Thought I’d go over a few things tonight while Aaron is off in Denver.
First – I’d love to post a full breakdown of how the Red Bulls beat Real Salt Lake, 1-0, in the MLS Western Conference Final on Saturday night, but the truth of the matter is I only saw about the last 15 minutes of the match. I attended the Capitals game in New Jersey on Saturday night, and I don’t regret the choice, even if the final result wasn’t to my liking. God bless that nice Alex Ovechkin for at least getting Washington a point.
In the limited bit of the MLS match that I saw, it was RSL barraging the New York goal with shots, only to find themselves unable to finish. All that seemed to be missing was having Kanu on the field in an RSL uniform so he could miss the net completely from a yard out. It had to be a superbly frustrating loss for Salt Lake, but you gotta finish.
It is what it is, and New York have won the West. Maybe next year, San Jose can win the East. The Red Bulls have earned a trip to the MLS Cup Final for the first time, against the Columbus Crew – who of course have never been there, either.
It can be argued down the road what a New York win would mean to the league. It would heartbreak the supporters of teams like DC and Chicago – who have won titles in the past and enjoy rubbing New York’s lack of success in their faces. All that can end in 90 minutes on Sunday. And as a DC fan, it is ultimately frustrating to me that United could have ended this charade and knocked New York out of the playoffs – and failed to do so on the season’s final day.
How ironic would it be that Sigi the Scarf’s decision to field a solid starting lineup for the season finale that beat United, thus allowing the Red Bulls into the playoffs, would then set up a possible loss to those Red Bulls in the final. Such is life sometimes, I suppose.
We’ll explore the final later in the week, there’s plenty of time to break that down. For now, all I’ll say is that these are two teams I’m never pleased to see succeed since they are DC rivals – but now that they are in the Final, I hope they play good, attractive, attacking soccer and give those watching a good showcase of the league. Even if it’s one-sided, I hope we get to see a good display not marred by bunkering or a referee who decides he needs to be the show.
I will be watching. I’ve watched every final to this point and attended three, and after following the league all season, I can’t seem to keep myself from watching the Final, no matter who is playing.
England: So much for taking advantage of prosperity at Arsenal. A week after beating Manchester United, 2-1, the Gunners were beaten at home by Aston Villa, 2-0. United, meanwhile, recovered to defeat Stoke (also now known as the Rory Delap Super Duper Long Throw-In Flying Circus) in a 5-0 squeaker. The results matter to the two of us contributing to this blog, but probably not many others. Chelsea thrashed West Brom, 3-0, and continue to lead the table with Liverpool, well clear of their Big 4 brethren. I still agree with Aaron that this is Chelsea’s title to lose, despite Liverpool’s win over the London club earlier in the season. The news for Arsenal, meanwhile, got worse with Theo Walcott suffering a dislocated shoulder while training for England’s friendly with Germany.
NCAA Men: Maryland were winners of the ACC Tournament, after Virginia upset top-seed Wake Forest in the semifinals, 3-2, in overtime. The Terps won the final, 1-0, over the Cavaliers. UVA, Maryland, Wake, and North Carolina all have first-round byes in the 48-team event (Boston College and Duke also made it). George Mason is in, as well, and will host Penn at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner gets the Terrapins. At 18-1-1, Loyola of Baltimore hosts a second-round match against either Duke or UNC-Greensboro. A match with Duke would be interesting, and one I’d go check out. The game will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Baltimore.
Elsewhere: And finally, how long until this trend hits MLS?