SBD/Issue 48/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Would MLS Cup Win By Real Salt Lake Create Problems For League?

RSL Could Win MLS Cup Despite Having 
Losing Record During Regular Season
If Real Salt Lake (RSL) defeats the Galaxy in Sunday’s MLS Cup, it will become the “first club in modern times in any major sport to win a championship after finishing the regular season with a losing record,” creating a “thorny problem for MLS,” according to Martin Rogers of YAHOO SPORTS. An RSL victory would “raise concerns that the current playoff format offers too little reward for several months of toil during the year.” Most soccer leagues “operate on a single-table format without playoffs, meaning the team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned champion.” Finding a “balance between staying true to the roots of the sport and fitting in with a typical American sports model is a significant challenge.” However, MLS currently has “no plans to significantly alter its system and feels it has no need to do so.” League officials likely would spin an RSL title win to “highlight how their competition is one of the most open and evenly matched in the world” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/18). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler notes it is the “second straight year and fourth time in league history” that a team has reached MLS Cup after a losing record during the regular season. Zeigler: “Why let minor details such as a losing record throughout a grueling regular season deter your prospects of winning a championship?” Determining a championship "through the vagaries of a three-week playoff tournament instead of a seven-month, 30-game regular season is counterintuitive to the rest of the planet"  (SIGNONSANDIEGO.com, 11/18).

SUPPORT SYSTEM: In Utah, James Edwards reports RSL is "doing everything it can to increase the number of supporters" it has at Qwest Field for Sunday's championship game. The team has “worked out a deal with JetBlue to charter a flight on its RealBlue airplane to Seattle.” The cost is $325 and includes a ticket to the match, and is available “exclusively to RSL season ticket holders.” RSL supporter groups also have "arranged for two charter busses to Seattle." The cost is $120 per person and includes a ticket to the match (DESERET NEWS, 11/18).

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