We were fortunate to be one of the voters for the MLS end of the season awards for 2009. While we will certainly share all of our votes for MVP, Rookie, etc…. there was one vote that was business specific, yet receives only a small amount of attention from most soccer media; the Public Relations Award. Although the award wasn’t particularly well defined, we cast our vote for the team public relations group that does the best promoting its team and soccer in the community.
After careful consideration, we elected to give our first place vote to the Seattle Sounders. The pre-season guerrrila campaign was brilliant, the billboards were omnipresent and the results speak for themselves. Despite the advantages of being “new”, the Sounders organization did an outstanding job of promoting their product and their players. By the end of the regular season, a Swedish International was a household name in the city, the goalie was all over the news and the team was a lead story.
For the record, we also thought long and hard about our second place vote, and we ultimately gave that to the Dynamo. Houston’s array of promotional events for each game, community outreach programs and other events are unmatched throughout the League. Houston sets the standard among MLS franchises in working to promote each game to potential walk-up crowds.
On the field, the first leg of round one is complete and fans were treated some entertaining games, one snoozer and some varied crowds. The playoffs started with an exciting match and a frenzied crowd in Seattle where more than 35k were in attendance. On Saturday, a disappointing crowd of 11,500 saw RSL hold off Columbus at Rio Tinto. On Sunday, the Revs and Fire played to an exciting 2-1 result before friends and family of about 7,500 at Gillette. The weekend finished up with a fairly enjoyable game at the Home Depot Center where a noisy crowd of 25k saw round one of the playoff Derby.
As for some of the other awards, we voted for Cunningham for MVP, Gonzalez for Rookie and Marshall for D.