It never fails. Everytime I con a non-football-obsessed pal into watching a match, the match turns out to suck. I should have known better than to invite an Outsider over for an MLS Cup Final involving the New England Revolution—that kind of event bears a big, red ACOLYTES ONLY stamp, the sort of grim proclivity to be indulged furtively, on the sly. Endure it; get it over with; get back to braying about “the Beautiful Game” and “the rise of American soccer” and Adu’s prospective Man U transfer…
Alas, no. I talked my comrade Taylor into skipping most of his beloved Seattle Seahawks’ crucial divisional clash with the Saint Louis Rams in favor of Sunday’s New England/Houston Final. He’s an open-minded lad—follows the World Cup, that sort of thing—but he is prone to grumbling about “every game ending zero-zero.” Well, I said—no guarantees, but this match features some of the hottest offensive firepower in MLS. Goals should be flying in!
Talk about the triumph of blind hope over bitter experience. I respect the Revolution, but Steve Nicol has developed a side whose ability to suck every last ounce of joy out of a match is exceeded only by its propensity to choke in league Finals. Sadly, the Revs didn’t disappoint, serving up a virtual historic re-enactment of their two brain-killing 0-1 AET losses to the Galaxy.
Meanwhile, the best things one could say about the Houston Dynamo (or “the Houston Dynamos,” as the ever-reliable Grauniad styled them) were: 1) Their support travelled in force; 2) They coped with New England’s smothering play; and 3) Their victory shattered a historical barrier. As they cavorted around after winning the shoot-out, Taylor remarked, “At last. For the first time in American sports, a team wearing flourescent orange has won a championship.”
The thought of how excellent a tango between Houston and DC United (or “The Bottlers,” as they are traditionally known) could have been haunted the whole affair. But, okay—that was that, and the gone-in-60-seconds exchange of goals in extra time was pretty cool. My young apprentice did, at one point, note that “it would sweet if the Timbers were in MLS,” which I took to be an overall endorsement of the pursuit.