Dwayne De Rosario

The Clean Sheet: They have a way

If my Hoops can't overcome their decimating injury problem this postseason, I will strap on whatever color that is they wear and be cheering for the San Jose Earthquakes.

There, I said it.

There is no doubt this team has been the story of 2005. You don't need me to reiterate the improbability (whoa, lemme slow down, too many big words) of what San Jose has done given what has happened to them on and off the field, but suffice it to say this would be a storybook title.

But the main reason I will be pulling for Quakes is that they did what no other team could do this season - stood out from the pack. With a 14-point lead over my banged-up FC Dallas Lite version heading into this weekend, San Jose is the only team in the league to achieve some separation in the standings.

Sorry, I take that back. Full marks to the Crew and the two expansion teams. You lot have clearly stood out this season as well.

So while only the Quakes have fought against the parity that troubles me so every season, the resulting quagmire in the standings has led to a pretty interesting stretch run here with just two weeks to play in the MLS season.

Colorado killed themselves Wednesday night by failing to dispose of Chivas USA in a "home" game. The draw cost them two crucial points as they look to dig out of fourth place and a first-round showdown with the impressive Quakes.

My Hoops' late win over the hapless Crew was huge for that same reason, as it gave them some serious breathing room between them and Mile High Club.

Over in the East, the lying, cheating, stealing Fire returned home and stole a late draw against the new-look(?) Metros, scoring twice late to secure a point and a spot in the postseason.

And in Checkettsville, D.C. crushed Real behind three pretty goals (more on that later as well) to give themselves a legitimate shot at the top seed in the East and a chance to play whomever limps into the fourth spot.

So everyone except Chivas and the Galaxy have two matches left and there is still a lot to play for - most poignantly the battle between the Metros and the Wizards for the last spot in the East. Well, there is the showdown between RSL and Chivas to see who finishes as the league's doormat ...

THE NEWS: While the Quakes hoisting the A-Roth Trophy would be a story, the real Cinderella may turn out to be none other than the once-almighty Hoops.

TCS SAYS: Steve Davis in Dallas is reporting that Eddie Johnson says he is done for the year. Not the regular season, now the entire playoffs as well. Ouch. The good news is Richard Mulrooney maintains he wants to play again in a couple weeks, but we'll see.

THE NEWS: Bob Bradley is replaced by Metros with three matches to play in the regular season.

TCS SAYS: Someone e-mailed me this quote the other day from Alexi Lalas: "Any changes in personnel for the MetroStars will be made in the offseason. Right now, I have full confidence in Bob Bradley and a tremendous amount of respect for the work he does and I believe that he has the ability to get this team to the playoffs and even bring the MetroStars their first MLS Cup."

While the fact Bob was going to be replaced by Lalas was the worst-kept secret since Brangelina, I think it's safe to say we were all a bit caught off-guard by the timing. I guess the idea was to try and salvage something before they missed the playoffs, an argument that could be backed by the fact that anything really can happen once you get in the dance.

But interim coaches haven't exactly torn up the tracks this season. The Crew and Chivas USA are still ... well the Crew and Chivas USA. And Mo Johnston's debut was no different, a shocker, blowing a 2-0 lead in the 90th minute when the Fire lied, cheated and stole two goals to get the draw and clinch a playoff spot.

Given what the Metros organization aspires to, the coaching hire will be fun to watch, while the rumor mill points to Sigi Schmid landing the job in Columbus. Bradley is immensely hireable in MLS, but I'm sure more than one person will wonder aloud about a certain national team job that might open up over the summer.

THE NEWS: With so much on the line in the last few games, an individual piece of class can dictate a playoff seeding, or even a playoff berth at all.

TCS SAYS: On that note, check out Freddy Adu's goal last night which basically killed off RSL. I'm serious, stop right now and watch it on this site. The goal is magic, and as analyst John Harkes reminds us, the kid is 16.

Adu's goal was the best of the bunch Wednesday night, but there were a few others worth mentioning. If you've played the game, you know Christian Gomez's finish looks a lot easier than it is. And for my Hoops, Ramon Nunez's game-winner was a beauty.

GRAB A COLD BUD (OR AQUAFINA) AND PUT YER FEET UP:
WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

Saturday - UNITED vs. METROSTARS (7:30 p.m. ET on Direct Kick) and WIZARDS vs. REVS (8 p.m. ET on Direct Kick): The Metros could be done and the Revs could clinch the East by Saturday night.

Saturday - DIEGO CORRALES vs. JOSE LUIS CASTILLO (9 p.m. ET on Showtime): A rematch of one of the greatest boxing matches in recent history. Seriously.

Next Wednesday - ENG-ER-LAND VS. AUSTRIA (11 a.m. ET on PPV): In case you haven't noticed, there is a case of major tightus sphincteritus going on over in old Blighty regarding the fate of the Three Lions.

FLICK-ONS:

Big response to Ray Hudson last week, and I have to say it was about 75 percent positive towards the crazy lout.

Is there anything funnier than when Red Sox pitcher David Wells puts his big cabeza into his big glove to cover up the fact he is screaming and swearing like a truck driver?

There goes the neighborhood: Mr. and Mrs. Victoria Beckham have apparently talked to Brad Pitt about buying his $28 million Beverly Hills mansion. Brooklyn moves to L.A. again?

There is no extra time in Major League Soccer during the regular season. So anyone who wrote that Ramon Nunez scored in extra time, you may want to check your facts. Sorry, just drives me crazy.

I'll believe Preki hangs 'em up when I see it. Maybe he'll be like Vinny Testaverde in New York ... the Wizards will just trot him out whenever they get in a pinch.

The Clean Sheet runs each Thursday on MLSnet. 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 tcsresponses@yahoo.com