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MLS Cup Is Set

Let me get this straight:

On the final day of the MLS regular season, D.C. United hit the framework three times, allowing New York to sneak into the playoffs. Tonight in the Western Conference final, Real Salt Lake hit the posts thrice and missed in every conceivable manner, providing the Red Bulls with a 1-0 victory and their first MLS Cup berth. Destiny? Perhaps.

Gripping match, great crowd, emotional finish.

So regardless of the result next weekend, MLS Cup will be won by a club that, back in April, many folks didn't believe would even make the playoffs.

Columbus vs. New York
Sun., Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET
Home Depot Center

Rest assured, the Red Bulls are not the worst regular season team to reach MLS Cup:

1997, Colorado: 14-18
(Lost in MLS Cup to DCU, 2-1)
2002, New England: 12-14-2
(Lost to Los Angeles, 1-0)
2008, New York: 10-11-9
(TBD)
2005, Los Angeles: 13-13-6
(Beat New England, 1-0)
1996, D.C. United: 16-16
(Beat Los Angeles, 3-2)

By Steve Goff  |  November 15, 2008; 11:48 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: USA Roster Announced

Comments

I hope Columbus wins—I could pull for RSL as an underdog, but not Red Bull New York Red Bull of Harrison New Jersey.

But no matter what, please let it be an entertaining game.

Posted by: StevanF | November 16, 2008 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Go Columbus, can't stand the Red Bulls, or any team from New York.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | November 16, 2008 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Oh Pleeeeze Columbus, for the love of everything that's holy, beat dem Jersey Bulls nest week!

Posted by: Juan-John | November 16, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Including the playoffs, NY is 12-11-10

Posted by: tfoisie | November 16, 2008 12:40 AM | Report abuse

I am pleased to announce that I am officially hoping that Columbus thrashes RBNY back to the stone age. If push comes to shove, I'll settle for the iron age plus one or two millenia.

Posted by: Modibo | November 16, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Loved the HD broadcast. Thanks again to the fine folks with the channel FYI:-)

This situation is not making it any easier to forget Jaime missing that PK the last time New York came to RFK:-(
That moment is gonna haunt me for a long time if Columbus doesn't win the final.

OFF Topic: Justin Timberlake did a sketch with Beyonce on SNL tonight that will be haunting the internets for months come next week. Mark my words.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 16, 2008 1:03 AM | Report abuse

What is with the league scheduling, and their daytime kickoffs? I can't stand a game, big or not, being played before 7 PM, much less 3:30 or 12:00 pm (DC v. LAG --9:00 am on the west coast!)

It's ridiculous. This is probably a big piece of why MLS's TV ratings suffer.

Gallardo criticized the league appropriately when they had to play in the scorching heat.
This, on top of the ridiculous schedule some teams are forced to play, (like DCU) makes a bad name for MLS.

Don Garber needs to set some things straight or needs to resign/get fired.

Posted by: redskinsux | November 16, 2008 2:11 AM | Report abuse

New York being named the Western Conference Champs just reminds me how stupid this playoff system really is.

Posted by: sinderson | November 16, 2008 2:32 AM | Report abuse

redskinsux, the game is held at that time due to television. So either its played at noon and everyone can watch it on TV, or its played at 7pm and its only available on FSC and/or HD Net. That's pretty much what it comes down to.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | November 16, 2008 4:29 AM | Report abuse

This stinks.

I hate that one of these teams is going to win the thing. Either Bill Archer gets more material to twist into his misguided invective, or CSKA New York's trophy case is no longer empty.

Is it possible for BOTH teams to lose?

Sigh...
I suppose I'll be rooting for the yellow team, but only with copious amounts of opiates.

Posted by: spectre42 | November 16, 2008 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Well congrats to both and lets be happy no one is even close to DC again in number of titles.

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | November 16, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

this is just another reason why the MLS regular season means next to nothing (except for supporters shield).

Posted by: torrey151 | November 16, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Hull 1 - Man City 1. Both goals off horrible, horribel defensive errors - a soft back pass on Man City's part and then a bad youch by a Hull defender each gifting the ball to the opposing team.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 16, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Gripping match, great crowd, emotional finish."

