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MLS trophy snubs league founder Alan Rothenberg

November 7, 2008 |  7:10 pm

    In that first MLS season in 1996, the Galaxy went up against DC United for the MLS Cup. In this shot from an earlier game that season, the Galaxy's Cobi Jones jumps over D.C. United's Jeff Agoos as they compete for the ball.

Poor Alan Rothenberg.

In the race to please the money men who commendably pump their millions of dollars into Major League Soccer, the league has seen fit to abandon its history and, at the same time, snub its founder.

Since its inception in 1996, the league has had two bits of championship silverware.

The first, a rather gaudy looking thing, was the Doug Logan Trophy, named after the league's first commissioner. It was won by D.C. United in 1996 and 1997 and then was scrapped. In 1998, along came the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy, a perfectly acceptable bit of hardware that correctly honored the man who, perhaps more than any other, brought MLS into being.

The new MLS CupAlan RothenbergBut the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy is now no more.

In its place, MLS has unveiled the not especially attractive Philip F. Anschutz Trophy, which will be presented to the winner of the Nov. 23 MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

The league described it in flowery hyperbole as follows: "The trophy features fluid and dynamic handles that include 11 facets on the front and back, symbolizing the 22 players that participate in a soccer match. The gold star represents the championship club, which often incorporates a star into its own team crest for each MLS Cup title it wins. The new trophy inherits select design elements from the previous two trophies, thereby honoring the league's history while moving forward. The bottom of the Philip F. Anschutz trophy features a map of North America, with a star identifying the location of each MLS market."

All very well and good, but why the new name?

That Anschutz kept the league afloat in its troubled early years is without question. That he should be recognized for doing so is commendable. But why did it have to be at the expense of Rothenberg? Why should the former president of U.S. Soccer and the man who oversaw the soccer tournament of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the man who brought the 1994 World Cup to the U.S. have been the fall guy in this marketing move?

In annoucing the new trophy, MLS failed utterly to even mention Rothenberg by name. Perhaps he has slipped into the shadows and no longer commands the soccer stage as he once did, but that is no reason to snub a figure without whom the league would not even exist.

Not a proud moment, MLS. Not at all.

-- Grahame L. Jones

Top photo: In that first MLS season in 1996, the Galaxy went up against DC United for the MLS Cup. In this shot from an earlier game that season, the Galaxy's Cobi Jones jumps over D.C. United's Jeff Agoos as they compete for the ball. Joe Marquette / Associated Press

Photo inset at left: MLS Commissioner Don Garber holds the new trophy. Standing with him is five-time-MLS Cup winner Jeff Agoos. Credit: Major League Soccer

Photo inset at right: Alan I. Rothenberg in 2007. Credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times

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