So while Mark Ziegler played it straight, Nick Green and Andrea Canales did duelling fairy tales. Nick's was more for Young Readers, while Canales went for the blood-soaked traditional Grimm Bros. version. All three can be summarized quite easily:
Usually underdogs can count on the sympathy of neutral fans, but this year the underdogs stupidly decided to come from the biggest metropolitan area in the country. Worse still, of course, is Sigi's homecoming. Had Sigi helped leave the team in a godawful mess, or had the Galaxy managed to win a couple of trophies after he left, maybe LA fans wouldn't be so eager to hop on the Schmid bandwagon, but....
Okay, let me just bang on the keyboard for a few minutes, see if I can keep ahead of the monkeys with the iMacs in the next room. In Mark and Nick's story, everything from November 2002 to August 2004 disappears - I believe the technical term for that is "lacuna." Andrea at least mentions the partially digested entrails of defeat in 2003.
The Galaxy followed up their 2002 double year with a season and a half of the worst showings the team had made...*sigh* up to that point. They finished a dismal fourth in 2003. They didn't win a single game on the road. Every San Jose fan above the age of five could give you an extremely lovingly recounted story of how the Galaxy season ended in 2003, with the possible exception of who scored the Quakes' second goal on November 9. I blame Hong Myung-Bo, but you never saw a team go from zero to complacent as fast as the Galaxy did. Carlos Ruiz was well on his way to becoming what he is today, but he's just the worst example.
Oh, and yes, the Galaxy were indeed in first place in 2004 - 9-6-7, 34 points. They hadn't won in over a month, and lost in the Open Cup to a USL-1 team for the first time ever. Meanwhile, Kansas City was two points behind with two games in hand; the Metrostars (who?) were two points behind with three games in hand; and Columbus was four points behind with two games in hand. Anyway, the only thing that was going on in 2004 was this: blah blah Freddy Adu blah blah Freddy Adu blah blah.
The move looks pretty bad, but the mistake in firing Sigi was in timing and the choice of replacement. (At the time, I thought the Galaxy picked Sampson because Sigi had everything monogrammed. I told that joke already, haven't I?)
That's not what I wanted to talk about. The POINT is, neutral Los Angeles fan seems to be pro-Crew. How does this affect you, travelling fan who is on his or her way to the airport and probably won't read this until you get back?
Here's a weird thing. RBNY fan, which is more irritating?
(a) Guy head-to-toe in banana gear and hardhat drunkenly screaming "Columbus 'Til I Die"
(b) Guy in his Mark Semioli jersey, and who's only there because there's no playoff ticket in his season ticket package, saying "I like Frankie Hejduk, I hope he gets a ring."
You think it would be (a). You're wrong. At least you know why (a) cares. (b) can't even be bothered to honestly hate your team.
If it makes you feel better, Columbus fans won't really get that much comfort out of (b). (b) won't cheer enough to make a difference - not even close. And if Columbus loses, you know how quickly I will get over Frankie not getting his championship? Long before I make it back to my car.
I mean, before I make it back to (b)'s car.
Only your fellow fans really understand what you're going through. This is shared suffering. Either it becomes shared joy sometime around 3:00 pm Sunday afternoon...or it, um, let's just say it's still shared suffering.