Ben Olsen isn't really concerned what order D.C. United's playoff games are played. That's good because Major League Soccer's request to move United's postseason opener against New York from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., to RFK Stadium was a practical reality and the right thing to do.
"This happens to be one of those very unusual circumstances that you will probably never forget, and it calls for extraordinary action," United president Kevin Payne said. "This is an extraordinary action, but it's one that we all agree is appropriate."
After four years of bad luck and bad form, Payne is the last person who wants to relinquish small but potentially meaningful advantages of earning the Eastern Conference's second seed.
But power may not be fully restored to Red Bull Arena and its surroundings until next week, and there's still no guarantee it will be ready for the return game on Nov. 7. Discussions were had about alternative sites, such as Philadelphia's PPL Park, but there wasn't time to make them happen.
MLS is trying to manage a postseason that already extends into suboptimal and often subarctic December. Unlike the NFL, MLS must work within the constraints of broadcast deals it already has in place. Moving dates is the equivalent of taking a game off the air.
Playing the matches, regardless of location, is a chance to move forward from Hurricane Sandy's impact. Accommodating the location change is a humble reminder that sports remains a diversion, and isn't nearly as important as what is at stake in New York and New Jersey.
- Craig Stouffer