Let's talk some New York vs. Los Angeles.
This Thursday night that's exactly what's happening here in town. I would never characterize it as a reincarnation of "Fight Night at the Great Western Forum," but like we would get on an occasional Monday evening there in Inglewood, when you pit any two people, two teams, two corporations, two anything against one another when one hails from the "Big Town" and the other "Tinseltown," there's going to be some ill will.
I will be one of the 20,000 in attendance out at Home Depot Center Thursday watching as the Los Angeles Galaxy look to advance to the next round of the MLS playoffs with either a win or a draw over the New York Red Bulls.
While it's not a Lakers-Knicks NBA Championship Finals, or a Dodgers-Yankees World Series, it's the only thing we've seen between the top two markets in the country facing off in a win-or-go-home situation in the last 30 years.
I understand soccer isn't part of the "Big Four," but that doesn't mean you cannot recognize the hatred hailing from one of these two metropolises leads to when teams square off against one another. Like any other competition that involves these two cities, this playoff got ugly in a hurry.
If you missed it, following the Galaxy 1-0 victory out at Red Bulls stadium in New York City, cowardly Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez hurled a ball at Landon Donovan, sparking a melee that was more comical than violent. The scruff led to a pair of red cards and suspensions for the deciding contest Thursday night.
While teams often refrain from saying anything that could be construed as bulletin board material, Donovan was so upset with the ridiculous behavior that he couldn't help himself on The Petros and Money Show on Wednesday, when asked for his take on whether or not these two teams really do in fact dislike each other, he replied, "You get the big market and some egos on both sides. I have no problem with guys playing hard and things getting a little chippy in the game, but stuff like that after the game is unnecessary, and there's no place for that in sports."
Pressed further, the player that has done the most for the growth of this sport here in the United States, and might have saved professional soccer domestically thanks to his inspired play in World Cup, was most upset about how the boorish behavior by the Red Bulls following the contest reflects on his still-growing league:
"There's a lot of respect between players in this league. There are a lot of guys that have been here for a lot of years helping to grow this league, and while you're not necessarily friends with people, there's mutual respect. So when you have people that are shaming the game that we're trying to build, that's really frustrating."
It's not quite the "cheap shot" tag he stuck to the side after the contest Sunday, but clearly Donovan is still peeved about the repeated behavior of this Red Bulls squad whenever the two teams meet.
Thursday will be no different. When it comes to the actual soccer that will be played, you can reference my article from a week ago to absorb how talented these two teams are and the level of competition that will be on that pitch.
While the players want to distance themselves from all the talking and just get to the game itself, you cannot deny as a fan: whether it's football or futbol, the excitement level goes up a significant amount when the two sides add in a "we really don't like them" mentality.