WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- MLS CUP SATURDAY: Big. Important. Soccer game. MLS Cup coverage begins today at 3:30 pm ET on FOX, TUDN and Univision.
- Bedoya named 2022 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year: Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya is the 2022 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year. Well-known and respected for his activism, the 35-year-old made a statement earlier this year in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, by wearing an "End Gun Violence" t-shirt along with his Union teammates prior to a May 28 game against the New England Revolution. The midfielder explained the club's actions after the match, saying, "The easiest way to put it is some things are bigger than sports." A member of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization advocating for gun control and against gun violence in America, the former USMNT mainstay attended a White House ceremony this year to celebrate the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
HAVE WE OVERHYPED THIS?
I mean there's a chance, right? I've spent ¾ of the playoffs talking about how each successive round is the "Best [insert round of playoffs] EVER." I know I'm not the only one, too. On top of that, we've been coming here since Monday to explain in detail how we're not only talking about one of the single-best playoff matchups ever but very likely the best MLS Cup ever. I mean, not to be a bummer, but I've clearly made a horrible mistake here. There's no way we're going to live up to that. I should have spent the entire week saying this whole thing will be an affront to the soccer-watching public at large. I should have cherry-picked stats that make both teams seem actually bad. Like, hey, did you know LAFC are actually 22nd in the league at defending set pieces? Did you know that Philadelphia… uh… committed the second-most fouls of any team? They can't be that good if they're having to foul all the time. On top of that, LAFC committed the fourth-most fouls. The whole game is just going to be fouls. We're going to play eight seconds and stop for 40 like an American Gridiron Football game. See? We could have spent the week lowering expectations. That way when the curtain came up and everyone saw a packed stadium they could be surprised that anyone showed up in the first place. When LAFC and Philadelphia began in fifth-gear and never once tapped the brake, the people could have been awed. We could have even neglected to talk about the fact that this game is so very much the best MLS Cup ever that it's probably got the best kit matchup of any MLS Cup ever, too. Shambolic, churlish and ill-advised on my part. I genuinely apologize. But we did all that. Now all there is to do is push this titanic matchup out to sea until it becomes a figurative Titanic and falls far short of expectations. Oops. I guess it is pretty cool we're at the point in this league that we can have this kind of build up though. Isn't that like 90% of the fun of going on roller coasters? I don't ride roller coasters because I tend to pass out, but I'm told by people who ride them that anticipation is critical. Maybe that means that the fact that we've been gifted a capital "E" Event is the most important part. Because this is a capital "E" Event. To get two of the best teams in MLS history, with two of the league's best fan bases, in one of the league's best settings, with two of the league's best jerseys, and a collection of the league's most talented players on two teams playing fascinatingly distinct styles almost feels like a miracle. Like a watershed moment for the league. Instead, it kind of just feels like another major event in MLS. We're almost getting used to these, right? And that's part of why this moment is awesome. We hyped this one up out of responsibility, not necessity. You didn't even need me building this up all week. I'm sorry I did it. So as soon as you stop reading this, delete everything you've read this week about this game. Go into it with no expectations and then take it all in. My guess is that you'll probably find a lot to appreciate. I hear this one should be pretty good.
THE READING RAINBOW
Good luck out there. Make sure the right people are around.