I hope that those who criticize Steve for his warranted comments on attendance take note of the statement above.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 16, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Should be a entertaining match and Crew's chance to prove that the two loses to the Red Bulls were flukes. I am counting on Rogers and the Argentinian duo making this a very stylish match on a nice big HDC field.

http://crewonespot.blogspot.com/2008/09/keys-to-victory-against-nyrb.html

Posted by: TomR143 | November 16, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"redskinsux, the game is held at that time due to television. So either its played at noon and everyone can watch it on TV, or its played at 7pm and its only available on FSC and/or HD Net. That's pretty much what it comes down to."

If the NHL can get their games nationally televised for regular season play, then surely MLS can get a CHAMPIONSHIP game on a television network at primetime.

How can everyone watch the game at noon? It's a terrible time. And better yet, who is going to wake up at 9 AM on the west coast to watch their team play?

Anybody else have any thoughts?

Posted by: redskinsux | November 16, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The game begins around 12:50 p.m. Pacific time, 3:50 p.m. Eastern time

What's the problem?

Posted by: Steve Goff | November 16, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Yo Redskinsux, Imagine being an MLS fan in Hawaii... I went to middle school and highschool there and to be honest I don't think I was able to drag my butt out of bed to watch a single superbowl let alone any other "mainland" sporting event until I moved to the mainland.
3:50 start time is great for me.
Other than the conflict with the team you obviously think sux...

Posted by: DadRyan | November 16, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

What was up with the little EPL roundup article in the post today??: "Arsenal falls, but others' playoff hopes still alive"
lol. Not only are there no playoffs in the EPL, but the season is only 1/3 the way done.

Posted by: StewartDC8 | November 16, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

redskinsux,

First of all, the game is at noon West Coast time. Second, ABC's Sunday night prime time lineup probably gets 10 times the audience as MLS Cup. So unless MLS is willing to pay some huge amount that basically covers the difference between what ABC would normally make selling ads on Sunday night compared to what they make on MLS Cup, I don't see the final game moving to prime time on Sunday night.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | November 16, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Well Steve, the problem isn't with the 3:50 p.m. EST championship start time, per se -- the problem is with the fact, that MLS games, important or not, aren't starting at times comparable to other standard professional leagues, e.g, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL @ which they start at 7, 8, or later.

And, CACuzcatlan mentioned that the reason games are often played during the day, instead of night, is because of "television" issues,(including contracts), which preclude MLS to set games of significant importance at 7:00 or 8:00 PM EST.

I pointed out that networks such as Versus are able to play games of the NHL in primetime despite the relative low T.V. ratings, so why can't MLS?

I like the night games more, and quite frankly, who doesn't? I explained that because of the day-time games, less people will tune in, and thus, lower the tv ratings.
All this resembles something like a vicious cycle in that some people won't tune in because of the game time -- And when MLS looks at the ratings such as ESPN's, "Prime Time Thursday" at night, they are very low.

(MLS won't put the championship game at night because of the possibility of a monetary loss.)

Ultimately, I am just disappointed in that I, along side millions of Americans are going to miss the MLS Cup Final because of the game time.

Is there a disparity in Garber's reasoning?
Is MLS's marketing, off?

Well this has been a very long and thoughtful comment, and I hope you come out from my reasoning with a better sense of how the sport of soccer is the only loser when greed (or something else?) is a factor.

Posted by: redskinsux | November 16, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan: What did they call "Breakfast at Wimbledon" in Hawaii?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 16, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

"...I hope you come out from my reasoning with a better sense of how the sport of soccer is the only loser when greed (or something else?) is a factor."

I like the word selfishness for greed.

Posted by: redskinsux | November 16, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Well this has been a very long and thoughtful comment, and I hope you come out from my reasoning with a better sense of how the sport of soccer is the only loser when greed (or something else?) is a factor.

Posted by: redskinsux | November 16, 2008 9:04 PM

You flatter yourself -- clearly, you think very highly o f your opinion. Maybe it was full of thought (thoughtful has taken on a different meaning in the modern language).

The Galaxy-United game was a brilliant bit of marketing to piggyback on the Euro final. I'm sure the ratings should speak for themselves -- but, apparently, they don't speak to you.

The only problem with the start time of that game was the intense heat made playing conditions difficult. For the MLS Cup (when it's not in a warm weather locale such as LA), it's the opposite concern. If they play at night, it's too cold in most MLS cities in late November. So, in fact, the quality of the play is better for an afternoon starting time.

