I was all set to cheer on Houston in the Champions Cup, and let me tell you why. If the Dynamo do win CONCACAF, you know what happens to all those articles about how MLS can't compete on the international level because of roster limitations and single entity become the equivalent of Ron Paul rEVOLution blog posts. In the name of cheap comedy, I'm willing to put up with a lot, even crowing from Houston fans from now until the end of time.
Then I looked at the schedule - I hadn't before, because as a Galaxy fan, what is the Champions League schedule to do with me? The damn tournament isn't over until February! Because of Hurricane Ike, they don't even finish group play until after MLS Cup! Cheap comedy waits for no man. Hell, by February, there will be some sort of roster rule clarification (or, infinitely more likely, a few big-name signings to avoid the issue), and no one will even remember. Until next year, when the Crew lose their first US Open Cup game to the Sioux City Lusitano-Cambodians or whoever.
Well, stop. Picking the Best XI before the playoffs is like making shortcake with green strawberries. Just because other American sports feel the need to prop up their regular seasons with superfluous geegaws like MVP trophies is no reason for us to follow along lockstep. The only MLS awards that make sense right now are the Least Valuable Player and these (what with fantasy games also not counting the post-season).
Look, here was the Best XI last year.
GK Brad Guzan (CHV)
D Michael Parkhurst (N.E.)
D Eddie Robinson (HOU)
D Jonathan Bornstein (CHV)
M Dwayne De Rosario (HOU)
M Shalrie Joseph (N.E.)
M Christian Gomez (D.C.)
M Ben Olsen (D.C.)
M Guillermo B. Schelotto (CLB)
F Luciano Emilio (D.C.)
F Juan Pablo Angel (N.Y.)
Think people would have wanted to change a couple of votes after the playoffs? Like, maybe include Dwayne De Rosario?
....wait. He was garbage in the regular season last year, why was he...
Okay, how about this. Instead of Christian Gomez, the guy who actually led MLS in assists last year would have been an undeniable pick.
Wait...Steve Ralston led the league in assists, and got New England to the playoffs, and wasn't in the Best XI? Was it Public Enemy who said "The Best XI is a joke"?
Okay, fine. Fine. Brad Guzan. Yes, he was pretty awesome last year. One of three guys in MLS history, up to that point, with a GAA of less than one a year.
Except Pat Onstad was another one...that same year...and his GAA was better than Guzan's. Had we held off on voting until after the playoffs, Onstad might have received his rightful recognition.
It doesn't have to happen this year, though! We can stop it! Who's with me?
Well, at least we're admitting that the final week of the regular season is meaningless. Unless we're all waiting to decide whether Conor Casey or Javier Morales is the MVP?