I should explain that my brother is a United fan, but not a fanatic, so he hadn't yet heard about De Rosario's season-ending injury yet. Instead, he arched an eyebrow, said something about United's form being uneven but that they would probably have enough about them to make the playoffs.
"DeRo did his knee on Canada duty," I interrupted. "Done for the season."
No need for further explanation. We've been here before.
Mirror, mirror on the wall...
Bye, bye playoffs.
So you'd have been forgiven for expecting much of the same when De Rosario went down in early September this time around. But United have responded by going 3-1-1 since that time, solidifying their hold on a playoff spot.
If it walks like a duck...
I suppose that was the promise of the Olsen Era for United. Could his characteristics as a player: tenacity, determination, the youthful flair giving way to scarred-veteran guile, be translated to his team? Olsen was always clever, courageous, and ready to kick your ass. There have been flashes from his United, sure, but what I've seen over the last month hasn't inspired. The games are ugly, the performances too often uneven and, more frustratingly, uninspired.
A results business
But is that really enough?
Most of us came into this season expecting to scrape into the playoffs, and that looks to be on the current menu. But do you honestly expect the team you've seen over the last month to be capable of anything other than meekly bowing out at the first hurdle? Granted, you can't wave a magic wand and replace a guy with the big-game x-factor qualities of De Rosario. But you'd expect maybe a little more fire, a little more chutzpa from a team that's eager to take some scalps. There is enough quality remaining on this roster to post more than pedestrian results against relegation-fodder.
Instead, I'm left scratching my head, wondering if, robbed of the type of moments that make me love the game, robbed of any degree of optimism that United can do anything more than simply qualify for the post-season (do you really harbor MLS Cup ambitions still?), if I can simply sit back and enjoy the ride while it lasts.
The majority of my lack of posting of late has to with the new baby sucking up huge amounts of attention, concentration, and waking hours. But I've still managed to catch most of the games. I'm simply reaching the end of those games and staring at the keyboard, feeling little in the way of inspiration, be it positive or negative.
So pardon me while I closet the ennui and try to enjoy the ride (all the while hoping that inspiration strikes -- not just me, but United to boot).