The CONCACAF Champions League labors in relative obscurity with scant respect.
On some game days it’s overshadowed by its more illustrious relative across the pond.
American fans, and the domestic soccer establishment for that matter, haven’t quite embraced the largely inferior regional international rivalries that prompt coaches like Bruce Arena of the Galaxy to field reserves and youngsters for what often amounts to a midweek distraction.
And even television has relegated the product to a minor channel (in the case of last night’s game, Fox Soccer Plus, which apparently hasn’t folded even if older brother Fox Soccer itself has).
But if you haven’t watched the highlights of last night’s game yet, check them out above.
Three goals in 30 minutes allowed the Galaxy to imperiously swat their opponents away while qualifying for the next stage of the competition with ease.
The first two goals came encouragingly from youngsters Jack McBean and Chandler Hoffman, while reserve veteran Laurent Courtois provided the highlight reel goal of the evening with a lovely strike.
And it was all over within the first half hour of the game.
EPL ratings, led by the 852,000 viewers who watched Sunday’s Manchester United-Manchester City derby on NBCSN — making it the second most-watched EPL game on cable television ever, — are again fast outpacing MLS.
Still, MLS games, Soccer America reported, are getting a modest lift from EPL coverage and are now averaging 142,000 per game, up 60 percent.
The bottom line for NBC, according to a news release today:
The 27 English-language games on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC drew a total of 9.1 million viewers – up 92% from the 4.8 million total for the first five weeks of live action on ESPN and Fox Soccer last year. In addition, NBCSN’s Premier League telecasts are averaging 391,000 viewers – a 70% jump over the average posted by ESPN, ESPN2 and Fox Soccer after five weeks last year (230,000).
Cool, overcast conditions in the South Bay Friday undoubtedly made Seattle feel at home ahead of the pivotal, nationally televised Galaxy-Sounders clash Saturday in Carson.
Landon Donovan, who was not made available to reporters Thursday, reportedly remains an injury doubt for the game that presumably will also feature a replacement in central defense for A.J. DeLaGarza, apparently out with a dislocated elbow.
Clint Dempsey, meanwhile, will look for his first Seattle goal since his big money move from the EPL, while Galaxy President Chris Klein was rewarded Thursday for his leadership of the club with a new deal.
Here’s gameday details for those of you heading to StubHub Center.
Well, them and experienced backups Pablo Mastroeni and Chivas USA castoff Laurent Courtois in what was by all accounts an unattractive grind of a game, but got the home team exactly the result they needed both in this competition and to set up Saturday’s big clash against Seattle with rested regulars. Beat writer Phil Collin was at the game and filed this report.
Here’s the Galaxy starting XI, which included two players making their Galaxy debuts, BTW: Brian Rowe – Rafael Garcia, Tommy Meyer, Kofi Opare, Greg Cochrane – Michael Stephens, Pablo Mastroeni, Laurent Courtois – Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean, Chandler Hoffman
*The Galaxy play tonight at 7 o’clock in their second CONCACAF Champions League group game in Carson.
*Meanwhile, Saturday’s opponents have a surplus of options for their starting XI.
*Chivas USA President Jose David, a non-soccer guy much reviled by the club’s hardcore supporters, is out after just 11 months in the job where he was better known for spawning racial discrimination lawsuits than success on the field, replaced by a lawyer and bean counter from the mothership. Ho hum.