Colorado Beats Dallas to Win MLS Cup But Empty Seats Cast a Dark Shadow

The 2010 MLS Cup Final is over. While congratulations need to go to Colorado Rapids for winning the final, the lasting memories for me from this final are (1) some world-class saves by Kevin Hartman and Matt Pickens, (2) some awful refereeing decisions by Baldomero Toledo, and (3), worst of all, the embarrassing number of empty seats at BMO Field after the second half kicked off.

While it was a very evenly balanced game, this one will not go down in history as one of the most exciting. There were moments of excitement but the match was played, for the most part, in midfield with both teams failing to keep possession of the ball for long periods of time before the opposition picked up a loose ball or a stray pass. If only the entire 120 minutes of the game were more like the last few minutes of extra time, which saw a flurry of near misses from FC Dallas that went agonizingly wide. Instead, the MLS Cup Final was decided by a fluke own goal. Out of the three goals scored, the only one that was class was FC Dallas’s first and only goal after a sublime cross from Marvin Chavez was beautifully hit into the net by David Ferreira.

As for Baldomero Toledo, the number of poor decisions the referee made were far too many to mention. He let the game on for far too long without stamping his authority on it, even with players lashing out with wild kicks, several pushing matches and other unsavory incidents. The most obvious mistake by Toledo was his failure to red card Jair Benitez for a blatant kick out at Conor Casey in the box which was then followed by a trip on Casey. Bizarrely no red card was issued and no penalty was awarded.

Meanwhile, if you think Toronto FC will host a MLS Cup Final again in the near future, you can say goodbye to those dreams. Many Toronto FC supporters reportedly staged a mass walkout at half-time in protest against the MLS Cup Final being counted as one of their season ticket package. That decision was embarrassing for Major League Soccer, but also I believe will end up hurting Toronto supporters more than helping them.

Unfortunately the list of items that MLS commissioner Don Garber needs to fix in Major League Soccer is beginning to resemble a laundry list. The poor officiating and disgruntled Toronto FC supporters need to be high on the list. Also I believe that MLS’s decision to increase the number of playoff spots from 8 to 10 is a mistake. The league, despite growing in size next year, should have kept the number playoff spots at 8, to make the regular season more meaningful and to make the playoff spots a reward, not an entitlement.

What are your impressions of the 2010 MLS Cup Final? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

36 thoughts on “Colorado Beats Dallas to Win MLS Cup But Empty Seats Cast a Dark Shadow”

  1. I think the game was honestly brutal to watch for long stretches of time. Just like you said, there was little possession – way too much booting it back and forth in the midfield. The crowd was definitely embarrassing, and looked even emptier when extra time started.

    I think they should go even lower in number of playoff teams. Six teams with the top two getting first-round byes is what I would do. Ten is ridiculous – it’s like the NBA where a .500 team gets to be in the playoffs because they allow half the league in. Teams should have to do more to earn those spots, especially in soccer where upsets are so likely.

  2. Ok…I don’t know and I don’t get why there is only one final match for the MLS cup??? It doesn’t make any sense…I understand that they want to have spectacular games and so forth, but if the MLS wants to attract more people to it, the one game isn’t the way to go. Final games like the today’s one shouldn’t happen! And the stadium wasn’t full even before the second half…

    First of all, fans of both teams are disadvantaged in a one game final. Most likely there is no home team, so the atmosphere in the stadium is not as when a team plays the home game. In a two game final, even two unattractive teams could play their home games in a packed stadium. More money for both teams, more money from the advertising (as little as it is), and more importantly great atmosphere…which make even the lousiest game on earth interesting. And above all no stupid decision about season tickets…

    Any explanation why they have the one game final?

  3. I was under the impression that it would remain an 8 team playoff format, but that the #7 and #8 spots would be fought over by four teams. So while the number of spots remain the same, the number of teams that have a chance to qualify at the end of the regular season would be 10/18 teams. That’s not a good formula and places even less emphasis on the supporters shield.

    The final itself was forgettable. At least the chavez-ferreira goal was a treat. Something needs to be done about the playoff structure. No one can argue that Dallas had the tougher road and Colorado was rewarded by having a worse record, and lucking out with a home match for the conference final. MLS is not strong enough to secure sellouts at neutral venues. I’ve seen better crowds at Major League Lacrosse games. I’m a garber fan in general, but the whole idea of keeping conferences will either result in a continuance of convoluted playoff procedures, or weaker teams being rewarded a playoff spot because they are in a weaker conference. Just go 1v8, 2v7, etc. Jesus.

  4. It wasn’t a pretty game for either team… but no question they both fought for every open ball and it got pretty scrappy. Toledo was ridiculously bad in the center — so many poor calls and non-calls. Not calling a red and awarding the PK for the Benitez kick/trip on Casey was just the most visible.

