Bizarre MLS Scheduling on the Fourth

Am I the only one that thinks it odd that D.C. United is not playing on the Fourth of July? Shouldn't there be a marquee game tonight at RFK with lots of pre- and post-game pomp and circumstance? If ever a game should be a big annual affair each and every year, this is it. The Fourth of July in our nation's Capital--seems like a no-brainer, and apparently it is for the Washington Nationals (at home today against the San Francisco Giants).

But this isn't the only strange Major League Soccer scheduling over the last week. MLS has teams in two countries, Canada and US, and both nations have celebrated their birthdays this week (Canada Day was on Sunday, July 1st, and our birthday is, of course, today). So, how did MLS take advantage of these two big national holidays, especially when both fell on days of the week (Wednesday and Sunday) that MLS regularly uses for games?

By my estimation, there are three (OK, maybe four) MLS cities that fans would most closely identify with the Fourth of July for historical reasons: Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston (and perhaps New York). Yet none are playing at home on the Fourth. Perhaps here in Washington it's been decided that a big game at RFK tonight wouldn't draw well due to all the festivities going on down at the Mall. Or, perhaps the city has asked D.C. United not to schedule a match due to fears the transportation infrastructure will be overrun by the crowds coming downtown for fireworks tonight. There is a concert at RFK tonight, however, so did that trump United? And what about the Philadelphia Union and the New England Revolution (and the New York Red Bulls)? None of them have home games tonight either.

In Canada, MLS didn't schedule a single game on Canada Day. To be fair, no MLS teams played on Sunday, July 1st, perhaps because of the Euro 2012 Final that day. But the Euro final was in the afternoon here on the East Coast (and even earlier on the West Coast), and night games could have easily been scheduled. Did the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps really not want a game on their national holiday?

It actually appears MLS intentionally tried to not take advantage of the Fourth of July and Canada Day in their scheduling. How else can you explain Sporting KC playing away at the Montreal Impact on the Fourth of July? Did our French-speaking Canadian friends really insist to MLS Headquarters that they had to have a home match on the Fourth? Would they really not have preferred playing this game at home on Canada Day?

A few teams have great Fourth of July traditions. The Colorado Rapids come to mind. Having been to a match on the Fourth at old Mile High Stadium with more than 50,000 fans and a big fireworks show, it was a terrific event. And, if you are a Rapids fan, you can count on it every year (with one exception since the founding of MLS) as one of your team's traditions.

So, here's to hoping MLS will take better advantage of these holidays next season. But, with no D.C. United soccer in Washington on the Fourth, enjoy this video from D.C. United of this season's highlights set to music. If this doesn't get you pumped to celebrate America's birthday, what will?

D.C. United Fourth of July Celebration (via dcunited)