First of all, wow, what a peach of a game in Seattle tonight. The classic exciting 0-0 game. No, it wasn't a work of art, and yes, Houston fouled up and down the field. I fully expect Sounders fans to turn Rave Green into Rage Green, and I don't blame them one bit. Still, it was pretty exciting.
Fine, the LA-Chivas USA matchup. You've probably figured this out, but there's no way in God's green hell I can be objective about this match. I'm the only soccer fan in Los Angeles that just DOESN'T WANT TO DEAL with it.
Basically, there's no way I can handle it if we* lose. The upside of winning is relief – thank God the Enemy doesn't have that to hang over our heads until the end of time.** The downside…well, it's too horrible to contemplate. And I managed to deal with losing to the Quakes in 2001 and Iran in 1998. I hate this series so much, and we're days away from kickoff. It's almost enough to get me to care about the Phillies or something.
For the civilized world, at least, this matchup is at least two years too late. In fact, given the length of time that has passed since the hype surrounding all involved has sputtered to a halt, Galaxy-Chivas USA is unquestionably the Chinese Democracy of the MLS playoffs.
Case in point – I keep waiting for the Galaxy to change their minds on this, but as of right now their playoff game attendance will be capped at 12,000. That's less than half of the HDC capacity. Theoretically it's to create more atmosphere for the home team, which is hilarious coming from a franchise that is positively Revolutionesque in its choice of money over fan atmosphere. Besides, 12,000? They've sold more tickets for the Freeway Series. This would be the final nail in the Beckham Experiment coffin, except by now there's more nail than coffin.
Meanwhile, Chivas USA continues to chart bold new frontiers of irrelevance. The smartest thing they could do, publicity-wise, is get Marsch to start another fight with Beckham, only this time with a knife. Boy, thank God Shawn Hunter was here to make everything better, huh? If MLS didn't think they could squeeze forty million donuts out of Cooper or Saputo, they'd have dispersal drafted Chivas USA long ago.
Ideally, this would be a Loser Leaves Town match. If the Galaxy wins, Chivas moves. If CUSA wins, Beckham never returns. I could handle that.
Hell, you know what, I'm willing to risk Landon leaving for good, too. I was at peace with him going to Germany at the beginning of the year, and all he's done since then is put up MVP numbers for club and country in one of the best single year performances in the history of American soccer. OKAY, Landon, you made your point already! You can go to PSG or wherever.
The other reason to dread this matchup is, well, this season has really been a PooperScooperClasico. Thank you, yes, I did work very hard on that parody name. Two games, one goal – on a scuffed deflection by some part-time scrub.
It's really tough to pick Chivas USA in this series, mainly because they're going to be so brutally outcoached. Preki likes a nice, physical ruck – but not as much as Bruce Arena's hive of scum and villainy. And, once again, Chivas USA bounces into the playoffs with a passel of skill players under Questionable, Doubtful and Out. That's not even counting guys like Marsch, Suarez and Galindo, who are either old, fragile, or both.
But people have been overrating the Galaxy all year, almost as badly as they've been overrating Chivas USA. Both these teams were easy picks for first round elimination, which is another reason it's annoying that they're matched together. Buddle and Magee have no chemistry, which is fine because neither has been terribly good on their own this year. This is the first year that Donovan hasn't scored on Chivas USA at all, let alone multiple times. Chivas USA knows they can beat Berhalter at some point, as well. And David Beckham has been trying to be thrown out of games for weeks now, though it's doubtful MLS refs will dream of obliging him at this point.
I think this is 210 minutes of torture followed by penalties, and even then I can't pick a favorite. Thornton and Ricketts are a wash, and while Landon is usually automatic, one of his few misses came in a post-game PK shootout. And Beckham stinks at penalties.
Or maybe Landon manages to beat the four or five defenders that CUSA will have on him at all times. Or maybe Kljestan breaks the Madden Curse,*** and Chivas does a Number Six on the Galaxy.****
I have absolutely no idea, and I can't wait until it's over. Either I can exhale, or I can start my therapy. But the suspense is killing me. If only the league would listen to Sacha Kljestan, neither one of us would have to put up with this nonsense.
*I think it's time to accept that fans are going to call their teams by the collective personal pronouns, snooty sports Puritans notwithstanding.
**Or until they finally shut Chivas USA down, which is a subject I'm sure I'll address at some point.
***What? It's all one big happy EA family. Madden can share a curse with FIFA.
****Blazing Saddles reference.