Soccer's Foul-Weather Fans

On a day when even the heartiest of postmen would have propped their feet up and stayed at home, Major League Soccer delivered right on time.

The first-ever Major League Soccer championship (a.k.a. MLS Cup '96) fought through a nightmarish afternoon of torrential rain and 30-50 mile per hour winds to keep its promise to 34,643 spongy fans at Foxboro Stadium Sunday. The promise? Entertaining soccer.

Indeed it was, as (Washington) D.C. United came from two goals down to dispatch the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-2 with a dramatic overtime goal.

The same nor'easter that wreaked havoc here had made a mockery of any attempt to hold Game 1 of the World Series in New York the night before, dropping four inches of rain on Yankee Stadium. But MLS was out to show it was of tougher stock, and the opportunity for a little one-upsmanship was not lost on MLS Commissioner Doug Logan.

"There was never any doubt in our minds that we were going to play this game," Mr. Logan declared in the press tent over the sound of flapping canvas and smacking rain. "And there was never any doubt that we stood in juxtaposition to some sports that don't play in the rain."

The rain began before dawn, and continued unabated through the final whistle. The Head of the Charles Regatta, Boston's international rowing event, was called off the the first time in its never cancelled in its 32-year history.

"The conditions were pretty terrible," understated Los Angeles captain Robin Fraser after the soccer match. Still, the mood of the day prevailed.

"We were expecting around 15,000 people," D.C. captain John Harkes said. "[The size of the crowd] surprised everyone ... The atmosphere was amazing."

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