Friday, October 17, 2008

Magic in the Air, tonight. Wow. I haven't posted since January, but events tonight merit my posting outside of the Washington Post's Soccer Insider blog, or even the Daily Kos -- and, while it's a momentous time in politics, I'll stick to sports tonight...

Tonight, I watched DC United stage one of the most memorable comebacks in team history. Then, I got home and watched as the Red Sox completed one of the most memorable comebacks in baseball history.

As for the United game -- I'm afraid to call that awesome, because it was even better than that. Here's how it went: DCU playing as well or even better than they've played all year -- creating the best chances they've had in weeks or even months, but unable to put it in the net. In the second half, they go on a break so promising it seems like there's no way they won't score, but Emilio somehow manages to give it up. The Revs come back with a great counterattack, leaving United goalie Louis Crayton helpless to prevent Twellman's goal (by the way, I've now looked at those replays several times and I'm 100% convinced the Revs' play was onsides all the way -- just a really well-timed run).

So, now it's looking incredibly grim, as United is on the brink of elimination from playoff contention. Coach Tommy Soehn looks to his bench and finds some magic. Jai-me Mo-reno! Jai-me Mo-reno! The fans feel it, too. What followed was almost too good to be believed.

Two magnificent goals by Francis Doe. Sprung by Jaime's pass, he puts a serious move on the defender, and then makes a great shot to beat Reis, who left just enough room at the near post. Second goal -- by rights, Doe probably should have gone down with Parkhurst pulling at him, hoping the ref would have the sense to call a penalty. Instead, Doe refused to go down and trust in the refs. He fought to stay up and get the ball. He broke free from Parkhurst's cluthces, and then he struck an incredible shot to beat Reis, this time high to the far post. Doe struck it hard enough to leave Reis flat-footed, but with enough touch to sneak in under the crossbar.

The fans? Sheer ecstasy! Utter Bedlam! I threw my beer in the air, after Doe's first goal! I never throw my beer. There are no words to adequately describe the thrill after Doe scored the game-winner.

When I got home, I was thinking I ought to promise to name a child, boy or girl, Francis Doe. If he never does anything else to remember while wearing the DCU kit, we'll never forget his performance tonight. Doe will always have a place in our hearts, indelibly carved there tonight.

If I might add -- I thought Doe actually looked really good all game. Even before his goals, I thought it was his most skillful performance of the year. Very encouraging for the young Liberian. It's possible that United has really scored in scrounging up some talented young African strikers who were overlooked by other MLS teams -- the Liberian, Doe, and the South African, Boyzzz Khumalo. Certainly, the team's new goalie, Louis Crayton -- also Liberian - has been an instant sensation.

While the much ballyhooed off-season South American signings were busts, as was the trade for Wells, United came up with some surprisingly good player acquisitions during the season, bolstering a team that was on the verge of total collapse. It hasn't been pretty, but the team is moving into a strong position to claim the final playoff spot on the final weekend.

Louis Crayton's spectacular diving save on a free kick, midway in the first half, was the #3 play on SportsCenter's top plays tonight. It definitely deserved to be there. It's too bad the folks at ESPN didn't also recognize how extraordinary Doe's performance was. Either of those goals could earn MLS' Goal of the Week. Right now, I'm still giddy and tempted to say "Forget Schelotto". If United makes the playoffs, maybe Doe should get the MVP vote -- and, yes, just on the strength of one incredibly thrilling and unforgetttable game. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little...

Columbus -- look out -- there's a big, bad, black head of steam headed your way...

Absolutely magic tonight.

Lest I forget -- the Boston Red Sox somehow borrowed that DC United magic to stave off elimination tonight, too. Trailing 7-0 with 2 outs in the 7th inning, the Bostons mounted the biggest comeback ever in a postseason elimination game. In my book, this ranks up with the comeback against the Yankees in the 9th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS (down 3 games to none) -- the greatest series comeback in any sport -- as well as the Mets' comeback against the Boston Red Sox in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the '86 World Series. The fourth best comeback? Might be the Red Sox' rally in the 9th inning, facing elimination against the Angels in the '86 ALCS. Funny how all of those involved the Red Sox, no? They're a special franchise. So is DC United.

There was magic in the air tonight.

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