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What if Nick DeLeon hadn’t accidentally scored the goal of his life?

like on the cover of lethal weapon/jordan 96-97?

MLS: MLS Cup Conference Finals-Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s “What if?” week at SBNation. Who knows what that actually means but we think it means we get to torture ourselves over the many existential crises that come from thinking long and hard about past mistakes. Isn’t that fun? What a light and enjoyable exercise to engage in while everything is great and light and enjoyable. A wonderful time for people who are sarcastic like me to take a break and be soooooooooooo earnest.

I’m going to show you something. And you’re not going to like it. Are you ready? Are you sure? Are you annoyed that I’m doing a bit involving rhetorical questions that you clearly aren’t going to bother answering if you’ve continued to read this far or are you more annoyed that I’m being meta in acknowledging it?


Dots are sized relative to how likely it is that a shot goes in. Yellow dots are goals. Toronto has two tiny ass yellow dots. Atlanta has a bunch of big dots and only one of them is yellow. Existence is pain.

The tiny yellow dot just outside the penalty arc (aka The D ((no seriously))) is Nick DeLeon. That’s it. His entire existence. Ok so maybe he has “friends” and “family” who “value him as a person” but to a blogger and sports fan those things are all irrelevant. In the context of a lot of our worlds, this is the entirety of the space that he will likely ever occupy.

In the 78th minute of the Eastern Conference Final, DeLeon scored a stunning goal from forever away that he likely couldn’t replicate in a hundred or so simulations of this thing and Atlanta missed its opportunity to host its second straight MLS Cup. And honestly, it has to feel good to live in an entire community’s nightmares. Congrats, Nick. Besides all the general anxiety and self doubt and depressive thoughts and multiple coffees ingested with no regard to time, you’re the reason I have to take five melatonins to go to sleep. That’s gotta bring some joy. Because if The Last Dance has taught us anything, it’s that athletes are monsters.

But what if he missed?

So Atlanta comes roaring back down the field, and and here they go they’re going to have the ball and then they that they score the score they’re going to score look at that they scored wow okay. So now they’ve scored and now they’re ahead and they close the game out and the MLS Cup the MLS Cup is coming back to Atlanta.

It’s coming back cuz I’m back and that means that the rest of the world is focused on Atlanta again and there’s this big parties and big celebrations are that is 74000 people coming in to to hang out and watch soccer and do MLS Cup and at that point we’re having this big party is just a big party for like the whole week. There’s also like this underlying feeling of anxiety because Seattle kind of Punk’d us a little bit back then and so like in July or whatever when Raul scored that like crazy goal ever Miles and so we’re worried but were all so excited and this is fun.

And then and then I go to like a media thing like a meet and there’s a media thing and then there’s this girl in the media thing and we fall in love and I’m happy and then everything’s good and then everyone falls in love, they all meet...everyone who needs to fall in love meets the love of their life and it’s enduring because it’s MLS Cup, because it’s MLS Cup and that’s just what happens in MLS Cup baby. That’s Showbiz. That’s MLS Cup for you, to everyone it’s a very romantic place.

So then all week with everyone’s falling in love and happy and then we get to the game and who knows what’s going to happen then because Seattle may come out and be really good, they’re really good in like one-off kind of games and that’s cool but also lame because Atlanta is playing really well which is shocking considering everything that happened before this but all the sudden they’re playing really well and it’s 72,000 people there is lots of pressure on them and they’ve already been there before and they know how to how to win they just now to win baby cuz that’s that’s Showbiz. That’s Showbiz.

So so the game starts and it’s really back and forth and it’s really really interesting and it’s super exciting everyone’s very into it. The crowd is extremely loud everyone hates Seattle and the Seattle fans are super loud cuz they hate us and it’s fine because everyone kind of hates both of us and we’re kind of in it together but also we’re not so that’s cool.

In the game’s going really well Atlanta gets up early but Seattle comes flying back and ties it up if it’s 2-2, it’s 2-2 in the game is exciting and then the love of my life she calls me and says hey let’s get, let’s get married if they win and I said okay that makes sense you’re the love of my life even though I just met you this week so that happens. And then I’m going to Seattle scores and then Seattle scores and then that that’s terrible but then everyone sad and everyone sad but then Atlanta scores right at the the 90 97-98 minute because cuz like one player one player tore out his pelvis out on on the field on the field there’s this pelvis is everywhere so many pelvises so so many to do this to do this bit and we’re talking about pelvises in this bit because speech-to-text is happening and that’s why it’s so scattered but it won’t really matter anyway.

But then the 98th minute, 98 minute they they score is tied and there’s still hope for me and the love of my life except then Seattle scores and extra time and everyone is sad and that’s that’s that’s probably it honestly. Atlanta probably loses it to Seattle and then it’s really real terrible and way worse than it would have been just with the just with the Nick DeLeon goal because now Seattle can just dunk on us and that’s that’s even worse than losing the Eastern Conference Finals, having a really online fan base be able to just don’t like that over and over again for like ever the same way we do the Red Bulls you know.

So that would be bad and then the love of my life would call me like I hope I guess they didn’t win okay bye I will never talk to you again because I hate your face because it reminds me of this loss. So that’s bad, all this would be bad actually, let’s just agree that would be bad if we had won this game.

I think it would be bad if we had won this game and this is speech-to-text we’re still doing speak to text on the thing and that’s why there’s, it’s a party, it’s a party with no punctuation. if Matt great isn’t isn’t that isn’t that great that there’s no punctuation and there’s no MLS Cup there’s no...we won it already though so we didn’t win that year which is sad but that’s okay because we would have lost I think and then we would have been dumped on his Twitter and Twitter is real life so let’s not do that also come back to me Jessica.

Weather they do what say exactly oh wait this speech-to-text is still on so everything I’m saying right now is actually going to be in the thing so me talking to you my roommates is going to be part of the thing this is part of the bit now this is staring into it isn’t this great awesome I don’t know Kelsey doesn’t pick up your voice no I didn’t pick it up I’m sorry.

lol who knows it’s MLS.