Haters of of the rich and famous, rejoice! This Saturday will have no David Beckham, no Clint Dempsey, no Thierry Henry, and no big-name glitter. The MLS Cup final will feature two traditionally small-market teams in Sporting Kansas City (who is changing that "small market" label quickly) and Real Salt Lake.
There are smart people who make a compelling case for having the big names compete in the final. After all, having a Robbie Keane or a Thierry Henry on the field does in some way legitimize MLS' credentials as an ambitious and serious league. While there's a place for all the strutting, posing and spotlighting that famous soccer players engender, it's hardly a bad thing to see the league's top prize being contended for by teams who are not spoken of (yet) in international circles when it comes to MLS' visibility.
I'm preaching to the choir here, as FC Dallas is a small market team in MLS, and everyone likes to see the underdog win.
Is there a better showcase for the league's overall growth than having one of the most consistently successful teams of the past five years (RSL) go against arguably the best handled team in the league (SKC)? Fans of the sport will certainly have a great chance of watching a legitimately feisty competition between these two monsters. It won't be hard for the game to eclipse the last two MLS cup finals between the Dynamo and Galaxy.
But who needs the big boys like the Dynamo? Hearing the Jason Kreis is almost certainly going to NYCFC only further validates the place that these two teams have carved out. RSL is a practically the textbook definition of consistent success, while Sporting has built up an excellent team after years of mediocrity.
Seattle did their best to outspend and outshine everyone, and New York has spent enough money to pay for a small country's national debt, but yet again neither have made it to the final.
Is that a bad thing for the league's attempts to attract superstars? Maybe. Is it a great sign? Absolutely.