Hurricane Sandy has forced MLS to make changes to the 2012 playoff schedule this week. On Oct. 31, commissioner Don Garber announced that D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls will be swapping the dates for the home games. Red Bull Arena was not severely damaged during the storms, but power has not been restored. Some fans have responded negatively to the change thanks to a recent article from MLSsoccer.com that found that teams that host the second leg of the playoff series get an advantage.
Changes to the Schedule
The MLS playoffs officially started on Oct. 31 with the first knockout match between the Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo. Although the Fire's loss of 1-2 and elimination from the playoffs grabbed headlines, it was Major League Soccer's decision to alter the rest of the schedule that continues to garner attention.
Red Bull Arena was fortunate not to experience flooding from hurricane Sandy, but it still has problems with electricity. The power has been out since Oct. 29, and officials do not believe it will be restored for the next match. Commissioner Don Garber has shared that D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls have agreed to make changes to the schedule by swapping the dates of the home games. The Oct. 3 match, originally scheduled for Red Bull Arena, will now be played at RFK Stadium, and the Oct. 7 game will return to Red Bull Arena.
Fan Reactions to the MLS Change
Some fans have reacted negatively to the announcement from MLS about swapping the home games for D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. Although both teams will still have the opportunity to host a home game, a recent article published on MLSsoccer.com is raising questions about unfair advantages. A historical analysis of data from previous seasons shows that teams hosting the second leg of a playoff series have an advantage.
There have been several suggestions that the issue could be eliminated by forcing both teams to play in neutral locations for the series, but MLS is not interested. Since Red Bull Arena does not have generators capable of handling a game on Oct. 3, the league believes it has already found the right solution.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.