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Midday Kickaround

On this Halloween, what could be more frightening than:

Revolution 0, Fire 0, in front of an announced crowd of 5,221 at Foxborough. Are you kidding me? A playoff game with 5,000 spectators? I know, I know, it was mid-week, it was cold, there wasn't much time to sell tickets, but that's abysmal. (I think there was a bigger gathering at DCU's awards reception last night.) Best of all, the sad scene was available to a national TV audience. Imagine the casual sports fan cruising his cable options and landing upon a soccer game with no goals and a few thousand fans scattered inside a massive football stadium. At a recent MLS business summit in Chicago, I'm told, an ESPN executive had emphasized to team representatives the importance of stadium presentation for televised games.

When is MLS going to learn its lesson to alter the playoff format, and most importantly, stop playing mid-week games in cities that simply do not draw except on Saturday nights? Okay, rant over.

For match highlights, click here.

*In a setback to New York's playoff efforts, midfielder Seth Stammler (26 starts) had knee surgery last night and will need two to four weeks to recover.

*Why, despite minimal contact, did Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy receive a red card last weekend, forcing him to miss tomorrow night's playoff opener at RSL? Listen to the USSF weekly referee podcast. (Caution: It's lengthy and tedious, but does provide some insight from an officiating point of view.) To review the video, click here. "Regardless of the contact, because of what the goalkeeper does -- he impedes the progress of the player to get to the ball, which makes it a foul, which makes it a penalty, which makes it a denying the goal-scoring opportunity that results in a red card."

*Fan voting for the MLS goal of the year is underway.

*You cannot stop East Timor; you can only hope to contain them.

*Men's college soccer tonight, Maryland and Virginia meet at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville at 7 p.m. The Terps (13-3-0 overall, 4-2-0 ACC) have won six straight, the Cavs (9-5-1, 4-2-0) are unbeaten in their past seven home games.

*Penalties galore in Municipal's 4-4 tie with Santos Laguna in Champions League play:

By Steve Goff  |  October 31, 2008; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF , College Soccer , MLS , World  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: United's Reception
Next: Clyde Simms, By the Numbers

Comments

"I'm told, an ESPN executive had emphasized to team representatives the importance of stadium presentation for televised games."

Suggestion: Potemkin villagers.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 31, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

There were highlights from the NE/Chi game? What, the moment one of them actually strung 3 consecutive passes together? If I didn't have a baby sleeping on my chest, there was no way I would have been able to sit still for that experience.

Posted by: vandivere13 | October 31, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The solution is pretty obvious here. Stay away from NY and NE for Thursday night games. If you need east coast games, stick with Toronto and DC.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | October 31, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"stick with Toronto and DC"

Bit tough to do in the playoffs :-(

Posted by: Kev29 | October 31, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

New England has support - but SUBURBAN football stadium and midweek match are not fan friendly in any way, shape, or form.

The Kraft's cannot build rumored/speculated/lied about stadium closer to Boston soon enough.

I'm sure the flip-side of that discussion was that the network felt that it would certainly be going against the World Series' and a potential clinching game and wanted to make sure that fans saw a game before switching over to Fox.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | October 31, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Heck, the women's USC-UCLA game had 7800-plus (a near-record), and even THEN you couldn't tell. From the TV, it looked like no one was there, so it ain't just pro soccer that has this problem.

Posted by: Juan-John | October 31, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

How exactly did the home-home aggregate goal playoff format cause last night's small crowd?

Posted by: EricB1 | October 31, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

New England has support - but SUBURBAN football stadium and midweek match are not fan friendly in any way, shape, or form.

The Kraft's cannot build rumored/speculated/lied about stadium closer to Boston soon enough.

I'm sure the flip-side of that discussion was that the network felt that it would certainly be going against the World Series' and a potential clinching game and wanted to make sure that fans saw a game before switching over to Fox.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | October 31, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Goff, you read my mind.
I cringe every time I see a NE or NY home game scheduled for ESPN. But last nights debacle was predictable and should've been fixed.
I recall watching my first KC game a few weeks ago, and being surprised at how vibrant and energetic a crowd of 10,000 looks in a sold-out venue vs. 10,000 in Arrowhead (or in last night's case, 5000 in Foxboro).

Posted by: Washago | October 31, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Any hopes for a sizable New England crowd on a Thursday night were doomed from the start. You can blame the stadium location in exurban Foxboro or a lack of marketing from Kraft but the main factor is the Revs crappy play.

