MLS Cup kicks off in about two hours, featuring the back-from-the-dead L.A. Galaxy, last year’s dysfunctional laughing stock, vs. hot-at-the-right-time Real Salt Lake – they of the many merry midfielders. The news from Seattle is the locals have embraced the championship with nearly as much vigor as they took to their Sounders this year, and 40,000 are expected despite the crap weather. Good news for MLS. Even better news if the Galaxy pulls it off – what a fitting final chapter to this whole Beckham Experiment thing. But Salt Lake has only beat two of the supposedly best/most talented teams in Columbus and Chicago to get here, and anyone who’s watched them the past month knows they are fully capable of controlling play and scoring goals.
Of course Beckham is carrying an injury (say this for the man – he knows drama) and could be fairly limited. He’s likely one crunching Kyle Beckerman tackle from being out. The real key to this match of course is league MVP Landon Donovan. Salt Lake will be completely fixated on denying him the ball, but that might not be enough. And maybe it opens the way for someone like Mike Magee or Alan Gordon to be the hero. I’ve been predicting L.A. would win it all for months (just thought they’d be playing the Fire) so I won’t change my pick now.
In other news, FIFA denied Ireland’s request for a reply against France after now-infamous Hand-of-Frog, featuring Thierry Henry (video after the bump). Of course what else are FIFA going to do? Admit that it’s time to employ instant-replay and other technology to prevent these kinds of mistakes? Yeah, right. It’s going to take something like this at the actual World Cup before they move forward.
The sad thing for the Irish: they had two very solid chances to score that second goal in regulation and put the French down before this play. Henry has apologized and stated a replay would be the fair route. Of course he’s in damage-control mode, but to hold him personally responsible for a play 99 out of 100 other guys would attempt in his shoes is a little disingenuous. Personally, I’ve been a big Henry fan for about 10 years now, and handball or not, I still hope he comes to MLS when his Barcelona contract is up as has long been rumored..