I will be dining at Ben's Chili Bowl this weekend
For the third straight year I'll be in attendance at the MLS Cup on Sunday in D.C. The good news is that it's not in Frisco, Texas --that godforsaken wasteland north of Dallas that has all the charm of a moldy soft taco. The bad news is that D.C. United once again got dumped in the playoffs after finishing with the best record in the league.
I'm nominally a D.C. fan. I lived there in the early years of MLS and spilled enough beer on strangers at raucous RFK Stadium matches to forever have a soft spot in my heart for the black and red. But more importantly, I'm bummed because there will once again be no home squad and therefore a rather tepid atmosphere. D.C. had sold 36,000 tickets as of earlier this week. If United were in the championship match it would most definitely be a glorious, ear-blistering sellout. Instead we'll get 40,000-odd fans--the vast majority of which are uncertain who the hell to cheer for. Many of them will be drunk, bitter D.C. supporters.
But New England is offering free bus rides down I-95 to the faithful, so there should be a decent contingent of Revolution fans. And the Houston supporters, in just two seasons, have proven themselves among the league's most ardent jackasses. The two sold out playoff games at Robertson Stadium, with seemingly every yahoo in the crowd clad in orange, were glorious to watch. We'll see how many make the long journey east.
There are a number of intriguing story lines in this rematch of last year's MLS Cup: Can Houston survive the almost-certain absence of Brian Ching? Will New England finally break its MLS Cup curse, having lost in three of the last five title matches? Can Taylor Twellman and company find some way to break down the dominant Dynamo defense? Will Nate Jaqua try to take someone's head off with another vicious forearm shiver (see the 40th minute)?
We'll find out Sunday at noon EST. My prediction: Houston 1-0. Jaqua nods home a Brian Mullan cross for the victory.
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