First XI: Promotion and relegation

at Chicago, at Metros, at Colorado. If this amazing run is continue, they've got their work cut out for them. K.C. plays L.A. twice in its last three games -- a home game and a road game sandwiched around a game in San Jose. If they are to come away with Samuel Pierron's trophy, they will also have earned it.

3. Let's look ahead to the season's final weekend. Should all the planets align, we could be looking at a pair of death matches. San Jose at Dallas and Chicago at New England. Takes me back to the good old days. I remember sitting in the MetroStars locker room, watching Paul Keegan scoring a late goal in Dallas in 1997, and Carlos Alberto Parreira saying, "It is over." The MetroStars, who'd been asking for favors from New England for the entire final month of the season, failed to make the playoffs that year with a team that included Tony Meola, Tab Ramos, Branco, Shawn Bartlett, Pitufo De Avila and Roberto Donadoni. That's got to go down as one of the greatest flops in MLS history.

2. Which leads me to my occasional plug for my friend, the barely-single maven, the Webmaster of the always-entertaining www.MetroFanatic.com, Mr. Dan Ryazansky. The Maven asks that all you MLS junkies head over to his site to check out his "Hate Bracket." It's an NCAA-style tournament where Metros fans try to decide who is their biggest villain since 1996. It's good, clean fun.

1. OK, I've turned the final item into a weekly invite to the Waffle House. Last week, I liked an MLS Cup Final of K.C. and D.C. This week, after watching the Great Chris Armas, I'm picking the Fire over the Crew and D.C. United en route to a final showdown with the Wizards. A U.S. Open Cup Final rematch ... and I see a man named Zach in the net.

Jeff Bradley is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Send your comments and complaints (200 words or less, please) to Jeff at jbradleyespn2003@yahoo.com and he promises to read (but not respond to) all of them. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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