But, back to your incomprehensible point about greed. If greeed is the motivator, then it must be that MLS believes it's getting better ratings -- a bigger audience, and ultimately more advertising dollars for the broadcaster -- which gets fed back to MLS in future negotiations. Exactly, where in that equation does "soccer" suffer?

Answer: It doesn't. If MLS wanted a different start time, what channel would broadcast it? ESPN Classic, which many viewers don't get, or wouldn't know where to find? So, their ratings will be better with this time, than they would be with another time. If MLS' ratings are better with such a start time, that means more people are watching the game, not fewer people. So, what exactly is your point?

Greed is pernicious, though. People criticize baseball because their playoff games start and end much too late for east coast kids to watch -- all because of greed. Maybe baseball should go back to playing playoffs and World Series in the daytime? Sure, fewer people can watch then, so the ratings will be worse, and baseball will bring in less money -- but then, they'd be cutting out greed and thinking of their young fans instead. Sure, fewer people would be watching, but at the sport wouldn't look greedy.

Posted by: fischy | November 16, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Good question I-270. I know I was too busy sleeping off Coors party ball hangovers to be getting my Breakfast at Wimbledon on back then.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 17, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

If the NHL can get their games nationally televised for regular season play, then surely MLS can get a CHAMPIONSHIP game on a television network at primetime.

Anybody else have any thoughts?

Posted by: redskinsux | November 16, 2008 5:25 PM

Yes, I think you are STONED! :-)

You actually think that ABC is going to put MLS soccer on in prime time? That they are going to bump, oh let's say, Desperate Housewives for a soccer match on a Sunday night in the Fall? Sure, lose about 11 million viewers so that the MLS Cup Final can move up four hours from the PERFECTLY apt 3:30 kickoff.

Honestly, we should be pleased that Disney still finds the time for the final on ABC (and yes, it has to be Sunday because ABC does not show NFL and has some time to spare).

Posted by: Kev29 | November 17, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

redskinsux:

"I pointed out that networks such as Versus are able to play games of the NHL in primetime despite the relative low T.V. ratings, so why can't MLS?"

The NHL games "nationally" televised on Versus are not comparable to MLS having a game on ABC. Versus is more or less equivalent to FSC, not ABC. Since FSC broadcasts a game in prime time every week, this part of the argument is out of the window.

"(MLS won't put the championship game at night because of the possibility of a monetary loss.)"

MLS won't put the championship game at night because it isn't in control of that decision. ABC tells MLS when the game will be broadcast, and that's that. MLS thanks ABC and ESPN for the rights fees, and puts on a game at the appointed time. It could be a lot worse (those NHL games you mentioned, for example, are shown on air time the NHL purchased, just like MLS used to have to do).

So really, you should be directing your complaints at ABC/ESPN, not MLS or Garber.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 17, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

So really, you should be directing your complaints at ABC/ESPN, not MLS or Garber.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 17, 2008 12:08 PM

Well said. And when MLS soccer is a financially valuable commodity for television, they will respond in kind. They are not in the business of being nice to a league because they want it to succeed - they are in the business of gathering ratings to sell advertising.

Posted by: Kev29 | November 17, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"You flatter yourself -- clearly, you think very highly o f your opinion." -fischy

No, I merely made mention that the comment was long, and that I spent much thought on writing it. I never said I was right.

I am simply disappointed with MLS's daytime kickoffs and yes, the double header with the Euro final was well produced.

When the championship game is at 3:30 pm, people don't make it an "event" on their schedules, and don't tune in.
I feel like MLS is on the brink of making their audience more diverse, but with early start times, they will never be able to pull a national audience for the games.


Posted by: redskinsux | November 17, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Also, I would like to thank everyone who responded. I appreciate all the comments.

Posted by: redskinsux | November 17, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The MLS Cup is scheduled when it is, 3:30 ET, 12:30 PT at HDC, strictly to accomodate television (ABC/ESPN) demands. The irony is that for this game such a starting time in LA/Carson will make for a terrible broadcast because of the time of day in late November. Take a look at the 2004 MLS Cup broadcast and notice how unwatchable it was with the dark shadow from the west-side roof top dissecting the field. The broadcastings professionals at MLS (Mike Cohen) pay no attention to the watchablility of their broadcasts (of course, we knew that already from the gratuitous crowd shots, the presence of PC Julie Foudy and the paid-by-the-word Rob Stone) so this game will be just as unwatchable on TV as all MLS/ABC/ESPN telecasts.

Posted by: lgm6986 | November 17, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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