There are too many variables to consider when assessing whether Columbus or New York holds the upper hand for their meeting Sunday in MLS Cup 2008 (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and TeleFutura).
They are both comfortable in their skins, playing efficient and effective soccer, and aren't likely to conjure up radical wrinkles just because they're in the final. They know each other well, but far more importantly, they know what they do well and why they win.
"Normally, if you're taking, if you're scoring a lot of goals, then you're usually taking a lot of goals also or vice versa," says Crew defender
The Crew scored more goals and allowed fewer than New York during the regular season; the Red Bulls won two of the three regular-season meetings, but one of those games was played seven months ago. In the other, Columbus rested six starters.
In its victory back in September, Columbus pounded New York 3-1. Shortly after that match, New York head coach
So really none of the three regular-season meetings is of any real use in forecasting the final, which is as it should be. Some angles may be somewhat esoteric, but in a final that matches up the league's smallest market against its biggest, and the top seed against the bottom feeder, subtleties may reign supreme.
New York has the prized Colombian finisher,
Columbus relies on MLS MVP
Playing in an MLS Cup is a new deal for many of the participants. Schelotto and Ángel have played in dozens, if not hundreds, of pressure games. How their younger domestic teammates fare may dictate the outcome.
Former holding midfielder
Red Bulls goalie
This is Hejduk's first MLS Cup, but he has played in Gold Cups and World Cups and played collegiately at UCLA. Unless he gets too pumped up, he'll shine.