Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
  What's most important?
The other day I asked...
I've waited over 11 years so far, how much longer will I need to wait until winning the MLS Cup is more important than making money?
It's nice to see I'm not the only person asking that question...

Apparently, protecting the integrity of the MLS regular season is beneath the notice of decision makers at AEG and the league office. Unbalancing the league schedule of one of its clubs, the putative "Jewel of MLS", in fact, appears to be a small price to pay to secure a couple of ticket-window windfalls. One can only wonder whether the possibility of a split-season schedule was ever seriously considered in the league office, because the Galaxy's schedule would fit almost perfectly into such a format: league, Open Cup, and CONCACAF Cup matches in April-June, July off, then league matches from August until November. Thirteen teams, 12 matches per season, home and away, less fixture congestion, MLS Cup at the end of November between the two champions of each split-season, or playoffs, if you must, between the top four sides.

Urban goes on to ask...

Should the Galaxy fail to make the playoffs, will the blame be laid at coach Frank Yallop's feet? Will Alexi Lalas be the fall guy for galactic failure?

Or will blame be properly laid at the door of those who placed commercial interests ahead of more mundane considerations like a fair and balanced league schedule?

Great question. LA fans should be demanding more. I thought something was up when the schedule finally came out and every MLS side was going to have a chance to see Beckham. It mean that roughly 2/3rds of their road games would be played in the second half of the season.

I really want the sport in this country and MLS to succeed. However, how are we the fans supposed to take the league seriously when those bringing us the league don't? More time has been spent promoting individual players than promoting any individual team. Outside of Cobi Jones, no team has any player they had in '96. Attendance hasn't changed much since then. All these games against money-spinning teams and the signing of big names (except Beckham) hasn't exactly brought in more than single match ticket sales.

I've been saying it for going on 12 years now, until the league and the teams focus on putting the best possible team on the pitch that has a sole focus on winning championships both domestically (MLS Cup, Open Cup and maybe Supporters Shield) and internationally (I'm still waiting for an MLS side to knock a Mexican side out of the Champions Cup) they aren't providing the fans with the best possible product. Give the fans of each MLS town something to be proud of and to want to support rather than providing two hours of entertainment and hoping they'll come back.

On a related note, I've said for some time that I don't care when the season is played, as long as no matches conflict with International Dates--AKA MLS matches where the big name stars won't be present. Brucio over at the always great du Nord has what I think is an interesting idea. Move the season up a few weeks. There's a lot of positives to this idea. MLS teams playing in the Champions Cup will be better prepared. The season would end before the North American Championship of Baseball (not to be confused with the famous "World Series") Also, any team sharing their stadium with a football team won't have as many date conflicts. It's not like all the teams haven't been in LA or Texas or Florida or something the last few weeks. Open the season at southern locations for a few weeks before teams in the cooler climates have their openers. But I'm sure there's some explanation why this wouldn't work.

OK, enough rant. We all know the most important thing is financial survival (profit?) for the teams/league etc. But I'm still entitled to my opinion.

Good luck to Houston and DC tonight.

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Comments:
Well said, and its hard to argue with any of the points. Two nit picks, technically Moreno is still with DC United, and he was with the team in 1996, so... Also, United knocked out Leon and Toluca of Mexico on their way to winning the 1998 Champions Cup.
 
Ha, I love it when someone is even more pedantic than me. ;)

I should have qualified my statements better, but I'm sure you and everyone who read my post knows what I meant.
 
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

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