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MLS Cup Ticket Issues

 Posted by on November 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm  Blogs/Media
Nov 272013
mls cup 2013 image

Only a mere couple days after winning their second leg and winning the right to host the MLS Cup the section holding Sporting Kansas City’s most vocal supporters the Cauldron sold out their ticket allotment in mere moments.

The impressive part was that the website was for a while overloaded with the amount of traffic created as the extreme demand for tickets is apparent with many normal fans who are looking for their chance to watch history.

Sporting KC season ticket holders had the opportunity to take part in the pre-sale for cup tickets.

As per MLS Cup rules with the new format where the team with the better regular season record will host the cup the away team, Real Salt Lake, receives a 1,000 ticket allotment for those fans, players, staff, partners to use.

With the release of tickets for Sporting KC RSL fans also had access to these tickets in a shock accident.


Nov 302012

Brian Sanders (@sportingkcgft) and Chris ‘UZ’ White (@uzworm) of preview the rematch of MLS Cup 2011 in this fun filled audio adventure.

Click here to listen

Feb 262012

The start of the 2012 MLS season is a little less than two weeks away, as the LA Galaxy will take part in MLS’s opening kick-off March 1oth at home to their 2011 Western Conference Finals opponent, Real Salt Lake. With the MLS Cup in tow this season, the Galaxy are a team with a bull’s eye on their back in 2012.

Now, on the verge of the nine-month campaign to retain their title, LA will have the added pressure of attempting to raise the CONCACAF Champions League trophy, while also looking to win an unprecedented third MLS Supporter’s Shield in a row, as the league’s best regular season team. Here is a closer look at a championship team that went from the verge of break-up just before the new year, to losing the leader of their league best defense, to now being tipped as a legitimate MLS “SuperTeam.”


Much of the talk around the Galaxy’s defense this season will revolve more on who isn’t there, as opposed to who is fielded for Bruce Arena’s side. As it were, that fateful day on a training pitch in Germany has had Galaxy fans on edge much of the offseason.
Of course, the reference is to the injury suffered by Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez while on loan with FC Nuremberg, in his first day of training no less! And cliche as it may be, you simply don’t replace a guy like Omar Gonzalez. Gonzalez was last year’s MLS Defender of the Year and the leader of a recording setting 2011 defense, a like for like replacement would be nearly impossible. So, filling the void left by Gonzalez are three players: a rookie, a returnee from injury and a goat.
With the brilliant partnership that Gonzalez and Galaxy defender AJ De La Garza forged last season, little do people remember they were not Arena’s first choice center back pairing at the beginning of the season. It was actually Gonzalez and Leonardo fielded at the start of the season, that is until the Brazilian went down to a knee injury early in the 2011 season. Arena has said Leonardo won’t be ready until April at the soonest, and judging by the minutes in pre-season, the rookie from Indiana University, Tommy Meyer, might be thrown directly into the fire at the start of the season. If he can’t handle the daunting task, Arena does have former Chivas USA (hence, the goat) defender Andrew Boyens ready to step in. Whatever the case at center back, the team does return 3/4 of the league’s best back line, including their new #1 in net.
While goalkeeper Josh Saunders anchored the team throughout much of the season and during the playoffs after former LA #1, Donovan Ricketts, suffered with injuries, questions are still abound as to whether Saunders can prove to be a top shot-stopper for an entire season. Arena seems to think so, as he shipped off the aforementioned Ricketts to expansion side Montreal Impact for, as we would find out later, a pivotal amount of allocation cash. And while pundits can still question if Saunders can do it a full season, it’s not as if the new LA #1 hasn’t played in high pressure situations, having guarded the nets in crucial CONCACAF Champions League group stage away games, as well as playing every minute of the MLS Cup playoffs last season. Saunders has been known for the occasional bad lapse in judgement, but also proved, especially in LA’s first playoff match away to NY, he can come up with the big save at the big moment when called upon.


