Bruce Arena, to his credit, rejected the negative and embraced the light, putting forwards Juan Pablo Angel, John Wolyniec and Jozy Altidore in the lineup. Attacking midfielders Dema Kovalenko and Dave Van den Bergh were pressed into action at fullback, with speedy Dane Richards and playmaker Clint Mathis joining out-of-position Jozy in the midfield. And it worked beautifully, with skill and creativity and movement overwhelming Chicago from the opening whistle (two goals in the first three minutes) and punctuated by a cool Angel finish at the end.
This is the way the game should be played, unlike the Liverpool-Milan European Cup Final, which featured two lone strikers (don't gimme Gerrard was a forward, he was a fifth midfielder given free rein to make runs into the box, just like Kaka for AC) and eight -- count'em, eight -- other midfielders charged with one negative task: stop the other guys from scoring. And the two forwards who did start were Pippo Inzaghi, famous for goals which bounce off his body (in Wednesday's first goal, his arm, YouTube), and Dirk Kuyt, who is a great defensive player for a forward. Meanwhile, Craig Bellamy, who scored one goal and created another (YouTube) in Liverpool's thrilling victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp, never got on the field, and Peter Crouch, who was only the second-top scorer in the entire competition with six goals, was held out until far too late in Athens.
Unlike Rafa Benitez, Arena, at least for now, realizes the potency of his talented group of attackers -- Angel, Altidore, Mathis, Richards and Wolyniec -- and is encouraging them to perform their magic in pursuit of MLS Cup 2007. If last night's match is any indication, the adulation and support of long-suffering RBNY/Metros fans is not far behind, as the laughter and optimism among the crowd filing out of Giants Stadium was as noticeable as it was welcome.