Monday, October 31, 2005

MLS Round 1 - Part 2 now done

New England v MetroStars
With snow on the pitch, New England came out looking to prevent an upset by the fourth ranked MetroStars, but during the first 60-minutes, it looked like the Revs were in trouble. They were unable to get anything past the Metros backline and were looking a bit sloppy on defense. This sloppiness lead to Youri Djorkaeff getting the first goal of the night for the Metros.

The goal took the wind out of the New England fans, but it seemed to inspire their team. From that point on, the Revs looked like themselves. Jose Cancela came on to provide more attacking power and the results happened fast. Just 9 minutes after the first goal, Cancela evened the score, but NE was still down by a goal in the series. The Revs suddenly saw what they had to do and they drove hard to make it happen. Five minutes later, Cancela provided the pass that resulted in a Pat Noonan goal, tying the series 2-2. The Metros looked lost while the Revs were having fun. Just 10 minutes later, Khano Smith got the third goal and series winner for New England. There were a few scary moments for NE, including Shalrie Joseph having to head a shot off the line with just a few minutes left in regulation, but New England held on to earn the right to host next week's quarterfinal. NE 3 - 1 MetroStars (Series NE 3 - 2 MetroStars)

FC Dallas v Colorado
FC Dallas should have won Saturday's game against Colorado. They were playing 11-10 for an hour and had a late PK opportunity, yet somehow they are done for the season. The Rapids did look good last night, but it should have taken a team looking great to win with all those odds against them. Jeff Cunningham was back in the lineup and made his mark early with a goal off his head in the 19th. Dallas had some chances during the rest of the half, but Colorado was able to shut them down.

After the half, the two teams came out in much the same form, until the ref struck. In the 54th, Alain Nkong got a direct red card. The punishment seemed a bit harsh for the crime, but the refs’ word is gospel. Anyway, with FCD up a player, they started pouring it on and it didn't take long. In the 67th, Carlos Ruiz showed he was there to play when he scored off a great turning shot in the penalty box. FCD continued to keep the shots coming, but the Rapids Joe Cannon looked wonderful in goal. He found ways of saving shots that he really should not have. Due to Cannon's actions, the game went into overtime where Carlos Ruiz hit again in the 105th. However, the Rapids only let that stand for a minute as Ritchie Kotschau snuck a shot past goalkeeper Scott Garlick in the 106th.

Dallas was given another chance when Chris Gbandi drew a penalty in the box with just a couple minutes of play remaining. Ruiz stepped up to take it. If he found net, the hat trick and the win would be his, but his shot hit the bar. Ruiz just stood there stunned. The game ended up going to kicks where Cannon stopped FCD's final shot giving the Rapids the win. By the way, FCD out shot Colorado 37-8. Cannon earned a lot of respect on Saturday night. FCD 2 - 2 Colorado (4-5 pks)

San Jose v LA
San Jose came out looking strong while the Galaxy were flat. It seemed like the whole first half was played on LA's side, but the Earthquakes could only manage to find the goal once when Brian Ching headed one in off a mistake by LA's keeper Kevin Hartman in the 42nd. The game became a bit more even at the start of the second, but San Jose was still in charge. That was until a fellow named Landon Donovan made his presence known. He sliced through San Jose's mid and backfields and then popped the ball over to Ned Grabavoy who happily finished it for a 1-1 tie. This goal took it out of the Quakes. They tested Hartman a few more times, but the writing was on the wall. There was to be no miracle comeback this year. San Jose 1 - 1 LA (Series LA 4 - 2 San Jose)

DC v Chicago
Where was DC United because they were not at RFK? That had to be the worse I have ever seen the team look. For Chicago, they were everything they could hope to be. Their defense was strong, the midfield dominating and their strikers were able to find all the holes in the DC lineup.

The Fire got things going in the 10th thanks to Jack Stewart. This first goal put a stun into DC. The next 25 minutes saw DC trying to make something happen, but the Fire kept shutting them down. Then Ivan Guerrero struck in the 37th. Chris Rolfe (pictured taking it to keeper Nick Rimando) centered the ball into the box. DC tried to clear it but ended up knocking it right to Guerrero who blasted it home. A bad clearance lead to Guerrero's second goal of the night when DC could not get a free shot out of their area. Guerrero took a bit of a long shot and nailed it in.

So DC was hurting going into the second half, but they made some chances including bringing in Freddy Adu. United looked good for the first 10 minutes, but right as they were starting to make some noise, Christian Gomez killed his team. He decided the best thing he could do for his side was spit into the face of Chicago defender C.J. Brown and earn himself a direct red card. I'm sure Brown was trash-talking Gomez, but you've got to keep it together. United was probably dead before the spit, but that action sealed it. The fact that Brown started clipping and tried to shake Gomez's hand after the card was given is proof that it was C.J.'s plan all along to get Gomez in foul trouble. The next 30-minutes were mostly spent killing off time as the ESPN2 guys talked about DC being distracted by off-field events. Jesse Marsch did add a fourth goal for the Fire in the 67th to complete the humiliation. DC 0 - 4 Chicago (Series Chicago 4-0 DC)

Playoff predictions
Game (my guess) Final Score
DC - Chicago (2-0) 0-4
NE - MetroStars (3-1) 3-1
FCD - Colorado (2-1) 2-2 (4-5pks)
San Jose - LA (3-2) 1-1

Post-season total: 4-4