If the team’s center back situation seems to be its weakest facet, the midfield has got to be its saving grace.
David Beckham returns after we were all but assured by the media he’d be strutting his stuff down the Champs-Élysées with PSG in December (all the media, expect this guy). The Englishman had an MVP-caliber 2011, and speaking of players that were all but gone, Beckham’s running mate in the center of midfield, Juninho, returns after initially leaving the club to return to São Paulo in Brazil.

Making matters worse the for the opposition this season, LA added another Brazilian, Marcelo Sarvas, as insurance for both Beckham and Juninho in the center of midfield. The creative attacker can play centrally and wide on the left in midfield, and along with Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, the team could field arguably the most talented MLS midfield of all-time from right to left, if they so choose. However, look for Sarvas to spell Juninho and Beckham when needed, with fan-favorite and playoff hero Mike Magee on the midfield’s left wing and Donovan taking up the freer role on the right side of midfield.


For a team that couldn’t find a consistent forward, let alone forward pairing, much of the season, LA now looks set up top in 2012.
After the arrival of Robbie Keane to the LA mix late last season, the Galaxy spent months trying to figure out exactly who to pair with the former Spurs’ man. A steady rotation of Adam Cristman, Paolo Cardozo, and Chad Barrett led to even Donovan having to move forward from midfield at times to provide Keane with an adequate partner in the LA attack. Although Barrett did catch fire late in the season, much of it happened with Keane out due to injury, and then Barrett was felled by a freak injury of his own just before the 2011 MLS Cup. But nevertheless, the team still triumphed over the Houston Dynamo, with Donovan again having to push forward from midfield to net the lone goal of the match.
Enter LA’s not so long-lost leading scorer of 2010: Edson Buddle.
Returning from his travels in Europe, Buddle is a serious upgrade at the forward position, and likely to waltz right into the Galaxy starting XI. In 2010, Buddle netted 17 times without the benefit of a healthy Beckham a majority of the season. The partnership of Buddle and Keane in front of the team’s marvelous midfield options has fans anxious to start the 2012 season.
Defense be damned! With a team this talented in going forward, the 1 – 0 affairs we were so use to seeing from the Galaxy last season (11 total last season) might just turn into some goal-happy shootouts around the Home Depot Center in 2012.


It’s important to note with the addition of a 19th team this season (Montreal Impact), all of MLS will be playing an unbalanced schedule this season. Instead of home and away dates with each team in the league, teams will be playing every team at least once, but playing more in conference.
How does this affect the Galaxy? Well, the back-to-back Supporter’s Shield winners will benefit from less travel, as they will play more games against Western Conference foes, but in a stacked West, LA’s quest for back-to-back-to-back Supporter’s Shields might be a little more difficult than in years prior. With a team like Sporting KC on the rise, and having more games against weaker Eastern Conference competition, LA’s quest for the league’s regular season title might be even tighter than last season when Seattle faded towards the end. To reach the top, a team has to win the games in front of them regardless of the competition, but no team has captured three consecutive Supporter’s Shields, so it’s something to keep an eye on in 2012.


With the London Olympics taking place in August and Euro 2012 set to kick off in Poland and Ukraine in June, the Galaxy will be without two, and up to four, players for a chunk of games in the middle of the 2012 season.
David Beckham was integral to London’s luring of the Olympics, and it is said a stipulation in his new contract provides him ample time to compete with Team Great Britain in the games this summer. And while it is not likely Beckham will see time during England’s Euro 2012 campaign, Robbie Keane will be captaining his Ireland squad in their first major tournament in 10 years.
Other than Keane and Beckham missing time, also likely joining Becks in London is midfielder Michael Stephens, assuming the U.S. can qualify for the games. Stephens has been called up to coach Caleb Porter’s U-23 squad in recent weeks, and would likely be a fixture in the teams midfield. With Olympic sides being allowed three overage players at the games, captain Landon Donovan has also expressed his willingness to play in London if called upon, and could be a very solid choice for Porter.

