SBD/Issue 51/Leagues & Governing Bodies

RSL Captures MLS Cup In Front Of Enthusiastic Crowd In Seattle

Last Night's MLS Cup In Seattle Attracted A
Crowd Of 46,011 At Qwest Field
Real Salt Lake defeated the Galaxy in a penalty-kick shootout to win MLS Cup last night in front of 46,011 fans at Qwest Field, the "largest crowd for an MLS Cup since the record crowd of 61,316 at Gillette Stadium" in '02, according to Don Ruiz of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. Fans wearing "bright green Sounders jerseys were prominent" at last night's game, but "fans showed up in jerseys from around the league and around the world." Many were "worn by visiting supporters" from L.A. and Salt Lake City (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 11/23). In N.Y., Mason Kelley writes the "atmosphere at Qwest Field was lively." While both the Galaxy and RSL were "well represented, fans of the expansion Sounders FC took advantage of one last chance to wear their rave green jerseys in 2009, one last chance to create a European-style atmosphere on MLS's biggest stage, with many standing the entire match." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "It's been absolutely fantastic. I've got to tell you, man. I was out taking pictures with my iPhone" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/23). Galaxy MF David Beckham said, "There was a buzz in town all week. It was very enjoyable" (SEATTLEPI.com, 11/22).

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
BECKS COMING BACK: Beckham last night reiterated he will return to MLS next season after another loan to AC Milan. Beckham also confirmed his interest in buying an MLS club after he retires, and Garber clarified that "Beckham's option starts with the MLS' 20th team, which won't arrive until 2012 at the earliest." Beckham last night said, "We've got options of which team (to buy). It will happen eventually, yeah" (AP, 11/23).

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).

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