    Garber needs to keep the playoffs at 8 teams for just the reason you mention — the regular season will mean more.

    I completely disagree with commenters that suggest the MLS Cup should be a multi-game affair. One game works just fine for league/cup finals all over the world, including the World Cup.

    And Toronto’s front office should do right by their season ticket holders. Forcing the Cup as an package game is crap.

  5. Bal­domero Toledo refereed a terrible game. He let the game get out of control with all sorts of crazy fouls. Took forever for the cards to come out. It seems like he was extremely intimidated by Conor Casey because he got away with all sorts of nonsense. He was fouling players left and right, on top of yelling and barking at the refeeres all night. He should have gotten booked way, way earlier than he did. Was a red card waiting to happen.

    Casey didn’t desrve a pk, because he fouled and took down Benitez before getting clipped.

    From next year on, the MLS Cup final should be at the home of the higher seed. We also need a single table with oly 6 teams making the playoffs and the top 2 getting byes.

  6. I rather agree with reducing playoff spots. Make it 4 with two home and away series. But we all know that will never happen.
    The Open Cup has play in games for MLS teams too. It’s stupid, either you are in a cup competition or playoff or you are not. Why does this league have to come up with all of these arcane rules to mask its NFL tendencies?

    The MVP, Casey was out of control all night. I had not seen him (freed by the ref of course) run over the opposing side with such authority. And of course that caused FC Dallas to retaliate. The game didn’t need that. And for a team that constantly sells out all of its home games, the crowd was bad. Give the final to the higher seed in the final, then the stadium might be filled with a little more enthusiasm. All of this MLS week stuff was cool, but do it during the allstar game instead.

  7. Great finish. Great first goal. The rest not so much.

    The playoff system is an embarrassment, and looks like it might even get worse. Colorado was smart to only get two points from the last four regular season matches and fall out of the #4 seed in the West, avoid the Galaxy, and move over to the East.

  8. Anyone surprised at how Casey acted throughout the game, obviously has not watched very many Rapids games this year. This is his MO, he does this almost every game. That said he is a powerful striker that manages to get the ball in the back of the net.

    I think the crowd at a neutral field can work, just not in Toronto. Last year I had the pleasure of watching the MLS Final in Seattle, and it was a great game.

  9. Toronto fans ( not all obviously ) look like a bunch of cry babies.
    You were chosen to be able to watch the MLS Championship for pete sake. Enjoy it.
    Instead, they took an attidude of I didn’t chose to go to the game it was forced on me….so I will show you, I am not going to go. I see them not selling out next year quite frankly….there sellouts were disguised as empty seats all year long.

    I thought the game was pretty mediocre, but many times that is the way it plays out, the intensity, the nerves, both teams obviously play good d or they wouldn’t be there etc.

    Now find a way to win it all. Colorado did.

    ps. One more thing…Garber, how about 6 play off teams, with numbers 5-8 forced to play in ? Even the most adamant playoff pushers like myself are going to think that 10 teams is just too much.

    1. And in a flash the agreement ends.

      I obviously don’t go to the games but we have had 4 years of nonsense and MLSE wants to INCREASE the price of season tickets (they ended up wilting and not doing it). It’s obvious ownership does not care about the team they put out.

      It’s a protest against management, not the game itself. And frankly this game wasn’t going to sell out the moment LA and New York went out of the playoffs.

      Put the Cup Final in New York next year.

  10. Year after year I try to support MLS but i believe I will remove my support next year. After hearing that MLS will move to a 10 team playoff format I turned off the tv with frustration. MLS Cup is becoming irrelevant and its a shame that #7 seed is going to represent our league in the CCL. Goodbye MLS

    1. Robert, I’m wondering if more people out there are making the same decisions. It almost felt like MLS jumped the shark last night. After a lot of hype and indication that Garber was going to come out with some positive decisions, I felt underwhelmed with what he had to say.

      The Gaffer

    2. Robert, people like you worry me a lot. Not that what you’re saying is wrong, i’m concerned that you are not the only one feeling this way.

      I think Garber has done a fantastic job so far with MLS but like Bradley with US MNT he might have taken this ship as far as he can and its time for new blood to take it to the next level.

      1. Dan,

        What has Garber done? Loaded teams up with stadium construction debt, stiffed players development, robbed US players of respectable wages, put individual players before club (Marquez, Henry, Becks, etc.), exclude markets from joining the ranks of MLS, Slow growth but has expanded in the last three years in a row, tinkered with a failing playoff system and just when you thought MLS couldn’t get worse they are adding 10 teams to the playoff structure. Bend over MLS fans and let Garber screw you.

