MLS Cup 2013: 17 reasons why this MLS Cup final will be one for the ages
Whether Saturday is your first MLS Cup or your 18th one, the Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake matchup for the league title is shaping up to be an epic one. And that's not just because these teams are two of the most entertaining in MLS. There are plenty of other legitimate reasons:
1. Because Jesus is rooting for the home team
You've heard of Touchdown Jesus? The soccer version (see above) might give Sporting KC divine inspiration. Cheekily, Sporting Jesus's preferred hangout is the Blue Hell.
2. Because there's a chance someone may be holding Beckerman's dreads
RSL center-mid Kyle Beckerman will hope Sporting KC didn't get any ideas after Jacksonville Jaguars defender Jason Babin came away with a handful of Andre Ellington's dreads. Still, Beckerman might want to tuck them in a bit tighter on Saturday.
3. Because they're the two soccer-y names in the league
Yeah, team names that end in FC and United are traditional soccer, but it doesn't get any more inside soccer than "Sporting" vs. "Real." Right out of a Copa del Rey early-round matchup in Spain.
4. Because it's fun to see a 5-foot-9 goalkeeper dominate
How many players shorter than six feet have made a career as professional goalkeepers? You can probably count them on one hand, which is why 14-year MLS veteran — and likely US World Cup goalkeeper — Nick Rimando continues to amaze. He has the best save of any goalkeeper this year … again.
5. Because there's a World Cup on the line
As if playing for a trophy wasn't pressure enough, Matt Besler (SKC), Graham Zusi (SKC) and Kyle Beckerman (RSL) are trying to convince Jurgen Klinsmann that they're worthy of a World Cup team spot.
6. Because when it's 15 degrees out, they still wear shorts
That's the forecast kickoff temperature factoring in wind chill. But you know at least one player will wear short sleeves. Our money is on SKC's Dom Dwyer.
7. Because of what Aurelien Collin might wear at the post-party
The French defender/designer -- he has his own fashion line AC78 (below) -- has some eccentric tastes. Imagine what the grittiest defender in MLS will do to celebrate an MLS title.
8. Because a player who grew up 20 minutes away from Sporting Park can win it
Playing in the MLS All-Star Game at home was a dream come true for Sporting defender Matt Besler. And starting for the US national team at Sporting Park was definitely a thrill. But giving his hometown Kansas City its first pro championship in more than a decade would be the ultimate.
9. Because the MLS Cup is the most beautiful trophy in soccer
It's true. We went through the list (read here). It's more refined than the UEFA Champions League cup and has a more modern look than England's Premier League hardware.
10. Because the Cauldron believes that "we will win." Or so we've heard
Whatever the result, you'll probably hear the SKC supporters' chant more than once during Saturday's game. Watch the video below to learn how it goes and sing along.
11. Because if RSL win, Brandon Steineckert might have more music to write
RSL supporters have a chant of their own, courtesy of the Rancid drummer turned super-RSL fan. But if the RSL faithful sing it at Sporting Park, it'll be technically inaccurate.
12. Because the lead singer from Stillwater plays in the Real Salt Lake midfield
We know who will play Ned Grabavoy when they make a movie about this RSL run: Jason Lee, who played Jeff Bebe in the film Almost Famous.
13. Because the referee's nickname is Chico … and he's a nurse
When he's not flexing his muscles in a Dayton, Ohio, emergency room, where he works as a nurse, the MLS Referee of the Year is flexing them for yellow and red cards.
14. Because these two teams have been good for a long time
They say that a salary cap makes it tough to create dynasties in MLS. But Sporting and RSL have been good for a while now. SKC won a US Open Cup last year and finished tops in the East two of the last three years. Meanwhile, RSL are the only team in MLS history to make the playoffs six straight years.
15. Because Robbie Findley could be trash talking with Mike Bibby
At the family holiday gathering later this month, that is. We imagine both Findley and his cousin Bibby sporting their bling — Findley with his MLS Cup 2009 ring, with Bibby flaunting his 1997 NCAA basketball medal. A second one for Findley means more bragging rights.
16. Because RSL's Devon Sandoval is a pop culture icon
Take a look at the RSL rookie forward and tell me you can't see him uttering the words: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Or maybe you prefer the comparisons to V for Vendetta?
17. Because both coaches don't smile much
You don't want to look either SKC's Peter Vermes or RSL's Jason Kreis in the eye during a game. Their glare can pierce metal. Or your TV screen.