The Real Madrid game
I really, really didn't want to comment on this, but since everyone else has, I might as well too. First of all, let's remember that MLS was invited to this game last year and didn't go. I don't remember a positive reaction from that decision even remotely comparable to the negative reaction from the decision to go to this game. Of course, the truely negative stuff didn't come out until after the game was over. Rest assured, if MLS had won the game, no one would be saying it was a waste of time.
And it was not a meaningless game, no matter what the final score was. If you have the chance to prove yourself against the very best, then you should do it. It was a good experience for every one of those players, win or lose. Playing in that game is far more important in the career of a young guy like Jose Burciaga than playing the Minnesota Thunder. Yes, a few US Open Cup games were disrupted. But it's hard to care deeply about that tournament when it's never on tv, few people attend, and teams rest their stars half the time anyway. The prestige of the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu, that "meaningless game," is probably greater than the Open Cup. Of course we shouldn't interrupt our season, even if that game is more prestigious, but it's already interrupted many times for World Cup qualifying. If you're willing to take away stars for many weekends of league games, then doing it for the Open Cup is a no-brainer.
So why did Real Madrid invite MLS? They did owe the league a game after canceling the allstar game last year. But, let's not forget that the rumors of an expansion team have been there for a while now. They're now trying to build a "theme park" in Miami, and stopped here on their preseason tour. It makes too much sense to ignore. Beckham seems set on coming here in five years or so, so why not as part of a Real Madrid team? Instant attraction right there, and their young talent would far outshine that of Chivas. They see value in the American market, which is getting bigger for soccer. It was a great honor for the league to get invited to the game, which was pretty much inconceivable a few years ago. But even if this doesn't lead to an expansion team, it will still have been worth it. It was worth it for the media attention, the relationship with a top club, player development, and increased worldwide recognition of our league and our players. Yes, the world did see us get destroyed. But that means about as much as our win over Fulham: nothing.