is.

Oh, and there's no way the Open Cup will be played over two-legs anytime in the near future...the schedule is already too crowded. Too many matches (MLS, WCQ, Cup and numerous meaningless friendlys) in too short a period of time. Heck, they are reducing the number of playoff games as it is.
I thought the whole point of a cup was the one-and-out nature of the competition. While I get the importance of the Real match, it'll be a shame that the top players will miss their Cup matches. If the league doesn't care about the cup, then why should we?
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
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