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Case Number 12666: Small Claims Court

Buy Houston Dynamo: MLS 2007 Cup at Amazon

Houston Dynamo: MLS 2007 Cup

A&E // 2007 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // December 23rd, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge Ryan Keefer reminds you kids to stretch thoroughly before and after games to avoid cramps.

The Charge

The complete historic match from kickoff to celebration.

The Case

I am an American soccer fan of American soccer, living in America, so by that categorization, I'm a pretty self-aware person. I know that soccer lies somewhere between arm wrestling and darts on the typical American consciousness, aside from every four years at the World Cup. The reason why this DVD has been released—the first I'm aware of—is due to the impact of signing David Beckham to the American soccer league known as Major League Soccer. His celebrity raises the league's visibility, and thus, we have DVDs like this, and one more on the way in the spring.

When it comes to soccer in the U.S. yeah, Americans weren't done any justice by their whimpering exit in the first round of the 2006 tournament, especially considering they were among the biggest breakouts of the 2002 tournament. However you would have to look back to the 1994 Cup, hosted by the U.S., to see the inspirations for the existence of Major League Soccer, which began shortly thereafter. Many people were skeptical of the league, as in the 1970s, the North American Soccer League, with visible soccer stars like Pele, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer playing in American cities, the league still managed to fold. When it was relaunched it 1996, the philosophy was simple; don't shoot for the stars, and make sure that the games are held in smaller venues. Many teams play their games in smaller 25,000-30,000 seat stadiums designed specifically for soccer, with more teams building such stadiums along the way. Ownership through the years has also been a mix of people with a passion for the sport, notably Phil Anschutz. He had holdings in several teams at one point, but as the league has grown healthier financially, local ownership groups have purchased teams who have helped develop the soccer specific stadiums mentioned earlier. Other owners like Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots) and the late Lamar Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs) had already achieved sports management success and were looking to foster interest in "the beautiful game" as well, and have done so since the league's inception.

Another tactic the league employed early on was to not sign the high priced talent, instead trying to look more towards talent in South America, promising players mixed in with the occasional name, and build a fan base of Latin fans. Plus it gives a chance for U.S. college players to stay home instead of going to Europe initially, where their skills may not have as much time to develop, as playing time would be reduced. So while a Ronaldo or Luis Figo might not have been playing here, players like Carlos Valderrama and Marco Etcheverry were, and were growing into roles that the "name" players were already experiencing.

In fact, Etcheverry's DC United team was fast becoming the predominant team to beat in the league, reaching the MLS Cup Finals in the first four years of the League's existence, winning three. In the 2001 Season, the San Jose Earthquakes won their first title and in 2002, the New England Revolution appeared in their first final. Since then, the road to the finals has seen one (or both) of these teams for most years, even after San Jose moved to Houston, where it is currently known as the Houston Dynamo. San Jose won the title again in 2003, and after DC won their fourth title in 2004, the Revolution returned to the finals in 2005, only to lose to the Los Angeles Galaxy again (LA beat New England in 2002). Houston beat New England in dramatic penalty kick fashion to win the Cup in 2006, and the teams returned again in 2007.

As of this writing, with all that's worked well for New England sports in the last four months, the Revolution appeared to be due for a long-deserved Cup. They finished the regular season with the second best record in the league, they own arguably the league's best domestic goalscorer in Taylor Twellman, and Michael Parkhurst was named Defender of the Year. The Dynamo continued to possess a solid balance of talent, with goalkeeper Pat Onstad keeping the balls out while Dwayne De Rosario created chances for their players.

The teams met in RFK Stadium, home to DC United (as a United fan, this hurt to see two teams 'borrowing' our house to play the Cup Final, but I digress) and almost 40,000 people attended the game, which saw the Revs go out on top due to an early Twellman goal, though De Rosario and Joseph Ngwenya scored second half goals to put Houston in the lead (De Rosario's was a particularly impressive header) and hold on for the win and the repeat.

This A&E disc contains the game, broken down into chapters by half and by the goals, and also includes the trophy presentation and team celebration footage, which was broadcast by ABC. There's no real extra footage to be had here, and in a particularly personal letdown, isn't in widescreen, as it was also available in high definition when it was played in November 2007. So you get full frame, two channel stereo for all the hard work, without any other interviews from the presentations or post-game.

While it is encouraging to see Major League Soccer put out this game and other videos for the American soccer public to devour, it would be beneficial for all to see interview footage with the players off the pitch, featuring some of the relatable characterisitics of each, that make them unique or relatable. So while Major League Soccer is putting some of that Beckham merchandise and advertising revenue to good use, there's some work to go in terms of improving how the wheel runs. If you're a fan of the Dynamo, it's nice to support the league and buy the "official" DVD of the Cup Final and all, but in terms of presentation, you're probably better off burning it onto a disc from your Tivo, because you saved the game, I know you did. And I know this because I'd have done the same thing.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 74

Perp Profile

Studio: A&E
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• Celebration Footage

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