The Curse of the MLS Cup

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MLS has lived for less than two decades. While the recent wave of expansion has paid homage to US soccer’s NASL roots, trophies, stories, and anecdotes from that era have fallen into a black hole. They certainly are not to be seen as MLS soccer-specific stadia. Sporting KC’s stadium is lovely, but makes no mention of the KC Spurs (or their title). Thus, the short history of MLS lacks many of the intrigue and mystery a fan derives from, say, the Red Sox’s old (and now antiquated) “Curse of the Bambino.”

However, this last MLS cup was not all smiles, after parties, and Landon Donovan stubble sightings. Lurking in the shadows, tragedy struck.

Houston Dynamo forward Calen Carr scored the game’s opening goal, but injured his ACL and had to leave the game. For a player that has battled concussions and been a bit of an MLS journeyman, to score a goal in the championship game and then pick up a serious injury was sad, if not surprising. Cruel fate bestowed a wonderful opportunity upon Calen, he seized it, and then fate snatched it away.

To MLS fans, this is not the first time we have seen such awful things.

Two years ago, the Colorado Rapids reached the MLS cup final and won the title. In extra-time, their star striker, Omar Cummings, picked up an injury. He was subbed off for Macoumba Kandji, a relative youngster from Senegal. Kandji played a key role in setting up the Rapids’ championship-winning goal. However, it came at a terrible price: on that same play, he injured his ACL.

Notice a correlation? Well, I see a curse. And I blame this curse on MLS’s refusal to honor NASL championships and insistence on tossing dirt on soccer in America’s past. Until MLS embraces the flawed and stop-start history of the game, expect more ACL injuries in the MLS Cup. The ghosts of the past shall pluck the promise from the youth of the present.


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