The Revs Are Goin’ To The Cup!
The Nature Boy Knows!
Before I get to anything else, let’s get one thing out there in front of everything else: the two matches played between the New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls are the best soccer I’ve ever seen two clubs play since the inception of Major League Soccer. Obviously the Revolution being involved (and winning) calls my objectivity into question, but still, what a spectacular series. The highest compliment I can give these two matches is that the only thing I could think of as a parallel was playoff hockey in the National Hockey League. My heart was in my throat for all 180 minutes and I was amazed that these two clubs could go at it as hard as they did for as long as they did. The action and tension was relentless, the play was both technical and physical, there was not a cheap goal given despite seven being scored, and there was no serious controversy regarding the officiating in either end of the tie. My hat is off to the players, coaches, and supporters of both of these clubs. They not only lived up to the best of the beautiful game, but they elevated it. If there are soccer naysayers in your social circle lock them in a room with a television showing these two matches. If they don’t emerge as fans three hours later kick them out of your social circle.
Take a look at yesterday’s highlights while I towel off, catch my breath, and have some orange slices…
Damn, those highlights got me all worked-up again!
Here are a few more thoughts before I sign off to further bask in the reflected glory of yesterday’s triumph:
- If they haven’t already, somebody is going to write a lengthy, slobbering, paean on Thierry Henry and his time in MLS (assuming, as most do, that it has come to an end)- and he will deserve every word of it. Much like David Beckham, Henry arrived in MLS under the impression that his superior talent and experience would allow him to “coast” through matches and seasons. Also like Beckham, when Henry learned that his “lesser” opponents weren’t going to let him get away with this, he got serious about his work and remained so. Yesterday he showed not only that at 37 he is still a better player than anyone currently suiting up for an MLS club, but he also showed what kind of leader he was. He calmed his teammates when tempers flared, he remained calm (as you’ll note from the highlights above) when his club scored, not wanting to lose sight of the greater goal, he continued to encourage his teammates when New England tied the match, and he was gracious in defeat. If you didn’t already know it, he is a very, very special player.
- A lot of people like to write Tim Cahill off as a one-dimensional player (good in the air and not much else)- ask anyone playing defense for New England yesterday if that is the case. Cahill is a handful and the kind of player you can defend perfectly- as Jose Gonçalves did- and still end up looking foolish against.
- Charlie Davies says he is at “90%” of what he was before his horrific car accident five years ago. Maybe he’ll get that other 10% back and maybe he won’t, but I’ll still take 9/10s of an on-form Davies over all but a small handful of MLS strikers. If Davies stays this hot for the Cup final New England could dominate either L.A. or Seattle, both of whom the “pundits” see as superior sides. Also, give him a call, Jurgen, he scores more goals than Jozy.
- Speaking of people who should probably get a call from Jurgen Klinsmann, how about New England’s Chris Tierney? Deadly on free kicks, as good a left foot as Brad Davis (and five years younger!), can play equally well in the back line or midfield, hard as nails, and will run all day- what’s not to like?
- How many people are still on the “Jay Heaps isn’t good enough to coach in MLS” bandwagon? Did he do anything in this series but get his tactical decisions perfectly right and make all of the right substitutions at the right times? He chose to drop Kelyn Rowe from the left midfield in the second match and replace him with the aforementioned Tierney. Guess who set-up both of Charlie Davies’ goals with whipped in left-footed crosses? Yup.
You may have noticed Mike Petke and Jay Heaps hugging it out at the end of yesterday’s match, but did you hear what Petke was saying to him?
“Get it done, get it done.”
Count on it, coach.