MLS ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS? FINAL PLAYED AGAIN IN DOWNPOUR
A crowd of 57,318 attended the MLS Cup '97 at RFK
Stadium yesterday as DC beat Colorado 2-1 in a "cold rain"
(William Gildea, WASHINGTON POST, 10/27). MLS also awarded
its '98 championship game to the Rose Bowl, marking the first
West Coast site for the game (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).
YEAR IN REVIEW: MLS Commissioner Doug Logan: "I can
confidently say the terrible twos are over. We turned three
last week. The MLS is here for the long run. We are on the
right track" (S.F. EXAMINER, 10/25). More Logan: "In year
two, the gods were all against us. New York and L.A., for
much of the season, both were in last place and neither team
had an attractive personality. We had a freak number of
weather days. ... The fact that we have weathered it as well
as we have is a good sign." In reviewing the league's second
season, the AP's Brian Trusdell wrote that its "drop in
attendance and cable TV ratings was perhaps not as bad as
some might have expected" (AP/HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/26). In
L.A., Grahame Jones noted that with MLS' TV deal with
ABC/ESPN and Nike's $120M sponsorship deal with U.S. Soccer,
American soccer "is ending on an extraordinarily high note."
But MLS attendance "remains troublesome," TV ratings "also
were off," and stadiums "remain a thorny issue." MLS had
budgeted for a $23M operating loss in its inaugural season
"but actually lost" $4M less than that. This season, it will
lose slightly more than $13M, which was expected (L.A. TIMES,
10/26). In Hartford, Jerry Trecker wrote that while MLS has
demonstrated "health at the gate" and "staying power," the
quality of play "is still well below the top national league
standards of Europe and South America." Trecker: "If MLS has
already beaten the naysayers who predicted disaster, it has
yet to win over the general sports fan or talk show host"
(HARTFORD COURANT, 10/26)....In other news, MLS sold in first
"high-profile" U.S. player when it reached a deal to send
Crew goalkeeper Brad Friedel to the English League club
Liverpool for around $1.6M (WASHINGTON POST, 10/25).