Injuries, outside competitions, summer tournaments, unbalanced scheduling, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena has a tough task ahead in coming 2012 season. How far the Galaxy go will greatly rely on his man-management skills this season. The former USMNT coach is adept at plugging in players when needed, and after bringing LA back to MLS Cup glory last season, there is little doubt he is capable of doing it again in 2012 (Arena won consecutive MLS Cups with DC United in the 1996 and 1997 seasons). Like RSL in 2011, the Galaxy will have the “Quadruple” on their minds (MLS Cup, Supporter’s Shield, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League trophy), a feat justifying their “SuperTeam” status.

LA’s Track Record in Recent MLS SuperDrafts Might Ease the Pain of Gonzalez Loss

 Posted by on February 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm  Uncategorized
Feb 172012

Most teams heading into the 2012 MLS season boasting a possible starting XI including Edson Buddle, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and David Beckham in attack, and AJ De La Garza, Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant protecting the MLS surprise goalkeeper of 2011, Josh Saunders, in the back likely wouldn’t see a gaping hole still existing in their starting line-up. Then again, most MLS teams are not back-to-back Supporter’s Shield winners and MLS Cup holders, the LA Galaxy.

When reigning MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez went down in Germany with a major knee injury, likely keeping him out until September, fans and critics of the Galaxy alike noted the difficulty the team would have in replacing the 6’5” defender and organizer of the league’s best defense. And while 3/4 of the league’s top back line return healthy and ready for the start of LA’s season, the search for the defender capable of stepping into Gonzalez’s massive boots continues.

But in a recent post to his ESPN LA soccer blog (see it HERE), Galaxy beat writer Scott French floated the possibility of team having found their new “man in the middle” in the guise of their MLS Superdraft 1st round pick, Tommy Meyer. After pursuing many options abroad, including Panamanian Ramon Torres, it would appear the Galaxy are staying pat with the current players they have available in the squad.

Yes, Meyer is a rookie, four-year college player replacing the current Galaxy, and possible future US National Team, defensive anchor, on a team looking to capture the CONCACAF Champions League trophy and repeat as MLS Cup champions. And yes, you might start thinking the Galaxy’s only hope now is switching from the staunch, near record-setting defense they displayed last season, to a team whose only desire is to score just one more than their opponents in 4 – 3 games all season.

Now before your mind starts racing further, take a look at LA’s track record in drafting defenders under coach Bruce Arena. Meyer is the 4th defender Arena has picked in the SuperDraft during his tenure with the LA Galaxy. The other three? Only recent USMNT call-up AJ De La Garza, All-Star and former Rookie of the Year (at centerback) Sean Franklin, and as you probably already guessed, Gonzalez, a Rookie of the Year winner in his own right. All SuperDraft draftees and all from the college ranks like Meyer, and all have gone on to have large amounts of success in their MLS careers so far.

The loss of Gonzalez definitely smarts, no doubt. Meyer has seen a lot of minutes so far with De La Garza in the center of defense, but is still learning and bound to make mistakes. And while last season’s other starting centerback, Leonardo, recovers from his own major knee injury, it looks increasingly possible the defender from Indiana University will be in the Galaxy starting XI come their CONCACAF Quarterfinals match-up with Toronto FC and MLS Kick-off Match with Real Salt Lake.

Once Leonardo returns to full fitness, which Arena says is likely in April, LA will have another centerback capable of stepping into their starting XI, and one they originally trusted next to Gonzalez at the start of last season (De La Garza initially started 2011 at fullback before partnering Gonzalez when Leonardo went down). But with Arena’s track record in selecting high quality defenders in the SuperDraft — two of the last four Rookie of the Year winners have been from the Galaxy, and both defenders — the team might be hoping Meyer is their third go-around of SuperDraft gold, also giving the team the centerback depth they so desperately craved even before Gonzalez went down.

2012 LA Galaxy Will Put Arena’s Man-Management to the Test

 Posted by on February 10, 2012 at 6:59 am  Uncategorized
Feb 102012

Rebuilding is for suckers.

