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Galaxy, Rose Bowl to Host MLS Championship in ’98

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Major League Soccer set itself a huge challenge Friday by announcing its 1998 championship game will be played one year from today at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

After several weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Galaxy was awarded the right to stage the league’s showcase event in its third season.

This marks the first time a Western Conference club has been awarded the title game. The New England Revolution played host to MLS’ inaugural championship match in 1996 and Washington D.C. United is hosting Sunday’s MLS Cup ’97.

The first two games were significant successes for the league.

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At Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium last year, the final between the Galaxy and D.C. United drew 34,643 despite torrential rain. D.C. United won, 3-2, in a classic match.

Sunday’s final, between D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium, was sold out six days before the event. A crowd of more than 57,000 is expected, and an attendance record for sporting events at the stadium might be set. Portable bleachers still were being added at the stadium late in the week.

Given that background, the Galaxy and the league will be trying to match or even improve on those successes in California. But the question immediately being asked in Los Angeles on Friday was: Will Southern California fans turn out for a championship game that does not include a local team?

Unless the Galaxy reaches the final, as D.C. United did in Washington this season, tickets might not be as quickly snapped up as they were in Boston and Washington.

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