Monday After

nbcIt was a big weekend for Major League Soccer and national television.  Games on NBCSN, ESPN and of course the NBC Mothership. The NBC went up against football on multiple networks, so it will be interesting to see if the ratings improve over prior network disappointments.  The soccer was also somewhat lacking from an attractiveness standpoint, but these games are important for MLS and the expansion of its brand.

On to attendance.   The week started in Kansas City on Friday night from Kansas City, KansasSporting hosted Philadelphia in a match with significant implications for the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.  In the stands, it was yet another sellout for Kansas City, with more than 19k in the stands.    Just under 16k in Toronto at BMO Field, as the poor numbers continue for the League’s first MLS franchise.

On the West Coast, Vancouver managed a fantastic 21k sellout despite a disappointing performance on the field.   The Revs also came off the field unhappy, but their remarkable attendance swings continue as there were more than 20k in the stands on Saturday night in Foxboro.  The team’s annual college promotion brought big numbers out to Gillette.    Chicago also fell short on the field, but there was a solid 18k plus in the stands at Toyota Park.  Portland managed yet another sellout, this time on national television.

There were two late games on Sunday, on in Dallas and the other in Seattle.



Triva Answer and More

tv soccerBefore we get to the trivia answer, a couple of business notes. First, the big announcement  on Thursday was that MLS is now on Apple TV.    Apple TV is a digital media receiver that allows viewers to watch television from a variety of sources online, including Netflix and now, MLS Per the official site, ”

Our “Channels” section includes free on-demand video highlights, analysis, fantasy soccer advice, and player profiles as well as full episodes of MLS 36 and MLS Insider. You can watch videos created by your favorite clubs within the “Clubs” section. The latest league standings are also available.

With an MLS LIVE subscription, you’ll have access to live streaming and archived versions of regular season matches (local and national blackout rules apply). Subscriptions start at only $14.99/month. You can purchase online or within MLS on Apple TV.”

On to Trivia….once again, below is the question from Jamie Clary


Last week Bruce Arena said what many MLS coaches think—the schedule for MLS teams is too crowded and the Open Cup is part of the problem. This is history repeating itself from the golden age of American soccer, the 1920s. What two events ended that golden age?


Before there was pro football and just after pro baseball was taking root in the east, the American Soccer League started up in 1921, lasting until the Soccer War and the Great Depression killed it.  As a group of players, coaches, and investors, the ASL saw itself as the money-spending, risk-taking branch of the game in the U.S.  Therefore, they believed, their efforts should not be hampered by the national organization, the U.S. Football Association, which expected ASL teams to play in the annual challenge cup to crown a champion among all professional and amateur teams in the country.  Seeing the tournament (later renamed the open cup) as a hindrance, the ASL decided to bag the tournament of 1924-25.  Then the league improperly brought in foreign players and penalized its teams that went ahead and played in the national cup competition.  As a consequence, the national body suspended the ASL, making it an outlaw league, and started its own league from the three teams that had been fined by the ASL.  The competing leagues were financial cannibals to each other.  A weaker ASL continued but got hit by the Great Depression.  The league’s players had full-time jobs and were forced to go where and when money could be made.  At the same time, with attendance slumping, the players had less to gain from staying on the team.  Meanwhile, the town factories that supported several of the teams went through tough times as well.  Pro baseball suffered but survived.  Soccer could not.  With fewer people in the stands, the ASL folded after the 1932-33 season.  Soccer historian Dave Litterer wrote that the end of the original ASL “marked the end of the golden age of American Soccer.”

Trivia Time

On the road tonight, but here is this week’s trivia question:

Last week Bruce Arena said what many MLS coaches think—the schedule for MLS teams is too crowded and the Open Cup is part of the problem. This is history repeating itself from the golden age of American soccer, the 1920s. What two events ended that golden age?

The trivia questions come courtesy of Jamie Clary.  Mr. Clary is the author of the First American Soccer Trivia Book, available through He has played, coached, refereed and reported the game. During national team games, he often works with USSF compiling stats and helping media. Goalies, he feels, get too much respect from officials. Mexico and France, respectively, are his most hated teams. He plays and lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.  The excerpts are from The First American Soccer Trivia Book by Jamie Clary; Copyright 2007 FreeFalling Graffiti

Soccer Business Bits: Return of NBC, Ratings & More

nbcThis Sunday offers a premiere MLS match-up with the Los Angeles Galaxy visiting Jeld-Wen Field to take on the Timbers.  Portland offers one of the best atmospheres in the league and the match will be televised on NBC.  This is the first game on the NBC mothership since March, and that game drew a disappointing .7.  The Timbers/Galaxy offers a prime market and a popular team.  However, the game will be up against football on the other major networks.

Last weekend, there were two matches on the NBC Sports Network, and both provided solid draws when compared to the league season average.  The first, on Friday night from Portland, drew more than 130k viewers with a 10:00 start on the East Coast.  The following night featured a much hyped match between Seattle and Los Angeles.  The game was expected two of the leagues biggest stars in Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, but neither played.  Nevertheless, the game drew more than 245k viewers, near the top for games on the NBCSN through year two of the contract.  By way of comparison, the Manchester United/Manchester City match on the same channel drew more than 800k viewers.

