I'm sure any nocturnal creatures in the woods out back of the Clan Fullback mountain hideway last night were endlessly entertained staring in through the lighted window at the strange man prancing about his living room, pumping his fists and miming jubilant shouts (so as not to wake the baby...as you do).
Even after watching the highlights with my daughter over breakfast this morning (confirming that last night was not, in fact, a hallucination brought on by sleep deprivation), I'm still a little in shock.
See, when Cooper went flying and Hamid saw red, it only seemed inevitable, the only ending possible after several sequences where the Metrodonkeys should have taken the lead (isn't it fun being a pessimist?). When Cooper finished, I buried my head in my hands.
Everything that happened thereafter still doesn't seem real...
- The Karma Police Geigers the Bulls.
- Cooper, predictably (assuming you watch much soccer), chokes on his second helping of PK pie.
- Backe (I still can't believe he's kept this job as long as he has, still can't believe he didn't attack with the man advantage in the first leg) doesn't do the obvious and make the precautionary sub to get Marquez (already carrying a yellow, borderline red) off the field.
- Marquez makes a ridiculous and unnecessary tackle miles from goal to get sent off and level the teams at 10 apiece.
- Robbie Russell (card-carrying member of the Right Fullbacks Union!) turns up in the front four of a United attack to dish to the rookie DeLeon.
- DeLeon doesn't look, just hits it with everything he's got and prompts delirium on the field, in the upper deck, and in the living room of Yours Truly.
- Henry, one of the best finishers I've seen play in the flesh, stands over a free kick to deliver the inevitable (again with the pessimism!) dagger-blow to send things to extra time.
- Roy freakin' Miller, a fullback (they giveth...and they taketh away) just subbed into the game, takes the kick instead and sends the ball into orbit.
Up until that point, I was seeing the game as a microcosm of United's season. Start well, hit the wall and sink back into mediocrity, suffer the seemingly fatal blow (De Rosario injury, Hamid red), refuse to die. But fatalism or pessimism wouldn't let me admit United might somehow continue their remarkable run.
Of course, I had forgotten something. I had forgotten Metro Playoff Failure™...
|The faces may change, but the stench of Metro Playoff Failure™ remains.|
Unfortunately, Houston, waiting for United in the conference final, historically represent the polar opposite of MPF™...And they've already disposed of two higher seeds and will host United on an extra day's rest...And United never do well in Houston...And, just look at what the Dynamo did to Sporting KC on their own patch to essentially knot up the series! Look at the bones!
Here comes that creeping pessimism again. There's a school of thought that might go something like: "You think you'd have learned by now," and prompt a little faith in the little United Engine That Could. I can't quite bring myself to attend that school yet, but I can hear the more fortunate kids shouting on the playground across the way and acknowledge that they might have a point.
Of course, Houston's supporters are probably feeling (and perhaps with more justification) much the same...