The Cheap Seats: Underdog power

citizens of the world's only remaining superpower -- still actually believe we're being persecuted by the Old World, as if General Cornwallis and his Redcoats are on the verge of sailing to Plymouth Rock to collect our tea taxes.

Think about it, without underdogs, you've got no "Hoosiers," no "Rudy," and no Jamaican bobsled team -- which of course means no "Cool Runnings," which in turn means that TBS has nothing to show on Tuesday afternoons. As a freelancer who works from home, I need "Cool Runnings" on TBS on Tuesday afternoons.

So now, I see the entire season, and today's matchups, in particular, in a totally new light. I am a new man, an anti-parity man, an underdog-loving man, a masochistic man who is going to actually sit through Kansas City-MetroStars match -- what I would call a "lullaby match" -- in order to more fully enjoy the late-night David-vs-Goliath clash between Columbus and the Galaxy.

And I'll convince myself that the Kansas City-MetroStars match has some sort of import. Such as? you ask. Well, it depends on whether you're a glass-is-half-full kind of guy or a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy. Either K.C. and the Metros are tied for fourth in the East, or tied for last. Either way, both teams are struggling to find rhythm and a rhyme. And what that means is that already, just a third of the way through the season, we've got ourselves a playoff battle. Amazing what the addition of just two teams to the league has done: It's already improved the competitiveness of the games and the pressure on the teams to succeed.

Same applies for the Colorado-San Jose match. The Rapids are doing their best to supplant Chivas USA in the cellar -- though beating Chivas USA two weeks ago hampered their efforts. That match was like an MLS version of a Clippers-Warriors game. Obviously, the biggest storylines here are the return of Mark Chung to Denver just a week after he was shipped to San Jose, and the ongoing Rapids makeover, including the convoluted 27-team deal that shipped Chris Henderson to a yet undisclosed location and brought Mike Petke to Mile High. Great deal. Petke ought to do wonders for the 'Pids' scoring problems, and in three weeks, Colorado should catch Chivas USA.

Finally, the match du jour. (That's the match of the day, sir.) The mighty Galaxy welcome the roller coaster that is the Crew. Man, I'm so glad the Crew exist. They make things interesting. They're like Rasheed Wallace of my beloved Detroit Pistons. You just never know what you're going to get. Of course, the big-money MLS gamblers in Vegas -- both of them -- always avoid Crew games for that very reason. Volatility is not real attractive in Vegas, unless it's a character trait in a stripper. Sometimes the Crew get drubbed by K.C., 4-0. Other days they win 2-0 against the third-place team in the West. And remember this, the last time these two teams met, the Hardhats crushed the Gals 3-0. "Yeah, but that was without Landon!" the Galaxy fans point out. Well, guess what? Landon's not there tonight, either.

Which is what makes this decidedly un-paritied game so interesting. David is bipolar and Goliath is missing his arms. The underdog suddenly has a chance -- a chance we all hope they take.

Greg Lalas played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New England Revolution in 1996 and 1997. Send e-mail to Greg at cheapseats@g73.org. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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