Red Bull Playoff Fever

Now that was a game.

Might as well dust off this chant that never made it in the US fan section, for reasons I still can't fathom:

'Cause we got a mighty Convey, driving through the night!
Yeah, we got a mighty Convey, ain't he a beautiful sight!
Come on, Bobby Convey, ain't nothing gonna get in his way!
We're going to cheer for Bobby Convey, across the USA!

I had low hopes - wait, before I get into this post, I need to plug in my generator. It runs on San Jose Earthquake fan gloating - I had low hopes for this game. Last night wasn't the biggest lower seed road victory ever, but it was the first time a lower seed lost at home but won the series without penalty kicks. The Quakes didn't even need extra time.

It will be interesting to see how the Red Bulls rebound from this next year. Backe will have his Designated Players from the beginning of the year, which is a huge help. Unless Marquez and Henry are washed up, of course, in which case trying to incorporate them into a promising side will bring the whole franchise to a screeching halt.

And Mehdi Ballouchy is so consistently disappointing, I can't believe he's not a Designated Player. Someone get his agent working on that.

It will also be interesting to see how Juan Agudelo reacts to what I'm sure will be months and months of fans demanding he be brought into the US national team immediately. He must be the real thing. We've had nearly twenty years of projecting wish-fulfillment savior fantasies onto unwilling or unworthy backs based on miniscule or non-existent sample sizes. So this time it must be the real deal - we've had so much experience choosing messiahs, it stands to reason we're really good at it by now. And the law of averages says at some point one of these horses will come in. Is Agudelo our starting forward in 2014? Well, he had eighty reasonable minutes against an average MLS defense, so I say, why the hell not!

So, about San Jose....every once in a while, sure, there's a team that you see parading around with the trophy and you say, "I dunno, I'm still not sold on them." Last year's Salt Lake, for example.

But even though San Jose has an inspiring, irritating history of scrappy, tireless, irritating underdogs irritatingly triumphing over the odds, this seems like a much more flawed team than previous CupQuakes. Take a look at the marking on Angel's goal. JPA just strolled right by his mark, and it isn't like JPA stands for Jet Propulsion Attacker these days. I mean, what the hell was San Jose's #11 doing on that play? That guy sucks! What does he contribute?

I don't know how badly Ramiro Corrales hurt himself. But if the good option is a 33 year old who took himself out of the game trying to cheap-shot Chris Albright, then I shudder for the Quakes' chances if they have to rely on Eduardo for the whole match. At the risk of infuriating Paul Gardner, there are plenty of substandard Brazilian players in the league this year, and the Quakes have a bunch of them.

Fine. I don't think much of Geovanni. I don't think he was a significant factor last night, I don't think he's brought the Quakes what they hoped he would, and I really don't think if the semifinal is at Colorado he's going to be any good in altitude. There, I said it. Wow. I feel much better.

(Now watch him get two goals and two assists in the semifinal.)

Unsurprisingly, the Quakes think they can make it to Toronto. They're right. It's tempting to say, after a triumphant performance, "If they play like they did last night, they'll win it all." That's not true - they'll win if they play like Convey did last night (except on the Angel goal), but the Brazilian guys can't take another night off, and the defense can't allow teenagers to run right through them.

Thanks to the bitch-goddess parity, the Quakes have probably a 50-50 chance of getting to Toronto. San Jose must be overjoyed at their potential obstacles to MLS Cup - although, in fairness, the Rapids and Crew are probably at least as happy at the thought of hosting San Jose.

And if the Quakes get to Toronto - well, I still think Salt Lake and Dallas are the best teams in the playoffs - and, fortunately for the field, one of them will take out the other Saturday night, making it that much easier for the rest. The team the Quakes match up the best against has home field advantage until MLS Cup.

So there is no reason the Quakes can't actually win the championship this year.

Well, apart from not being very good, but that's never stopped anybody.