MLS Cup Thoughts: Did I Really Get it Right or Just Get Lucky?

rsl win it all

Before the season, I picked Real Salt Lake to win the Western Conference and play in MLS Cup. Along with DuNord’s Bruce McGuire and a few other bloggers who made this prediction, I looked worse and worse as the MLS Regular Season wore on. My projection of RSL to win the West was based on the squad of players available, quality of goalkeeper and the depth the team has.

Yet with two weekend left in the MLS Regular Season, the Utah based club had the fourth worst record in MLS. Were RSL a European or Mexican club, they’d have been facing a relegation battle. Yet, they won MLS Cup, and deservingly so based on the balance of play in the postseason.

The reason I liked RSL so much in the preseason was on display last night. Great possession midfield play from Kyle Beckerman, the feel good story of MLS lifer Andy Williams, and the outstanding goalkeeping of Nicky Rimando.

Javi Morales injury could have been fatal to a side with less depth. But Garth Lagerway and Jason Kreis have painstakingly built a deep, athletic team which has the right mix of veteran savvy and youthful exuberance.

But does RSL’s playoff run make MLS look silly? I don’t believe so, but have to respect the opinions of those who do. Additionally, while Seattle is a great football city, playing the title game on rubber/plastic to me really took away from the game. Again, we can respectfully disagree on this, but my view on artificial surfaces is clear, and if MLS truly had the banner 2009 Commissioner Don Garber claimed, the least he could do for his players was the allow them to play the league’s showcase game on a natural surface- be that in Seattle with sod laid over the turf, or elsewhere.


I’ve read some message board postings in the last few days that bother me greatly. They’ve been written MLS supporters saying that the success of Seattle and Toronto means that Joey Saputo and Montreal can take a hike. Soccer United Marketing has done a great job of creating a Montreal Impact club, that has its own stadium with a NATURAL pitch, sells out almost every match despite being in a second division, nearly filled up a 60,000 seat stadium for CONCACAF play and has brought River Plate and Bordeaux (the French Champion who currently leads its UEFA Champions League group) to Stade Saputo this summer.  Oh and Montreal is the most savvy soccer/football city in North America. Sorry Toronto, and Seattle, Montreal did not need MLS gimmicks to be relevant. In the soccer savvy category, new MLS entrant and current USL city Portland would come second.

I actually believe MLS needs Montreal, both the market and owner, Joey Saputo than either needs MLS. Until MLS grabs Montreal it is an incomplete North American league whose map omits the obvious location for a successful football club in this part of the world.


My beloved Miami Fusion lived on with the MLS Cup triumphs of former Fusion players Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams, Nick Rimando, Jeff Cassar (RSL assistant) and Garth Lagerway (RSL GM). Additionally, Robin Fraser is an FIU graduate and grew up in south Florida. Los Angeles goalkeeper Josh Saunders spent last season with Miami FC, but I must admit he appears to be a more decisive and confident keeper in LA than he ever was in Miami.


This weekend’s press reflected a love fest with Major League Soccer. But for another perspective on the league, please read this Yanks Abroad piece with USMNT second all time leading scorer Eric Wynalda.Waldo knows the sport in this country and many of the concerns he voices about MLS have been echoed by me (and have gotten me the label as being a hater by some readers), but need to resolved if this league is ever going to move forward positively in a real manner, not just the somewhat superficial steps that the Commissioner and some in the soccer press keep promoting.

Another good reas is Reuters Simon Evans look at MLS’ upcoming challenges

12 thoughts on “MLS Cup Thoughts: Did I Really Get it Right or Just Get Lucky?”

  1. In the first half, I was very impressed by the speed in which LA Galaxy went on the attack and the amount of one touch passing. The pace was incredible.

    In the second half, I was amazed by how well RSL did in breaking down those attacks and preventing the Galaxy from getting the chances they needed to polish off the game.

    To me, this was a match that LA Galaxy should have won but they came up against a very skillful RSL team that played counter-attacking football that came through in the end.

