[DATEBOOK] About a month or so after AEG president Tim Lewieke brought it up while speaking to reporters, MLS has confirmed that Home Depot Center host MLS Cup 2011.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to once again host MLS Cup, our league’s most important game, in the premier soccer stadium in this country, The Home Depot Center,” Galaxy president Tom Payne said in a press release. “Los Angeles is very familiar with hosting major events and this championship game is going to be embraced by the entire city. We would like nothing more than to be playing in MLS Cup 2011 at home in front of our fans.”
What is more interesting -- aside from the obvious incentive for the Galaxy to reach the final it will host -- is the date; MLS has expanded its playoffs from eight to 10 teams yet has retained a three-weekend format leading up to the championship game to be played at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local) on Nov. 20.
There had been speculation that to accommodate an additional round of wild-card games, the league could spread out the playoffs to play each round on a weekend, which would require moving back the final at least a week. Pushing back the final would necessitate playing it after Thanksgiving, which the league has never done.
Instead, a round of games will have to be played midweek. It could be the first round involving wild-card teams -- with the two survivors advancing to play the conference champions in two-game series -- immediately after the conclusion of the regular season Oct. 23. Or the midweek games could be played in between the first and second weekends of postseason play.
Home Depot Center will host its fourth MLS Cup. The year it opened, 2003, San Jose beat Chicago, 4-2, in the league’s highest-scoring final. A year later, another offensive display crowned D.C. United a 3-2 winner over Kansas City. In 2008, Columbus rallied to overpower New York, 3-1.
In 1998, Southern California hosted MLS Cup at the Rose Bowl, then the Galaxy’s home field, and expansion club Chicago upset D.C. United, 2-1. Only one MLS team – D.C. United in 1997 at RFK Stadium – has won the MLS Cup as host.
All three previous HDC MLS Cups have been denoted as sellouts of 27,000, though other games listed as sellouts – such as the 1-1 tie with New York last weekend – seemed to fill up more of the facility. The game is part of the Galaxy’s season-ticket package and is also included in some of the team’s mini-plans.
MLS CUP VENUES
2011 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2010 – BMO Filed (Toronto)
2009 – Qwest Field (Seattle)
2008 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2007 – RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
2006 – Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
2005 – Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
2004 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2003 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2002 – Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
2001 – Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
2000 – RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
1999 – Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
1998 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
1997 – RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
1996 – Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)