Somewhere in an office tower on the Upper East side, Don Garber and his MLS executive team met with executives from Fox, ESPN and Unimas to negotiate over who gets what games this year, when, and how. The question of 'how much' had already been determined last year.
Here’s what happened. The LA Galaxy, with it’s MLS galacticos of Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Steven Gerrard will be on a national broadcast 16 times this year; 7 times on ESPN or ESPN2, 5 times on Fox Sports, and 4 times on Unimas. Fellow big market, big money club NYCFC are on coast-to-coast for cable consumers a total of 15 times.
Another big city club, Chicago, got just four TV dates; which makes sense for a team that lacks a DP that people can actually name (I had to check; it’s David Accam and Gilberto. Gilberto, who Toronto FC couldn’t get to do anything for them before loaning him off into South American purgatory)
Among small city teams, Real Salt Lake is on four times as well. They were bad last year, but can point to an exciting youngster in Jordan Allen and two USMNT mainstays, Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman
The ongoing dumpster fire that is the Philadelphia Union is on just twice. Which is totally logical, because they’ve got, basically, two awesome young goalkeepers and what’s left of Maurice Edu, plus 9 traffic cones.
And the Colorado Rapids? We got… two national games also. A game away against DC United on March 20. And our only Friday night game of the year, the final Rocky Mountain Cup match of the year against Real Salt Lake on August 26. That’s it.
And that all makes sense to me. In 2015, we were terrible. We lost a lot, and tied a lot, and won… not a lot. We played boring soccer. We lacked a marquee player to draw the league’s attention. There are no strong indications that things will be different in 2016.
The Galaxy are appointment television. The Seattle Sounders (14 televised matches), with a likely attacking trio of Jordan Morris, Obafemi Martins, and Clint Dempsey are a team that I’ll go to see anytime. Ditto the Timbers (14 matches) with Darlington Nagbe feeding Fanendo Adi. Ditto OCSC (13 matches) and that Kaka - Cyle Larin hookup. Those are things I want to watch.
I love the Rapids, but I felt guilty for the three or four times we were on national TV last year. Except in that first match against FC Dallas on Unimas when we went berserk for a 4-0 win, the Rapids regularly played ghastly soccer for all the nation to see. Somewhere in Boise, Idaho and MacArthur, Texas and BumbleFornication New Jersey, kids tuned in a weekend match featuring Sebastian Giovinco, and stole their parents credit card and bought a Toronto FC kit. I assure you, no such nefarious transactions occurred to acquire a Marcelo Sarvas jersey.
It breaks my heart that the Rapids don’t merit to be seen by the whole country. And yet I believe we got exactly what we deserved. I pray the team can splash the cash and develop the ballclub that starts turning heads in the next few years.
There is one upside. I get to listen to Richard Fleming call the game for the ‘Pids, and not (shudder) Ramses Sandoval. But I’d rather let Flem catch a break once in a while, in exchange for a team everyone in America would make an appointment to watch playing soccer.