It has been a long day of team practices at blustery RFK training grounds, commuting across town and listening to Don Garber speak for 35 minutes without taking a breath (wow!).
A few things you should know:
*The finalists for MLS Cup '08 are Home Depot Center, Pizza Hut Park and Toyota Park.
*Real Salt Lake is exploring the possibility of rolling out natural grass over the awful artificial turf at Rice-Eccles Stadium for use from April until mid-August. Once football at the University of Utah starts, it's back to the turf. RSL's new stadium will open around October 1.
*The 2008 season will open on March 29 and MLS Cup is scheduled for Nov. 23. (Chicago is a finalist? Really?)
*Philadelphia and St. Louis are the clear front-runners for expansion, with one club possibly gaining entry into the league by the end of January. According to Garber, the other candidates are Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami (the city, not Ft. Lauderdale), Montreal, Queens-N.Y., Portland and Vancover. The plan is for a 16th team by 2009, but if the situation is not right, MLS is prepared to play with 15 that year and wait until 2010 for the next club. Ideally, Garber said, he would like to see 18 teams by 2010 or 2011.
*The East-West division setup will remain in place next season, as will the current playoff format.
*Garber is not at all pleased with the D.C. United stadium situation and the club's problems with the city government. I will discuss this topic at greater length in Saturday's print editions (available online late tonight).
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