Saturday night saw a thrilling end to the 2013 MLS season, with Sporting topping RSL after 10 rounds of penalties. After a first half punctuated by injuries, stoppages and poor play, the teams turned in a riveting final 45 minutes, overtime and spot kicks. A standing room only sellout at Sporting Park provided the backdrop to the Final, and the fans stayed through to the end to create a raucous environment that came through clear on the television.
ESPN provided its usual quality coverage, both from the on-site studio and the broadcast booth. It is especially worth noting how much Taylor Twellman continues to improve as a color analyst. The halftime featured the usual interview with the Commissioner and the night ended with KC’s love affair with in stadium pyrotechnics. Some other broadcast notes: SiriusXM provided a simulcast of the ESPN700 feed from Salt Lake City over satellite. After some initial technical glitches, the broadcast was clear, although there were some problems trying to get the MLS pregame via the SiriusXM service. Also, the KC Star and Salt Lake City Tribune are to be commended for their thorough coverage of the Final. Both papers treated the event like the big time sports event it was.
Some other business notes from the weekend. The extra long pks and overtime cut into the typical post game proceedings on ESPN, but kudos to the network for staying with the game long enough to show the trophy presentation. It will be interesting to see how the long telecast will impact viewers for the Final which have been dropping over the last few years despite the presence of David Beckham and Landon Donovan. The game was certainly another advertisement for the new model of hosting the game at the stadium of the team with the highest record; the environment was great and the scene was befitting a Final.