Random Thoughts on the MLS Cup

Real v Galaxy

After that cesspool of a result in Paris on Wednesday, it is nice to turn our attention to a league where the sportsmen are pure, the referees are beyond reproach and the game is always played with a spirit of manly honor – the MLS.  Or something like that.

Sunday’s game will feature the best team in the west this season against the best team in the west right now.  The Galaxy may have had the better season, but Real Salt Lake has put all the pieces together when it matters most.  Some random thoughts…..

Real Salt Lake has yet to face this Galaxy team.  RSL drew the Galaxy at home and beat them away this season.  Both games preceded David Beckham’s return from AC Milan, and Landon Donovan missed the game the Galaxy lost while on duty for the USMNT.  Their last meeting was all the way back in mid June, and the Galaxy are a significantly different team.  With both Beckham and Donovan on the field and Omar Gonzalez a more skilled and confident player in the back, RSL should not draw much confidence form their previous performance against the Galaxy.

The battle of the two Becks.  In the game within the game, it is the David Beckham vs. Kyle Beckerman match-up that should be the most intriguing.  Holding midfielder Beckerman will be tasked with preventing Beckham from spraying his passes all over the field.  The energetic Beckerman will be trying to deny Beckham the ball and harass him into a quick pass when he does get it at his feet.  For RSL to win, Beckerman has to deny Beckham space to operate. 

The two will also be sporting the worst hair styles in the league.  If Beckham retains the mess that sat on his melon against Houston, it will be Beckham’s tribute to 80’s Norwegian band A-Ha vs. Beckerman’s absurd Rasta-do.

It is not just a game; it is also an audition.  It is probably a long flight from Denmark to Seattle, but that is OK for Bob Bradley.  He has a lot to think about.  Where is he going to get upfront speed to replace Charlie Davies?  Where is he going to get some midfield presence that can complete a pass?  Who is going to toughen up a back line that looks very porous without Gooch?   For Robbie Findley, Beckerman and Gonzalez, this game is an opportunity to help Bradley answer some of those questions.  If any of them make the team that goes to South Africa next summer, it will be as fringe players, but Bradley is looking at a depth chart that suddenly looks pretty shallow, and he is coming to Seattle to find some more options.

Is this Donovan’s last game with the Galaxy?  It very well might be.  Donovan is at the height of his powers and put those powers on display this summer in South Africa.  He has proved all he can prove in the MLS, and while he may not wind up as the MVP this year, it is hard to argue that Donovan is not the league’s best player.  While I think that Germany is not in Donovan’s future, Spain, France or England might be.  I understand that Carlos Bocanegra has talked to Donovan about how the French Ligue One may be a perfect compliment for Donovan’s skills, but wherever he goes, Donovan has to find the right fit.  He needs a team that will value his speed in their scheme and where he can be, at least a little, assured of getting some important playing time.  Wherever he winds up, if this is Donovan’s last game, he will want it to be a memorable one. 

Seattle is up for it.  Yesterday in Seattle, there was a ceremony as the MLS Cup was carried off a ferry by Sigi Schmidt and paraded into Qwest Field.  Last year, when the game was at the Home Depot Center, I think the MLS Cup was ceremoniously dropped off by UPS.  The best story in the MLS all year has been the way Seattle has embraced the game and acted as a role model for the rest of the country.  With tickets for the final going for hundreds of dollars each on Stub Hub, I expect a boisterous, fun crowd in Seattle, and if Don Garber announced the final was going there again next year, I doubt anyone would fight him too hard on that.

52 Responses to Random Thoughts on the MLS Cup

  1. Joey Clams says:

    It’s hard to take a league seriously that plays its final on plastic.

  2. man99utd says:

    “game is always played with a spirit of manly honor – the MLS” they should do because they get paid tuppence…sorry couldn’t resist, great article and looking forward to a great finale in Seattle. The MLS need to place Seattle in charge of all future expansion.

    Joey Clams,
    The Champions League finale in 2008 was played on a plastic pitch in Moscow, and they’re quite serious…having said that, plastic pitches are rubbish.

    • Joey Clams says:

      I don’t take the Champions League seriously. Seriously.

      • ben says:

        Clams, what DO you take seriously?

        “If it’s not football played on a grass pitch in the arctic tundra using a leather ball and officiated by a monastic referee sworn to silence with golden eagles for assistant, then it’s not even worth paying attention.”

        Maybe you should take a break till the Inner Mongolia Youth FA strikes a deal with ESPN (well, as long as Mandalgovi Dynamo get around to laying grass on that miserable dirbowl they call a “pitch”!).

