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Heads-up: a little trouble could be brewing for MLS Cup 2012

Jul 3, 2012, 2:59 PM EDT

Buck Shaw

Most of us cheered when Major League Soccer made the most significant of tweaks on title-deciding methodology: the decision to house each year’s MLS Cup final on the grounds of the higher seed.

Splendid idea, guys!

With that, the regular season grew even further in importance; every point earned improves a team’s chances of hosting a final. And hosting a final will be a very special thing each year, adding  drama and a certain edge that a neutral site simply cannot replicate.

It really was a terrific shift, for a number of different reasons.

There was one, itty-bitty little worry about it all: What if the final lands at one of the less-desirable venues?

By “less desirable,” I don’t mean anything disparaging to the clubs or their hard-working personnel. Really, it’s about logistics. That is, a short list of teams existed that had everyone thinking: “This thing could turn in on itself pretty quickly.”

Still, most of the less-liked MLS venues didn’t seem like such a threat, not for 2012, at least. New England and ill-fitting Gillette Stadium, where the MLS final might be played over unsightly football lines? (Update: I’ve been alerted no such thing would happen, that no gridiron lines would be visible in such a scenario.)  Well, the Revs were rebuilding, so that really didn’t seem worth worrying about.

Yes, Jay Heaps’ men could find great late-season form and fight their way to the final; but it seems highly unlikely they could stack up enough wins to be in position to host the final.

Columbus, where nasty winter weather could pose a threat, and where hotels and other ancillary sites might become a real problem? Well, a young Columbus team could make the playoffs, for sure, but they didn’t seem to be a threat for a top finish.

(Truly, only by finishing first or second in the conference would a team have a realistic chance of hosting the final.)

Who else? Well, San Jose would be a problem due to its tiny venue, cozy and quaint little Buck Shaw Stadium (pictured). But San Jose …

Uh-oh!

Frank Yallop’s team is very good this year. A lot better than last year, in fact.

You will currently find the Earthquakes with the league’s best record. So, if they keep chugging along and then crack the playoff code, your first final in the new M.O. will land somewhere in the Bay Area.

They could move it Stanford Stadium, site of last weekend’s big win over Los Angeles. But MLS Cup’s Dec. 2 date falls two days after the Pac-12 Championship Game, which could also land at the historic Palo Alto grounds. That would pose a strenuous complication.

After that? It could go to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but that facility is far less than perfect for a number of reasons.

Or, they could just keep it at Buck Shaw and take the PR hit of having their nationally televised championship marquee contest in the league’s smallest ground – an up-armored college soccer facility.

Of course, it could all work out just fine. A final in Kansas City, New York, Washington, D.C., or Salt Lake City – other reasonable possibilities at the halfway pole of this MLS season – would work just fine.

  1. ndnut - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    AT&T Park, anybody? I don’t know how that stadium would work but as far as open dates it seems good to me from out here in SoDak.

  2. teamperkins11 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Obviously Buck Shaw would not be ideal, but there are several venues that the Quakes have used before in the Bay Area that could fill in for a championship game. Stanford Stadium is the obvious solution, but they played at AT&T Park earlier this year and have played at Candlestick and Oakland before as well. In a pinch Spartan could be used again. While non are ideal, there are certainly options.

  3. manutebol - Jul 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    hosting mls cup at buck shaw would be poetic justice for all the crap our fanbase has taken from everyone else for poor attendance over the past few years

    • Steve Davis - Jul 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      I suppose temporary bleachers could add a few seats. Tents and such could be used for sponsor boxes, another big consideration on these things.

  4. tylerbetts - Jul 3, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Really? You classify DC as “just fine”. MLS’ supposed showpiece event in cavernous RFK? With, I would assume, most of the stadium tarped off?

    Yeah, that sounds just fine.

    And, call me a homer, but a freezing cold night in the first SSS in the country sounds just fine for the MLS Cup final.

    • joeyt360 - Jul 4, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      I doubt the upper deck would be tarped off in such an event.

      • therantingpint - Jul 4, 2012 at 10:47 PM

        Wouldnt be tarped off but wouldn’t sell out. Regardless, watching games at RFK on TV are about as fun as the USMNT’s jaunts to Mazatlan or Tegucigalpa.

      • joeyt360 - Jul 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        Sure it would sell out. Why would you think it wouldn’t? It’s been done before.

  5. handsofsweed - Jul 3, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    WTF? A final in Columbus is bad bc of “nasty winter weather” but somehow okay in DC, NY, Salt Freaking Lake City or KC? That’s just completely hypocritical and categorically wrong. I mean, it’s not like any of them are in the North or anything.

    And the hotels being an issue in Columbus? Ummmmm, you are aware of the OSU football program plugging 110,000 folks into games 8 times a year, no? Trust me, we have wwwaaaaaayyyyyyyy more hotels than could possibly be used by visiting folks for an MLS final.

    As far as ancillary activities/sites go, I promise you that High Street and the Short North are more than adequate, even for an OSU game. It’s not like we don’t have 60,000+ college students here or anything. I heard they like to party. You want to have a hell of a good time? We got ya.

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