That joke, plus many more, formed the centerpiece of a blog post I'm absolutely thrilled I never got around to posting. Maybe MLS teams play in multipurpose stadiums with gridiron football markings on the field, but they sure know how to...
Wait a minute, that was Monterrey's home field? How come MLS is the poor relation here?
Anyway. Everyone connected with MLS in any way, down to the lowliest fan, is bursting with pride over the Royals overcoming the most difficult opponent in soccer - CONCACAF refs - and putting themselves in the driver's seat for the continental championship.
"Because they played really well and showed a lot of heart, and because compared to Saprissa the track made the Monterrey home field advantage comparatively negligible, and because Monterrey subbed out guys to focus on -"
No, no. Why are we happy about this? As Danny Elfman sang long ago, "Why should I care?" I'm a Galaxy fan. They drank my champagne already. What am I getting out of this?
Is it going to help us cheap-shot Eurosnobs? I would argue that the sort of soccer fan who has invested his identity in loving the sport, provided it's not played by anyone from his country, will not be terribly moved by this. The Eurosnob is a perpetual motion machine of excuses not to watch American soccer, and if you think this sort of person will be impressed by Jack Warner's Celebrity Bake-Off, you badly underestimate their ingenuity. If Salt Lake wins the freaking World Club Cup, Eurosnobs probably wouldn't budge. How much love did Necaxa and Corinthians get, back in 1999? Very little love.
Were we hoping to convert Mexican club fans, let alone Mexican national team fans, based on this result? Call me cynical, but I think they're gonna keep being Chivas and America fans.
Okay - let's say they are overwhelmed by Salt Lake's achievement. How is that pitch going to work, outside of Utah? "Come see some other teams that Salt Lake beat"? In theory, Colorado and Los Angeles might exploit modified, limited scoreboard over RSL, based on last year - but that still strikes me as a tough sell.
"We're FC Dallas! Saprissa and Monterrey couldn't beat Salt Lake in a home and home, but WE did! Get your season tickets now!" Hm. Well, I suppose it's worth a try. But it still reeks of "Manchester United won the Champions League! So I'm gonna watch Stoke play Blackburn for two hours! WHEE!"
(Assuming Salt Lake does actually beat Monterrey. Hey, it's not my team, why should I care if I'm jinxing it? Salt Lake is in the driver's seat, and if they decide to lose their first game at home in nearly two years, how is that my fault? It isn't, is how.)
Still not convinced, huh? Still happy for the Royals. Fine. I admit it, I was impressed, too. So let's pretend it was a wonderful moment for the league. How about it, Salt Lake fans? You have to be thrilled at all these carpetbaggers like Landon Donovan trying to fit inside your shorts.
Seriously, if and when Salt Lake does win, there's no way their fans should share the glory with strangers. Especially the fans who suffered through the Ellinger era. Bad enough they deal with Johnny-come-lately bandwagoners who actually cheer for Salt Lake - now Sounders fans are welcome in the tent? You gotta be kidding.
I think this achievement is fantastic for Salt Lake and their fans. They should milk this for all they can, because it's something that can define a franchise. I just don't see what the rest of get out of this. Maybe one or two soccer-friendly reporters or tastemakers take some time out from jocking Barcelona to check out MLS...and promptly check right back out because they're watching Philadelphia play Chivas USA or something.
It will also be message board fodder, which I of all people can appreciate. When the Galaxy won a similar tournament, it was years before I shut up about it. But one should never, ever confuse message boards with reality. There's a world outside our window, and amazingly enough, they still don't know who Javier Morales is.
While we're here - maybe it's just me, and maybe nobody cares about channeling the Uniwatch blog, but WOW, did Salt Lake look good tonight. I mean, in their all-gold uniforms. If Adidas would see reason and allow solid colors on the shoulder, or put the red stripes in a more sensible place, that outfit would be perfect. Blue shoulders, gold shirt and shorts, and red socks sounds horrible, but for some reason it looked beautiful tonight. Make it the home uniform, before Columbus copyrights the all-yellow home look - or before the Galaxy steal it for themselves once Beckham leaves.
Why - assuming you share my opinion - or that you care at all - but why did the Real Salt Lake Last Minute Tie Gold outfit look great, while the Crew home uniform is annoying? I'm speaking to the neutral observer, not to Crew fans - Crewligans seem to have embraced haute mode de banane. I have a theory that the Salt Lake version is a shade darker, but staring at the two teams' websites didn't settle anything.
I didn't see the Continental Salt Lake shirt for sale at the BigSoccer shop - or at the official MLS site - or at the official Salt Lake site, which tells me Adidas didn't think this tournament was going to permeate the cultural zeitgeist any more than I did. That doesn't mean you should demand your own shirt, though. Hopefully yours will end up like Nat Borchers, with the CONCACAF patch easily detached.