Tonight's Chicago-Columbus match promises to be one to remember. It's a matchup of the two best teams in the East, and the teams who were at or near the top of the table all season long. Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Brian McBride and Guillermo Barros Schelotto will provide the starpower, Chris Rolfe and Robbie Rogers will provide the youthful exhuberance, Gonzalo Segares, Bakary Soumare and Chad Marshall are all solid on their respective backlines while Jon Busch and William Hesmer have had outstanding individual campaigns.
Columbus has the edge since the game is at Columbus Crew Stadium but Chicago had six road wins this year.
Against each other, the two teams tied twice: 2-2 in Columbus in July and 2-2 in Chicago in October. The latter does not have highlights up to post, which is disappointing, but the former offers some of what we may see tonight.
This is why Chicago has hope:
A fantastic build-up from Blanco to Justin Mapp eventually over to Rolfe.
Then there's this:
Another great play, and replace Carr with McBride and the Fire is even dangerous.
But you can't ever count out the Crew:
Soumare coughed up the ball in a bad spot but it was mostly because Barros Schelotto made such a great play.
But the Crew's best secret weapon...
Steven Lenhart. The league doesn't have a 12th man award, sort of like the NBA's best sixth man, but Lenhart has been a superduper sub. He scored a late goal in the first leg of the conference semifinals that allowed the Crew to go home even on the aggregate score.
Now, I picked Chicago to win the whole thing and while I don't think it will be simple I'm standing behind my choice.