    • Patrick Johnson says:


      Umm no it was not. UEFA had grass brought in for the 08 Champions League FInal.

      I know i’ll never forget it.

  3. Charles says:

    Love the plastic….so much better than the Kingdome’s green concrete.
    I am going and I can’t wait, neither can Seattle, front pages story everyday in the Seattle Times….. however, LA doesn’t seem to care much.
    The only story on http://www.latimes.com/sports

    “Los Angeles Galaxy cancels soccer match in Kaiserslautern, tour of Europe” 7:37 a.m.


  4. peter osgood says:

    99 you sound as if you are a very recent convert to United. There was a grass pitch laid for the final, it’s condition, the seams etc. were a major issue all week in the build up to the match and played it’s part in making on the best finals ever more daunting for the players.

    But miles better than being on a concrete slab.

  5. corryszam says:

    As a Real Salt Lake supporter I can’t wait to get to Seattle and watch my team and it looks like Seattle has pulled out all the stops! Thank You Emerald City my only complaint is and its not really bad is that all you damn sounders fans took all the tickets!! I bought some front row tickets on ebay and when I received them I found out I just paid for his kids college. I don’t blame the fans at all I just wish someone woulds have saved us Real Salt Lake fans more than 6000 tickets and yes we live at a higher elevation that dosent mean we all want to sit in the rafters it was probably the MLS and not Qwest or the club. Once again THANK YOU for what is going to be a great weekend and upset for the LA fans!! If lil old Salt Lake got 6000 tickets how many did “Hollywood” get.

  6. Charles says:

    LA doesn’t seem to care..see my above post.

  7. Charles says:

    not sure this is the proper place, but Garber is on SeattleTimes right now

    he stated:
    Don Garber: In 2010 we will have a “balanced” schedule. Each team will play each other home and away. However, in 2011 when we have 18 teams we won’t be able to have a balanced schedule. We have some time to figure out our schedule format so I am not able to provide specific details at this time.


    Ps. I asked a question about salaries but it was cut off an ineffective/non-specific

  8. ajr says:

    last year the cup was dropped off by Deb in her VW with ben olsen

  9. patrick says:

    riddle me this… are your thoughts really random? is it really a plastic pitch?

  10. Jason says:

    Lars – I think they could have a balanced schedule – I don’t think the newer owners want it. I am guessing that Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle want to play each other more than once just for the sake of travelling fans. Same with Toronto, Montreal, Philly, NY, New England, DC etc

  11. Bolacuadrada says:

    Let me inform everybody that even though the Los Angeles Times does not cover the MLS, we are ready for the final. We are ready to welcome Beckham, Donovan and the rest of LA Galaxy with the cup. Beginning this weekend, the MLS final will be a yearly meeting at my place for friends and family just like the Superbowl Sunday. Let me say it again, this weekend the CONCACAF’s most popular team in the world will make history in Seattle.

    • Football Tactician says:

      Club America, the CONCACAF’s most popular team, isn’t playing in Seattle this weekend. They have a much more important playoff game to attend to.

      Selloutboy, the “galaxy” are less popular than the entire Mexican League and all Central American leagues. No one gives a damn about your little Mickey Mouse team. The only CONCACAF teams you may be more popular than are in the Carribean, and those teams aren’t even pro. You are one stupid MF.

      Hispanics shouldn’t support this retarded little league. We have our own leagues. Support them. Don’t be a sellout.

  12. Charles says:

    um…the Sounders are the most popular team in MLS.
    But I am glad you are out there LA fans.
    Why does no one complain to the LA Times? That is insane.

    Re: balanced schedule……Agreed, but at some point you can’t 58 games in a 30 team league (hopefully they get there soon).

  13. Charles says:

    Come on. You truly want the MLS to stop expanding at 20 ?
    Why ?
    So they are just like the EPL? The EPL sucks.
    They have 20 teams in the EPL and England is the size of California…with probably less people ( I am guessing here, but you get my point )

    This is America, the third ( guessing again ) biggest population in the world, with a lot of money. If we can’t bury the EPL and their modern attempt at making an ancient league work, give it up. 30+ teams, with parity, like a real American sports league.

    Even if you hated my rant, please do answer why ?

    • Lars says:

      Oh yes, so we can have the San Antonio Fiddlestickers? Or How about the Des Moines Corn Harvesters?