The Revs are in decline even when healthy due to the departure of Noonan, Dorman and Dempsey. Throw in injuries to Ralston, Twellman and Cristman and a boneheaded red card from Khano Smith and you've got an obvious talent deficit.

A boring, tactical, scoreless draw was the best case scenario for the home fans. Credit to the 5,000 who paid money to sit in the cold and watch it.

I switched to 30 Rock when Cuauhtemoc spent several minutes rolling around the ground in fauxgony shortly after a New England player had performed the same routine.

On the other hand, Gillette Stadium's field had no NFL markings. So it was like Nirvana with a crappy game on top of it.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | October 31, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

From my understanding for whatever reason they were trying to set an attendance record for women's college soccer of 14,000+ in a stadium that can hold 100,000+(depending on the configuration). Of course they failed and they failed big, but it was only compounded by the 90,000 or so empty seats. Is that the same level of fail as NE considering the situations?

Posted by: sitruc | October 31, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

//My last comment was not meant to be a slight of the crowd at the USC-UCLA match that was huge for college soccer and especially women's soccer.

Posted by: sitruc | October 31, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The other issue with only 5000 people there means you can hear the players yelling obscenities at each other and the officials very clearly on those field-side microphones.

The playoffs are a joke. The attendance is always bad, no matter where they play. Does anyone ever get more than a regular season average size crowd? I will be interested to see how RSL does. Their last regular season home game (the second at the new stadium) had tons of empty red seats...and that stadium only holds 20K.

Posted by: fedssocr | October 31, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Franco Niell update: The little guy scored on a blistering shot from distance.

Also gleaned from FSC's Soccer Report -- Max Bretos is a boob, whose Harry Caray impersonation is the worst impression by anyone of anyone else, ever. Unless Harry was a flamboyant, high-pitched drag queen. This was more of an Elton John impersonation -- sans British accent.

Posted by: fischy | October 31, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Goff, since you brought it up, what would you like to see done to change the playoff format?

Posted by: stwasm | October 31, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Goff, I have an interesting soccer story you could write. I would write about it here, but it would take a while to explain. How can I contact you about it?

Posted by: therealfootball | October 31, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Single elimination

Posted by: Eric_in_Baltimore | October 31, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The obvious thing would be one-game playoffs -- on Saturday nights.

The problem with that is it SEEMS financially unrealistic. Each team wants some financial reward for making the playoffs -- i.e., hosting playoff games.

The reality, though, is that the Revs probably didn't bring in a whole bunch of extra revenue last night. MLS needs to build its brand. Crowds like that one aren't helping -- nor are midweek playoff games that get horrible TV ratings (just a wild guess on that one).

Posted by: fischy | October 31, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

On the referee audio clip, move to about 40% into the broadcast for the discussion about the Chivas red card. If you take the time to listen, they do fault the referee for something: they don't like that he ran to the penalty spot to give out the red card. This allowed him to be "surrounded by many players who are making their protests heard". Instead they want him to point to the spot and then go off to the side, or even over the end line and then give out the red card. They think that only 1 or 2 players would have protested to his face then. Who are they kidding? If you award a PK AND give a red card to the keeper, you're going to have many people in your face, regardless of where you're standing!!

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | October 31, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing about Thursday's - ESPN clearly offered it as it's primetime slot for MLS. MLS took it as their best offer. Now ESPN has problems with how the crowds look with the slot they chose. How is that going to be rectified?

MLS should beg ESPN into a Saturday night slot (again) - at least until college football starts. Do an east coast/west coast split between ESPN2 and FSC on Saturday - one gets early, one gets late. Then in the fall, try to organize your better attendance teams into the Thursday night ESPN2 slots. Problem there is, the better teams will be in the bloated CONCACAF Champs League - hence midweek commitments making Thursdays difficult.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 31, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Or, possibly, Saturday day games -- when it's not so dang cold? Just a thought....

I played last night -- it was fine for players, but the family spectators froze.

I realize MLS doesn't want to go head-to-head with college football, but are they really competing for the same viewers?

Perhaps it would be hard to find a broadcaster? ESPN might be taken, but FSC would probably be happy to have a double-header. First pre-game at 5:00 on the East coast, after they've aired their Italian live game -- 5:30 kick-off. And then, an 8:30 game from the West Coast.

Posted by: fischy | October 31, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

You can reach me anytime at goffs@washpost.com

The first round of the MLS playoffs should be the same as the conference final and MLS Cup: one game. Fans will come to see a do-or-die match on short notice.