        The USMNT is struggling due to poor player development. More than half our guys do not have a quality first touch. I point the finger at MLS.

        I am boycotting MLS and not asking any of you to follow me. MLS has hi-jacked the beautiful game from US soccer fans. Stop buying tickets, Stop watching on TV until MLS is a proper league.

        1. I’m right there with ya. We know what a proper soccer league is supposed to look like. And it looks nothing like MLS. It’s single table with league champ, it’s league cup throughout season. They’ve tried to make MLS so much like NFL how do they expect anyone who has followed soccer for 20+ years to stomach this crap?

  11. Disappointing changes to the payoff format. Should’ve left it at 8 teams. As for the crowd, it would be better if THE GAME WAS AT THE SITE OF ONE OF THE TWO TEAMS IN A TWO-LEGGED FINAL. The Super Bowl and MLS Cup Final are lame because the crowd is mostly indifferent. MLS needs to take a cue from the MLB, NHL and NBA, and their own first round playoff system, and make the final a two-legged affair. Give both towns involved a chance to see their team in the championship. Better atmosphere, better ratings, more ticket sales, it’s a no-brainer.

  12. I for one don’t mind increasing the playoff field, but I think the regular season championship should be worth more, perhaps equal status with MLS Cup. I also think there should be a single table with simple 1-8 (or 1-10) seeding for the playoffs–the current setup is just confusing. Conferences are pretty irrelevant if everyone is playing home-and-away against everyone else (which is as it should be).

    Not sure about adopting the international calendar in toto–it gets very cold and snowy in those winter months, after all. But MLS should respect international breaks more in its scheduling. Keep MLS Cup to one game, just schedule it in a better place, and not up against the NFL Sunday night game!

    Finally, I ‘m glad I don’t have to keep everyone happy. Soccer/football in the U.S. must develop its own identity, in sync with the world game, not worrying about how other U.S. sports relate (except in TV scheduling, as noted above).

  13. 100% agree with keeping 8 teams in playoffs, the regular season is bs now.

    Toronto fans should be ashamed of themselves, I used to want to see that club do well but after last night I don’t give a shit about them anymore. Just disgraceful walking out at half time. I think this is further reason to have the Final in the home teams stadium.

    Toledo should never ref another MLS game again, I have never seen him ref a match well. He is just a horrible ref, plain and simple. MLS needs to do more work improving the ref standards.

  14. A lot of soccer fans either have given up on MLS , or are in the process of doing so. I have many friends that are soccer fans,you could talk to them about south american,caribean,european football,the world cup, but if you mention MLS automatically thay tell you they dont really care about that joke.

    The damage that this “cartel” and its single entity concept is doing to american soccer will only be known when we find a way to implement the right structure.There is no way to know how many soccer fans have being totally alienated by the actual system,because they dont blog,they dont call radio programs,they dont watch MLS tv games. The sooner that we can take our game back from the cartel,the lesser the damage!

  15. “They aren’t doing my idea so I hate it…”

    Enough. It was an entertaining game even though it was very flawed and had a large difference between its fast and slow parts. I don’t get why people are bashing it so much. It was a game. Every sport is unpredictable and sometimes you get slower games and sometimes you get faster more exciting games. Last night’s MLS Cup was somewhere in between. Not the best game ever but not the worst.

    I don’t get why there are so many comments and posts that just bash MLS. It’s fun but flawed. That’s ok. I’ll take life with its entertainment than without. It’s not the EPL nor will it ever be and that’s a good thing. We do our soccer league our way, just like every other country in the world.

  16. I think the whole game was embarrassing for mls. The level of play seemed very poor and was not a good showcase for the league. Since when do you play a game on the east coast a 9oclock at night? That was a stupid decision by MLS. I feel like the Colorado Rapids shouldn’t be champions because they play like a USL team. They can’t stray 3 passes in a row. Watching the game yesterday made me realize just how bad MLS really is…

  17. I can state this:

    Meanwhile, if you think Toronto FC will host a MLS Cup Final again in the near future, you can say goodbye to those dreams. Many Toronto FC supporters reportedly staged a mass walkout at half-time in protest against the MLS Cup Final being counted as one of their season ticket package. That decision was embarrassing for Major League Soccer, but also I believe will end up hurting Toronto supporters more than helping them.


    FALSE. No walkout was staged.

    Some didn’t show up to the game at all but that was their choice. Not all seats were empty because of this though. The real reason was because the high price of tickets and MLSE’s (and MLS’) belief that they can continue to bilk Toronto FC supporters out of their cash.

    TFC Supporters raised this at the supporters summit. RSL is facing decreasing ticket prices, yet came off of a fairly good year. TFC has had four years of garbage football and no playoffs, yet ticket prices have more than doubled.

