Sunday was the fourth MLS Cup I've covered. I was at the 2005 one in Dallas, the 2004 one here and MLS Cup 98 at the Rose Bowl. It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since I first attended MLS Cup. I was just starting out that year as the LA Galaxy's 1998 team (one of the best teams in MLS history) was my first pro beat.
Anyway, there were 51,350 people in attendance at the Rose Bowl that day. It was an astonishing number then and it's even more astonishing now. I wonder if Sunday's game had been played at the Rose Bowl if there would have been anywhere near that amount of people show up.
Maybe it was the fresh new smell the league had back in 1998. Many people were excited about the league back then, about the prospects of the future, just excited to have a professional league in the United States. Maybe it was the Galaxy's success as they appeared all but certain to host MLS Cup that year before the Fire knocked them out. I remember how the PA announcer called out the Galaxy's name for some reason and how the stadium immediately grew quite loud. Deafening even.
Perhaps it was a combination of both the excitement over the third-year league and the Galaxy.
Whatever the case, the excitement from 1998 I don't think was matched on Sunday, 10 years later. Maybe it's complacency. Maybe we've come to expect more of the same from MLS. The league does not have dynamic players now as it did back then, although it's getting back to how it was.