My predictions for the Western Conference Semifinals:

SJE over COL
LAG over FCD

So I pulled an o-fer. I'd be willing to wager that a lot of people did. I went for the scrappy underdogs in San Jose, and they got bullied around by the, um, scrappy underdogs of Colorado. But unless your upper appendages are reminiscent of prehistoric carnivores, you probably didn't have LA 0-3 DALLAS on your betting slip.

A lot of bloggers, journalists, and other pontificating mouths are saying this is great for the league and two small-market teams who've been around since the Analog TV days and could use a boost. That's probably true, but it doesn't make me any less annoyed. As a neutral, and cafepress boxer shorts wearing member of the "I hate Conor Casey" society, I don't give two Doug Logans about it. I wanted the attractive, big name grudge match of LA and San Jose.

And yes, I'm just being petulant because I whiffed like Kei Kamara on the last round. And bitter because I could have gone if I had a passport. Which I don't. Last time I went to Canuckistan, you didn't have to have one.

Looking at the teams that are actually involved, it's hard to separate them. Dallas gets the edge on defense, largely thanks to the best keeper in MLS history having something to prove. Colorado have the better offense, due the the more than a bit presumptively named "C+C Goal Factory." Dallas probably have a better midfield, but Larentowicz and Mastroeni are hardly pushovers. Although Colorado lost to DC United this year, which should probably have meant automatic playoff elimination on the basis of league pride alone.

I'm going for the Dallas win. 1-0, with an "Are you watching, LA/KC/Keeper of the year voters?" performance from Hartman

-----Intermission. Match Fit Reserve brand cola available in the lobby.-----

The other big story was the USMNT B team going back to South Africa and kicking its dog. They complained about us not bringing the first team, because obviously, a bit of metal with their national demigod's name on it is more important than the MLS playoffs.

Then we found out during the pregame show that some South African player who couldn't win a spot on the dead-last 2008 Quakes was offended that he wasn't called up for the USMNT despite not having a US passport. And they had those fucking vuvuzelas. Apologies for the language folks, but the South Africans were shitty hosts.

And after all their bitching and whining in an accent that sounds like a mentally deficient New Zealander? They get shown up by the Rugrats. Tim Ream had a solid, smooth debut without any major errors, which is precisely what you want from a player in his position at his age. Teal Bunbury showed the makings of a true target man. Eric Lichaj, apart from one stupid challenge, was fantastic, dealing with a lot of traffic on his flank. Mix Diskerud may be my favorite of the newbies. I've heard a lot about him before, and it was exciting to see him play so well on his debut. He's got a fantastic first touch, a fair lick of speed in him, and the inventiveness of his assist was delicious; the willingness to try that in the box on his debut is just so absolutely pleasing.

And then there's America's new record youngest goalscorer, Juan Agudelo. I was against him going. I didn't think he'd earned it, and I thought he was too young, but all credit to him, he had an opportunity and made the most of it. I'm excited to see more of him, but hesitant to jump on any sort of bandwagon. I've been burned before. I'll wait until he pulls a Geoff Hurst before I'll admit he's not another Freddy Adu or Eddie Johnson.

This was the second time we've won the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. If we do it again, do we get to keep Mandela?

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