    The Gaffer

  2. 1 post.
    It is very surprising to me how little interest there is in the playoffs and the most important game of the year.
    And see the other post on the game for what the 12 other comments are.
    “Disappointing”, “unwatchable”, “ho-hum” type comments prevail.
    Oh yeah and beautiful QWest filled with excitement…complain about the field.

    The game was back and forth, each team having chances, each team dominating play for a while, in the end it came down to as close as you can get, even on the penalties ( do goal keepers shoot was the question in my seciton ). IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE EXCITING.

    Yeah I can’t figure out why soccer doesn’t make it in this country…wow.

  3. Are you ghost speaking for Wynalda, Kartik?

    It sounds like one your rants. Not saying its wrong, just mildly amusing from this long time reader.

  4. Beckerman was the best player on RSL in regular and extra time. Rimando was the best in Penalties.

    Beckerman is truly a delight to watch play.

  5. If Montreal and Portland are your two shining examples of savvy football culture… We. Are. Fucked. The barely hidden government sponsorship of the Impact of course has to mean their culture is so huge, and intimately connected to the city. Let’s all show up in massive numbers on free tickets so MLST says we’re badass. Blah. And Portland? Their tifo was lacking this year, they showed more for a rivalry game with Seattle than their own USL championship game, and I’ve still yet to hear a song loud enough to be heard outside of “We are the Timbers”.

    Other than that, I agree about the turf in Seattle, but the even bigger joke is you suggesting laying sod over it. Yeah, let’s showcase the Cup Final of MLS on trays, and watch as half the players get carted off the field for injuries.


  6. The game was horrible- hardly watchable.

    The overnight ratings were 0.9 compared with the Euro Final which was a 3.2 and Confed Cup Final which was 2.7. So MLS despite all its bluster is not there.

  7. I agree on Saputo and Montreal 100% keep in mind if he joins mls he loses control to SUM and has to share revenues. He should continue to play hard to get with MLS and make the new NASL as strong as possible.

  8. >Soccer United Marketing has done a great job of creating a Montreal Impact club

    You high man?

    I have no idea what Soccer United marketing is but they had nothing to do with the Impact’s success. The Joe Bonanno related Saputo clan takes the credit (I know its been said but there are reasons Saputo couldnt expand to the northern US in the 80 and 90s and it had to do with their ‘connections’.)

    But marketing? In the USL? You are hallucinating.

    I checked, SUM is the MLS marketing arm so I repeat “THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MONTREAL’s SUCCESS.”


    Actually, one thing the USL got right is their website to watch all the games online. The MLS would be too daft to try something like that.
    In Canada, the MLS finals werent shown any of the three main sports networks or on CBC which are the ways we watched Toronto FC this year. No, the geniuses at MLS gave it to a specialized channel GOL so we got to watch the game instead on a online site. Of course the late start means the kids fell asleep by the half.
    I pay over 50 bucks a month for cable I dont watch (the sports stations run poker 9 times a week), I sure as hell wasnt paying for a specialized channel when I can get euro soccer on the three regular ones (watched Sund/Arsenal this weekend).

    I have yet to find someone (soccer fans, coaches, players) who watched the game, never mind who knew it was even this weekend.

    Good job, Garber,… if youre gonna go for a late start and put them on specialized channels, I presume the next step is pay per view MLS games. Lets make sure you have even less people watching.

    As TFC fan, that says ‘watch and encourage your team and if theyre not in the finals, just watch european soccer instead.”


    DDAY: take a breather dude. EVERY stadium in the US is built with government/taxpayers money. Saputo built their own stadium but were smart to incorporate the team as some sort of non-profit organization when they bought back the team from the guys who were bankrupting. That’s genius.

  9. Since he plays for Real Salt Lake and was on the winning team, is there still a legend of Clint Mathis, or was that only if he scored the winning goal? Mathis did make his penalty kick when Landon Donovan missed his.
    Boy, is that the tale of two different soccer player stories from the 2002 World Cup team, if there ever was one?

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