EDIT - Someone In The Know tells me that Dema and Ronnie O'Brien really have buried the hatchet, and not in each other's heads. Maybe they had a drinking contest, or something. I would love to see an MLS drinking contest, come to think of it.
I'm going to take some heat for this, but I've got to call it like I see it.
The Volkswagen ads on the MLSnet site? The ones that are taking spots away from actual league news and information in favor of product placement?
They're funny as hell. Yeah, same to you, buddy. The Goofy Juice visuals are funny. The soccer mom leaving her kids out in the rain for a week is funny. So it's all really, really stupid. Seeing Chris Klein go from shilling Herbalife* to drinking high fructose corn syrup is totally awesome.
So now that the Crew are MLS champions, let's take a look back on WHAAAAAT? There are two more games?
I suppose so - the lead story in the US section on Soccernet is all about my very, very favorite player, Dema Kovalenko, Hero of the Side. I'm gonna pour myself a tall glass of Comex and enjoy.
No, they're saying "Get off the field."
Guh. He nearly singlehandedly cost his team the one championship he has, with that idiotic red card in the 2004 MLS Cup. Whatever he gives to you, he can take away again with one ill-advised leg sweep right in front of the ref, God and everyone.
Sadly, Dema has a glorious chance to equal an MLS record tonight - only two other people have gone to three MLS Cups with three different teams.** Part of that is that Dema is the prototype of the kind of toughness and intimidation that coaches - stupid, cruel, anti-soccer coaches - love in big, important games. Especially because callow, feckless, cowardly refs ironically consider "letting them play" to mean "letting less talented players keep more talented players from playing."
Maybe I should get over it, though.
As far as I know, Dyer has broken a story here. Return with us now, courtesy of the Great Gazoogle, to the glorious days of yesteryear:
Well, that was a while ago, so maybe the two men have cleared the air.
I was unable to trace any previous apology to Pollard...but maybe it was in private. I'm not Brandon Pollard's stalker. I'm just glad that it's all OK. I mean, why wouldn't it be? He sounds so sincere.
Well, Dema has another chance to stick it to New York.
This should be a pretty damn good game, maybe even a great one. Evenly matched teams, both really emotional, both really flawed.
Needless to say, I've learned nothing from last week about trashing the Red Bulls' defense. Ching and De Rosario laid eggs last week, and Dwayne didn't have much of a season anyway. Javier Morales and Yura Movsisyan, on the other hand, are killing teams. Movsisyan is on a streak of ending teams' seasons, for God's sake.
Angel might be even more dangerous than Morales (although not by much), and Van Den Bergh is having a banner year, but they'll have a more difficult time against Salt Lake's defense. Salt Lake doesn't have a forward as capable as Angel, but they also aren't going to allow Dane Richards to run right by them.
The wild card in all this is Danny Cepero, America's newest soccer superstar. One might think, if he was all that great, why was he backing up Conway? Ah, but Conway was on the super-soldier serum. The Red Bulls had this guy just lying around, while DC United and the Galaxy and Chivas USA were all pulling their hair out? Ouch, man.
And, of course, Dema could get his ass red-carded, costing Salt Lake the game. We've all seen it happen. The Pollard tackle was in the playoffs, after all. This probably where Kyle Beckerman shines, though. He's well on his way to the Dark Side of the Force, and just needs a broken leg or two to officially become Dema's apprentice. I think he's going to have a pretty authoritative game tonight. And, again, it's the playoffs - Pietravallo isn't going to get call freaking one.
Salt Lake is also deeper than Red Bull, although that's not saying a lot. Yes, John Wolyniec came off the bench to score against Houston. People who let Wolyniec score on them deserve that they get.
Ninety minutes (or 120, God help us) of effort can make up for a season of mediocrity, and the pain of seeing these average to below-average teams play for the championship should serve as an instructive lesson to everyone. Whether the lesson is "Ya know, the regular season doesn't matter that much" will be decided next Sunday in Carson. The more uplifting lesson for tonight is "The past doesn't matter. It's what you do today that counts."
*The product lines from Columbus and Chivas USA's sponsors are tastier and better for you than Herbalife. Stop me if I've told you that one.
**The other two did it Thursday night - Ale Moreno and Ezra Hendrickson. Ezra didn't play in the 2004 Cup, though, and Moreno came on as a sub in 2005. While Ale and Ezra can be the first players to have three rings from three different teams, Dema (should RSL come through tonight) has a chance to be the first player to start three MLS Cups with three different teams. He won't be the first to win three MLS Cups with three different teams, though, because the Fire lost in 2000. I spent a little bit of time looking this up, and I wanted to be sure I got proper mileage out of it.***
***Houston and the Quakes 2.0 are the SAME TEAM, okay? If Mullan or Waibel or Moreno or whoever get traded to Quakes 3.0 and go to MLS Cup, that will count as different teams.