New York Red Bulls vs. DC United... 0 - 0. Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire... 0 - 0. Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers... 1 - 1. These aren't exactly headline worthy scorelines, but they're exactly what we got this past Saturday if you bothered to tune in for NBC's 10 hours of MLS rivalry day coverage (and of course, you at least tuned in for one of the three). A shame because the idea was solid, but the execution just never materialized with regards to on-field excitement.
What happened Saturday just goes to prove that no matter what your intentions are, you just can't script the world of soccer. I have no problem with MLS launching a rivalry weekend. In fact, I thought the idea was pretty cool heading into it. Why not get fans from all across the country fired up and buzzing about the big game? On paper it seems like a huge no brainer. In reality, however, well, I refer you to the scores above.
For its part, NBC's 10 hour coverage was pretty spectacular. If you missed out on it, that's a shame. I started Saturday at 9:30 by watching the NYRB vs. DCU game and continued all the way until we ended at the Sounders vs. Timbers Cascadia Cup game minus a few times when I had to get food or head out to the bar. And while the games ended up being duds for the most part, the MLS Breakaway show that occurred in between the matches was excellent. I now find myself wishing such a show would be on every weekend because it really helps you to follow a bunch of games at one time.
But scores don't lie. Any casual MLS fan who might have been interested in soccer were probably not converted by watching the games on NBC. While each game had it's moment of excitement, for a newcomer to the league, the nuances of soccer are still largely unknown to them and a nil-nil or 1-1 draw probably did nothing but reinforce tired tropes about soccer.
Like I said, it was a good effort by MLS and NBC, but if they were hoping this weekend would be the breakout hit for Major League Soccer in the states then they were sadly mistaken. Better luck next time, guys.
What did you think of MLS's rivalry week efforts? What about NBC's?