SBD/Issue 216/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Sellout Crowd Watches MLS All-Stars Defeat Chelsea 1-0

MLS All-Stars Help Validate
League With Victory Over Chelsea
Saturday’s MLS All-Star Game at Toyota Park drew a sellout crowd of 21,210 that witnessed MLS players defeat Premier League club Chelsea 1-0. In Illinois, Kent McDill wrote despite a “few congestion issues related to concession stands and souvenir booths, the stadium appeared to serve as a successful host to an event of international significance.” A “run on souvenirs tested the building’s preparations.” With just one permanent souvenir shop and two tents, the lines “were occasionally 20 deep.” Fire President & CEO John Guppy: “It is our biggest soccer crowd, bigger than the home opener. This was a big test for the building and I think it went well” (ILLINOIS DAILY HERALD, 8/6).

IMPORTANT WIN: Fire F Nate Jaqua said of MLS’ victory over Chelsea, “Everybody knows our league is improving and we are a good league. ... They were in preseason, but we were out there with world-class players and we were competitive. To beat them is a good experience” (ILLINOIS DAILY HERALD, 8/6). FC Dallas MF Richard Mulrooney: “This win is a small step for MLS and U.S. soccer. Obviously we still have the idea of what happened at the World Cup this summer, and that's probably going to stick around a while. But days like this definitely push that aside just a little bit.” Wizards D Jimmy Conrad added, “These games just show that the perceived gap between American soccer and European soccer is closing, at least perception-wise, and that we have players who can compete” (SI.com, 8/5). But United and MLS All-Star Game coach Peter Nowak said MLS “still has a long way to go” (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 8/5).

MEDIA REAX: SI.com’s Grant Wahl wrote the win over Chelsea “wasn’t confirmation that MLS has arrived as some sort of global power, or that the league somehow made up for the U.S.'s first-round exit at the World Cup. Chelsea was very much a team in preseason form and fitness.” But at ”at a time when MLS is moving in a positive direction ... the product on the field is starting to get a little bit better too” (SI.com, 8/5). In Chicago, Luis Arroyave called the win “an encouraging sign for the growing league” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/6). Also in Chicago, Len Ziehm wrote the victory “will be heard around the world” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/6). But ESPNSOCCERNET.com’s Jeff Carlisle wrote the “adrenalin rush will wear off and there are plenty of things that won't change.” Real progress “can only be measured in international club competitions” (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 8/5).

EXPANSION: MLS Commissioner Don Garber held his state of the league address on Friday and said that the league “expects to expand to 14 teams by 2008 and 16 teams by 2010.” Potential cities include Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Seattle, San Diego, Atlanta and Miami (DAILY SOUTHTOWN, 8/5). During halftime of ESPN’s MLS All-Star Game telecast, Garber said of expansion, “Cleveland’s really a front runner right now, but so is St. Louis. Good things are happening in Milwaukee, good things happening in a number of other cities. Very bullish” (ESPN, 8/5). Garber hosted a chat on MLSnet.com on Friday where one fan asked when he could buy tickets for a Philadelphia-area franchise. Garber: “Keep your [credit] card at the ready; we hope you’ll have an opportunity soon” (MLSNET.com, 8/4).

SUMMER CAMP: An announced crowd of 92,650 attended a doubleheader yesterday at the L.A. Coliseum featuring Chivas USA-Revolution and FC Barcelona-Chivas Guadalajara (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/7). Barcelona “is expected to continue drawing large crowds” when its plays Wednesday at Reliant Stadium against Club America and Saturday against the Red Bulls at Giants Stadium (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/6). Barcelona’s three-match U.S. tour “will earn the club a reported $6[M] and will be followed by more than 800 media from 20 countries” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 8/6).

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