Yesterday was Showcase Sunday for Major League Soccer with two nationally televised games on at the same time the NFL had games on.
During the late afternoon NFL matchups, the Los Angeles Galaxy traveled to Portland to take on the Timbers in a Western Conference battle for playoff position. It was broadcast nationally on NBC, and the Timbers held on for a 1-0 win.
Portland solidified third place in the Western Conference and gained ground on the fourth- and fifth-place teams, the Galaxy and Colorado Rapids. The top five teams in each conference make the playoffs in the MLS. In the other game, the Seattle Sounders hosted the New York Red Bulls on ESPN.
MLS Showcase Sunday chose to show off the two best home venues and crowds in the league by featuring Portland and Seattle. Fans at those venues are completely engaged and focused for the full 90 minutes and it shows up well on television. Additionally, the two visiting teams on Sunday were two of the most menacing opponents MLS can offer up.
I watched parts of the nightcap match between the Sounders and Red Bulls on ESPN. Unfortunately, New York’s Thierry Henry did not make the trip out to Seattle (he typically does not play on artificial turf) and Clint Dempsey did not play (inactive-status unknown). But Eddie Johnson (for the Sounders) and Tim Cahill (for the Red Bulls) are two rising stars for the league and they were both on the field Sunday night.
The Sounders and Red Bulls have two of the best records in MLS, so the match was being played with a potential Supporters’ Shield title on the line. The Supporters’ Shield is given to the the team with the best regular season record in the league. It also earns that team an automatic entry into the CONCACAF Champions League the following year.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football on NBC were playing a helluva game. Give it up to Tom Brady for leading another great Patriot team. Atlanta might have to end up being a Wildcard team because of New Orleans, but I still think they can become an elite team again this season.
It was tied at 10-10 at halftime (1.5 to 1.5 in soccer scoring) and stayed a good game for a while.
The international football game got going when the American football game was in the second quarter and the international football game ended while the American game was in the fourth quarter. The international football was a semi-entertaining 1-1 draw. I watched it during the commercials of the American football game, which ended with the Patriots dominating and then hanging on for a dramatic win over the Atlanta Falcons 30-23.
The two football leagues gave American sports fans options Sunday night. It’s always fun to be flipping channels, but it took a an American soccer fan to be able to do so.
Click to See other Flipping Channels: Soccer and the NBA Finals, Soccer and the World Series
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com
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