Posted by: Steve Goff | October 31, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Re-posting from the previous thread because Pope Joe Doc crowned me King of MLS. If you who missed the coronation, too bad, you missed the free food - lukewarm hot dogs (slightly burnt) and weird-tasting draft beer.

If I were King of MLS, I would change the playoff structure. Each of the four teams in a "bracket" would face each of the others once (think World Cup group stage) with the host team being the one that was higher in the regular season standings. The top team in each bracket (by points, GD, etc) will advance to the final. I think this would make each game more meaningful because the away team would not have the option of bunkering and waiting for a second leg at home. This set up would really give home field advantage to the deserving regular season leader.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 31, 2008 8:33 AM

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 31, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@sitruc: You're right. My only beef with the women's soccer game was the same as the NE-Fire game -- they shoulda set up the seating so that everyone's IN FRONT of the camera, not behind it. I mean, how hard could that have been?

It's one of my fears with DCU if we ever get a new stadium -- will the supporters groups get as choice a seating location in the new digs as they have now? Because even if RFK is empty like the CL game, you at least get to see the broiling (albeit a smaller-than-normal) mass of the BBs and SEs regularly.

Posted by: Juan-John | October 31, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

CCL should also be two legged ties (knockout) or 3 match group stages to cut down on fall congestion.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 31, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

New England had the near stands covered up with blue tarp too. Matt Reis did a good impression of Uncle Fester tho.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | October 31, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"It's one of my fears with DCU if we ever get a new stadium -- will the supporters groups get as choice a seating location in the new digs as they have now?"

JJ - Really? That's a fear?

We should be so lucky to be even close to having such a fear.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 31, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the refs a less hesitant to issue red cards and call penalty kicks in MLS. I think the ref (Stott?) could have done better by waiting a bit to see if advantage developed...if he waits for attacking player to recover and players gets to ball first and puts it in, then no need to issue red card (but could issue yellow for USB).

Poor choice of words in the justification by saying Kennedy 'impedes' the attacking player, as impeding is an Idirect Free Kick offense, and while the red card would still be warranted, the kick would be an IFK from the spot of the foul. I assume the ref called tripping, which is direct...

Posted by: teo_68 | October 31, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

What I270Exit1 said.

Posted by: bfv999 | October 31, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

270:

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

***

5,000 is pathetic, but ESPN didn't have much of a selection in the first legs:

- NE at Gillette: Attendance is below average for MLS on good nights; Gillette is over half an hour away from Boston by my experience
- NY at Giants Stadium: Turf with football lines; apathetic fan base; I've never gone from NYC to the Swamp, but I'd imagine that on a weeknight it takes a long time unless you own a helicopter
- KC at C.A. Ballpark: Baseball field; fans are packed into either end of the field, but not in the middle where most of the game is played; max capacity is way below league average attendance
- RSL at Rio Tinto: I'm guessing RSL authorities were given a Saturday game so they could get closer to a sell-out in their new digs. Otherwise, this was clearly the best choice (team gets decent attendance, stadium is gorgeous).

In all honesty, I think this is in part ESPN's fault. They chose what seemed, in a vacuum, to be the most intriguing series rather than which would actually make the best presentation to viewers. Without looking at context, NE-Chicago does look like the best series. However, knowing the circumstances that surround both teams, it was the worst series to pick for national exposure on a weeknight. I'm not sure how far ahead they had to pick their game, but I can't imagine this decision was particularly well thought out.

Oh, and GOTY...here's my top 3:

1. Gallardo's volley from no angle. Easy choice.
2. Arnaud from like 39 yards. I love long range goals.
3. McManus from almost as far. See above.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 31, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

270:

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

***

5,000 is pathetic, but ESPN didn't have much of a selection in the first legs:

- NE at Gillette: Attendance is below average for MLS on good nights; Gillette is over half an hour away from Boston by my experience
- NY at Giants Stadium: Turf with football lines; apathetic fan base; I've never gone from NYC to the Swamp, but I'd imagine that on a weeknight it takes a long time unless you own a helicopter
- KC at C.A. Ballpark: Baseball field; fans are packed into either end of the field, but not in the middle where most of the game is played; max capacity is way below league average attendance
- RSL at Rio Tinto: I'm guessing RSL authorities were given a Saturday game so they could get closer to a sell-out in their new digs. Otherwise, this was clearly the best choice (team gets decent attendance, stadium is gorgeous).