      I do not do this out of a great love for the EPL, although I will admit to finding it more exciting, higher paced football with /skill/. EPL lacks one thing, and that is locality.

      Instead of making this about mimicking the EPL, however, I do this out of experiencing the disasters of overexpansion in my following of the NFL, CFL, NHL, MLB and NBA. The Jaguars are going to be moving in the NFL, CFL USA utterly collapsed after only two of the expansion teams made a profit, NHL…well you can look at Phoenix, Atlanta, Tampa, Florida…

      But moving teams solves no problems that the overexpansion has brought. Overexpansion is the biggest threat because it creates something called apathy. It is the apathy towards the bloated monster which is the league. A compact league brings too few, encounters, an overly large league creates ones which are boring for their lack of face, and character.

      A 20 team league is a compromise. I would have been happy stopping at 18 as this is well within an acceptable range.

      For the record, the UK is much larger than California in population terms.

      To Eric, who’s post is below me:

      The threat is not having too many teams diluting the talent pool. There are literally thousands of people who could play MLS quality football, no problems at all. The problem is faceless teams that mean nothing.

      • Joey Clams says:

        It should be up to Americans to determine to which backwaters MLS should expand. It no longer is, though. If and when either Des Moines or San Antonio – SA has a population of over two million, by the way- are ready, there will be no room because the elitists who make decisions will have expanded to more “cosmopolitan” cities in another country. Those Canadian cities are worthy markets but the fact remains that they’re in another country and they’re taking spots for cities here that may someday be able to support a team. For now, MLS is taking cash from those who can offer it. Sure, they’ll dust off some high-minded arguments about a changing world and globalization and shared destinies. The reality is they want the money. They’d expand to Bangor, Maine or Asheville, North Carolina if someone could hand them a fat enough envelope.

  14. Eric Altshule says:

    I will pipe in with my two cents. Without relegation, I think 20 is a dangerous number and beyond that it is a mistake. With 20 teams, there will probably be 6-8 teams that are out of playoff contention from the midpoint of the season. In Europe, those teams are battling to avoid going down a division, which makes all their games relevant. Without relegation, there will be a bunch of teams playing many games with no meaning at all. That is the worst thing that could happen to the league and the emerging American soccer culture. If you had more than 20, you would have an already thin talent pool spread thinner and many team playing meaningless games in front of teeny crowds.

  15. Bolacuadrada says:

    I do not complain to the LA Times because I do not care what they write. The last time I bought the LA Times was in July 1994 when Brazil won the World Cup. I get my sports and MLS information from other sources. I think that the league shoud stop at 20 teams with a balanced schedule of 38 games plus 5 playoff games for the 2 teams that reach the final game. The major european teams play more than 50 official games per season. My favorite team in Brazil Sao Paolo has played 62 official games this year and will end up as Brazilian champion with 65 games played in three competitions. So lets make a major league of 20.

    • This One Guy In Detroit says:

      “I do not complain to the LA Times because I do not care what they write. The last time I bought the LA Times was in July 1994 when Brazil won the World Cup. I get my sports and MLS information from other sources.”

      It’s not about where YOU get information. It’s about where many others DO. People want big coverage in the LA Times because it would help build buzz for the team and for the match.

  16. Charles says:

    I agree Eric, but I am definitely not saying 30 teams overnight, but given that relegation will not work in this country for any sport, much less soccer….for the Euro lovers that think it can: Eric’s scenerio of being out of contention mid season is now out of contention at the start of the season, that only draws fans for EPL teams.

    I am just wondering, Philly, Vancouver, Portland, Montreal, Detroit and call it good ?

    That is leaving out a LOT of HUGE markets. I still don’t see a reason to not grow, if things are going well in a revenue sharing league.

    • Lars says:

      Philly, Vancouver, Portland, Montreal, Miami, actually.

      No team will go in Detroit, the company which bought the Pontiac Silverdome got a steam of a deal on the place, but also has a poor business plan. Pontiac and Detroit are shrinking markets.

  17. Charles says:

    Well, Des Moines ( suburb of Seattle ) is a good choice, but I was thinking more along the lines of
    Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, and Dallas…all in the top 10 cities pop. wise in the US. but not in MLS
    I disagree when you say MLB, and NFL over expanded, if soccer ( MLS ) over expands that way to be by far the most profitable league in the world, we will all be happy.
    The piece of cr-p basketball league, I dont care, I only hope the commish will quit or die and they return to Seattle.

    I appreciate what you said about not seeing teams enough in a big league. Houston and Seattle already have a rivalry going as they have played each other 5 times, all very close games.

