In case you missed them this weekend, go check out my reactions to the Eastern Conference and Western Conference finals first.
All done? Excellent.
It's fitting, isn't it, that in a season that featured the Eastern Conference as the dominant force for much of the year, that we should end up with two teams from the East in the final. That said, I do wonder what the odds were of the Red Bulls making it all the way to Carson? They can't have been good. Regardless, they've made it, so what does the match hold in store for us?
* A Cagey Affair? Given the pattern of their play, it's pretty obvious what Osorio is going to set his team out to do. They'll try to keep things tight at the back, limiting the Crew to tries from distance. The Bulls will look to break when they can, mostly with the pace of Richards on the right and through the middle, but also through Wolyniec on the long outlet to the left in the space vacated by Hejduk pushing forward.
* Historical Precedent? The Bulls and Crew met three times this year, with the Bulls winning two out of three. They won the first, 2-0, in the Swamp early in the season, before the Crew got things together. Then the two sides met twice in the playoff run-in, with each side winning 3-1 at home, though the Crew did send a light roster to New Jersey for the 3-1 loss just a month ago. If history tells us anything, it's that there are going to be goals, which should be exciting for the neutrals. Let's just hope the Crew score first so the Bulls can't rely on the counter.
* Smoke and Mirrors versus Slow and Steady? When will Osorio's magic run out? I mentioned in my Western wrap that the Bulls seem held together with little more than chewing gum and prayers, yet they somehow manage to survive full-bore assaults on their goal while springing a few lethal counters. On the other side, Sigi has built a side that seems solid from back to front and consistently looks poised and dangerous in possession. They were shaken a bit in the early going against a more veteran Chicago side, but once they started to click, the machine got going. The memories of that come-from-behind victory could be huge if they go down a goal.
Predictions? Not quite yet. I'll leave that sorry mess until later in the week. Until then, what do you think? Any thoughts on what type of game we're likely to see? Do you dare enter the land of prognostication?