Big, Nasty DCU v. Chivas Primer (Late Edition)

"This game is not a measuring stick," [Chivas coach Jose Manuel "Chepo"] De la Torre told reporters. "It's life or death. Win or you're out. I can't underestimate anything."
- LA Soccer News, 4.2.2007, (LINK)

Well, that's certainly nice to see. If that doesn't get you riled for tonight's CONCACAF Champions' Cup (CCC) semifinal second leg between Mexico's CD Chivas de Guadalajara and Major League Soccer's DC United, well, you're probably a basketball fan...not that there's anything wrong with that. And that only continues LA Soccer News' bang-up coverage of the CCC semifinals, which I camed across through Sideline Views. The best nugget in all that: one plausible reason why Chivas fared so badly against San Luis in the Mexican Primera this past weekend: they rested four "key players." There's also this tasty quote feast to savor from Sideline Views.

Moving north across the Rio Grande, the Hexagonal Blog provides some crucial background for what you'll be watching tonight, most crucially, this:

"Aggregate goals in home-and-away series, no away goals, 30-minute extra time if tied on aggregate after 90 minutes of second leg and penalties if necessary."

Personally, I think I'd forgotten the part in bold. Beyond the bare-bones backgrounder, Howard Hamilton (who writes the Hex Blog) turned in a preview of for tonight's game. Like a lot of people - the Washington Post's Steve Goff - he sees a close, but unhappy ending; Goff's post, for what it's worth, contains a slew of predictions from across the board.

As for my prediction, I'm going to play it half-safe. First, I don't think DC will win, which is kind of a shame because I think they have a better chance of winning the final if they can get past Chivas; and that's acknowledging the two-goal lead Houston carries into the second leg (more later - as in another day). The degree by which DC loses will depend on whether Chivas manages an early goal; my greatest fear is that I'll get myself all cozy and tipsy, only to have DC surrender a goal in the first 15 minutes. If they survive the first half, though, I suspect I'll inch toward believing; if DC can take this to penalties, I'd like to think it's either team's game.

Anyway, there are tons of round-ups/previews around the blog-overse. Here's a short list:

DCenters: (LINK) - decent look at tactics, notably the idea that pretty ain't important.
ESPN: (LINK) - I know that if I kiss Jeff Carlisle's ass any more than I have, I'll have to propose, but he's got good stuff there for both games, including players to watch; the Kelly Gray observation is a big one.
Washington Post (LINK) - Goff's formal effort is long on the history between club teams from Mexico and the U.S. - and we don't come out looking good there. Still, there's always the first time, right?
Washington Times (LINK) - This one reads not a little like the Post's content, but appears here for this wonderful quote from Ben Olsen, in which he picks up bonus points for using the word "special" precisely up to the limit of nausea, while simultaneously looking down his nose (and past his beard) at the rest of MLS:

""It's a tough task. But why not us? This team can do it. I think this is a special team and special teams can go down there and win. We've yet to prove that we are that special team. Hopefully this year we can start separating ourselves from some other teams in MLS in these competitions."

In any case, I'll only say this a few times a year, but here it is: Go DC!

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