Less than two months ago, the MLS Cup holding LA Galaxy were hurtling towards the start of the upcoming MLS season with the possibility of being sans MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, MLS All-Stars David Beckham and Juninho, and team captain Landon Donovan. Four players integral to the team’s MLS Cup run of 2011, and the justification outsiders gave for deeming the Galaxy, version 2012, a rebuilding team in recent months, MLS Cup or not.
Even as the team rung in the New Year having successfully wooed David Beckham away from the oil-soaked millions of Paris-St. Germain and team MVP, Donovan, was confirmed to not be extending his Premier League stay despite the longing of Everton to keep him, critics and supporters around the league still brandished the rebuilding moniker for a team that appeared set to be without its championship-caliber spine of Juninho and Gonzalez.
That was until Tuesday.
Unable to find space in the Sao Paulo team back in his native Brazil, the samba returned, as Juninho was loaned back to the Galaxy for the 2012 season. And just days prior, former Galaxy leading-scorer and USMNT forward Edson Buddle had also decided to return after a less than promising excursion in the lower the divisions of European football. Needless to say, the tune of rebuilding playing softly in the background of the Galaxy’s preseason had its needle abruptly pulled away, replaced with a growing chant of “superclub” taking it’s place.
On paper, the team appears every bit capable of fielding nearly two competitive starting XIs on any given day, giving coach Bruce Arena the best kind of selection headache possible for the upcoming season, but still one in need of adept handing from a master of man-management.
Having led the U.S. in multiple World Cups, Arena is no stranger to a large talent pool though. While there would appear to be too many stars to keep content with the minutes at Arena’s disposal this upcoming season, a closer look shows the Galaxy boss may have lucked out in some of his upcoming selection decisions.
Preparing for the possible departure of both Beckham and Juninho from the Galaxy midfield, the team signed talented Brazilian, Marcelo Sarvas, from Costa Rican side Alajuelense. Sarvas is an adept, on-the-ball midfielder with a bit more creativity going forward than Juninho, but also no stranger to a decent tackle that before Beckham’s return may have been asked the daunting task of replacing Juninho and the Englishman. But as it became more likely Beckham would be returning, it seemed Sarvas would be a decent enough partner in midfield, even if he did provide a little less protection than his Brazilian countryman. With Juninho’s return though, and throwing into the mix Donovan, youngsters Michael Stephens and Dan Keat, and playoff revelation Mike Magee, it would appear the Galaxy may have one too many midfielders in Arena’s 4-4-2 system.
A closer look at LA’s fixtures this season paints a slightly different picture for Arena’s perceived midfield logjam. While the team kicks off the MLS regular season at home on March 10, their first competitive match will take place days before in their CCL Quarterfinal first-leg match with Toronto FC in Canada. Of course, with Buddle and Juninho now back in the fold, LA is being tipped as heavy favorites in their match-up, and the competition as a whole. Even before this week, team maintained the CCL trophy, and subsequent invitation to FIFA’s Club World Cup, was a goal, but it’s important to note Sarvas‘ old side, Alajuelense, faced the Galaxy in the group stages of the tournament. Having played for another club in the competition, Sarvas is cup-tied and unable to take part in the rest of the competition, making the Juninho capture all the more important.
And while the team was very excited to welcome Beckham back for the 2012 MLS season and CCL run, Beckham and management did work out a provision allowing him the time needed this summer to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London. Taking place in the middle of the MLS season, Beckham is likely to miss a month or more worth of matches for LA, yet again opening a pivotal spot in midfield for Arena, and plenty of playing time for Sarvas, Juninho, Keat and Stephens to vie for, although Stephens may also be taking part in the Summer Games but with the U.S. team.
Also worth noting, while no one would question the Galaxy taking the opportunity to bring back Buddle, he too will play an important role in filling key minutes. The USMNT striker is almost assured a starting place next to Robbie Keane this season, but the Irishmen will also be missing time this summer when he heads to Euro2012 with Ireland. Buddle will be expected to net his fair share of goals with Keane in the line-up, but his presence will be that much more important for a team that cried out for goals from forwards last season, and while Keane takes his leave from the team in June.
From rebuilding to a full house, Arena would be the first to admit its the type of problem he’d like to have any season. But if the Galaxy are to lift the MLS Cup at Home Depot Center again this upcoming season, it will have been down to Arena’s managing of embarrassment of riches he’s amassed in recent weeks.

