Friday, October 28, 2005

MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 2

My weekend is really looking great and the MLS playoffs are just going to top it all off. Four games in two days to decide who gets to go to the knockout legs. Let's gets those TVs fired up.

New England Revolution vs MetroStars
Saturday 29 Oct - 7:30pm EST
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick

The MetroStars want so much to become the Cinderella story of the season, but there is one minor problem, they are only one goal up on the high scoring Revolution. All the Revs need is their backline to hold, something they did very well all season (recording 11 shutouts), and have their attackers get 2 goals (they scored at least 2 goals in 17 matches and won by two goals or more in 9 matches). This should not be that difficult for a team with Golden Boy Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan. For the Metros, Youri Djorkaeff will be the man NE has to watch. He is very experienced in "must win by controlling the game" situations. It will also be interesting to see if Metros coach Mo Johnston has Seth Stammler covering Steve Ralston again. Seth did great last weekend and really cut down the through balls Ralston delivered for the Revs. If the Metros can take Ralston out of the match, then keeper Tony Meola might have an easy night. However, even if Ralston is a none-factor, New England is talented and resourceful enough to find a way to make things happen. They don't want to have happen to them what they did to Columbus last year. Look for Twellman to have a good night.

NE 3 - 1 Metros
(NE win series 3-2)


FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids
Saturday 29 Oct - 8:30pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

The good news for FC Dallas, Scott Garlick is still doing okay. Oh, Carlos Ruiz will also be able to start the match. That should be a good thing, but who knows with Ruiz. He has been a very uneven player all year, so if he shows up, he will be an important factor for FCD. Ruiz should get a great deal of help from Ronnie O'Brien and Roberto Mina, but don't be too surprised if we hear the name Ramon Nunez more then a few times. He looked good in the midfield last week and might be the man to sneak into position. For the Rapids, they will need some decent minutes out of Jeff Cunningham, but I have a feeling Dedi Ben-Dayan and Jean Philippe Peguero will cause more headaches for Dallas's defense. By the way, FCD's defense has looked better recently, but they are still capable of crashing. With all this taken into account, I think Dallas will be able to come away with a victory but it might take more then 90 minutes to make it happen.

FCD 2 - 1 Colorado
(FCD win series 2-1)


San Jose Earthquakes vs Los Angles Galaxy
Saturday 29 Oct - 10pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

Can San Jose come back from 2 down to take the series and advance to a date with Dallas (or Colorado if I am wrong)? If they look anything like they did on Sunday, then no. Heck, even if the rest of the team looks good, if MLS's Goaltender of the Year Pat Onstad looks like he did this past weekend, there will be no more games in San Jose this year (and maybe ever). The Quakes need to refocus. Dwayne De Rosario was not the force that he had been all year long while Brian Ching and Ronald Cerritos were empty up front. The one highlight was Ricardo Clark who was felt on both sides of the ball. If they can build around what Clark did, they will have a chance. However, the Galaxy do not want a 2003 repeat (there, it has been mentioned), so look for heavy attacking from the usual suspects for LA during the first 20 minutes. If they can get the first goal, then San Jose will be on very shaky ground. Dwayne De Rosario will have to live up to his reputation if he wants to see his side play another day. Danny Califf will need to do for the backline what De Rosario is doing in the middle. San Jose needs to dominate their cousins to the south. By the way, San Jose won 3 matches by 3+ goals and one of those was at home against LA. It can be done, but I think LA is a playoff team and will manage to topple the highest seed of all.

San Jose 3 - 2 LA
(LA wins series 5-4)


DC United vs Chicago Fire
Sunday 30 Oct - 4:30pm EST
TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Anybody hear anything about Freddy Adu recently? You think ESPN will mention this at all during their telecast on Sunday? Might it even come up when Adu comes off the bench in about the 60th minute? How about when he gets 'the goal'? All right, Adu might not get 'the goal' but that seems to be where this storyline would take us if we all lived in Hollywood. The Fire need Chris Rolfe to step up his performance of last week (perhaps the best on the team, but that's not saying much) and Chris Armas needs to feed better. Big Zach Thornton should provide some good coverage between the posts, but there is only so much he will be able to do if the Fire's backline slinks around again. United are the better club, but they completely underperformed last week. Where were Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta, Christian Gomez, Dema Kovalenko and Freddy Adu (wait, scratch that one)? They were not stringing together passes, they were not aggressively challenging and they most definitely were not shooting (only 4 shots and none on goal?). Yet somehow the Fire could not make anything of it (ok, a strange call on the goal that wasn't might have something to do with that). I think United will take control of this one early, causing the Fire to try to rush something late. DC will hold, thanks to Nick Rimando making a few good saves and advance to a date in the semis.

DC 2 - 0 Chicago
(DC win series 2-0)


If my predictions are correct (and they are about 50% of the time), then next week FC Dallas will host LA in the West and New England will welcome DC in the East. Enjoy the games.


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