MLS plan to rig Galaxy-Red Bulls final hits slight snag

Oh, like you saw a 0-3 beatdown coming.

I can't even say "I told you so" or "I saw it coming," because after a couple of weeks of Galaxy and Sounders fans telling me I was off base, that Beckham was hungry to win, that Kovalenko provided the toughness in the midfield, that Bruce Arena had made the adjustments - basically, that the stars had aligned - I doubted myself. Maybe the self-loathing Galaxy posts had become schtick, although unconsciously. Maybe I couldn't give credit where credit was due. Maybe I couldn't admit I was wrong.

Well, I wasn't wrong until I admitted I was wrong. Because I was right all along, until I was wrong. Next year, I'm sticking to my damned guns.

Last night was every Galaxy nightmare I had all year distilled into a frothy cup of poo. The last thing I want to do is take away credit from FC Dallas, because they were and are the better team, top to bottom - with one possible exception that I'll get into a little later, assuming I live to see the end of this post without having a freaking stroke. But the Galaxy were slow, stupid and weak when it counted most.

I'm not even that mad at them. I'm mad at myself for believing in them.

Okay, that's not fair - I am actually really mad at them. Before we go too much farther, I'd like to run far away from my fellow fans complaining about the refereeing. Yes, "Jair Marrufo? How about JAIL MARRUFO!" would be a neat slogan. But any team that puts Dema Kovalenko on the field waives any right to complain about rough play.

So Rob Stone at halftime is interviewing Bruce Arena - and keep in mind, it's only 1-0 at this point - and Stone asks "Golly, coach, what are you going to do about Kovalenko?" and Arena says "I'll deal with that in the locker room."

Like Bruce Arena didn't put Dema Kovalenko in the lineup. Like Kovalenko crashed the stage like Kanye West. Like Arena hasn't coached Kovalenko for years now. Like Arena is this happy-go-lucky carefree fool who doesn't give his players detailed freaking instructions. Like there's more than one instruction you would even give someone like Kovalenko. The idea of Bruce Arena getting on Dema Kovalenko's case at halftime is like OJ saying his knife slipped.

And, apparently, I still have to be Mugatu to Beckham's Zoolander. Wait, someone rushes back too soon from an Achilles tendon injury, and he's not fit? He has another injury? And he tries to play through it and he's completely ineffective? This doesn't quite match the triumphant performance of the Galaxy's training staff last year - "Eh, keeper's got a broken hand, but hell, what's the worst that could happen" - mainly because I'm not even sure Arena has any more power over Beckham than Brad Childress has over Brett Favre.

Meanwhile, the Coach of the Year believes the crucial factor was...Atiba "Hospital" Harris. The same Harris the Galaxy shrugged off when he was a forward at Chivas USA. But yeah, how do you defend against a forward who scores a goal once every eight games like clockwork? It's a big chess match, it really is. With pieces that capture each other once every ten freaking hours of game play. And Hyndman is probably right, the Galaxy did look baffled.

Let's talk about Landon for a minute. I took it for granted that when Donovan was basically The Incredible Hulk. The angrier he gets, the stronger he gets.

So he hulked out against the Rapids towards the end of the regular season, and I sat back and waited for the big trademarked Donovan comeback. Colorado 2, Galaxy 1, what the hell, man?

I guess that counts as fair warning for last night, when he all but spat on the grave of Anthony Wallace's puppy from childhood. "Ah, here we go," I thought. "Donovan's in a rage, this won't be close." And sure enough, it wasn't.

I was skeptical of the World Cup non-bounce, because I can think of several guys who went to the World Cup, played well, and continued to play well in the ongoing MLS season. Cobi Jones, Brian McBride, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Pope - it's not impossible to make the transition, by any means.

But something was weird this time around. Buddle took forever to reacclimate, and he was the only one of the four US World Cup players who had any impact in the second half of the season. Maybe it was Bob Bradley. Or not - I sure didn't hear much from Roger Espinoza and Andrew Boyens, either.

Or, maybe it's specifically Donovan in World Cup years. 2001 and 2003 - San Jose wins MLS Cup. 2002 - Landon has a breakout World Cup, the Quakes win nothing. 2005 - Donovan breaks free of the Steve Sampson shackles and powers the Galaxy to a World Cup. 2006 - the Galaxy miss the playoffs. 2009 - Donovan is your MVP. 2010 - well, he did lead the league in assists, but I think most of those were to Buddle before the Cup.

Would the Western Conference final have been different if Donovan had taken August off, and the Galaxy had punted the Supporters Shield? Probably not. The Galaxy's weaknesses were well hidden, but then, deep, scary, paths to Hell are usually well hidden. There have been fluky, unrealistic, misleading 3-0 losses before, but this wasn't one of them.

Another reason for annoyance is having to admit that, okay, fine, David Ferreira really is the MVP. Usually I'm the first one to cheer on MLS being like every other American sport, but there's no sensible reason to have regular season MVPs and Best XIs and such. We're giving out diplomas based on midterms.

I suppose if we had the revote now, it wouldn't be terribly interesting, with close races now being landslides for Ferreira and Kevin Hartman. But if further evidence come in that Ferreira and Hartman really are...never mind, I'm 0-30 against windmills this year anyway.

But what I do want to get to this week - the Dallas-Colorado final? It'll be good for MLS.

Actually, it'll be great for MLS. I'll explain later this week, once I stop pouting.