The next time you’re on a Southwest Airlines flight, you might look across the aisle and see Landon Donovan in a middle seat.
What? Landon Donovan on a Southwest flight? Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer and the U.S. men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer in a middle seat? How can that be?
Because Major League Soccer flies commercial, baby!
MLS is the only major U.S. professional sports league whose teams fly like the rest of us, stuffed into economy class and praying the guy in front of you doesn’t fully recline his seat — citing competitive balance and cost factors, it limits teams to four charter flights a year.
This recalls for Couch Slouch the first rule of business:
If you have an important out-of-town meeting or soccer match, leave nothing to chance.
Flying on, say, Delta leaves plenty to chance.
As for Donovan, I might suggest he shell out the extra $28 for Southwest’s Business Select, giving him a premium drink and priority boarding.
Frankly, it’s embarrassing for a six-time MLS Cup champion to have a C-12 boarding pass.
Commuting on Southwest, otherwise, isn’t half-bad. After all, bags fly free.
Besides, Southwest’s boarding process should remind MLS players of an indirect free kick.
Still, Donovan, currently an L.A. Galaxy forward, told the Los Angeles Times that the league seems Mickey Mouse by continuing to fly commercial.
“There’s a perception and an image,” he said. “We’re on a Southwest flight to Kansas City and a lady in front of us said, ‘Why are you guys flying Southwest?’ So if we want to be Major League Soccer, not minor league soccer, and we want to be like the other sports, eventually we have to get there.”
(It might comfort Donovan to know that many professional bowlers travel from event to event via RV.)
Alas, MLS teams don’t just fly commercial, they’re flying coach.
And, as we all know, flying coach of late is like being stuck in a telephone booth with a gaggle of rabid weasels and the entire Kardashian clan while trying to eat a plate of barbecue ribs in a straitjacket.
I believe it was Demosthenes who first said, “Flying coach gets you nowhere.”
(Then again, who can afford first class? I’ve only flown up front on somebody else’s dime. Plus there’s no real value there any more — for, like, an extra $1,200, all you get is more legroom and a hot towel. Hey, I’ll just join Planet Fitness at a fraction of the cost if I want some towels.)
MLS, of course, is stuck in coach because, like most of America, it can’t afford to pay more.
Quite simply, there is a direct correlation between TV dollars and travel expenditures.
High ratings = first class.
Low ratings = economy class.
At the moment, MLS’s viewing numbers don’t even get the league to Economy Plus.
Heck, MLS ratings are so minuscule, I’m surprised they don’t travel by covered wagon.
(Yes, MLS viewership was up significantly this season from last on ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision, but it remains the third most-watched soccer league on in its own country. Taped poker — taped poker! — still outdraws live MLS matches; then again, poker has more action, with better commentary.)
Anyway, the MLS conference finals commence next week – in the form of the oh-so-last-century, cockamamie two-legged aggregate series format; for that alone, all MLS teams should have to go Greyhound — with Toronto FC vs. the Montreal Impact in the East and the Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders in the West.
I am picking Toronto and Seattle, because they have booked morning nonstop flights, which have a better chance of departing on time.
Speaking of which, sooner or later — and I’m prognosticating that it’s going to happen this year — kickoff for MLS Cup might be delayed 90 minutes because of a system-wide Delta computer outage.
Q. Mavericks center Andrew Bogut just told USA Today that everybody in the NBA is “so two-faced” and “fake” and the league is “full of people who are full of [expletive] and shallow.” But he didn’t name names. Any guesses? (William Speck; Chicago)
A. Actually, I thought he was speaking of Congress.
Q. Are you concerned that CBS showing the squirrel running onto the field during last week’s Colts-Packers game will just encourage other squirrels attending NFL games to do the same? (John Oetting; Columbia, Md.)
A. This might explain last week’s election results.
Q. You make me laugh once in a while, but don’t you realize you’re a broken record on the same issues again and again and again? (Todd Johnson; Schenectady, N.Y.)
A. What’s that old expression. . . . even a broken record is right twice a day?
Q. With the polls being so far off on Clinton vs. Trump, is it possible that Rutgers will be national champion in January? (Alan Hlava; Mazeppa, Minn.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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