Stream of Consciousness: FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake

The encyclopedia says Stream of Consciousness is “a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes”. In other words, DJ watches games, and writes down whatever comes to mind. Sometimes prescient, sometimes odd, almost always entertaining.

It doesn't seem like a natural act to root against Jason Kreis. I can only make myself do it in 90 minute increments (plus stoppage time). And only against Dallas.

Despite the inherent disadvantages involved in playing away from home, I'm guessing every guy in hoops is secretly happy to be NOT playing in Dallas, where I believe the high today was 190 degrees. Give or take a few degrees. I've been to day games in Dallas in July. It's not so much a soccer match as it is a quest for survival.

Jair Benitez is jawing at Alvaro Saborio for taking a dive. Not that he'll be listened to. Diving is like alcoholism – those who do it can't help themselves without the intervention of a higher power.

Whoa, 20 bucks for a ticket to the US Open Cup quarterfinals this Tuesday at Pizza Hut Park, AND a free scarf? Color me there, people. Plus, it's against this very same RSL side, which means an opportunity to hurl insults at Kyle Beckerman, which is always fun. Though I freely admit he is one of my favorite non-Dallas players; I'd love to have him on our side.

And I hope he never, ever cuts that hair.

I'm a big fan of the Cup; I wish it was as big a deal as it deserves to be. In time, I think it will be. For now, it's enough for me that there is a small but dedicated group of MLS fans for whom it is a tremendously big deal. I really think this could be the year FC Dallas wins it again.

Okay, technically, it was the Burn that won it in 1997, but, you know, samey samey.

What is Sensei going to do when he has to start making hard decisions about all the schedule congestion coming up with MLS, Open Cup, and Champions League matches? In my world, MLS and Open Cup take equal priority, with CL matches getting whatever weakened rosters are forced upon him by the realities of the limits of human physiology.

I just returned from a long vacation, visiting family back east. I am the only one in my family that doesn't have a complete and utter indifference to soccer. When I talk about soccer, I get those polite nods that I imagine I would give if someone was talking to me about how awesome and exciting it is to take part in Civil War reenactments. It's sweet though, because my family is so supportive of me, like they would be if I had some sort of horrible wasting disease or mental illness. Even my Dad will offer to let me watch soccer while I'm visiting. This is as unnatural to him as, say, voting Democratic, or rooting for the Red Sox. That my friends, is love.

Not good. Andrew Jacobson comes out injured in the 30th minute. Not cool, soccer gods, not cool.

Jackson takes a crack at goal from about 30 yards out. He really thumped it, and Nicky Rimando could only tip it over the bar. I'm no soccer tactician, but I strongly believe it's important to take those kinds of shots whenever possible. It keeps the defense honest, opens up passing lanes in the box, and provides a humongous momentum bump when they go in.

Perhaps most importantly, a goal from distance is one of the most aesthetically pleasing parts of the game. And over the long run it's that aesthetic element that keeps me coming back. Waiting for little moments of beauty and brilliance, knowing they don't come often, or cheaply, but also knowing it will have been totally worth it to have waited. It's not by accident that soccer is the only sport known as “The Beautiful Game”.

No score at the half. Fun game though.

Early in the second half, and we have seen something we will probably never see again: Kevin Hartman giving up a soft goal. You'll be able to tell your grandchildren you saw this, and they won't believe you. That's how good Kevin Hartman is. They'll call you a liar to your face and need years of counseling over the trust issues they'll have as a result.

Kevin looked down at his hands as if to say “You betrayed me, how could you?”. I've played a lot of goalkeeper over the years (poorly, mostly) and I've given my hands that look many a time. It's kind of odd to see it from a great goalkeeper. It's not unlike watching Tiger Woods hit one into the water. You know it's theoretically possible, you just don't expect to see it.

And as if to make my point, he follows up the goal with an absolute robbery of Luis Gil from a one-on-one situation. Most keepers would have had to decide whether to prevent a shot and give up an easy goal by a wide open player, or prevent the pass and give up the goal. But KH did both by denying the shot with his positioning and denying the pass with his reflexes. That's why he's Kevin Hartman, and we are not. Why Kansas City decided he was redundant to their needs will forever escape me.

Fabian Espindola comes in for the last 25 minutes. That scares me.

Speaking of scary, Brek Shea is down on the deck, in a great amount of pain and holding his knee. Jamison Olave fouled him, not too badly to be fair, and Brek landed poorly and seemed to twist something. Hey, let's all watch while our season hangs in the balance, K?

Now he's back on, but limping. He's young, and tough, and a gamer. Still, lots of hearts were skipping a collective beat across the Dallas metroplex just now.

Thirteen minutes to go. Dallas pressing. Even watching on the laptop one can feel the tension building. Not an easy thing to pull off; good job by both teams. It reminds me of my favorite Dave Dir quote: “Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face”. I wonder if he's ever had a chance to follow through on that. If so, I hope there's video.

Jamison Olave, by the way, is a total beast on defense for RSL. He's only 30; I wonder if some foreign club is going to snap him up, or if he's in MLS for the long run. He's big, and has the speed to match a guy like Brek Shea stride for stride. Impressive.

Oy. Jackson has an open goal, but scuffs the finish and allows Chris Wingert to clear off the line. Ugh. That was the chance, right there. Five minutes left.

I have a sick feeling in my gut after that one. Though it could be the entire box of Cheez-It Snack Mix Double Cheese I've eaten while watching the game. Don't laugh, it has two of the five good groups in there. Three if you dip them in ketchup.

Stoppage time. Three minutes. Come on boys. Come on.

Wellllll crap. 2-0. Espindola in the 94th. I knew I didn't want to see that guy in the game.

And that, as they say, is that. See you Tuesday for the US Open Cup quarterfinals.

Back to Angry Birds for me.