2012 Schedule Format a Good Start

 Posted by on December 6, 2011 at 1:17 am  Uncategorized
Dec 062011

With the introduction of Montreal there will also be an unbalanced schedule.  Teams will play more games against their conference rivals and the piece that I really like is that MLS cup will be held in the city of the finalist with the most regular season points.  This should really give extra incentive to make it to the final and also prevent some of those snore fests where the host city would usually not have their team playing the final.  I remember the MLS Cup final in Toronto not so long ago, it pained me to host it without having TFC in the final.  To top it all off Marvel Wynne played an MLS cup final at BMO, but not the way I wanted it to happen!

Hot Time In Old Town (2012 Schedule Format)

Hollywood Ending for Beckham and Galaxy

 Posted by on November 21, 2011 at 5:05 am  Uncategorized
Nov 212011

Much was made of the Galaxy’s Big 3 heading into this match, and the team’s three designated players were obliged not to disappoint.

David Beckham to Robbie Keane to Landon Donovan Donovan, a combination made in MLS heaven. And one found regularly on the pitch at the Home Depot Center since the Irishman’s arrival from Tottenham in August. Seventy-two minutes into MLS Cup 2011, the dream trio combined for possibly it’s last goal in MLS.
Albeit, possibly their biggest.
Having spent 71 futile minutes and countless chances in the Houston Dymano end, the Galaxy found headway on a harmless throw-in at midfield.
In the 72nd minute, Beckham deftly flicked a soft header into the path of an onrushing Keane with space to challenge the Houston Dynamo back line. Generally the finisher of such moves, Keane opted instead to cutback for the bursting diagonal run of striking partner Donovan, and though clean through on Dynamo keeper Tally Hall’s goal, Donovan, still with work to do, flipped a cheeky lob with the outside of his right foot that Hally could only manage to get a hand on. Trickling towards the Dynamo net, the shot had just enough pace to elude the attempts of the Dynamo defense to give LA a 1-0 lead.
And while LA was presented with chance after chance through out the match, three of which by way of Adam Cristman in the first half alone, one goal was all the league’s best team could must. One goal was all the 2011 MLS Cup champions would need.
Playing in front of their home support, the Galaxy rarely looked challenged by a Dynamo team missing it’s best player in Brad Davis — Davis went down in the match leading up to the final with a muscle tear. As the minutes ticked by, and chance after chance was squandered, it appeared the Galaxy and its fans feared a looming penalty shootout — and a rehash of a tragic 2009 MLS Cup defeat in spot kicks — more than it would the chances of a Dynamo goal.
And so, as Donovan’s shot slowly made its way to the awaiting Dynamo net, there could almost be heard a sigh of relief from the nearly 30,000 strong at the Home Depot Center Sunday night. And just 18 minutes later, the party was in full effect for the LA faithful, as Beckham and Donovan embraced for their first championship together.
Much will now be made of the Galaxy’s Big 3 again, as Beckham’s contract comes to an end and rumors continue to swirl. Opposing fans will rail against the team’s large wage bill and alleged “favorite child” status with the league’s front office. But for one night, LA will stand atop the MLS as its best team over the 34 game season and the winner of the tournament that is the playoffs.
LA Galaxy, 2011 MLS Cup Champions.

MLS CUP 2011 Preview Extravaganza and Stat Blowout

 Posted by on November 17, 2011 at 3:52 am  Uncategorized
Nov 172011

Sunday will be home game No. 20 of the 2011 MLS season for the LA Galaxy. Oh, and the MLS Cup final.

The playoff’s top seed and Supporter’s Shield winner didn’t necessarily benefit from netting the most points over the course of the 34-game season having flown cross-country to meet arguably the league’s most talented team in the NY Red Bulls, only to then have to get past the 2009 MLS champions in the team’s 19th home match to reach the final. But if the Galaxy can take comfort in anything, it’s the 14 – 5 – 0 record at home this season and playoffs. Win No. 15 at home will not only secure an undefeated season and playoffs at home in 2011 — the team is also undefeated at home in CONCACAF matches — but will also see them capture the their third MLS Cup, and first since 2005.

