Of course, mere attendance at stadia isn’t the full measure of a sport’s popularity. The indoor arenas of basketball and hockey have structurally smaller audience capacities than the capacious outdoor arenas of football. And percentage attendance at NBA and NHL games tends to be nearer capacity than attendance at soccer.
Trees? I'd like you to meet my friend, the forest.
Average attendance means NOTHING, people. MLS teams have seventeen league home games, NBA teams have...right now they have zero, but usually they have more than forty. And how much are tickets? What's the average price per person?
How much are sponsorships going for? How big are ratings? How are jersey sales? How much is MLS making in merchandising?
Look, MLS is growing, and that's wonderful. I'm glad I'm around for it. Cheering for the best team in America is a lot more satisfying now than it was in 1995 (sorry, Richmond Kickers fans).
But don't call me stupid.
Hey, I can come up with metrics that say MLS isn't even the third most popular soccer league in the US, let alone the third most popular sports league. If the only measuring stick we're using is sheer attendance, then MLS is still less popular than jury duty.
There are probably lots and lots of things MLS can be very proud of - they're expanding during the worst recession since the K-T Event, for God's sake. Why is this being pushed, in the face of common sense? It just makes people skeptical when actual good news is published.
Oh, well. Hey, playoffs. First of all, thank you, Seattle. That was a very exciting game. And cheer up, you guys are going to be amazing next year. Literally your only problem is replacing your admittedly awesome goalkeeper. Fortunately, your team is not run by Erik Soler, so yay.
Just look at how young the Sounders are. Look at how deep they are. They're going to lose someone to Montreal, fine, but so will everyone else. If Sigi can convince the Sounders there's no such thing as a playoff curse, and that Saturday's game was an unfortunate fluke, the Sounders will be truly obnoxious next year. Keep in mind, it's been Sigi's MO to take teams that previously thought they were unlucky, led them to initial severe disappointments, and brought them multiple trophies.
Anyway, we got the 2-0 result that will, hopefully, kill off the two-legged first round. Is Salt Lake better than Seattle? They were on Saturday, were not on Wednesday. Seattle had a better record, and are not advancing because Salt Lake was (barely) able to execute the 4-5-1 prevent defense.
Yes, it was exciting. But we should have one classic game in Seattle, instead of two very good teams taking turns playing idiotball. And, again, Salt Lake won't have that home game against the Galaxy (unless the latter gag against New York, of course; then RSL will be at home). So even if you do think RSL earned their semifinal place - an entirely defensible position, not least because it's true - then I'd like to hear why Salt Lake won't have a similar opportunity in the second round. If home and home is so wonderful (it ain't), let's have it every round.
I had unreasonable hopes that Don Garber would have announced progress on this front at halftime of the KC-Colorado rainout, but they're probably still arguing about it.
While I'm bitching about old, stale things - I like Brian Dunseth, I really do. He does a fine job in the second seat, and brings actual useful insight when required. (Maybe I'm just comparing him to Harkes. "They don't mean Pink Floyd's The Wall, they're talking about Kasey Keller!" Thanks, Ace, seeing Keller's name and jersey number on the sheet wasn't enough of a WHY IS HARKES ON MY TELEVISION AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH)
But Dunseth did trot out the tired, discredited cliche about The Most Dangerous Score in Soccer being 2-0. Comebacks from 2-0 are memorable precisely because it's so rare and difficult (US-Slovenia, MLS Cup 1996 - the late Gold Cup Final only made it look easy). The real most dangerous lead is 1-0, because that lead gets whittled away every single week in every league in the entire world. I'm sure it would be interesting to see, when the game becomes 2-0, how often it turns into 2-1, how often it stays 2-0, and how often it goes to 3-0...wait, no, I'm not sure that would be very interesting at all, never mind.
But apart from simple math, to US soccer fans, 2-0 isn't a dangerous score - it's a hallowed score. Too bad, really. I'll miss beating Mexico.
Oh, right, Kansas City-Colorado. Um, yeah, that's pretty much what we were likely to see out of the Rapids B-Team. People who hate playoffs have a good case here, because those weren't the real Rapids.
Sorry, I mean, the authentic Rapids. Don't wanna use the R-word in connection with Colorado.
Would the Wizards have beaten Colorado at full strength? They certainly don't put two on them in the high hills, I'll tell you that...although the whole point of my last eight points is that Colorado shouldn't have had a home game in the first place. Kansas City is also one of these incredibly young, up and coming teams.
And that crowd! In that weather! Cascadia might be a model for future expansion teams, but what Kansas City has done to revitalize their franchise is nothing short of inspiring.
Maybe it was the rebranding.
(It wasn't the rebranding.)