Tuesday, November 18, 2008


MLS FANS will be tuned into ABC at 3.30pm this Sunday to watch the New York Red Bulls take on the Columbus Crew in the championship game.

I may watch the first half but at 4.15pm, I’ll probably be switching to FOX for the Giants game in Arizona.

When I moved from England to the United States four years ago, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that football – or what Americans term as football – would take precedence over soccer or association football.

I still enjoy viewing the live Premier League game on the Fox Soccer Channel on Saturday morning. I even take in the occasional Serie A match from Italy on a Sunday.

But when it comes to the MLS, well, quite frankly, I’ve had more fun watching paint dry.

There’s simply no comparison to the standard of play or level of entertainment produced by the leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy or Spain.

Average players, sometimes performing on pitches marked for American football, produce too many boring, low-scoring games.

At least, that was my view after enduring the 0-0 draw between the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire in the Conference semi-finals, first leg.

So much for David Beckham changing the face of American soccer. His arrival in the USA was greeted by a huge media fanfare.

New York Red Bulls go for upset win

But, less than two years on, his Los Angeles Galaxy team once again failed to qualify for the playoffs and instead of gracing TV screens in the USA, he’s joined Italian giants AC Milan on a four-month loan spell.

How MLS could use Beckham now. When I watched the Red Bulls beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 in front of a 20,000 crowd on Sunday, the only player I recognized on either side was former Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel.

The Red Bulls scraped into the eight-team playoffs, despite losing more games in the regular season than they actually won.

Lady Luck was smiling on them again on Sunday, Real Salt Lake hitting the post on new fewer than four occasions.

The only goal of the game was scored in the 28th minute by Dutchman Dave van den Bergh, who made 12 appearances for Ajax Amsterdam at the end of the 1990s.

No doubt the Red Bulls will be underdogs again this weekend as they are up against the Eastern Conference champions, Columbus.

Juan Carlos Osorio, their Colombian coach, is happy to have it that way. “For a team like us that snuck into the playoffs, it’s a fresh start,” he said.

MLS are expecting their 13th title game to sell out, even though for some reason it’s being played in Carson, California. That’s convenient for fans of teams from New York and Ohio!

Call me cynical if you like but it’s going to take a lot more goalmouth action on Sunday to stop me changing channels.

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