Friday, November 14, 2008

Pop Quiz, Hot Shot!

Why in the name of Tony Meola are the NEW YORK Red Bulls playing in SALT LAKE CITY tomorrow night for the WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP??!?!?

Shoot the hostage, Keanu, I can't take it anymore! Seriously, we here at UF do our best to boost MLS. We're no pimps-- in the footy sense-- but everyone here wants the league to do well.

Give us the chance, we'll be out there singing. "Hey Hey, J! P! A! How many goals didja score today!?" But over and over, the league pushes sitters over the bar. And never in such glaring fashion as today.

Let me explain.

OK. This is how MLS Cup playoff qualification works. (Thanks, wiki!)

Eight teams will make the playoffs - the top three teams in each conference plus the remaining two teams, regardless of conference, that have the most points in the standings upon the completion of the 30-game regular season.

The seeding is as follows[1]:

* The top three teams in each conference qualify and are seeded 1, 2 & 3 in their respective four-team playoff conference brackets.

* The two MLS teams with the next most points, regardless of conference, receive "wildcard" berths.
- The two wild card teams will be seeded according to conference first.
- If more than four teams qualify from one conference, the team finishing lower than fourth in its conference will shift over to the other conference bracket.
- A team switching conference brackets will be seeded below all other teams in its new conference playoff bracket.

Please consult with a quantum physician if you couldn't follow the above explanation. It's the simplest I could find.

So having played out this counterintuitive mess, the Red Bulls qualified for the playoffs despite finishing 5th in the Eastern Conference. They were shuttled into the Western bracket for what was sure to be a fierce mollywhoping at the feet of the two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo.

But then something funky happened. The Red Bulls started kicking ass. They should have beat Houston in the first leg of their q-final home & home, instead settling for a 1-1 draw. In the second leg, in front of a record crowd in Houston, they won. I mean they really stomped the fuckers-- 3-0 and it wasn't that close.

New Yorkers poured into the streets! People were climbing lampposts, hugging and kissing strangers, screaming the name of hat trick hero Barack Obama!!

So, after this epic victory, what next? The lads return home? We wait for them on the tarmac? Flood to for tickets to the semi-final?

Nice to think so.

The fact of the matter is that there will be no return trip home. The Red Bulls go directly to Salt Lake City for a one-off conference title game tomorrow night. If they win again-- which could, like, totally happen-- they'd be crowned what? I'll tell you what: Western Conference Champions. (the upside: Bulls win and kids all over the third world get new t-shirts! Yele Haiti!)

In the end, this convoluted set-up would have the underdog Bulls traveling to Carson, Calif., for a potential Cup final. The lone New York franchise in America's premier (chuckles...) soccer league could win a championship... and give the fan pool ZERO chance to jump on the bandwagon. It's one thing for the Giants to win three on the road then head off to the Super Bowl. They have a 20-year waitlist for season tickets. The Red Bulls average... what?... 12,000 a game? What a waste. GRRRRR!!!


Ian said...

Gary Bettman thinks these guys are idiots.

Keith said...

Well, if NYRB want more fans to show up to playoff games, they could always play better during the season. There's always that.

/anxiously awaiting the Mets-owned franchise to lay waste to the MetroStars