Sunday, November 22, 2009


I'm guessing somewhere around 50% of the population of Utah will say this exact thing at some point tomorrow:

"I didn't even know Salt Lake had a soccer team!"

Well we do. And they're the MLS Champions!

I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I've been a Real fan from the beginning, because I haven't. I can't even pretend that I'm a huge soccer fan, because I'm not. There's a lot of things I dislike about soccer (like the fact that you can end in a tie, that the stoppage time clock goes up instead of down, etc.) but damn, that was a hell of a game!

I turned it on right before halftime because I was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, which 9 times out of 10 will be vastly more entertaining than a soccer match. But I turned it on just in time to see Real Salt Lake tie it up and I was hooked the rest of the way.

It was kind of weird to see the Real listed as the Eastern Conference Champions, seeing as how Salt Lake is far, far away from the East. But I guess when an entire league only has 18 teams, it makes a little more sense.

The L.A. Galaxy have David Beckham and Landon Donovan, arguably two of the most popular players in MLS (and for one of them, the world) and were pretty much expected to take this thing easily—probably because RSL went 11-12-7 during the regular season. Only two other teams have ever won a championship with a sub-.500 record and they were both hockey teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs  did it in the 40s and the Chicago Blackhawks did it in the 30s.

During the entire shootout I was standing in front of the couch, and when Donovan missed the goal entirely, I got a little smile on my face. He's the captain of the team and spent the entire pre-season promoting a book where he bashed his more-famous teammate for not having enough heart and then he misses the goal altogether? At least Beckham made his shot.

That's what was going through my head as the RSL captain Kyle Beckerman missed his shot right after. Then it became kind of a moot point.

As it came down to what could be the last play, the TV camera showed the player from the back and the only thing I saw was the back of his jersey:

A big number 3 with the word Russell above it.

That's when the flashbacks started.

"No fucking way," I thought. "Not this again."

I can't be the only Utah sports fan that got the same feeling, can I?

But at the end of the day, he made the shot. Real Salt Lake won. Now it's time for the bandwagon to get a little heavier and a few more Real scarves to make appearances.

At least we've finally got a championship team in Utah.

And at least they're not called the Salt Lake Kickzz.

*I stole that title from the phrase that Casey always says after Manchester United wins.

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