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MLS Rivalry Week may still need some tweaking

Mar 17, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

Toronto FC v Montreal Impact Getty Images

It is not difficult to find someone around MLS with the opinion that Rivalry Week, for all its attached awesomeness,  arrived a little early.

It’s like a big, juicy, steak with perfect grill lines – but one served up a mere three hours after a huge lunch. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the product; it’s the timing that’s off.

MLS rivalry week in Round 3 of 34?

It is only March, after all.

Not everyone shared the opinion. And honestly, it didn’t bother me very much going in. While it might be nice to have this play out toward the back end of the record long regular season window, the playoff races typically carry September and October. Or that was my theory.

Looking at some of the crowd counts around the league on the first attempt at Rivalry Week, there’s some evidence that perhaps the timing could be better.

Crowds were fantastic in Montreal and Seattle. The grounds were full in Utah for Real Salt Lake’s Rocky Mountain rivalry.

On the other hand, plenty of dandy seats were available in Philadelphia (in fairness, a crowd of 15,689 in lousy weather wasn’t bad at PPL Park), New York and Dallas. Same for the game going on right now at the Home Depot Center outside Los Angeles.

Perhaps the season needs to steep a little more before we go biting into all the delicious acrimony and hostility of the league’s chief rivals. Applause to MLS for trying something. This is only the first spin of the Rivalry Week wheel. They deciders will have plenty of opportunity to adjust.

  1. Wolfgang Depner - Mar 17, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I have said it before and I will say it again. MLS needs a schedule that is more friendly for TV. I absolutely loved what the league tried to do with this concept. But something like this can happen every week if the league has one set of games (say 4 or 5) at the same time, then the remaining set of games two-hours plus later. I realize that a lot of reasons have contributed to the current TV alignment and I realize that it may be difficult to change. But yesterday (despite some low Scores) was evidence can MLS can generate an audience, even some buzz.

  2. Jason - Mar 17, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    No problem with Rivalry Week being this early. I think the case can be made that it helps generate some buzz for the league. Die hard fans will feel that it’s a bit early, but those fringe fans are the ones that the league has struggled relatively with. Getting more fans involved and interested early on gives them the chance for them to latch on and be more engaged the rest of the season.

    That being said though, I think MLS should do this twice a year. Two Rivalry Weeks would be phenomenal. One early like right now, with a heavy marketing push to draw in more fans, I’m thinking a nice pan seared ahi tuna appetizer. Something enough to peak your interest. You’ve got another 25-30 games as your perfectly grilled steak main course. Then you cap it all off with another Rivalry Week as your delicate tiramisu dessert with a side of espresso.

    But you’re right. Plenty of time for the decision makers to make adjustments. One of the best things I love about this league is that they are constantly tinkering with things. Some are disastrous, and some are magnificent. I just appreciate they are constantly trying to make the league better.

  3. mikeevergreen - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    Rivalry week should be

    Chivas can play a friendly against its mother ship

  4. overtherepermanently - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    The problem is, some of the “rivalries” weren’t much rivalries at all. For New England, Philly falls somewhere far after NJRB, DCU, Chicago and Houston. I’m sure the Philly fans felt the same way. Galaxy’s recent turd aside, LA-Chivas has been and likely always will be a hammer and nail rivalry, and never worth the hype. There was a lot of blah.

  5. amybernhardt - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I like the concept of Rivalry week – but it would have been better if MLS had scheduled each team to actually play a rival. As a Columbus fan, it’s really hard to get into Rivalry Week when you are playing San Jose – a team you have absolutely no rivalry with.

    MLS needs to do a better job of scheduling all it’s teams with rivalries if they are going to continue this – not just half the teams.

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