Canada received a large dose of one of world soccer's wildest weapons: the cup competition.
In a gripping conclusion to the first ever Canadian Championships, the Montreal Impact sent a shock through BMO field, capturing the Voyageur's Cup in hostile territory with a 1-1 against mighty Toronto FC.
The USL1 side snatched Canada's sole spot in the initial CONCACAF Champions League from their MLS foes, on the strength of a Roberto Brown header in the 26th minute. Rohan Ricketts' goal for TFC in the 15th minute gave the sell-out crowd in Toronto hope, but the underdogs from Quebec showed just enough fight to walk out with a point, and first place in the mini-tournament.
All the excitement from tonight's match breeds an interesting question for any self respecting soccer fan in America: Where are all of our cup competitions?
The very essence of any great cup competition taps in to the same principles that the USA has seemed to pride itself on. Little guys getting their shot at the big time, amateurs rising up to the level of millionaires; the American dream itself if you will.
Currently, there's the U.S Open Cup... and not much else. And as much as I love the Open Cup, sadly few others do. Is it so hard to love watching Hollywood United, an amateur team founded by aging actors, take down the Portland Timbers, a club with a multitude of history, fans, and success at high levels?
To watch an obscure third division farm team in Crystal Palace Baltimore walk all over New York, a club that reportedly costs $200 million to run per year?
These tournaments give us a chance to view in action one of many reasons why soccer is what it is: Desire wins above all.
Now, let's get to the flesh and blood of this writer's focus.
This weekend's match between the Earthquakes and Red Bull has to be one of the most anticipated matches in the history of our beloved boys in blue. Huckerby, Lima, and Sealy all look to make their home debuts, and after even some training with the team, should impress even more than each did in last Saturday's international match against Canada's team (status subject to change after tonight's result against Montreal).
While Adriano Lima's presence in the center of midfield was brilliant, Hucks visibly had a bit of trouble dealing with the wet turf, and a referee unwilling to call each fall (though certainly we saw momentary flashes of brilliance, and at least a glimmer of his ability to take on defenders).
And Scott Sealy did well with what he was dealt, though in all honesty, Los Terramotos didn't deal much in offensive power.
But I digress, there has to be some excitement in Quakeland at our discovery of a previously foreign concept: depth. While there's still no real threat up front, the Earthquakes' midfield is easily one of the strongest in the league.
The defense isn't quite as strong as we may have hoped for at times, but having Joe Cannon in goal is a rather comforting thought. Now on to the game.
A win here has to give us confidence going forward. While San Jose's playoff hopes could be compared to a man drowning, the Quakes could be given some much needed mouth-to-mouth should we take all three points.
In New York, we face a team that lacks in defense, has lost vastly dangerous Jozy Altidore, and seems to give away points in a similar fashion to our own charges. Both teams will be expecting a result.
Yallop's likely starting XI: