It’s down to T.O., L.A. to host Cup

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:16 PM ET

Toronto soccer fans shouldn’t get in line for their MLS Cup tickets just yet.

Major League Soccer issued a statement on Wednesday refuting a report that its November championship game had been awarded to Toronto.

“MLS hopes to announce the site of MLS Cup 2010 in the near future,” read a statement from league spokesman Will Kuhns. “All three bids submitted have considerable merit, and we look forward to a fantastic championship week in November.”

The three bids are Toronto, Los Angeles and New York. But, really, it’s a battle between L.A. and T.O.

League commissioner Don Garber said on Tuesday that MLS is looking forward to putting a game in the new Red Bull Arena, but doesn’t want to have the championship there in the New Jersey stadium’s first year.

There have also been reports of a Philadelphia bid, but MLS was clear that that city is not in the running. While the expansion Union’s new 18,500-seat PPL Park is set to open June 27, it isn’t complete yet.

Garber acknowledged that Toronto was a leading candidate, but didn’t discuss the L.A. bid.

Last season, for the first time, the MLS Cup was moved into prime time on Sunday — away from its traditional afternoon slot. ESPN liked it there, and likely would not wantto alter that.

The CFL has experimented in the past with placing its divisional playoffs in prime time, so there is a chance an MLS Cup at BMO Field could go head-to-head against a Western or Eastern football final on Nov. 21. And, on the wild chance that the Argonauts would be good enough to make the CFL’s final four, Toronto sports fans could be presented with an interesting choice.

Even if the games don’t start at the same time, imagine a CFL playoff at the Rogers Centre and the MLS Cup down Lake Shore Blvd. on the same day.

Moving the soccer final to Saturday would be next to impossible, with college football dominating ESPN and ABC’s schedules.

Los Angeles has hosted the MLS Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2008.

In 1998, the game was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The California bid has the weather advantage, but the effect of weather on the decision is minimal at best.

MLS has awarded November championship games for Foxboro, Mass., Washington D.C., and Columbus, Ohio, in the past.

steven.sandor@sunmedia.ca


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