A Modest Proposal

Posted on 01 November 2012 by Steve Long

DC United fought tooth and nail through a difficult season to earn second place and a higher seeding in the MLS playoffs only to see the more favorable second game of the series moved to the lower ranked Red Bulls. The rationale for MLS’ moving the game is sound, the infrastructure around Red Bull Arena (RBA) has been severely affected by Hurricane Sandy.

In fact, the game now moved to RBA my still have to be moved if New Jersey and New York infrastructure remains shaky and it is the intent of MLS to keep it as close to RBA as feasible if such a move is required. DC United’s fans are up in arms at the loss of a hard earned advantage that has now been given to their opponents.

That advantage will apply only if the two teams are tied on total goals after each has hosted one game and a thirty minute mini-game has to be played at RBA. United would be an aggrieved party only if the tie breaker becomes necessary, so let’s look at some ways to compensate the team if that happens.

Several options present themselves. The higher seed could be given a one goal advantage in the mini-game. The higher seed could be allowed one extra substitute in that game. The higher seed could be awarded a victory in lieu of penalty kicks if the score remains tied after the extra game. Each of those solutions rewards the team that has earned a higher seed.

The only concession which MLS and Red Bulls have thus far offered adds insult to injury by giving extra ticket allocations to a group of dedicated supporters who will now have a much more difficult time traveling to support their team. That idea wins a Homer Simpson “Doh!” award.

The hurricane was predictable and MLS and Red Bulls leadership apparently failed to consider any plan B or C as it approached. It’s time for them to step up, admit error, and treat DC United fairly by awarding some compensation which will be felt by the fans as well as the team.

Barring immediate relief in the mini-game itself, perhaps MLS could award DC United the Red Bulls’ first round pick in the MLS draft or allocation money or an allocation slot. Similar trades are common enough in MLS and soccer in general and I favor this solution, but only if the extra game comes to pass.

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