In all honesty, I think this is in part ESPN's fault. They chose what seemed, in a vacuum, to be the most intriguing series rather than which would actually make the best presentation to viewers. Without looking at context, NE-Chicago does look like the best series. However, knowing the circumstances that surround both teams, it was the worst series to pick for national exposure on a weeknight. I'm not sure how far ahead they had to pick their game, but I can't imagine this decision was particularly well thought out.

Oh, and GOTY...here's my top 3:

1. Gallardo's volley from no angle. Easy choice.
2. Arnaud from like 39 yards. I love long range goals.
3. McManus from almost as far. See above.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 31, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

5,000?

If I could have gotten there, I would have been... that's pathetic. The Revs got upwards of 15,000 for our last couple regular season matches, why did it suddenly drop?

I'm appalled and embarassed.

Posted by: revsfanindc | October 31, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

5,000?

If I could have gotten there, I would have been... that's pathetic. The Revs got upwards of 15,000 for our last couple regular season matches, why did it suddenly drop?

I'm appalled and embarassed.

Posted by: revsfanindc | October 31, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Chest -- I like your GOTY picks. TO fill out a top 5, I'd add Rogers' long strike, and maybe Brandon McDonald's, too. I wish Wolf had hit his bicycle with more authority. I love to vote for bicycle goals....

Posted by: fischy | October 31, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

NY, if they make the playoffs next year, will be playing at Red Bull Arena.

The average Giants Stadium crowd will look very good in a intimate stadium. RBA would be, at worst, 2/3rds full. RFK, on the other hand, is less than half full on a very good night.

I expect a terrible turnout at Giants Stadium tomorrow. The team is bad and doesn't deserve to be in the playoffs. But it will be the last playoff game ever at that dump. I'm taking the train up in the morning. The crowd will be less than 8000, I bet, but it's a lot easier to put up with it when you go past Harrison on the PATH and look out the train window and see the steel in place for the entire lower bowl and the upper deck steel and roof going into place.

So lay off the fake concern for NY. You'll be begging to have our problems when predictably injured players with guaranteed contracts burn your salary cap AGAIN at a stadium far, far worse than Red Bull Arena.

New England on the other hand... they already sell tickets only on one side of Gillette Stadium. They can't do anything more. It's already a Potemkin Village!

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | October 31, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

It's incredible that DCU racked up NINE goal of the week awards.

Gallerdo (2), Emilio (2), Moreno, Simms, Vide, Quaranta and Martinez.

I wonder how many of the GOWs were against DCU?

Posted by: Cerealman | October 31, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

"It's incredible that DCU racked up NINE goal of the week awards."

Are you for real? Do you really think the number of awards had anything at all to due with quality play for DC players? You should be embarrassed.

Any time a DC player was a candidate, DC fans voted heavily for their guy, coordinating their voting shenanigans on Big Soccer. Some of the calls to action were sounded here. Y'all give Toronto fans some competition for making a joke out of the GOTW poll.

The only absolutely indisputable DC GOTW winner was Gallardo's volley. I voted for it for GOTW, and have been splitting my GOTY votes between Gallardo's blast and Cepero's 81 yard freakshow. Gallardo's was a beautiful piece of skill, while Cepero's was a preposterous fluke, but I can't let a GK score off something other than a GK and not recognize it.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | October 31, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

"So lay off the fake concern for NY. You'll be begging to have our problems when predictably injured players with guaranteed contracts burn your salary cap AGAIN at a stadium far, far worse than Red Bull Arena."

OMG!! Do you all realize what that will mean. Oh yeah . . . it means this,

DCU
Domestic
• MLS Cup:
o Winners (4): 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004
o Runners-up (1): 1998
• MLS Supporters' Shield:
o Winners (4): 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007
o Runners-up (1): 1998
• US Open Cup:
o Winners (2): 1996, 2008
o Runners-up (1): 1997
International
• CONCACAF Champions' Cup:
o Winners (1): 1998
o Third place (3): 1997, 1999, 2007
• CONCACAF Giants Cup:
o Runners-up (1): 2001
• InterAmerican Cup:
o Winners (1): 1998


Joasey

Domestic
• US Open Cup:
o Runners-up (1): 2003
International
• La Manga Cup:
o Winners (1): 2004

Posted by: bfv999 | November 1, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

See, that's the relevant point: NY hasn't won anything in the past.

The "avoid televising playoff games in NY," however, was the actual subject.

