If the season were to end today, then we will have been spared a fate worse than death - namely, thirty-thousand posts proclaiming that Seattle has won the "real" league championship. They've only got six points to make up, though, and Real Sigi has the team playing, in the words of David Johansen's alter ego, hot hot hot.
Say what you want about the Galaxy - "trying to buy a championship" is about the kindest thing they're saying these days - but by and large Supporters Shield supremacism has been kept where it belongs: the first two or three weeks of December in the haze of bitterness after the Shield winner fails to bring home MLS Cup. If Seattle passes the Galaxy - well, there would be only one way to shut Sounders fans up about the Shield...and that's if the Sounders also won MLS Cup. Which is the very definition of "worse than the disease."
It sounds as if I'm writing off everyone except the Sounders and the Galaxy. In the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, yup. I realize the Crew have been playing marvelously well, but...
Wait, three professional teams in Columbus? INSERT OHIO STATE JOKE HERE
Anyway, I hate to be a reductive tool, but the Crew have basically been winning at home and losing on the road. I expect the Crew to lose in Seattle on Saturday, and that will pretty much end the Eastern Conference's interest in the Shield race. (With apologies to Kansas City, who probably would have been more of a factor here if they hadn't played their first forty-seven games on the road and gotten one point.) If the Crew win in Seattle, well, that puts an end to any suspense in the conference races, but Columbus would still need the Galaxy to drop five points on the way to September 24, and the Crew would need to get all three points there. The Crew's end of season schedule includes trips to Qwenturylink, PPL, LIVESTRONG!, and even the cake games against Chicago and New England are on the road. Not feeling it for the Crew, at least not until the playoffs.
In theory, I should show more respect for Dallas. So what if they lost at home to the Sounders - they won in Mexico! Unfortunately, I think the Sounders are a little better than that particular Pumas team, and the schedule ain't their friend. They've got two road games this week, and even if they beat Toronto that doesn't help in the standings. Like Seattle and Los Angeles, in September they have two-a-weeks in CONCACAF. I don't see the Ghost Herd making up any ground. And that's not even factoring in selling off George John, if that goes through.
Still, I've been pretty consistently wrong about Dallas all year. They came back hard after losing Ferreira, which I didn't think would happen.
Seattle, meanwhile - well, they have a brutal CCL schedule, and they take the Open Cup seriously, so squad depth will be a real problem. But they probably have the softest league schedule down the stretch. The biggest difficulty might actually be that trap game in Vancouver, what with the rivalry. A lot of teams would kill for that kind of problem.
So brace yourself for a lot of static coming out of Cascadia.
Hey, what about Reeling Salt Lake? They're no longer impregnable at home, and without Javier Morales, they're simply not an elite team. But, if the season were to end today...then Salt Lake fans got screwed on their season tickets something fierce, because they still have nearly a third of their season left to play. Plenty of time to get the stench of that "L-L-W-L-L" in the current standings out of the air.
Still, three points out of the last five games puts them on a pace equal to Philadelphia and New York. Insert punch line here about Hans Backe prioritizing the Supporters Shield over MLS Cup. For our younger readers, the Union and Red Bulls were once locked in a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy. This was before the two joined forces and embarked on the Monsters of Suck tour.
Speaking of San Jose - who, appropriate to their badge, are sinking in the West - this little tidbit from Major League Soccer Soccer's John Bolster annoyed me a lot more than it should have:
After Quakes defender Steven Beitashour was red-carded for putting a boot to Landon Donovan’s knee as he leaped over the Galaxy No. 10 (who made sure everyone knew there was contact)
Just to put Earlyshower's foul in context, Major League Soccer Soccer helpfully put up a video, which equally helpfully showed the foul in question several times, in super-slow motion: http://www.mlssoccer.com/videos?id=18456
For our younger readers, there was once a season where Steve Zakuani, Javier Morales, and David Ferreira all had leg bones broken by challenges not even as stupid as - whoever this guy is; he's certainly not going to be a professional soccer player long enough to justify learning how to spell his name, that's for damn sure. But that was before MLS players all had their bones replaced with adamantium. Landon's howl of pain was clearly an homage to the old days of April 2011, back when players had nerve endings instead of wiring from leftover Dreamcast systems.
Would I be this irritated if a Galaxy scrub took out an Earthquakes star player? Well, I'm not sure I'm going to be around if the Earthquakes ever sign someone you'd call a star. ("Hey, didn't you used to be Bobby Convey?")
Would I be this irritated if a Galaxy scrub took out another team's star? I suppose we'll find out, because apparently it's cool again for role players to go on kneecapping expeditions.
You know, while I'm taking out my frustrations on crap. And I'm not here to make cheap, anti-Irish jibes - especially since my wife vetoed a joke about the Home Depot Center selling bacon-wrapped baby. But I'd like to belatedly address this nonsense from the Irish Independent (Give Or Take Six Counties):
On Sunday night, while Irish supporters wondered whether or not their skipper and most important striker was really was about to wave goodbye to the Premier League and settle for a dramatically inferior standard....
Yes. MLS is dramatically inferior to the Premier League. I wish I had written this before Saturday, but once upon a time an Aston Villa forward, all but totally exiled in permanent reserve status, walked off the plane and ran wild on MLS. That Villan's name was Juan Pablo Angel.
But Leicester City is also inferior to the Premier League - pretty much by definition, if I understand Europe's system of "promotion and relegation" correctly - please explain to me in detail in comments how that's supposed to work, and whether it could be applied to MLS. I suppose it's acceptable for an Irish soccer writer to adopt the Premiership as a "home" league instead of...what is it called, anyway, Serie Go Bragh? The Irish Sea isn't that wide, and American sports fans routinely cheer for teams much farther away than Irish soccer fans do. But Keane wasn't gonna play in the Premiership anyway, so it was just a matter of which dramatically inferior league he would choose. (I assume Inter was out of the question.)
By the way, Kasey Keller's former club is now currently being run by a fellow named Sven-Goran Eriksson. If we're going to be taking cheap, easy shots at CONCACAF, it's probably worth noting that Eriksson was boss of the team that at any given moment is by acclamation the deepest and most talented team in the region, and nearly caused them to miss the World Cup. That's not even getting into the Notts County fiasco. I realize Eriksson helped make Lazio what they are today, and I'm not necessarily saying that if Arena were coaching Leicester and Eriksson the Galaxy, Keane would have chosen differently. But if you're going to call the Galaxy a circus, it helps your case if the alternative hasn't got a shoe contract with Bozo.