HARRISON NJ - AUGUST 14: A general view of Red Bull Arena during the match between the New York Red Bulls and the Los Angeles Galaxy on August 14 2010 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
MLS has four matches this week in four distinct stadiums that represent all of the venue types in MLS.
MLS has come a long ways since Crew Stadium 13 years ago and the makeup of the league's venues is very different than it was before the erector set up went up on the Ohio State Fairgrounds in 1999. This week, MLS will take us on a tour of the league's venues, touching upon almost every type of stadium in the league now.
It starts in New York, where Red Bull Arena shows off the new and magnificent and large, with a very European feel and a quality that matches its $200 million cost. Next up is the original, Crew Stadium, which looks out of place compared to the stadiums that have come since and is spartan, to say the least, but it remains the pioneer. A trip to Buck Shaw Stadium is a glance at the worst MLS has or has ever had, with it's small capacity, bench seating and sub-par everything, which is the nicest way the dump could be described. The tour comes to an end in Philadelphia, where PPL Park is a good look at the new and fantastic in a wonderful setting, but on the smaller side and distinctly American.
In four matches, we get to see all of MLS's stadium types. Well, that is except for football stadiums with turf, but the league is better off pretending those don't exist.
Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Pretty much everybody knew before the season that this would be one of the biggest matches in this Eastern Conference so MLS, in their infinite wisdom, scheduled it on the same night as the CONCACAF Champions League. Do you want to see Graham Zusi and Landon Donovan? Too bad. You have to pick one. Are you curious whether Hans Backe hates substitutions more than Bruce Arena hates the Champions League? Oh well. Suck it up.
MLS, testing our decision making skills one boneheaded decision at a time. And you thought the SAT's were hard.
Pick: Draw, 1-1.
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Andy Gruenebaum's reward for a tremendous season is a night off in September, er, a match against Chivas.
Pick: Columbus, 2-0.
Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Relegate the Timbers.
Pick: How haven't they been relegated yet?
Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United
Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
It will be fascinating to see how Danny Califf and the surging Union handles dreadful D.C., who are being dragged along by the magnificent Dwayne De Rosario. Oh wait, it's not March anymore. The season happened.
Pick: Draw, 0-0.