Tomorrow afternoon is MLS's marquee moment; it's time for one of the biggest football games this year, the MLS Cup. One of the biggest games of the year you say incredulously? Yes. It is. If you follow an MLS club - and you must or why are you reading this - then this is a league that you care about, hopefully follow outside of your own team and well, it's the Cup damn it. I get almost as giddy about the MLS Cup as I do the World Cup, Euro, Gold Cup or whatever happens to be your favourite Cup competition. Yes I know that it's not the same as the ones I mentioned but that doesn't matter - this is MLS - it's never going to be a single table so this is what we hope for each season, to see our team in the final. That's why we're fans, right? To some day see our team succeed, to win all the marbles, to go the distance! Sorry, I must be coming down with a bad case of sport cliches...
As a long suffering fan of TFC (I accept all pitying thoughts) that's unlikely to happen any time soon; but that doesn't mean that I won't watch, that I don't look forward to this game like I would any other. I look forward to this because it's the game I love, for the league in which my team plays. I follow other teams in other leagues but none of them have the same personal connection so quite frankly this just means more. Besides, one day TFC will be in that final - stop laughing, it could happen - and the years of suffering (like any fan of any team) will have been worth it. Until that day, I'll keep watching.
Unfortunately, tomorrow's game has been marred by David Beckham's decision to leave the LA Galaxy after the final. No, let me rephrase that - it's been marred by his decision to announce it before the match. What should have been days and weeks of discussion about the game itself has turned into a orgy of "What Becks has done for the MLS, for the game, for humanity" etc, etc, ad nauseam.
This is just another example of the ego that ate MLS rearing it's perfectly coiffed head. This game should be looked at in terms of two of the lower seeds (LA at #4 and Houston at #5) bucking the odds - such as they are in a league with as much parity as MLS - and making it to the final. The focus should be about the rematch of last year's final, about the Dynamo looking to avenge that 1-0 loss at the Home Depot Center, about the Dynamo's outstanding play throughout the playoffs (3 road wins, 3!) and, hey why not about Andre Hainault's chance to finally lift a trophy (I'm nothing if not patriotic). Instead we get article after article about Beck's influence, on how he saved the MLS (insert eye roll here)...well, you see where I'm going with this.
Before you label me as biased against Becks, I'll out myself. I don't like him - I never really have. I appreciate his skill and ability - there are few that have played this game that can do what he can in dead ball situations and there's no denying that he's a talented midfielder - but I am sick to death of the almost coronation of Becks and the boys as MLS Champs. The smugness, the entitlement, the fawning sentiment that surrounds this LA team does become more than a bit wearing. Did the Galaxy have a better season than the Dynamo? No. Do the teams match up quite evenly? Yes. So why all the fawning? Sure Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are a dangerous combination, but so are Will Bruin and Brad Davis. And if I had to choose who I'd want as my keeper I'd go with Tally Hall every time; if only for his name. But it's the glitter of Golden Balls that keeps everyone mesmerized - I say pull your eyes away and look at the game itself; because that's what we're here for - the beautiful game.
Oh and in case I haven't been clear - I'm calling a Houston victory tomorrow - not just because I like them (which I do) but for the oh so satisfying look of disbelief and dismay on Becks and the boys faces when they lose.