Opposing the Galaxy Sunday will be the playoff’s 7th seeded team, 2nd in the Eastern Conference, the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo had a fairly comfortable road to the final, beating the Philadelphia Union home and away, before an impressive win at Kansas City. A win made even more impressive when you consider that their team MVP, and potential league MVP, Brad Davis left the match injured after just the 38 minutes.

Without Davis, the Dynamo are fairly limited. He is their main source creatively, coming in from the left side of midfield, and their dead-ball specialist. Though, when Davis went down in the Eastern Conference final, the team didn’t seem to skip a beat in the hostile environment of Livestrong Park.

The Galaxy are not without their own injury woes, although to a far less influential player. Chad Barrett suffered a freak ankle injury in training leading up to the final, effectively rendering him out for season. While Barrett was not in contention for the league, or even team, MVP by any stretch, he managed to put a nice streak of goals together to end the season and it seemed he had found some chemistry with LA’s Robbie Keane.

Speaking of the team’s Irish superstar, Keane returned to the team just days ago from Euro2012 qualifying playoffs with his national team. Worries are he might be worn and weary from travel, but after the Irish’s 4 – nil stomping at Estonia, Keane was able to coast through a 1 – 1 win Tuesday in Ireland, and celebrate a Euro2012 berth with his squad (there first since 1988). Keane had previously been injured in the final games of qualifying, putting his MLS playoffs in doubt, but after a quicker than anticipated recovery and a goal against RSL in the Western Conference final, and two more versus Estonia, the striker might just be finding form at the right time for the Galaxy.

Who will partner with Keane up top is the real question though.

Much of the attention has centered on forward Adam Cristman. The hulking striker has worked well in the past holding up play and harassing opponent’s back lines for Keane, and speculation is he’ll be called in for a shift on Sunday. However, don’t be surprised if manager Bruce Arena opts for Landon Donovan leading the line, as he has the technical ability to link with Keane, and we could even see the Galaxy’s leading goalscorer in the playoffs, Mike Magee, move from midfield to forward, with Chris Birchall taking his spot at left mid. The Dynamo boast two tall center backs, Arena’s though process may be to pull them out of position with smaller, fleet-footed forwards allowing Keane, Donovan or Magee to exploit the spaces left behind.

Whatever the pairing up top, the team’s league low eight goals against at home means goals are likely to be at a premium in this match. Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzalez, AJ De La Garza and Sean Franklin have been stellar all season — when are we going to get to see an all Galaxy back line for the national team, Jurgen? — and Josh Saunders has made big saves so far in the playoffs, only giving up 2 this postseason, while Houston has only seen one ball hit their nets in the playoffs. So, don’t expect a shootout in this final. A terse, organized affair from both sides might not be the prettiest of games, and it may come down to the team that makes the least mistakes in the match.

The Teams by the Numbers

22- The amount of set piece goals the Dynamo have scored on this year (stat courtesy of Luis Bueno, Galaxy beat writer for Centerback Omar Gonzalez was defender of the year in MLS and will have to be on his toes, as the Dynamo have quite the height advantage over LA’s preferred starting XI.

0- Number of Galaxy losses at home. It’s been said already, but it bears repeating. The Home Depot Center is a fortress for this team, and ever since it was announced they’d host the MLS Cup, there has been a lot of pressure to get to this game in front of their home supporters. LA shouldn’t need anymore motivation than the cup itself, but an unbeaten 2011 at home might be an added incentive.

1- Team has won the MLS Cup at home. DC United pulled off the feat way back in 1997, with only the NE Revolution making the cup at home since in 2005. They of course lost to the Galaxy that year.

