Impressed as Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber was with the host city of MLS Cup 2009, he said Sunday that it is unlikely the game will return to Seattle anytime soon.
That is, unless Sounders FC plays its way into the host’s position.
Garber said Real Salt Lake’s penalty kicks win over Los Angeles at Qwest Field may have marked the final time that the MLS title game is played at a neutral site. The issue may not be decided for a couple of months, but Garber said the time may have come for the final game to be played on the home pitch of the higher-seeded finalist.
“I think we’re getting to the point where the fans matter more than anything else,” he said. “And a home fan deserves the right – whether it’s a small market like Kansas City or a temporary stadium like San Jose – to host a final.”
Even if the league continues with its policy of determining host cities in advance, he implied there are many other league cities that deserve their chance before the game returns to Seattle.
Garber made clear that was no reflection on Seattle’s hosting of this game. He said the 46,011 crowd exceeded the league’s expectations. And beyond ticket sales, he said the city put on a good show.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you, I was out taking pictures on my iPhone. The march to the match, and the logo and branding and just the celebration of the sport in this city is nothing short of spectacular.”
There was a strong Sounders’ presence as part of MLS Cup 2009.
Players and front office personnel were introduced before the game. Sounders fans in the crowd responded by raising their scarves and by chanting “Seattle” and “Sounders” one more time.
Seattle forward Fredy Montero also officially received his MLS newcomer of year award at halftime while the stadium video board showed some highlights from his season.
One Sounder not in attendance was coach Sigi Schmid who remained Overlake Hospital recovering from pneumonia.
Schmid, 56, had been admitted on Thursday night after experiencing difficulty breathing. Sounders representatives have said his condition has stabilized and he could be released Monday.