If by some mischance the winner of tonight's game does a Challenger in Carson a week from Sunday, I'd like to hear some acknowledgement that those are the rules, this is how MLS decides its champion, and we all knew going in that we might have to salute another sub-.500 clown car as our betters.
I'm not saying Crew fans are likely to do this...hell, I'm not even saying Crew fans will have to do anything except make scarves that say "Double Winners 2008." But the most tedious thing about the playoffs is when the Shield winner goes all Kursk, and Eurosnobs try to comfort that team's fans by reminding them of their regular season title. Yeah, and John McCain got more votes than any other white man in the country - that might have been the rule other places and other times, but not this country and not this year.
So, the game. Bill did a great job invoking the passion of tonight's game - MLS semifinals are, like the life of a repo man, always intense.
And boy, does Chicago look good. That defense is just rock-solid, and anyone who isn't up to speed on the Jon Busch story ought to catch up.
Since Brian McBride joined the team, what do you suppose the Fire's record is? Try five wins, three ties, five losses. Two of the wins? Against the Galaxy. Two of the other wins? Against New York. (I still think New York is terrible, and they unquestionably were against Chicago this year.) The other win was last week, of course, when the Revolution were wearing their Richard Hell tribute uniforms with "Please Kill Me" on them.
One of those ties, interestingly, was a 2-2 shootout in Bridgeview against Columbus, with McBride getting both Chicago goals. Columbus had clinched a playoff spot already, and still put in 6% of the goals the Fire gave up all year.
Right now, the Crew don't have a weak spot, and the Fire do - unless Justin Mapp makes up for his subpar season all at once. If it does come to crunch time, the Crew have a much better bench, and when a more experienced coach has more weapons...well, that makes it very hard to pick Chicago.
Kyle McCarthy at The Most Pointlessly God-Damned Difficult Site To Navigate In the Entire Freaking World, JESUS I Hate Trying To Find Anything There, It's Such a Pain In The Ass - sorry, Goal.com said this about the kind of unsung hero the Crew have:
Well, if Moreno ever gets too poor, he can always pawn one of his championship rings. Moreno's the type of poor man's player who makes teams rich. He's perfect for this sort of game, where the refs swallow their whistles and he can wear down defenses. He's got the "Crash" nickname for a reason.
Now, if Kyle had said "You know what, I'll believe Eddie Gaven's not a bust when he wins a trophy and not one second before," then I'd have to agree with him. But he has been pretty darn good, although I think there are housepets who would look good with Barros and Robbie Rogers running interference.
I'm going to be all boring and pick the better team to win at home. Perhaps a stupid move considering it's MLS in 2008, but hey, maybe I'll make up for it by picking Salt Lake in the final.