The reason the game has been postponed is that it's raining in Vancouver. This is not terribly unusual, you may say. Unfortunately, it's raining in Vancouver while Empire Field is covered with temporary grass for our upcoming glamourous friendly against Manchester City, from Manchester. This temporary grass, which we need for big-name opponents who won't accept anything but the best, is some sod on a tarp.
As such, despite the pitch having been covered by plastic sheeting the surface has been rendered completely unplayable by a fairly ordinary Vancouver summer shower. If this rain keeps up through the weekend then our big friendly will turn into a synchronized swimming meet. The forecast calls for rain more-or-less all day today, drizzle with chance of real rain on Sunday, and overcast on Monday, so those of you thinking about buying City tickets might want to hold off.
Of course, if not for Manchester City we'd be playing today. Games have been played at Empire in worse conditions than this on the artificial turf because the artificial turf can drain. The Whitecaps kow-towing to their almighty lords from over the pond has already hurt this team's chances in the regular season and it's now forced them to postpone a marquee match against the best team in Major League Soccer. And the friendly might not even happen anyway.
If I were a Real Salt Lake fan I'd be furious. Not Voyageurs Cup furious but pretty upset. Their team has flown all the way out to Vancouver, the most far-flung outpost in the Major League Soccer empire, for nothing. It would be one thing if the postponement were a simple act of God, but this delay is entirely down to Vancouver's insistence that they bring in Manchester City two days after an MLS league game. If I were a Salt Lake fan I'd be demanding a forfeit: this is the Whitecaps' fault.
Can someone explain to me why it's an accepted MLS tradition to bend over for European clubs like this? The friendlies sell well, sure: to ex-pats and Eurosnobs who aren't going to buy tickets next time the Columbus Crew are in town, and the hefty appearance fees do serious damage to any profit the MLS team was hoping to make. They hurt the team mid-season and they force a club to upturn its operations just to make some prima donnas from the other side of the Atlantic happy. Then a team comes over, stays in its hotel without interacting with the community beyond maybe a ticketed practice, kicks the everloving hell out of the home side, and goes on its merry way.
How does that help? What did Toronto FC gain when Real Madrid pasted them? Great Gabe Gala jokes, sure, but I don't think that's a worthwhile trade! Are we Vancouver fans really so consumed by our own inferiority that we consider watching one of England's five best teams jog around a terrible field demolishing our boys a priority?
I understand the appeal of the big-name friendly. What I don't understand is why we feel our teams must bend over to the demands of the big team. If Manchester City didn't want to play on a Wednesday and refused to accept Empire Field's normal configuration, I'd say "well then fuck off" and go find somebody else. Bring in a team from the Championship, or Serie B, or from Russia where artificial turf is common. If you're a Whitecaps fan would you really be disappointed to see Hull City or Crystal Palace in town? If you're not a Whitecaps fan, why should I care what you think?
Obviously Major League Soccer is inferior to the English Premier League. That doesn't mean we should be subservient to them. Let's grow some backbone and stop compromising our league for the sake of the foreign fan.