    I have a feeling we will both get what we want, you get <20 teams for a long time, I get a lot more when it succeeds in 10 years.

    England was bigger…. CA 2008 was 36.7 million England 48-49 million

  18. ELAC says:

    I wonder if the lights go out during the final. Maybe when the Galaxy are behind.

  19. 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League says:

    RSL and the Galaxy will battle it out for the final USA Group Stage berth for the 2010-2011 CCL.

    RSL will be making their first ever CCL appearance. The Galaxy will attempt to regain the Concacaf crown they won earlier this century.

  20. man10utd says:

    Has anyone actually seen any commercials for the upcoming MLS Cup on ESPN??? I haven’t. Could be my timing.

    • andy in ohio says:

      i’ve seen some commercials on espn, espn2, and classic. it talks about the star players on the galaxy coming together to face the underdog RSL or something, its been on a few times last night and today 11/20

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  22. Hey guys,

    Just a heads up you have a terribly racist comment in the “MLS Must Reject Henry” article that you should probably get rid of.

  23. short passes says:

    Back to the topic at hand —MLS CUP, Landon’s Last Game in MLS—–
    No way is Landon going overseas. He doesn’t have the stomach for it. He came crawling back last time — couldn’t handle the foreign environment. That is one reason that I can’t be a full fledged Donovan fan. Yeah he’s probably the best US player produced yet but at bottom he lacks the professional toughness that is needed to move up to the next level.

  24. Cody says:

    I’m really pumped for this MLS Cup. I cant’ wait for the game: Beckerman vs. Beckham should be fascinating, and I want to see how Robbie Findley looks in a big game environment.

    If you want more MLS Cup discussion, check out World Football Daily today. The show will have Sean Wheelock from the BBC talking all things MLS Cup.


  25. Charles says:

    I agree with “Short Passes”

    Donovan isn’t going anywhere. Aside from him not having success in Europe, why would he ? I read ( dont know how accurate ) he is making $900k in the US. Sounds like pretty good money to not have to live in Europe as an American…competing for limited spots.
    I think it shows what the MLS needs to get to, to make the talent stay at home, if you can get superstars close to $1mm and other national team players in the $500k range, I think you keep them here.
    Plus the endorsements have to be better for an American at home versus an American in Europe.
    Would be curious what others think for salary levels that keep Nat team guys here ?

  26. man10utd says:

    I’m done with ESPN, this is madness. This is not American Football (ThrowBall) and as there are no timeout’s when are they going to use this new technology. I do not want to see virtuals lines on my screen nor anything else but footballers….typical EPSN rubbish..they won’t promote the match, but they will destroy it….I’m done with the plonkers……….

    MLS Cup 2009 TV highlights:
    • 19 cameras, including two super slo-mo cameras, steadicam, and skycam;
    • ESPN Axis, a U.S. domestic soccer virtual replay technology that allows analysts to use the telestrator to highlight the locations and movements of players on the field; and the Offside Line, which displays a virtual line affixed to the last defender to show viewers whether the referee’s offside decision is accurate on replays;
    • Unique graphic “heat maps” tracking star player movement during the match, measuring speed and total distance run by every player on the field

  27. Bolacuadrada says:

    I hope ESPN put the best show on TV for teh MLS final. I see American Football and they do an exceptional job there. Their highlights will be shown all around the world as proof that the Beckham experiment works. Go LA Galaxy.

  28. Charles says:

    ESPNs promotion of MLS absolutely ticks me off.
    The Sports Guy ( who seems to do whatever he wants ) did interview Landon Donovan. Pretty good interview as always with SG.
    ( http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/ )

    For the telecast on Sunday….I will be surprised if ESPN doesn’t nail it. The stadium is set up for NFL broadcasts which are televised extremely well.
    Some of the camera angles are beyond belief.
    But by nail it, I mean American style, probably tick off some…

  29. Jim Rome says:

    Hahaha. So which one of the players’ moms is going to pick them all up after the game with her minivan?

    Can’t wait for the orange wedges and Capri Sun that will be handed out at halftime!

    I’m sure all of America will flip from the Bears-Eagles game to watch a bunch of sissies play footsy with a ball for 90 pointless minutes.

    Your sport is a joke and a waste of time. You guys are the geeks from High School who the jocks used to pick on. Pathetic.

  30. Bolacuadrada says:

    Hey Rome (Wannabe or whatever),
    At least you care because you came to the forum. You are welcome anytime you want to talk about this sport.

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