Thursday, July 17, 2008

MLS to West Ham: Please Be Sure to Stow Your Carry-on Luggage in the Overhead Compartment

It’s really difficult not to make fun of MLS when stories like this one pop up in the international press. (Okay, so the Sun isn’t exactly Pulitzer Prize material, but you get the idea.)

The story goes something like this: West Ham United agrees to play a couple friendlies against the MLS All-Stars and the Columbus Crew, with half a million pounds being paid in exchange for the “right” to avoid injury on astroturf fieldturf. Part of the arrangements included the promise of business class travel. Only problem is that the travel agency that MLS booked the charter flights with went under.

MLS then had to scramble to book alternate arrangements, and the West Ham players were left bitching and moaning about the unusual itinerary:

First, stay overnight at a hotel near Heathrow, where two separate planes will whisk the Hammers away - in economy class - all the way to Chicago – with one flight leaving hours after the first - total flight time around nine hours.

Then a layover at O’Hare, which is arguably the worst airport in the world, and another flight to Columbus, where West Ham will play the Crew on Sunday. The team will then make their way up to Toronto where they’ll play the MLS All-Stars, before returning back to jolly ol’ England, assuming that the wings of their econo-plane don’t fall off.

This incident is all fairly embarrassing, but to be honest not all the blame can be placed at the feet of MLS when the recession is sinking airlines left and right. (Don’t forget the San Antonio Spurs travel debacle in the NBA Playoffs.)

That said, stories like this suggest that MLS is a long way off from international respectability. It’s difficult to claim that you are world class when your invited guests have to fly economy class.


Mike Georger said...

west ham arent exactly world class either. theyre lucky the man city cruise liner was already rented out or theyd be rumbling across the atlantic on that.

Andrew said...

I think it says more about MLS professionalism when they contract West Ham for the All-Star game. Shouldn't they try to bring the CL winner or some league winner over for the game? Wouldn't that lend more credibility to the league?

I mean, credibility is what the league wants, right? Are they gonna get that playing West Ham?

Goat said...

Agreed. It's kinda like the Atlanta Hawks touring Europe.

Chad said...

The Atlanta Hawks? Ouch. As apparently the only West Ham fan who comes here regularly, I wish I could argue. Unfortunately, you're pretty much right. If you're not a West Ham fan, it's tough to get excited about these games.

That said, I'm excited to be seeing the Hammers live in Columbus. And will be watching the game against the All Stars while getting blissfully smashed at The Globe here in Chicago.

Another consideration for MLS: They want and need to bring over one of the big 4. But how do they expect to convince Man U or Chelsea to come over, when those teams see what happens to the current guests. MLS should have treated this as a way to say to the big 4, this is how we'll treat you and why we'll make it worth your while to come over.

ü75 said...


2006 MLS XI 1-0 Chelsea

Fact is, no European team is really a good measuring stick in July/August.