Four Star Matchday: LA-RSL, away goals, TV contracts

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Taking a job around the internet before tonight's tilt between the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. We're talking Robbie Keane, Jaime Penedo, and away goals.

* The Guardian has an extensive interview with Robbie Keane talking about why he chose to come to Major League Soccer, how he views his role as a leader, and Beckham's role in the direction his career took.

* The LA Times did a profile of Jaime Penedo, who still has the sting of missing the World Cup motivating him. Half of his MLS appearances have been shutouts, as Penedo filled a gaping hole at the keeper position for the Galaxy. Who knows how much better the Galaxy record would have been with Penedo in goal all year; they're a much better team with him now.

* The Salt Lake Tribune is concerned with RSL's ability to shake recent history of coming up short. Salt Lake hasn't scored a goal in the playoffs since the 2011 Western Conference final.

Sports Business Daily focused on the MLS TV issue this morning. Many pixels have been wasted on what needs to be done to improve MLS' national TV ratings, but the impression NBC Sports' Jon Miller gives is that MLS has historically valued local broadcasts over the national contract. The local broadcasts tie directly into the revenue streams of individual teams, and Strong suggests that's why MLS hasn't considered a flexible schedule. Such scheduling has the potential to affect both the local TV contracts (taking away high profile games) and attendance if kickoff times are moved around.

"We have strongly urged MLS to consider a flex-scheduling concept," Miller said. "With good reason, MLS's focus has been on attendance and getting local television deals. I think they know now that national television should be a priority. Hopefully, the league will work with the club owners to make something like flex scheduling a reality."

With the national TV contracts up for negotiation next year, expect some changes in the way soccer is broadcast in the US. However, both NBC and ESPN expressed a desire to continue broadcasting MLS.

* One of the consistent questions every MLS playoff tournament is why the league hasn't adopted the away goals tiebreaker. He's an article in the Guardian lamenting the continued use of the away goal in Europe. The article talks about the history of the rule, adopted at a time when a level series would have required a replay match. The rule was to try and limit the amount of times that would happen in an era where travel was much more difficult.

MLS doesn't have that issue. It's never been afraid of overtime, in fact it's cut back the amount of overtime in the league over time (never forget the shootout era). There's a great tendency amongst US soccer fans to desire doing things done in Europe simply because they're done in Europe, without considering why Europe adopted such practices.

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