As the game wound to a close, I was toying with an opening line for a reaction post, something along the lines of: "These two teams could play for 90 days instead of 90 minutes and never find the damn net."
So imagine my surprise when a late whistle finally answered a United attacker flinging himself to the ground in the box. Given that De Rosario had been having a pretty tepid game, I fully expected his PK to be saved. When it wasn't, I glanced at the game clock up in the corner and had only one thought, one that's been burned into my brain over the course of this frustrating season so much that I've adopted it as something of a slogan for the 2011 season.
Back to the mean.
If you've been following United at all this season, you'll have been in the same boat as me, fully expecting that Chicago would find a way to equalize, to negate any nascent feelings of hope or elation, to deliver the metaphorical kick in the teeth and confirm the futility of our post-season pursuit. When it duly arrived, rather than heartbreak, my reaction was a cynical shake of the head, a wry smile and a shrug. Of course that was going to happen. It seemed only natural.
Back to the mean, you remember?
So what then to feel when Chicago found a second? Surely this was beyond the pale, more than a pegging back to the mean? Surely this was a dip below that even keel we've been relentlessly dragged back to? A fourth loss in a row, playoff hopes all but erased?
Less than zero.
I'm still not sure. There's a slight sense of disbelief, yes, but also a sense that expectations have been fulfilled. This isn't a playoff team. At least not without Pontius it isn't. A few weeks ago I said we could wave the post-season goodbye and had a little bit of pushback from those who somehow, miraculously, had not had the hope beaten from them yet.
I expect it probably is now.