SBD/November 8, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Nor'easter Forces MLS To Postpone Red Bulls-DC United Playoff Match

MLS officials attempted to shovel snow off the playing surface at Red Bull Arena
MLS yesterday opened Red Bull Arena and "futilely attempted to play" Red Bulls-DC United Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 2 "in a snowstorm before finally postponing" until today, according to Filip Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. As a result, there were "several scenes ... aired on national television, that should embarrass commissioner Don Garber for years to come." MLS President Mark Abbott was "spotted on the field hopelessly shoveling snow." It was his "Bowie-Kuhn-without-a-coat moment." During the delay, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe "argued the game should be canceled." But DC United coach Ben Olsen "insisted it should be played." The Red Bulls had "emailed their most loyal supporters" and "offered them free tickets for their friends to help fill the arena, and then opened the gates." The delayed decision brought "controversy, inconvenience and anger when a simple, earlier decision would have avoided all that." If it "weren't for the NHL lockout, then MLS would have been the dumbest sports league in America on Wednesday." Bondy: "If MLS wants to be taken seriously, it needs to stop acting silly" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/8). Describing the deliberations between team and league officials, DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne said, "It's not like anyone was throwing things around the room, but we were pretty emphatic we wanted to play. A lot of the reason was our fans. We probably had more people in the building than they did" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/8).

ALL ABOUT THE FANS: In DC, Steven Goff notes, "An estimated 700 United supporters made the trip, arriving on 11 buses paid by MLS and the Red Bulls." The gesture "came in the aftermath of Game 1 being moved to Washington on three days' notice" due to Hurricane Sandy. After last night's postponement was announced, several DC United players, as well as General Partner Will Chang, "wound their way through the stands and ramps to join their backers in the upper deck and thank them in person" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/8). DC United MF Chris Pontius said, "I was following Will Chang and we were trying to figure out a way to get up there to them. ... They deserved us coming up there and thanking them like that." In N.Y., Brian Lewis noted Red Bulls fans struggled to make it to the stadium "with the PATH not running to Harrison, NJ Transit service scaled back and many Red Bulls fans still without power" (NYPOST.com, 11/7). MLS Exec VP/Competition, Technical & Game Operations Nelson Rodriguez: "We have great empathy for the fans. Especially those that made the effort to come to the area today in those conditions are your greatest fans. And it was with them in mind that we made every attempt to play the match tonight. Had it not been for them, it would have been a far easier and far earlier call to make" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 11/7).
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