The lights were still fading at the HDC after the Galaxy's comeback win over DC United on Saturday night when the hype began for LA-New York. Today, the league's website features a prominent story on the game, juxtaposing images of the American poster boy Landon Donovan with Mexican captain Rafa Marquez, the #LAvNY hashtag included in the visual. Get on Twitter, MLS fans, and tweet your heart out about this potential classic.
It hardly matters if the boys in the MLS web office originated the hashtag, or if they simply appropriated it to pump up the hype levels for Galaxy versus the Red Bulls; all of the factors at play have them scrambling to imbue this game with a "can't miss" aura. The league's two biggest markets. The highest paid players in American soccer. The US National Team's biggest star versus the captain of the Mexican National Team. Henry, Marquez, Angel, Donovan, Beckham, etc., etc. The "rematch" if you will, a chance for New York to avenge the loss they suffered at the hands of the Galaxy at Red Bull Arena last month. A potential MLS Cup preview.
No offense to Columbus, Real Salt Lake, and everyone else likely headed for the playoffs, of course.
As distasteful as this big market hype may be to fans around the rest of the league, it's part of the deal when it comes to marketing the league and the game. Wouldn't it be outright neglect if MLS or MLSsoccer.com did not go above and beyond when opportunities like this present themselves? Even if LA and New York aren't the two best teams in the league (though LA might be again, along with RSL), they are both headed down the stretch of the regular season with legitimate shots at the title. The star power on display when these two teams meet, and now with Beckham back it's even greater than it was last month in New Jersey, is unmatched in MLS history. The league has invested much into the Designated Player "program", and this is the type of game out of which they might hope for some return from a profile standpoint.
Besides, it's Los Angeles versus New York. Soccer or any other sport, when the two cities collide, there's a certain cachet.
You don't have to like the hype, and some of the language that you'll see is a bit over-the-top. Case in point, from Greg Lalas' commentary on the game at MLSsoccer.com:
"If you're a fan of either club, this is the must-see game of the season. Hell, even if you're a fan of another club, you have to watch this. Because what's at stake goes well beyond LA or the Big Apple. With all the big names, the attention this match is sure to get worldwide, and the possible ramifications for the standings, this game should be a high point for MLS."
Some of you probably just retched a little bit. Of course, you'd be naive to expect anything else out of that particular source. Some of you might even buy that there's a conspiracy to put these two teams in the MLS Cup final. This is the perfect week to pull out that new tin foil hat.
Hell, you could even tweet about it. Just don't forget to use the #LAvNY hashtag when you do.