Monday, November 12, 2007

Revsblogger's Pregame: Begin!

What's the deal with all this talk about a rematch?

I heard Houston v. New England, but this is no rematch. Face facts, people. For one thing, the game is taking place at 12 noon. Sheesh.

Besides kick-off time, it seems that Danny Hernandez, Joey Franchino and Clint Dempsey will all be out of this 2006 MLS Cup. And, in a stunning development, the Revs have announced that they are backing out of contracts with all rookies, because they are not supposed to have signed them yet.

In all seriousness, though, this MLS Cup could be shaping up to provide us with the most interesting pre-game assessment madness that the league has ever seen. I fully expect ESPN to mention the match during the week three times, once in passing to Boston success, and then twice more whilst talking about the match.

The game itself is shaping up to be a very even matchup of teams determined to come away with the trophy. Houston is coming off of a 2-nil win against a solid team in KC, and the Revs followed their most successful training session of the year with the bicycle-kick win over a red-hot Chicago.

This game will be very different from the one played last year. For one, the Revolution defense has held in situations it is known for failing in. One needed not look any further than the spectacular play of Avery John on Thursday to see how determined this defense was in not giving up the late goal to a team very capable of scoring. It was their best display as a unit this season, and they are very much the reason why we are going to D.C. in the first place. Reis continued his stellar postseason performance with quite a few difficult saves. It is still hard to believe that in three postseason games this year we have, I believe, 10 shots on goal to the Fire and Red Bull's 16, yet we have scored twice and they have scored none at all. Matt Reis has been a solid regular-season performer over the years, but his postseason play has been as amazing as Tom Brady's.

And Twellman, while not amazing on his feet, showed his ability to still get in the right place at the right time in order to get the job done. We all know what happened, we have all seen the replays, and you can clearly see that he made a split-second decision, that it was the only way a striker his size was going to get a shot off against Pause. His soccer smarts will definitely be tested on Sunday.

Twellman could not be entered into a conversation in THIS game without mentioning Brian Ching. The man has been a stand-up guy, and it is going to be a huge loss for Houston if he cannot play. While I cannot say I like him (see 2006 MLS Cup equalizer), he has a smaller mouth which tends to run off less than others, and I can only imagine that not getting to play is killing him worse than it is his team. Ching has been very much like Taylor over the last couple of seasons, not too great on his feet, but with great soccer smarts that puts him into good positions to capitalize on poor defending. Last year it was our death. This year, regardless of if Ching plays, the defense will not collapse as it had last year.

While one battle will be raging on the pitch it seems as if another one will be brewing in the stands. D.C. fans effectively declared war on the Revolution and are joining Dynamo in their hatred of us. I would be concerned about this development, but I remembered that they're rather sore about being spanked. Power to them, I say, they can boo me and my team all I want, but I'll be smiling, sitting in THEIR home ground watching MY TEAM play in the Cup Final.

More when we get closer to match day.