14- Assists for David Beckham and Brad Davis this season to lead MLS. The Dynamo are saying Davis won’t play a part in MLS Cup, but look for Beckham, 3 assists in the playoffs so far, to add to that total. Mark my words, set pieces will be key for BOTH teams in this match.

6- Dynamo losses on the road the season. In comparison, LA only lost 5 times both home and away. Houston has been bunkering down all week, creating a siege mentality to enter this match, can they pull off what would likely be a huge upset?

3- Times the Home Depot Center has hosted the MLS Cup before. This will be LA’s first time being a part of a HDC MLS Cup final.

0- Number of MLS Cups David Beckham has hoisted in his 5-year MLS career, and number of games many are saying he will have left in MLS after the final. When you’ve captained the most soccer crazy (keyword: CRAZY) country in the world in England, have won the Champions League, and been runner-up in the Ballon D’or and World Player of the Year voting, it’s not likely an MLS Cup will be the most prominent piece of silverware on your mantle. But David is a consummate professional and played inspired all season. IF this is to be his last MLS game, he’d likely want a similar result to the one he had before coming to MLS: a league title


LA Galaxy 2 – Houston 1

MLS and the playoffs structure

 Posted by on November 11, 2011 at 3:32 am  Uncategorized
Nov 112011

MLS has always been a controversial league, a football league built differently and therefore target of polemic opinions. People still remember it as the one with countdown clock and games decided in
shootouts instead of penalty kicks. Nowadays, after several changes in the league operations, it is still criticised for the salary cap on the teams, player ownership by the league, no promotion / relegation,
non-aligned FIFA calendar and Playoffs format to decided the champion. 

The way professional sports are designed in North America has made the people to give little importance to regular season performance and all the importance to the playoff elimination style at the end of the
season. This is where the MLS cup playoffs are criticised when compared with Europe, where the team with most points earned all year long wins the league.

The most recent Playoff format was designed to give the Supporter’s Shield winner home field advantage in every series to make its way easy to the MLS cup final compared with the last seed qualified so the
league. As an example you can see how it turned out for LA Galaxy so far, beating the Red Bulls with the 2nd leg and decisive game at home and beating the single elimination match up against Real Salt Lake at
home too to advance to the MLS Cup Final.

Another addition to the new format is the wild card playoff game which gathers the last 4 qualified teams (of the 10 playoff teams in total) to play single elimination game and make their way to the conference semifinals. So the 7th team receive at home the 10th team and the 8th team receive at home the 9th team. This has been
also created polemic conversations around how the league is encouraging mediocre performances throughout the season awarding so many playoffs spots.

In my opinion playoffs are an exciting way to end a long season. Playing elimination match-ups leads teams and players to rise their competition level generating more memorable  sports moments. I’ve been
following Italian and Spanish leagues since I was 10 years old and very few seasons have had exciting endings and when that happens it depend on other’s team performance to win the league. One of the most
exciting league endings was the 2006-2007 La Liga last match day of the season where  Barcelona had to beat Gimnastic and wait if Real Madrid tied or lost its game against Mallorca to win the league, and
again, it was exciting but in  this situation teams like Mallorca or Gimanstic has nothing to win or lose and there is when corruption plays an important role, specially when a powerful and wealthy team
like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or AC Milan are involved. When you have playoffs you avoid many of this situations and competition is more direct.

About the wild card games I also think are the right way to go on this league, I totally bought Commissioner Don’s Garber idea when he explained that the fan base needs to be created in order to grow the sports popularity in North America. It is exciting for fans to have playoffs expectations at the end of the season and the
opposite of this is the Major League Baseball where 8 teams out of 30 reach the playoffs and you can see a team in July knowing they have no chance to participate in October’s playoffs. It is the case of the
Toronto Blue Jays since they are in ultra competitive American League East division (Yankees and Red Sox) they have almost 2 decades without a playoff game and therefore a hard way to maintain their fan base
motivated. Whereas In leagues like NBA and NHL, 53% (16 out of 30) of the teams reach a playoff spot. The ratio in MLS is 55% (10/18), as explained, I really don’t have any problem with it.

