You're probably asking yourself - how can it be a Hollywood ending if the bad guys win? This is why it's always important to know who the protagonist is, and what kind of story you're in. Yes, Luke was the good guy in Star Wars...but so was Uncle Owen. Since the Dynamo were treated as afterthoughts before the game by a near-consensus of the media (Major League Soccer Soccer's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle, along with a few others, excepted) it's more than a little understandable that post-game reactions were more than a little defensive. Had the Galaxy completed the face-plant, telling live microphones that they played a better match would have been laughed out of the state - but Bobby Boswell would have gotten little credit and less attention even if Houston had shut out the Galaxy. Somebody has to give the Dynamo credit for showing up.
Same with Calen Carr. Did Carr play the best game of his career? Well, I dare you to name one soccer player associated with Cal-Berkeley who has ever done better. Oh...besides her. But Carr went into the game as the third or fourth most feared forward on his own team. Ask Chicago Fire fans what "We had no chance after Carr left the game" says about squad depth. (Or, come to think of it, how Calen Carr's defensive skill set was going to prevent Galaxy goals, if we're saying Carr was that crucial to the team effort.)
Again, however - perspective matters. If LA had been in a position to say "If only we had AJ DeLaGarza healthy" (and they damn near were), they would have heard more snickers than M&M/Mars. The Dynamo really were missing a player who was causing, as Ty Keough would say, havoc. It did change the game, and if Houstonians want to say it was decisive, that's more than simply their right under the First Amendment. I still say that Dan Calichman makes a difference in 1996, and I'm still right, so it's churlish to say Dynamites can't say similar things.
Why, I'm not even going to comment on the idea that the reason Houston lost was that AEG owns both teams.
Wait, yes, I am. Yes, multiple ownership is a valid issue. I am, after all, the guy who has done everything but distribute 3-D charts on why Chivas de Guadalajara = 1/Chivas USA. And yes, multiple ownership has been banned in other leagues for well over a century, because of owners moving players willy-nilly from the Cleveland Spiders to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The better example, however, was always General Motors setting up divisions to compete with each other. Okay, I'm aware of what eventually happened to General Motors. But harping on AEG implies two very silly things: (1) might as well shut down the team until Phil finds someone to partner up with Oscar de la Hoya, and/or (2) somebody else owned the Dynamo when they got those stars on their shirts. In the words of a legendary Texan about another legendary Texan, the Dynamo were born on third base. They were pinchrunning for the Earthquakes 2.0 thanks to AEG in the first place, and now AEG is the menace?
There is a very good chance, on thinking about it, that this person is a professional troll - he does call it "the MLS." But it's a seductive complaint for those who resent the attention the Galaxy got the past couple of weeks.
The bottom line, really, is that the Dynamo lost to a team that had this ready for sale in time for the game. They deserved better...but, as my old pal Gandalf the Grey said, deserve's got nothing to do with it.
Will Houston be back next year? It's tough to think of a more solid organizational structure - the Kinnear system makes good into really good, and the good into great. Brad Davis made Christian Wilhemsson look so awful, I ran back to delete my "Key to the Match - Brad Davis is Found Out by Wilhemsson's Skill and Experience" post. (I even got it off of Google cache, so don't even try to look for it.) By the way, I have found no confirmation of the rumor that the National Council of Churches has petitioned Wilhemsson to change his first name to "Atheist."
But if they really think as they stand, they are a solid championship contender...if they really look at that game and think it was simply an injury and bad penalty kick calls...then they might be in for an unpleasant awakening.
Although, what's the worst that could happen? They'll finish fifth again, then go back to the Cup. Maybe in 2013, it'll be somewhere more palatable, with less of a home field advantage...like Seattle. Or the new San Jose stadium. Or Dallas. I would watch the hell out of a Dynamo-Dallas final.
Speaking of subjects where my opinion matters not at all - okay, Beckham was a success for the Galaxy and MLS. He played very well, his team showed resilience, and he made his team and league a fistful of dollars. Much better late than never. (The Galaxy should give Grant Wahl a couple of championship rings.) If you had said to me on January 10, 2007, that Beckham would be a valued part of two MLS Cup winning teams during the course of his Galaxy career, I'd have taken that cheerfully.
By complaining about Beckham now, I am simply buying into the Beckham hype from a different direction, instead of judging him as a player like I've been yelling at people to all this time. So - again, not like he cares - but we're good.
If Landon Donovan wants to quit, no one has any legitimate argument, either. I'm thinking his stated reasons are the real ones - he has had no freaking break. When the Galaxy do their post-season tour of Melniboné and Narnia, or wherever the Christ Herbalife sends the poor bastards to this winter, Landon gets to stay home. He also shouldn't ask for another Everton loan, a non-trivial reason why he hasn't had a break for a while.
MLS players punting an entire season for personal reasons is far from unprecedented. Alexi Lalas did it famously, and the Wizards won a double without him. (Lalas came back the next year for a different team, and won a bunch of metal with them, so happy endings all around.) Rookie sensation Ty Harden left the Galaxy for philanthropic reasons after 2007, and...well, hey, Toronto has technically won trophies. And time will tell whether Satan drives Chase Hilgenbrinck back to the Revolution.
Donovan has always been willing to say, and taken a large amount of crap for, not putting soccer above all else. If it was anyone else, I'd say they were trying to drive down the Everton sale price, but Donovan has always been pretty sincere. My guess is that the offseason does him a world of good, and he's playing for the Galaxy in 2013.
Proving that 2012 was Groundhog Year - last year at this time, Omar Gonzalez was the darling young defender of MLS and the future of the US back line. Whether he's playing in (or for) the US next year, is entirely up to him. I just want to say that if Timmy Chandler doesn't stay the hell away from his knee this time, I will find some way to hurt him, I swear.
And I'm dead serious. If Klinsmann doesn't call Omar up, and Mexico's coach-of-the-month cap ties him? I'm switching. I'm going green. I'll even try to learn Spanish - all I know is that "puta" means "goalkeeper."
I have a lot more to say about this, the best and most interesting and most wonderful MLS Cup ever...but since that's where I'm coming from, I somehow doubt you would care to read it. HOWEVER...this is why having MLS Cup at a higher seed is a good idea.
What's your opinion of LA fans like me? There's plenty of space in the comments. Yes, you can swear.
Wow, you think we suck! Stipulated. We sucky fans made the Home Depot Center as electric, as amped, as exciting, as powerful as I've ever seen it - and I've seen a game or two there, thank you.
It really only got going in the second half, which - great, file that under the "LA fans suck" file, too, if you want.
Here's my point. LA fans, a bunch of whom were Beckham fans first, a bunch of whom were wearing "Goodbye Beckham" shirts, and a damn near consensus of us were quieted to despair by Calen freaking Carr - those fans made the HDC an emotional powerhouse on Saturday.
Imagine how your fans will do, when it's your turn. It will be a freaking unmissable, unforgettable experience of vicarious glory. You won't ever want to leave.
Unless you lose, of course, but then you can feel good for the guys who packed the corner that you tried to shove out of TV range.
So, in conclusion, the regular season is meaningless. But we'll talk about that later, too. Time to align some stars.
EDIT - obviously I didn't know how severe Carr's injury was, so I wish I had been more tactful. I hope he recovers, has an All-Star season in 2013, and shuts my ass up with alacrity. Also, I completely forgot Joy Fawcett went to Berkeley, assuming I knew in the first place - I think I just assumed all the early 90's team were Tarheels aside from Foudy. Also, AEG has seen the light and will not send the Galaxy to the antipodes for a postseason filthy lucre tour, perhaps because Beckham and Donovan would have swam in acid first.