I hate soccer so much right now.
I try, and usually fail, to be pretty impartial when it comes to my sporadic covering of the New England Revolution for the Bent Musket. Unfortunately for Steve and everyone else, my irreverent tone usually comes through and my "articles" just end up sounding like especially long tweets. Regardless, as my children have gotten older, my job has picked up and the season has warred [sic] on, my writing about the Revs has been better encapsulated in 140-character microblogs.
Last night awoke me from that slumber. I'm sure Jake will come in on Monday or Tuesday with a much more even-tempered analysis, but last night felt as though I were a 1950s cartoon character getting unsuspectedly smashed over the head by a grand piano hanging above a sidewalk with little more than twine holding it aloft. Now I am up, missing teeth, with birdies flying around a lump on my head the size of Kilimanjaro. Why? Because New England is now eliminated from the I-95 Cup. A tournament that is not real has got me more angry than any other result over the course of this up-and-down season.
Yes, all year long, or at least until sometime in August, I wrote half-jokingly about the I-95 Corridor Cup. Rich Ransom, a member of the Son's of Ben, and I had been going back and forth about it on Twitter for a while. Last night, New England was officially "eliminated" from it. It wasn't just that they were eliminated either. They had it stolen from them by Fotis Bazakos.
Listen, I understand that the penalty awarded to New England by Bazakos was so soft it was flaccid. I get that if Saer Sene finishes his one-on-one with Luis Robles (who should at least be in the Goalkeeper of the Year discussion), then this whole point, like the anger over the I-95 Cup, might just be mute [sic]; I understand that if Matt Reis doesn't make an enormous save on Thierry Henry's curler to the far post towards the end, we may be talking about leaving Jersey with 0 points instead of 1; but none of those things happened. Due to everything falling just wrong for the Revolution - and to be fair the Red Bulls also have an equally long list of complaints - Jay Heaps and his boys are out of the I-95 Cup (pretend as it may be) and quite feasibly the playoffs.
No, the I-95 Cup is not a real trophy. It just isn't, which following last night I guess is good. However, whether there is actual silverware - or more likely plastic-ware in this case since Hank Alexandre, the host of The Midnight Ride, and I were going to go halfsies on a trophy if the Revs won it - or not there are actual bragging rights.
Cup or not, New England went 0-2-1 with a -3 GD against the New York Red Bulls this year. They were 2-0-1 with a +4 GD against the Philadelphia Union. They were 2-1-0 with a +2 GD against D.C. United. Don't act like those things don't matter in the long run. Yes, only picking up 2 points against New York, and not getting all 9 against DC is a problem for the playoffs (if we had gotten all 9 from DC we'd be in that elusive fifth playoff spot). But, bragging rights do mean something to me even if there isn't a trophy attached to them.
Following the tweets last night, the #I95Cup is still something that is only in the minds of Philadelphia and New England supporters, and only in their Twitter consciousness at that. Yet, after the game, I had more than a few DCU supporters tweet me to say not to worry because their team will be happy to lay down for Philly to get the +3 GD they need in order to keep New York from "winning" the I-95 Cup.
Sure, the I-95 Cup may not be a real thing, but it is a real thing. The trash talk, the bragging rights, the antipathy each team feels for the other three teams is all-real. Even without a trophy.
The MLS headline for the game referred to the ending as a "wild finish". That is one way to spin it. The result, which possibly cost New England the playoffs and conceivably New York the Supporters Shield, did do one thing. It introduced more people to the idea of the I-95 Cup.
So perhaps some good has come from Bazakos ineptitude. No, probably not; **** that guy. But hopefully one guy messing up blindly one night could just lead to the birth of the I-95 Cup.