Over the last few weeks, my attitude about RSL has changed significantly. I never stopped being a fan, I never stopped loving this team, and I never stopped attending or watching matches. What has changed though, is the tone in my voice when I talk about the team or the most recent game. The amount of people I say hello to in passing, the amount of articles that I read in a week, and to be completely honest, the amount of time I spend doing anything “RSL”-y.
I’d like to think that you guys can resonate with me. That you read these articles (and other RSL Soapbox articles) that either A: grab your attention. Or B: after a win. Now I want you all to take it a step further with me and openly admit that at this point, it’s playoffs or bust. Because we’re playing too well right now to miss out on the playoffs.
Before you throw your torches, understand that I am not suggesting a change in the rules, and I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m also not discrediting the Supporter’s Shield, but (as much as I hate to admit this) Alexi Lalas was right when he said that the MLS Cup is the ultimate prize at the end of the day. I can respect how things are done in Europe, but that doesn’t mean it translates here.
So, assuming that we can make the jump that “Supporter’s Shield is nice, but MLS Cup is what gives us the beautiful star above our crest” together, I will get into what I am talking about and what I assume others are talking about this week—playoffs.
With all due respect, once Jason left, I never thought I’d sniff another successful playoff run. Not when we signed Jaime and Burrito, not when we lost Gil and Sabo, and certainly not when we went to a 4-3-3 formation. I’m not saying that the Diamond was perfect, (anyone who watched Orlando/Portland can see that even Kreis is struggling with it now) but our players never seemed to buy into a system that would lead them to the ultimate prize. We were always looking for “that one Robbie Keane-esque player” who would tear it up and get us to that prize, because we knew we were Almost there. We just couldn’t convert when it counted.
When we squeaked into the playoffs during the last two of three years, there was not a single ounce of me that felt we deserved to be there. The entire team wasn’t on the same page, and it showed in their play. It felt like a chore, not an opportunity. “Oh, I can’t hang out today, man, I have some playoff game I have to play in… Sorry.” But this year, something has changed. I feel the urgency, I feel the emotion, and I feel the drive… In short, I Believe.
So, yeah—this season is ending on a high note no matter what happens, and I will hold onto that idea until next year. No doubt you all will too, and no doubt we will all expect so much more from next year, for probably the first time in several years… But revelry saves us. That’s why people like me are starting to say “playoffs or bust” at work because quite frankly, we deserve it more today than any other team we have more points than.