The only problem I really see with the MLS Cup Playoffs current structure is the fact it is divided by conferences (east and west) but the calendar is balanced so you play 2 games with each team. In my
opinion is either one or the other, but you can’t have a balanced schedule and have playoffs fixture divided by conferences making unfair matchups like Seattle (2nd best record overall) vs Real Salt Lake (3rd best record overall) eliminating themselves in early rounds and Sporting Kansas City (5th best record overall but first in the
east) treated like 2nd best team in the league arriving easily to the eastern conference finals. This makes absolutely no sense to me and has to change soon. Last update from Don Garber last week announced the calendar will be unbalanced and therefore conferences will make more sense. 

For Galaxy Sunday is About Getting to MLS Cup Final, Not Revenge for ’09

 Posted by on November 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm  Uncategorized
Nov 052011

On Sunday at the Home Depot Center, two of MLS’s better teams of the past three years will meet for a chance to play in the MLS Cup final two weeks later on Nov. 20. No strangers to the MLS Cup, the match between the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake will be a rematch of the teams that met in the 2009 edition of the Cup, with LA losing to RSL on penalty kicks in the match two years ago.

Heading into the MLS Cup Playoffs, RSL looked to be a team primed to be knocked out right away. Stuggling to end the season and winless in their final six, the 2009 champion’s task was made worse as they drew the league’s 2nd ranked side, the Seattle Sounders, in the playoffs. But to the shock of many, RSL raced out to a 3 – 0 lead at the end of their first leg contest with Seattle, and held on to eliminate the Sounders in a 2 – 0 return leg defeat, advancing to Sunday’s Western Conference Final.
“They have some very talented players, I know they had a very rough close to the season,” said LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena. “But the way this thing works in our league it doesn’t matter, you’re in the playoffs and you’re competing for a championship, and that’s where they are right now.”
Among the players the Galaxy will have to look out for Sunday, midfielder Javier Morales, who recovered recently from a serious ankle injury earlier in the season, will be someone to keep a particularly close eye on. The creative Argentine picked up two assists in RSL’s opener with Seattle and is key to their attack.
On the other side of the pitch, the home side comes off two hotly contested matches with the NY Red Bulls, having finished off NY Thursday 2 – 1 at the Home Depot Center. The quick turnaround of the match Sunday will provide the Galaxy with the added challenge of getting players fit following the cross country travel to NY and high tempo of the previous two matches.
“This is maybe the 10th time these year we’ve done this,” said Arena of his team’s short break between games. “We know how to recover from it, it’s never easy, but we will get our team recovered.”
Defender Omar Gonzalez echoed his manager’s sentiments saying, “the trainers are gonna have a lot of work… it’s a short turnaround so we are going to have to hydrate, kick up the legs a bit and just relax.”
One boost for the Galaxy will be the return in central midfield of Juninho, who was suspended in the aftermath of the altercation between LA and NY following the teams’ first leg match. Chris Birchall did well deputizing the Brazilian Thursday, but the amount of protection Juninho provides to the Galaxy back line and his understanding with David Beckham has been pivotal to the Galaxy’s success in all competitions. His return to the starting XI should sure up a midfield that was plagued by the withdrawn play of Thierry Henry in the last match, and will be keeping a close tabs on Morales, who plays in a similar spot on the pitch for RSL.
One thing is for sure though, LA isn’t look beyond this game.
“The final’s not here, yet. We have to go past Salt Lake first, you know take it one game at a time,” said Gonzalez. “Hopefully we will get past Salt Lake, and then we’ll take it from there.”
Midfielder Mike Magee echoed LA’s focused approach, mindful of the team’s loss at this same juncture last year.
“Against Dallas last year we got absolutely smashed looking forward to the MLS Cup. We have a majority of the same guys back so that’s not going to happen again this year,” said Magee.
As for revenge, it’s all about advancing to the final and winning an MLS Cup for LA. Revenge is taking a backseat this Sunday.
“There’s no revenge about any games that we play in,” said David Beckham of Sunday’s match. “But of course we want to beat them. It’s simple as that.”