And yes, the one playoff game in NY won't be on ESPN2. But this will be the last ever playoff game at Giants Stadium. Even assuming that attendance won't improve at RBA-- which is patently false, but for the sake of argument, let's accept it-- a typical Giants Stadium crowd at RBA will fill the new stadium far more than a typical DC United crowd fills RFK.

Until DC gets a stadium that isn't a cavernous dump, MLS should avoid televising DC playoff games. Y'all can pretend that the glory days are still happening, but that's a joke. Attendance has been flat at best, the team has been terrible, and the trend line is DOWN. And without a stadium plan, that trend doesn't look to improve.

But yet, you won a lot of trophies a long time ago, and we have won nothing. Way to not win an argument.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 1, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Yes that's right, along time ago like . . . oh, September 3, 2008. Wow you are right, that was so long ago. But then I guess in cow years it is.

Posted by: bfv999 | November 1, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah 1 more thing.

DCU
Domestic
• MLS Cup:
o Winners (4): 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004
o Runners-up (1): 1998
• MLS Supporters' Shield:
o Winners (4): 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007
o Runners-up (1): 1998
• US Open Cup:
o Winners (2): 1996, 2008
o Runners-up (1): 1997
International
• CONCACAF Champions' Cup:
o Winners (1): 1998
o Third place (3): 1997, 1999, 2007
• CONCACAF Giants Cup:
o Runners-up (1): 2001
• InterAmerican Cup:
o Winners (1): 1998

You can talk when you can match it.

Posted by: bfv999 | November 1, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The Revs are a miserable failure in MLS. Fold them and ship them to Montreal.

Seriously.

Posted by: Hoost | November 1, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

bfv, neither of us play for either team. We're SUPPORTERS. I envy DC's trophy case, but you seem to think that winning a trophy is the end all and be all of being a supporter, and that you deserve credit (and I deserve blame) for the results. Ridiculous.

There are reasons why NY has underachieved badly in attendance. The stadium is by far the biggest factor. Lack of success is another. But while attendance can be blamed on a lack of on field success, it doesn't go the other way.

I guess it gives you a little tingle to feel like you personally brought all those trophies, but you would be wrong.

I certainly hope you never miss matches, go to five or six away games every year, and spend a lot of money making flags etc., because if you're a passive fan and try to knock more passionate supporters of other teams, you should be ashamed.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 2, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

No, I am tired of seeing you disparage DCU and the team's supporters. I think RBNY is a decent team that fought well for the spot they are in. Good luck to them. And I think Angel should have been MVP last year. I am from NY and you are an embarrasment with your posts here.

You show no respect to other supporters of any other team. So try to be a soccer supporter and realize that a good team in DC is good for the sport, just as one in NY would be and then show some respect to others and a little humility. There is nothing wrong with some friendly competition but the comments you make about DC, fans and team, are way out of line and demonstarte a hooligan bent that needs to stay out of the game in America.

Posted by: bfv999 | November 3, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm objecting to the facile swipe at NY for terrible crowds, particularly the assertion that NY playoff games should never be on television, when in actuality:

1. The average crowds aren't that terrible considering how crappy the team and Giants Stadium have been,

2. The team is building a new stadium that will be the best in MLS, and which is very easily accessible by mass transit, and

3. Because this new stadium will be open by the end of next season, there will never be another MLS playoff game at Giants Stadium.

Are there problems? Yes. But the primary obstacle to the team's success is that, in a metropolitan area more mass-transit dependent than any other in the country, they play in place that is virtually inaccessible by mass transit unless you go into the city and back out-- a trip of several hours. And in a league in which the very best drawing teams attract around 20,000 spectators, they play in a stadium fitting four times that, giving nearly every game a minor league atmosphere, no matter how much effort supporters put into cheering for the team.

The snotty remarks implying that inevitably the team will be a disaster are a provocation. So I respond, and I'll gladly point out that DC has very serious long-term problems that would make it very difficult for the team to compete outside a single-entity, revenue-sharing league.

If you demonstrate total hyperbole by claiming that remarks to the effect that DC's inability to build a stadium could absolutely disatrous is somehow hooliganism, you're bonkers.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 3, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Boy you are thick. My problem is with your disrespect for others. Once again. I am from NY and object to the way you represent us here. Learn to read.

Posted by: bfv999 | November 4, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Some of my best friends are DC United fans.

As for you, any NY fan who reads the continuous mockery of our team by DC fans would understand where I'm coming from. Unfortunately I also have to LIVE here. Is there exaggeration for effect? Sure. But I'm not worried in the least about how you feel about me giving it back to DC fans they way they give it to us.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 4, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

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