MLS managed score English giants Manchester United for their all star game for the second straight year. Despite the fact that it might have been interesting to see someone else, there's no doubt that Man U is a big a get and a big draw. Even if we saw it last year, getting probably the second biggest soccer club in the world to play the MLS All Stars is a good idea. So how did MLS managed to foul it up? By putting the game in tiny Red Bull Arena.
The all star game will be one stop on a five match tour through the United States that Man U is making in what amounts to their preseason. Here are the dates and locations. Tell me if you spot the problem.
You've got one of the biggest teams in the world coming to play in the biggest market in the U.S. They're playing in your all star game, which is televised nationally.... and they decide to play the game at 25K seat arena in Harrison, N.J.? This seems like a major gaffe on the part of MLS. I know Red Bull Arena was recently built and the owners want to make themselves feel good about that, but this is pennywise and pound foolish. Actually, it's probably not even penny wise. Fact is that 82,500 fans (the capacity of the new Meadowlands) in the seats for your game is better than 25,000.
The game belongs at the New Meadowlands because Red Bull Arena is simply too small to handle the event. What's worse, MLS knows this as evidenced by the fact that they elected to play the game in Chicago at Soldier Field rather than little Toyota Park where the Fire play. They opted to play the game in D.C. at FedEx Field, which is twice the size of DC United's home (crappy RFK). When Manchester United came to Philadelphia last season did they play the game at brand new PPL Park (capacity 18,500) or did they play at Lincoln Financial Field (capacity 69,000)? I'm sure you can guess.
So why move the Fire and Union games to a size appropriate location but not the All Star game? It would be interesting to hear their justification. The Giants or Jets aren't using the stadium at that time. Why would they shut out nearly 60,000 fans just to have the game at Red Bull Park?