This week’s show focuses on the MLS – Major League Soccer – as it comes to the end of its 2008 season. We look back at some of the winners and the losers and, oh yes, David Beckham!

Podcast 16: Worksheet

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Columbus Crew from Ohio are the new Major League Soccer champions after beating New York Red Bulls 3-1 in Los Angeles’ Home Depot Stadium last weekend before a full house of 27.000 fans. The Ohio side were always in control and deservedly won their first ever title, particularly as they had the best regular season record as well.

Of course, like other major sports in the USA, there are conferences, or divisions (a western and an eastern) as well as a play-off system in place in its football season. The best eight teams then play a knock out competition at the end of the regular season. New York had sneaked into the play-offs but then hit a run a form that saw them beat Western Conference winners Houston and then Real Salt Lake in the semi finals while at the same stage Columbus defeated Chicago Fire 2-1 despite going behind to a goal from former Fulham star Brian McBride.

Columbus is a real hotbed of soccer in the States with the national team often playing their home matches there (especially when Mexico come to play!) but though they are regarded as a strong club they still have some way to catch DC United’s record of four titles.

The League has been running for thirteen years now and is generally in good health. Average crowd size is just over 16.000 with the LA Galaxy the best-supported club in the league with an average of 26.000. Considering that they are one of the worst teams in the league it must be due to something, or someone, else. That would be David Beckham, of course, who continues to draw the fans and the publicity. He had an okay season playing in 26 matches and scoring five times. He also had eight assists. ‘Becks’ is off on loan to Milan for a couple of months while the MLS takes a break and we wonder if he will return in March for the 2009 season.

And there will be changes in the MLS next season. Currently there are 14 clubs but that number will increase to 15 when the Seattle Sounders enter the league as the latest expansion club. There will be two or maybe three more new teams in the near future with bids from cities like Ottawa, Vancouver and a rather intriguing one from Miami as they are being backed by Barcelona. There are also talks of a possible one division, two-campaign season similar to many south American leagues sometime in the future.

Beckham’s team mate at LA Galaxy, Landon Donovan is another one going to Europe, he will be playing at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and this season’s top scorer – he notched 20 goals in the 30 game season – will be hoping to do better than he did in two previous spells in Germany.

The MLS player of the season was Argentinian midfielder Guillermo Schellotto from Columbus Crew which was apt as he not only played at a high level throughout the campaign, he also had assists for all three of the goals in the final last week. It will be interesting to see how he and his team mates at Columbus Crew fare in the CONCACAF Champions League next season.

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  • Nice to hear MLS is growing and more and more have patronizing the games. This would help exercise sportmanship, though the league has been in the limelight for quite a while. Growing sport stars/teams has comming there way out.

  • I watched the MLS final and very good it was too (excuse the patronising tone). Remember, this is a league that exports most of its best players once they reach a decent level. The league is improving steadily, crowds are growing and with new teams coming in there is a bright future for US soccer.

PodcastEpisode 106