The Clean Sheet: In the stands
who stunk all season and got hot at the right time -- actually have become the Revolution, circa the last few years.
All valid points, and all will play a crucial part of what should be a pretty riveting Cup Final Sunday at The House That The Hoops Built And Then Stunk Up.
So while we could talk about whether Landon and Herculez Gomez will be too much for New Eng-er-land's backline or if the Revs just have too much bottle to lose to a shaky Galaxy side, Sunday's match is also a battle between two of America's best cities.
So for those of you traveling to Frisco, Texas, for the Final (and according to MLS that is a lot of you as there are people coming in from like 38 states and three continents for the sold-out affair), I will take this time to help you understand what is driving the fans of the two teams you will encounter at the game. Having lived in both Boston and Los Angeles, I feel I can add a bit of perspective so that you can fully appreciate where the supporters of both sides are coming from. Six different topics popped into mind to demonstrate the very different people in these two cities.
Boston sports superfan: Ben Affleck
Los Angeles sports superfan: Jack (no last name necessary out here)
ADVANTAGE: PLANET LA
Boston fans home game strategy: get there early and get hammered in the parking lot, then watch the game while thinking about when they can get back to the parking lot to drink some more
Los Angeles fans home game strategy: get there 30 minutes late, watch the game while talking on their Treo to their dog's shrink to set up a meeting over a non-fat-soy-tofu-vegan-latte at yoga class, then leave early to beat the three hours of traffic you'd sit in after the game to go 2.4 miles.
Boston football owners: Bob Kraft might be buying into Liverpool. Cool.
Los Angeles football owners: Can be found in Oakland and St. Louis
Boston baseball owners: Drove out their young GM and may want him back
Los Angeles baseball owners: Fired their young GM and want Boston's driven-out young GM
Recent Boston star sightings: Eddie Andelman
Recent Los Angeles star sightings: Anybody I list is better than Eddie Andelman
ADVANTAGE: PLANET LA
Most used Boston local landmark: The Freedom Trail
Most used Los Angeles local landmark: Paris Hilton
ADVANTAGE: PLANET LA
So, basically you get the picture. You have the hard-nosed Boston fans against the too-cool-for-everything Planet LA fans. As great as the game will be on the field, the fans in the stands from these two great cities are just as fun. You know, assuming the Boston fans make it in from the parking lot, and assuming the Los Angeles fans get done with their botox shots in time.
While the focus this week is and should be on the Cup Final, our man Steve Davis in the Dallas Morning News put together a fun list of the Top 10 most influential people in soccer. Here is his list:
1. Bruce Arena, U.S. national team manager
2. Don Garber, MLS commissioner
3. Phil Anschutz, owner
4. Sunil Gulati, president of Kraft Soccer
5. Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer secretary general
6. Landon Donovan, player
7. Lamar Hunt, owner
8. Richard Motzkin, power agent
9. Ivan Gazidis, MLS deputy commissioner
10. John Skipper, senior VP and GM, ESPN
The great thing about lists is the debates they produce. Kudos to Davis for sticking his neck out and putting this together, knowing hacks like me are going to pick it apart. But actually, it stands up pretty well, except for one thing in my book. The guy I probably would have put number one or two is not on the list at all -- AEG honcho Tim Lieweke. Discuss...
GRAB A COLD BUD (OR AQUAFINA) AND PUT YER FEET UP:
WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:
Sunday - MLS CUP 2005 (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC): I said it at the top, and I will say it again here. New England was the better team all season. They have whatever you want to call it -- grit, bottle, huevos, you name it. They are a solid team who knows who they are and how to win soccer games. They are anchored by one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the country, have a strong midfield, and obviously a very dangerous attack.
The Galaxy were a shocking disappointment all season. Kevin Hartman was unbeatable at times, but overall was as shaky this season as I have ever seen him. The lineup was inconsistent, the offense often struggled to finish chances, and some of the names Steve Sampson brought in as headliners became expensive subs while some no-name kid called Herculez basically saved them many times.
But this is the MLS Cup Final. Love them or hate them, this is where Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones make their names. This is where solid vets like Tyrone Marshall -- who is lucky to be playing Sunday after a pretty-near red card last weekend -- prove their worth. This is where the regular season means absolutely nothing. The Revs are the better team. The Galaxy got hot at the right time. Galaxy 2, New Eng-er-land 1.
The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com. Send any questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.