Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Monday 2 July 2012

Thoughts? – Why Did MLS Choose to Overlook a Potential Canada Day Clash in Montreal?

    As one of the twenty-odd Toronto fans who made the midweek trek to Montreal for the fourth installment of the burgeoning rivalry last Wednesday, I can’t help but wonder why the match wasn’t made more friendly to the travelling fan.

    The first match between the two clubs – back in April on Easter Weekend – drew large swathes of travelers, both looking to support their side and enjoy the fruits of a few days in Montreal. But the following two opportunities – the Voyageur’s Cup match and the one in question – both fell at a time that made it much more difficult to commit to the six-hour road trip.

    A brief look at the schedule shows both clubs played at home the weekend prior – Toronto hosted New England, while Montreal welcomed Houston – while TFC returned home to face New York on Saturday and the Impact headed south to DC United.

     The scheduling is undoubtedly a difficult process and to examine sections in isolation can be fallacious, but there appears to be no reason that the rivalry match, currently a major marketing ploy and number one buzz word of the league, could not have been pushed to the weekend in an effort to make it more accessible to Canada Day revelry.

    Granted DC and New York played each other on Sunday, but a Sunday-Wednesday turnaround is no worse than a Wednesday-Saturday one; especially given the close proximity – in MLS terms – amongst the four clubs involved. Though I suppose such a shift would have denied rest to the American clubs.

    Even had the Montreal-Toronto match been pushed to Thursday night it would have enticed a few more to make the trek and now Montreal, disappointed with the turnout at their three matches at Saputo Stadium, are seeking answers as to how to better engage their local fans. A headline match against TFC could well have been the tonic for which they are searching.

    And moving the following matches to Sunday would have caused little disruption; an evening match, tied in with the final of the European Championships could have worked quite well actually.

    As the league looks to rivalries as a vehicle to draw interest from the casual fan is the innate dislike between Canada’s largest cities being overlooked?

    Initially, it made sense that a path was being cleared for a series of July 4th – Independence Day – matches and the annual post-match firework celebrations that draw lumbering thousands to normally poorly-attended matches in Dallas and Colorado – who host Toronto and Vancouver respectively, ratcheting up that pride with foreign opposition.

    But it turns out neither New York or DC are even playing on Wednesday; the Red Bulls play Sunday in New England, another local side, while DC has a bye-week and is off until the 15th.

    Did MLS drop the ball and sellout the Impact by scheduling a marquee matchup against a hated opponent in an easily overlooked midweek slot?

    The final remaining meeting between the sides falls on one of the final Saturdays of the season – October 20th, to be exact – and though many would hope it carries the weight of two clubs battling for a spot in the playoffs, in all likelihood it will already be a dead-rubber, a contest of pride and not of substance.

    Year one of the MLS edition of the Impact-TFC rivalry is nearing the end; Bob de Klerk’s outburst and a couple of modest routs aside – nice though they were - it has yet to live up to the expected – and much hoped for – hype.

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