» U.S. Soccer

Los Angeles Galaxy wins MLS Cup

The Los Angeles Galaxy celebrate their win over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Nov. 20, 2011. The Galaxy won 1-0. UPI/Lori Shepler.

The Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in the MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center. Above you can see Landon Donovan celebrating, as he should.

It was inevitable that this year’s MLS Cup would be all about David Beckham. His presence alone at the Home Depot Center on Sunday was enough to send fans, league officials, journalists and photographers into a tizzy. It was as if there was no one else on the field, as if no one else mattered. Five years after Beckham came to our shores to spread the gospel of soccer, this final was to be his crowning achievement. In truth, it was a personal victory for another player.

That player is Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan. While Beckham was looking for a Hollywood ending to cement his legacy a few years after his commitment to the Galaxy had come into question, Donovan is no stranger to winning in Major League Soccer. The Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo to win MLS Cup put Donovan forever in the pantheon of this country’s greatest soccer players. For the 29-year-old midfielder, scoring the game-winner and lifting the trophy capped a great season and put an end to a personal dry spell dating back six years.

This game capped off a very successful season for the MLS which should continue to build the popularity of soccer in the United States.

MLS passes NBA as third most attended sport in USA

Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert (17) and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (23) battle for the ball in the second half in the MLS Western Conference Final game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Nov. 6, 2011. The Galaxy won 3-1. UPI/Lori Shepler.

This is great news for soccer in the United States:

Major League Soccer set a new high-water mark for average attendance this season, as expansion clubs in Portland and Vancouver lived up to preseason expectations for big crowds, and a new stadium and rebranding effort in Kansas City turned around that city’s once-ailing club.

Average attendance for the 18 clubs rose 7.2 percent to 17,872 spectators a game this season, surpassing the league’s previous record of 17,406, which was set during its inaugural season in 1996. The league’s lowest attendance came in 2000 when it averaged just 13,756 fans. Since 2007, its average has consistently stayed between 16,000 and 17,000. The strong showing at the gate brought MLS’s average above the most recent seasons for both the NHL (17,132) and NBA (17,323).

The new cities are making a big impact, and that’s a huge development.

Beckham leads Galaxy

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (23) injures his back as he collides with New York Red Bulls midfielder/forward Dane Richards (19) and Dax McCarty, left, in the MLS Western Conference Semifinals game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Nov. 3, 2011. The Galaxy won 2-1. UPI/Lori Shepler.

Is the David Beckham investment finally paying off?

David Beckham promised to repay the Los Angeles Galaxy’s faith and investment in him by finally ending the organization’s painful wait for an MLS Cup title.

The Galaxy have not tasted success since Beckham arrived in 2007 and now, in the final year of his lucrative contract, stand just two games from winning it all.

Beckham was outstanding Thursday night as the side overcame the New York Red Bulls 2-1 (3-1 on aggregate) in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal, setting up Mike Magee for one goal and winning a penalty that was converted by Landon Donovan for the second.

If he can produce a similar effort at home to Real Salt Lake in Sunday’s winner-takes-all Western Conference final, it will put the Galaxy in a strong position to move into the title game.

It would be a great story.

Are American owners good for Premiere League football?

Here’s an interesting article from The Guardian that highlights some different perspectives.

It was not what Arsenal supporters, or indeed any supporters of Premier League clubs, might have expected to hear in Stan Kroenke’s first interview in England. Kroenke, however, made little attempt to sugar the pill. What had the Glazer family, he wondered, done wrong at Manchester United? In his deep Missouri drawl, the largest shareholder at Arsenal made it sound like they had his admiration.

“What was so tough about the Glazers’ situation?” Kroenke said. “They won. And they have increased revenues by a huge amount. If I was a fan of that club, I would sit there and go, ‘Wow.’ Because how could you do it any better? That’s what I would say.”

It was put to Kroenke that United fans were deeply unhappy at how the American owners had taken money out of the club, following their heavily leveraged takeover. “But they still won,” Kroenke said. “We don’t need to get into an exchange here but I don’t know as a fan … how could you do it much better? They have increased massively. Some of their players have taken money out and maybe they haven’t performed.

“We have a whole different philosophy in the States but I think it’s time, maybe, for everybody to think a little bit and, maybe I’m saying too much but I think they ought to think a little bit about who invests in these clubs. What do you want for the long term?

The entire article is worth reading.

What’s the Point, Exactly, MLS?

After a long trip back to the barren lifestyle of the 18th century, the blog is back. Sitting by candelight in the cave night after night without access to the modern necessities, save a bottle opener, offered the opportunity to think about life’s many problems without all the usual distractions getting in the way. Didn’t take that opportunity, though, as usual.

Instead, my thoughts turned to the MLS. Odd, because that almost never happens. Why should it? Is there a more useless league in the world?

It’s play-off time in American soccer. The teams have just played a whole season of virtual friendlies against one another. Not a single game the whole year meant a thing. Almost every team makes the play-offs anyway. Just avoid being Among the bottom four or so, and you’re in. The whole thing is completely backwards. An entire season is played, not to determine the best team, but just to determine the worst.

The rest get into the play-offs where any team can suddenly find some combination of luck or a hot streak for a couple of matches and be crowned Champions. Nothing that played out over the entire summer means a whit. It’s a system that almost guarantees a lesser team will take the title.

Why should anyone be remotely interested in this sham?

The pointless season means there’s not going to be any emotion in the matches then. The play-offs are a quick crap-shoot that any team can win. There is no way any for any fan fervor to build up for this inane product.

The rest of the world does football right. Leave it to the Americans to think they know best. They clearly don’t in this instance. The belief that Americans are ‘used to’ a play-off system in their sports and won’t accept anything else, is just ignorant. On top of that, the league feels it has to coddle the clubs until enough interest is raised in the league to support itself. How can this method possibly raise any interest? I should be their target audience and I couldn’t be less bothered about it. A completely meaningless season followed by a little tournament to name a more or less arbitrary champion. What a great idea. Makes you long for next season already, doesn’t it?

The MLS made fatally bad decisions and the long-term future of the league has to be considered shaky at best.

Luckily, the rest of the world is back in action after the international break, and I’m back with enough technology to follow them. At least now I can get my daily dose of The Fiver again. A little blog put out by The Guardian that now numbers among my addictions. It’s almost always the funniest thing I encounter all day, and they’ll fire it out to you in your email at noon everyday if you ask them. Go to The Fiver to read today’s and sign up.