I've looked at clouds from both sides now

Okay, good. I was thinking not caring about today's US-Guatemala game made me a bad person, but it's second-billed on the US Soccer site itself, with the Women's U-20 World Cup being the lead story.

So let's talk about you for a minute.

For the first time since 1996, MLS Cup has two newcomers. This means two sets of fans who aren't familiar with, and may not be prepared for, the vortex of emotions that pageant finalists go through. Allow me to take you under my wing, then, Bullies and Crewligans.

Who else can you ask? San Jose fans? They'd tell you "Just take 405 to the stadium," when it's actually THE 405. Like The Ohio State University. DC United fans? Chicago fans? Revs fans? Ask them where to stay in LA, they'd tell you to check into the Nickerson Gardens.

But you also need spiritual guidance. This is, after all, your first rodeo.

This is, what, Wednesday? Okay, by now hopefully you've got your transportation sorted out, both to LA and once you get there. And hopefully you're renting a car, because, as with every time southern California hosts an MLS event, the stuff is spread all over the place. Garber's giving a speech on Friday in Century City, the Supporter's Summit is Saturday morning in Carson, and the Bash is in Garden Grove that evening. Thinking of using public transportation to get from one Supporters even to the other on Saturday?

So while I can't help you with logistics, I can help you with some of what you may be feeling right now.

You're both in sort of a nether-world now. Like most American soccer fans, anywhere from a plurality to a consensus of your friends and family have absolutely no idea how you occupy your time on summer weekend nights. After years and years of this, you've of course learned not to burden them too much with the details of which general manager it is you despise this year, or which incompetent forward, or which lackadaisically worthless international POS - and they've long since learned not to ask.

Still...you're in a weird place right now, and even after you keep reminding them why, they still don't get it. It's going to be much worse Thursday and Friday.

Then the real fun begins.

Crew fans, as the prohibitive favorite, you're about, oh, call it 65% of the way from rollicking confidence and anticipation of joy towards utter sh*tbrickitude at the thought of losing. Thoughts will start to occur along the lines of "What if they shut down Schelotto like they did back in April?", and April won't seem like it was eight months ago now, either. Or "What if we keep hitting the post like Salt Lake did?" Or, more succinctly, "Dear sweet Jesus God, what if we lose?"

Once you get on the plane, "Dear sweet Jesus God, what if we lose?" will be lodged in your skulls like the Imp of the Perverse. You will find yourselves thinking and saying things like "Don't jinx it!" when you hear or read what huge - dare I say, massive - favorites you are. Deep in your superstitious id, you will worry that, had you stayed home, that would have guaranteed a Crew win...but it is your presence that will cause your team to choke. What was, hands down, the best team north of the Rio Grande, made up of men in the prime of their lives in peak physical condition, who have since at least August played dazzling and merciless football in every stadium in the nation, will in your minds turn into frightened little pixies who would lose a sumo tournament against a NICU ward.

The only solution is drinking.

Meanwhile, you can wipe those happy, smug looks off your faces, Red Bull New Yorkers. Let's see, it's Wednesday, and you're prohibitive underdogs. So you're still about 85% genuinely thrilled about the whole thing. This will last until probably Saturday. In this way you are more fortunate than your rivals, the favorites.

Don't get comfy. Once you see your rivals...other fans, dressed in opposing colors...and not just other colors, but colors from your conference...the stakes hit you like Dracula.

And you might even say, "Hey. The pressure's on you. We're just happy to be here."

But you're not. No one is ever just happy to be there. Temptation always wins.

Just one more game...just one more lucky game, anything can happen...and no other fan will ever be able to get in your faces again about being permanent losers. So close...all those years...all that suffering...and here it is, unexpected, and (you fear in your hearts) unearned...if it goes away, what then?

What if you never get another chance?

The only solution is drinking.

Both of you, Crew fans and Red Bulls fans, are on your way to your own private purgatories. You are absolute enemies, but brothers in fear. And your fates couldn't be more different. One of you goes to heaven, the other to hell.

Oh, the real fun is just beginning.