Monday, November 12, 2007

A kick in the pants

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about Washington, D.C.
No, I wasn’t preoccupied with Congress or President Bush.

I had more important things on my mind. Like sports, of course.

In case you were not aware of it, the eyes of the world’s sports community are about to turn to Washington, D.C. They won’t be trying to figure out how the Eagles managed to escape with a win.

Instead, they will be focused on RFK Stadium, where Major League Soccer will hold its MLS Cup this coming weekend. It amounts to the Super Bowl of the professional soccer world.

World is the key word here. The game continues to be much bigger around the globe than it is here at home in the United States. A huge group from this area, headed by a group of soccer fanatics who call themselves the Sons of Ben, will be headed to D.C. for the occasion.

It was thought that they would be celebrating two things this weekend. First would be the MLS Cup, but maybe even more important was the expected announcement that one of two new franchises would be awarded to the Philadelphia region.

That team is expected to make its home at a new stadium to be built in Chester.

But the announcement isn’t going to happen, at least not this week. The league will announce one of their two new franchises is going to Seattle. But the announcement on the second team has been delayed.

That’s apparently because the group of investors backing the Chester project, which already has received a commitment for some $30 million for the project from Delaware County, is still waiting to hear if the state is going to get on board.

So the project is in a holding pattern. Most believe this is merely a delay, not the death knell for Chester getting a MLS franchise.

If they don’t get the franchise, it’s very unlikely that the stadium project would go forward. The $115 million, 20,000-seat stadium would be built in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge. It would be the latest jewel in what has been an impressive economic renaissance along the city’s waterfront. The project would create 1,000 construction jobs, and an additional 360 full-time jobs once it’s in operation.

The franchise in Seattle will be the league’s 15th club, and is expected to begin play in 2008. The MLS wants to have 16 clubs in operation by 2010. That 16th club could be the Chester franchise.

But that timetable may now be up in the air.

Of course, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without mentioning the other big sports event held in D.C. over the weekend.
How ’bout dem Iggles?

Yes, I managed to get another prediction wrong. Actually, I thought I might have it just about on the money for the second week in a row (I picked them to lose, 19-13).

But then Brian Westbrook did what he seems to do each year, put the team on his back and single-handedly salvage a season. Remember the punt return against the Giants a few years back? Then the big win against Tampa Bay? Yesterday he was a show all to himself as he took a screen pass from Donovan McNabb and weaved his way through the Redskins’ defense to put the Birds on top.

Everyone will point to this game, and the fact that the Dolphins come to town next week, as evidence the season can be salvaged. Not me.
I still think this team lacks talent. They won yesterday because the Redskins did everything but put a pretty bow on the package.

McNabb still is frighteningly erratic for a veteran starting QB in the NFL.
Talk to me in two weeks, when the Birds face the Patriots in another prime-time Sunday night matchup. They win that game I’ll believe again. Hell, if they stay within 20 points of the Pats, I might be converted.

As it is, I don’t think this team is going anywhere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see a story on MLS. I'm here in Brooklyn pulling for a soccer team in my home town of Philly...hoping for good news in Chester soon. I'll be attending MLS Cup this weekend.

November 12, 2007 at 9:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This region really could use a new major league team to increase our likelihood (or lack of) winning a major championship! Plus, soccer is a great sport to go watch and get involved with inside a stadium along with other fans. C'mon you state legislators!

November 15, 2007 at 7:52 PM 

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