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Last Night's MLS Cup In Seattle Attracted A
Crowd Of 46,011 At Qwest Field
GOING OUT ON TOP: In DC, Steve Goff writes the "backdrop was everything that MLS had dreamt, a pulsating setting that evoked visions of soccer's feverish and sophisticated cauldrons in faraway lands." Last night's "drama and tension -- if not the quality of play -- served the championship stage admirably." Garber said, "It's a memorable night for soccer in America. The celebration of the sport in this city has been nothing short of spectacular." Goff notes perhaps the "only negative aspect of playing in Seattle was the artificial turf, which, even on a dry day, sends the ball skipping with unnatural pace" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/23). Garber at halftime addressed the playing surface at Qwest Field, saying, "We don't really have much of a choice here. ... You'd love to find a situation where we have grass everywhere" (DESERET NEWS, 11/23). In Salt Lake City, Gordon Monson notes the press area for last night's game was "full up, not just with reporters covering the L.A. Galaxy and RSL, not just with writers from Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City, but rather with media folks from London and Liverpool and Leeds and Leicester, and a lot of other places." This MLS Cup was "beyond national" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/23). In Seattle, Art Thiel wrote under the header, "MLS Cup Wasn't Pretty, But It Did Sparkle." A "splendid debut season for big-league soccer in Seattle, as well as a fun week of being a host city for a championship, ended awkwardly" last night with RSL defeating Beckham and the favored Galaxy (SEATTLEPI.com, 11/22).
SEATTLE SLEW: Galaxy coach & GM Bruce Arena said last night's MLS Cup "was a great moment for MLS." Arena: "The city of Seattle really embraced the MLS. It is a beautiful stadium. ... The fans really embraced the season and the team, and it's a fantastic story." In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes, "Short of Sounders FC making it to this game, Seattle soccer fans couldn't have asked for a better way to end this first season" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/23). Meanwhile, Garber said that the "time may have come for the final game to be played on the home pitch of the higher-seeded finalist." Garber: "I think we're getting to the point where the fans matter more than anything else. And a home fan deserves the right -- whether it's a small market like Kansas City or a temporary stadium like San Jose -- to host a final" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 11/23).
LOOKING AHEAD: AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke this weekend claimed that MLS is "preparing to allow a third designated player per club." Garber last night said, "It's clear that the L.A. Galaxy is a big proponent of the designated player rule, but I can assure you that no decision has been made and frankly no discussions are going to be held at the board level on the designated player rule or the salary budgets or any other things related to what we spend on players until after we get through our collective bargaining agreement negotiations." Meanwhile, Garber said an ownership group looking to bring MLS to Montreal was in Seattle for last night's game and the two sides are "making progress." He added, "We hope to have a 19th team in the league by 2012 and Montreal is still the leading candidate. But we have got some work to do, most importantly, that stadium needs to be renovated and expanded. It's probably not suitable for an MLS team today" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/23).
Beckham Confirmed He Will Return To MLS
Next Season After Another Loan To AC Milan
THIS TIME OF YEAR: Garber indicated that MLS "continues to resist" bringing the league's season in line with other soccer leagues in the world. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has urged MLS to do so, but Garber said, "It's not that we have to move to that calendar. President Blatter would love to see that happen. Judging by the weather here, it's kind of hard to imagine playing games here or in Canada in January or early March" (PASADENA STAR NEWS, 11/23).
Teams Told To Submit Names Of Independent
Doctors For League Approval
NEW POLICY A RESULT OF DC PRESSURE? In N.Y., Alan Schwarz reports the NFL appears to have "begun to embrace the value of outside opinion ... after an embarrassing hearing on the issue before the House Judiciary Committee last month in which the league was compared to the tobacco industry." Texans G and player rep Chester Pitts said, "I don't want to call it forced, but it's been strongly urged because of the awareness of the issue these days. When you have Congress talking about the antitrust exemption and them calling them the tobacco industry, that's pretty big. But it's a good thing it's transpiring." NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah in an e-mail said that the union had been "speaking with NFL officials for two weeks about implementing some sort of independent scrutiny for players who receive concussions -- perhaps including an outside doctor present at every game" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23).
PLAYERS SHOULD BE MADE TO SIT OUT: CBS' Boomer Esiason suggested the NFL implement a policy in which players sit out for four games after a first concussion in a season and are placed on the injured reserve list after a second concussion in the same season. Esiason: “If we’re all worried about concussions and the long-term effects, we have to start taking issues into our own hands” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/22).
Goodell Selects Tony Dungy To Head
Player Advisory Forum
TOO LATE IN THE GAME: CBS’ Charley Casserly reported prior to the recent four-game suspensions of Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe and Eagles DB Joselio Hanson, there were discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA “about reducing what is presently a four-game suspension for diuretics to something less than that.” Casserly: “Perhaps two games, perhaps a fine, perhaps a warning or any combinations of those things.” However, the union “did not want to agree to a lesser penalty because they still are opposed to the commissioner having full disciplinary authority. And they did not want to negotiate outside of the context of the negotiations that are going on right now on this whole CBA” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/22).
EMPHASIS ON WRONG BOWL? CBS’ Casserly also reported the NFL has sent a letter to teams telling them while players voted to the Pro Bowl from the two clubs playing in the Super Bowl will not participate in the game, it is "essential that they participate in the Pro Bowl player introductions." The Pro Bowl is being held the week before the Super Bowl this season, and Casserly said, "If you want to have a full practice at your facility the Monday before the Super Bowl, which teams have done, ... you’re not going to have all your players there for practice. How do you have a practice the week before the Super Bowl without all your players there? There’s a problem with that." A team's routine and on-field chemistry "the week of the Super Bowl should take precedence over promoting the Pro Bowl” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 11/22).
Fehr Aiding NHLPA In Search For New
POWER PLAY: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin notes hockey agent and former NHLPA Associate Counsel Ian Pulver appeared on the CBC’s "Hotstove" segment on "Hockey Night In Canada" on Saturday and "offered motherhood opinions about players needing to decide for themselves" the future of the union. He said, "It’s a players’ association, not an agents’ association." But Pulver’s fellow panelists on the show -- Mike Milbury and Pierre LeBrun -- "were not buying the blandishments on Pulver’s neutrality" over former NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly. Both “confronted him on his allegiance to the Ian Penny faction which has recently exited the PA after its failed purge this fall.” Meanwhile, former NHLPA Ombudsman Buzz Hargrove last week “was served with papers from the PA demanding the return of any and all confidential information in his possession and to cease and desist commenting on matters of confidentiality” (GLOBESPORTS.com, 11/23).
JOINING THE RUSH: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote recently-retired NHLer Brendan Shanahan “would be a tremendous addition to the PA, especially now that the players have begun to reshape the union’s constitution.” The union’s “need has never been greater for a smart, respected, high-profile player to come aboard in a position of weight and authority” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/22).