an 18-game unbeaten run, the Supporters Shield, and the discovery of a potent WMD in Edson "One Minute for Re-" Buddle. Jon Busch leaped into the upper echelons of MLS goalkeeping. Jeff Cunningham transformed into MLS's version of Vinny "the Microwave" Johnson. Chad Marshall should win Rookie of the Year, and his mentor, Robin Fraser, should win Comeback Player of the Year. Frankie Hejduk has had a Best XI season. Kyle Martino rediscovered his touch and his smile -- though I still wish he'd let his hair go shaggy again. And at some point, Crew faithful got the Stadium rocking like the Whiskey during a Motley Crüe show circa 1983. Knock'em Dead Kid, indeed!
Today, as the Crew enter the playoffs favorites to lift the Cup, I feel like I did when I saw "Showgirls" for the first time (yes, there have been multiple viewings) and realized that Elizabeth Berkley was no longer the gawky, horse-faced girl I danced with once at Todd Kessler's bar mitzvah in seventh grade back in Michigan, but instead was a graceful, leggy hottie willing to get naked at the drop of a dime.
So, I apologize for called the Crew awful. I apologize for saying coach Greg Andrulis should be fired. I apologize for scoffing when Brian Maisonneuve told me, "Honestly, I think we have the talent to win MLS Cup" (I may have to apologize about that one for a long time).
(There's always a however, isn't there?)
However, if you look at the other side of the ego, perhaps ... just perhaps, if the Crew fans, the pundits, and I hadn't criticized the Crew, maybe the team would not have done what it did. But I digress ...
Lest we forget, "Showgirls" pretty much derailed Elizabeth Berkley's career. She went from innocent Jessie Spano to Hollywood's favorite on-screen harlot faster than you can say "White Wolves II: Legends of the Wild." (That was her next movie after "Showgirls." Don't worry, no one else saw it either.)
So is it now time for the Crew's downfall? To tell you the truth, the odds are a little stacked against them, especially from a karmic perspective. And you know what they say about karma ...
There is so much good karma in New England right now that John Kerry believes he actually has a shot. It's like the space-time continuum took a wrong turn at Albuquerque the moment Jose Cancela flighted the ball over the Chicago backline and Steve Ralston conjured up one of the most divine touches in MLS history. Ever since then, the entire sports cosmos has shifted northeastward. Ancient mysteries of the sports universe have been unraveled. The yin of Puritanical pessimism and the yang of eternal hope have come together in a union of all that is holy and good and just.
In other words, the Crew has a lot of tough mojo to overcome. They're going up against unknown forces of nature and a possibly a couple of Salem witches with Jon Busch voodoo dolls.
In other other words, this might be the year that the Revolution actually do more than scrape into the playoffs and then miss the big enchilada. The Revs surged into the playoffs with a 2-1 gutcheck victory over Chicago last weekend, and although aren't quite Arsenal, they have enough firepower in Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan to derail any record-setting unbeaten streak. I can almost hear the Midnight Riders shouting out the New England motto:
"This is the year!"
But, alas, who am I kidding? That's not going to happen. As we all know, the Red Sox are going to lose in the World Series and the Revolution will lose when the home-and-home shifts back to the uncursed flatlands of Ohio. That's just the way things are. The way things will always be. It's as predictable as Elizabeth Berkley getting naked in her next movie.
Greg Lalas played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New England Revolution in 1996 and 1997. Send e-mail to Greg at email@example.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.