Actually, what's the rush? We don't have to worry about these games for two weeks. See, we're respecting the international calendar – happy now? I lost an argument a couple of years ago with Nelson Rodriguez of MLS about the playoff structure – I wanted to see a playoff structure like the NFL, where the higher seed hosts and the lower seed gets no home game. The regular season is very important in the NFL for exactly that reason. It's not impossible by any means for wild card teams to play road games all the way to the Super Bowl, but it's very tough, and no team would choose to do it. Home field advantage, despite what the Houston Dynamo would have you believe, is just as big a factor in MLS.
Rodriguez replied, "My God! We never thought of that! Here, have my job. I'll be a blogger who makes dick jokes, and you can be the MLS Executive Vice President of Competition. Wait, of course you can't take my job – a mind like yours, you're obviously doing important, secret work full-time for our country that you can't talk about. But at least let me donate my salary to you, or to a charity of your choice. And thank you for your service, sir."
And I said, "That's PRETTY good sarcasm, but I've heard better."
No, obviously, what he said was pretty much the equivalent of "The owners would rather have a guaranteed playoff home game."
Basically it boils down to a lot of arguments with MLS about how they should run a business. If you think or assume they don't know what they're doing, and you've suddenly thought of something that no MLS owner or employee has – well, you can think or assume what you want, it's a free country. Hell, if it were possible to have home-and-home NFL playoffs, that league might consider it.
As it is – well, Seattle got two extra home games when a lot of structures would have given them zero. And if the Portland Timbers have to climb out of a two goal hole because of it, well, that's more money for the Timbers to donate to the Sounders transfer fund.
In fairness, Portland complaints have centered on the Thursday to Sunday turnaround. Real Salt Lake, as did not occur to me at the time, weren't any more enthusiastic about playing on Sunday than Portland. Although, seeing how the game turned out, maybe someone should take the game film over to the Temple and ask for a clarification. I mean, if God were that unhappy about playing on Sunday, you'd think the scoreline would have been reversed, right?
This isn't the first time religion and MLS have clashed. Pope John Paul II died rather than live in a world with Chivas USA in it, after all.
Well, that was a highly productive tangent that I'm certain will have no negative consequences for me personally or professionally. And now, back to our show.
In fairness, Portland complaints have centered on the Thursday to Sunday turnaround. And…maybe they have a point? Considering Salt Lake was the lower seed, and Portland was supposed to have home field advantage, maybe the "Let the higher seed decide whether to go first" idea would have worked well here. It wasn't just the extra day – which doesn't sound like a big deal until you've been in a position where an extra day of rest is a huge, huge deal indeed – but the elevation change. If Portland had been the lower seed – or even if they had been going to another sea level stadium – then they should pound sand. Salt Lake had the same amount of time off, and they had a tougher first round than Portland. Kansas City and Houston also had the same short break, and – well, they played your basic game that the world will little note nor long remember.
If elevation wasn't the deciding factor, then Salt Lake is a way better team than Portland. And if Salt Lake is that much better than the Timbers, then that's something that should have been decided on equal terms in Oregon.
And I think Salt Lake is the better team. You know the only thing that Rimando and RSL can't stop?
Also, late, seemingly meaningless goals from Piquionne. But, mostly believing.
Timbers fans, at least the ones I see on Twitter, have been admirable about all this. They have latched onto that goal like it's the start of a historic turnaround.
And who am I to tell them otherwise? They have been great at home, and Salt Lake has been mediocre in America's plains and seaports.
Besides, it wouldn't even be that historic. Ten years and three days ago, the San Jose Earthquakes came all the way back from four down to embarrass - well, me personally. I was there, after all. You can read Jeff Carlisle twisting the knife here.
I only have a few things to add. First, and most important, a long string of obscenities. Alexi Lalas on the bench, Hong Myung-Bo on the field. Yeah, I'm still mad.
How was that year the last time that Frank Yallop did anything important…unless you count last year's Supporters Shield, which the Quakes apparently don't.
That game is also the all-time argument ender about the away goal rule. Can you imagine if, at the end of regulation in the second game, with the Quakes having come all the way back from 4-0 aggregate to 4-4 aggregate, we had told them "Ooh, nice try. Your season is over."
It's almost an argument winner for Golden Goal…and not because it would have given the Galaxy a chance, but because it would have spared them further embarrassment. The Galaxy wouldn't have gotten another goal that evening if the Quakes had left the field. A full half hour of extra time, and it probably would have been 14-2.
Now, the Timbers are not as good as the '03 Quakes, and Salt Lake hasn't shown anything resembling the vulnerabilities of that year's Galaxy. (For one thing, Salt Lake has won a road game this season.) So I would suggest that the Timbers not hand out another two goals early, just to lull Salt Lake into a false sense of security.