Finally, every year MLS promotes the diversity of nationalities among its players.  Here is this year’s graphic depiction of the player pool.   Colombia and Canada are second to the USA with 19 players.  Overall, 60 countries are represented around the league, making the league’s diversity unique among American sports.

The New Breed Part II: Saputo Speaks

impactA few weeks back we wrote about the new breed of owners in Major League Soccer.  These included the owners in Portland, Columbus in Kansas City.  One owner we neglected to mention is Joey Saputo of the Montreal Impact.  In their second season in MLS, the Impact are in the thick of the playoff fight.  They have signed players from overseas, are filling Stade Saputo and have become one of the more entertaining teams in the league.

Like many of the other younger owners in league, Saputo is a second generation business owner.  The  former family business, Saputo,  is in the food business, from dairy products to tomato sauce.   His other interests include property and construction.  Currently, he is an advisor to Jolina Capital Inc., which is a shareholder and/or majority shareholder in various companies in the food, transportation, softwood lumber and real estate sectors. Joey Saputo is currently on the board of directors of the publicly traded company Transforce Inc.

Like many of this new breed, Saputo is active on Twitter and frequently interacts with fans.  He recently issued a blog post describing the team’s new club membership program.     Per the blog:  “So with this in mind, in the upcoming weeks, we will be consulting our membership on very concrete issues regarding the club, including kick-off times, fan experience and player of the year. I encourage you to take the time to answer these questions and to let us know what you think.  We are also in the process of creating a Membership Committee that will meet regularly with some of our team representatives to discuss various club issues in greater depth. Once again, the response has been great: We were looking for 11 starting members, and so far we have received 161 applications. A selection process is currently underway and we will keep you posted on the final composition of the committee.”

Monday After

HartfordSkylineFor the first time in a long time, I took in a big time college soccer match in person.  On a beautiful Saturday night in Storrs, Connecticut, the UCONN hosted St. Louis in a battle of top 15 soccer teams.  The atmosphere at Morrone Stadium was great, with more than 4k in attendance at the same time UCONN was hosting 15th ranked Michigan in football a few miles down the road.   Tickets for a group of 8 were only $50 total and parking was free.  Although there were major league prices for concessions ($4 for a water), the event was affordable, accessible and enjoyable.  College soccer doesn’t have the same cache as some of the other major college sports, but for those fortunate enough to have college soccer close and accessible, I highly recommend the experience.

On to attendance, where the week started with a Friday night showdown on NBCSN from Jeld-Wen in Portland.  The game drew the usual 20k sellout .  The following day, more than 20k filled Stade Saputo as the sliding Impact managed a big crowd but another poor performance on the field.  Toronto’s on the field struggles have finally caught up to the gate with less than 13k at BMO Field.    Columbus’ late season surge at the gate continued with more than 19k in attendance, while the Revs managed an exciting win before a big crowd in excess of 19k at Gillette despite the football markings on the field turf.

The 20k numbers continued in Houston, with a solid crowd on hand for the home team’s shellacking of Chivas USA at BBVA Compass Stadium.  The big numbers continued with more than 20k at Rio Tinto on Saturday night. The Dempsey/Donovan matchup never came off, but the crowds packed Stub Hub to the tune of a 27k sellout.  On Sunday night, almost 20k were at Red Bull Arena for the Red Bulls’ win over Dallas.

Trivia Answer & Promotions

questionBefore we get to the trivia answer, now is a good time to take a look at home some franchises around the league are promoting their upcoming matches.  Let’s start in resurgent (at the gate) Columbus, where geographic rivals Chicago Fire are coming to town.  The Crew have a number of activities going on on game day as part of their Put Out the Fire & Viva el Futbol events.  Among the promotions are all you eat tickets, giveaways to the first 10k through the gate, celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month, including music and food and more.  Post game, young fans are invited on the field to attempt a PK.   Lifeline of Ohio is sponsoring the cinch sack giveaway.

The Dynamo are in the midst of a push to the playoffs and the team has brought back a prior promotion in conjunction with McDonald’s.  The team is offering four tickets and four meal vouchers for $69.99.  This is a somewhat strange promotion, as the vouchers are not redeemable at the stadium.  Most meal/ticket deals include food at the stadium.

Finally, DC United is offering a couple of College Night and beer night type promotions that offer discounted tickets.

On to trivia:

Who was the first player to sign a contract with Major League Soccer?


He proved to the U.S. television audience how rough soccer can be when he took a bone-shattering elbow to the skull during the match between the United States and Brazil of the 1994 World Cup.  On television 32 million people saw Tab Ramos convulsing on the ground.  His notoriety—from that game, his play with the U.S. National Team, and his roots in New Jersey—made Ramos the perfect poster boy for the league when executives announced him as the first to sign with MLS.

Excerpt from The First American Soccer Trivia Book by Jamie Clary; Copyright 2007 FreeFalling Graffiti