    Everyone hates on TFC supporters yet we’re paying higher and higher prices and a fair chunk of that revenue is going into keeping this league going.

    If other teams can fill their stadia on cold, late, rainy nights at the ticket prices charged to TFC for a game between two of the least exciting teams in MLS, good for them.

    But this just highlights the silliness of the Neutral site game.

    Give it to the team with more points in the regular season. Simple and fair.

    1. Lars, so how do you explain the mass exodus at half-time where there were a ton of empty seats that had been filled earlier in the game?

      The Gaffer

      1. Definitely not an organized walkout, since the people who typically occupy the seats you’re talking about don’t organize. The East stand emptied for whatever reason. Late night, freezing temperatures, the fact that the next day is a work day. Maybe the game sucked, because it sucked to watch on tv. Or perhaps it was the forecast of rain.

        Either way, the organized support did not occupy the seats you’re talking about and dismissed ANY organized protest well in advance of the game, in favour of hosting the supporters groups and trying to put on a brave face for the MLS Cup.

        Those who chose to protest didn’t attend the game and tried to sell their tickets off in advance.

        You’ll note games where it rained earlier in the year where the east stand emptied out pretty quick.

        1. @ Lars, a lot of people in my area were definitely talking about leaving early on account of both having to work the next day and because they were worried about missing the last bus/train/other forms of public transit they were using to get home (a lot of out-of-towners, it seemed, for whom their public transit stops running much earlier than the TTC does).

  18. I was at the game last night but didn’t notice any kind of massive walkout. The crowds took a bit longer than usual to return to their seats after the half but their numbers were not significantly reduced in a way that would suggest there had been a walk-out in protest of MLS. The crowd started to thin noticeably during the second half of the overtime period but I’d chalk this up more to the late hour, the temperature, and the quality of the game than an organized coup.

    1. Judging by the main stand, there were a ton of empty seats at the beginning of the second half. And as the game went on, the number of empty seats increased to such an extent that by extra time there looked like perhaps 1,000 fans remaining in that end of the stadium.

      The Gaffer

      1. There were indeed a ton of empty seats at the start of the second half, but as I said that’s because the crowd seemed to take a while to come back from the break. They definitely didn’t come back 100% and some people obviously left at the half, but I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say it was a mass exodus after 45 minutes. As I said above, I agree that it definitely thinned at the end (depressingly so, and the post match pictures show it quite clearly), but numbers that deplete over 75 minutes given the temperature, game quality, and eventual late hour didn’t really shout “Walkout!” to me. Your mileage may vary. :)

        1. Why would anyone knowingly go to a game, especially as big as a MLS Cup game, and only plan to stay for the first half? Even if transportation shut down early, there’s always ways for fans to plan ahead and get alternative transportation. Seems like a lame excuse to me.

          The Gaffer

          1. There are lots of reasons people might leave at the half, many of which have already been listed in other comments and most of which probably don’t involve a predetermined plan to leave midway. These aren’t necessarily good reasons for leaving, of course, but they are reasons nonetheless. :)

          2. Gaffer, you’re over-estimating the willingness of TFC fans to watch MLS.

            The majority of the fans (note: not supporters) of TFC probably couldn’t name a single player on FC Dallas or Colorado. Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but I doubt it.

            I’m a member of one of the three supporters groups, and they’re the MLS savvy ones. They also constitute no more than a couple sections of BMO Field. And many of them just refused to attend the game (and some have refused to renew tickets at the prices being demanded by MLSE). They’ll folllow on TV but refuse to be victims of extortion.

            As for transportation: this is Toronto, and it’s not as easy as you’d think for alternative transport if you live in the suburbs.

            Finally, it’s a Sunday game, those same fans (against, I emphasize, not supporters) have families, they have work. For a game that isn’t involving the side they normally support, in freezing temperatures, that wasn’t even all that exciting to be honest, it should not be unexpected that this result occurred.

            Once again, as a member of one of the three organizations, I can assure you there was absolutely no organized walkout.

            What you’re talking about is an exodus of people who fall more into the category of soccer parents/families than they do into the classic categorization of TFC supporters (which in reality constitutes a fraction of the support base – about10%)

            1. Lars, I stand corrected then regarding the reports of Toronto FC fans walking out en masse during half time. That story had been reported in a few different places.

              Hopefully MLS has learned a lesson regarding hosting a MLS Cup Final in cold temperatures in a place where the majority of supporters are not MLS-savvy fans. It’s a shame that Toronto let down MLS. We all know Toronto fans can be some of the best in the league, but the empty seats Sunday night were so embarrassing.

              The Gaffer

  19. I’m OK with a cold weather final, but a late night start in cold weather is dumb. Why not a noon kick-off? It beats the NFL start by an hour, if it is a compelling game people will keep watching.

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