Friday, November 04, 2005

MLS Playoffs - The Conference Championships

Welcome to the knockout phase of the MLS playoffs. This is the time were teams either play their game or they get to wait till next year. Last week gave us 1 great game, 2 good games and the blow out of DC by the fire (which might be great if you slide that way). All of them were interesting to watch for one reason or another and I see no reason why this weekend's matches won't end up the same way. So lets get ready for some fun as we look at the games at hand.

Western Conference
Colorado Rapids vs Las Angeles Galaxy
Saturday - 9pm EST
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick, HDNet

I think the secret for FC Dallas is going to be getting Carlos Ruiz to perform. What? Really? They lost? In kicks? Oh. So their playing the game where? Colorado? Oh.

Enough with the bad humor, Colorado is hosting a surprise final home game of the season in the cold area of the world known as Denver. For the Rapids, they will need the best from Jeff Cunningham, but they will not be able to make it through on his feet alone. With Alain Nkong sitting out due to his red card in Dallas, Colorado will need Dedi ben Dayan or Kyle Beckerman will have to take over the midfield. This will not be an easy job for the Rapids as LA has Ned Grabavoy, Cobi Jones, Peter Vagenas and Guillermo Ramirez who can throw even the best teams of coarse in the middle of the field. This advantage for the Galaxy should allow Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez to make some things happen up top. That will put some pressure on Rapids keeper Joe Cannon. However, it might work to LA's advantage to not have constant pressure on Cannon. I say this because Cannon is nursing a groin pull, so if he is not overly active in the cool weather, he will loose reaction speed.

So LA looks to be the better team, but they are not really a road team, but Colorado is very good at home (they won 10 and tied 2 of their 16 home games). If Colorado can some how get their team over performing, they might just pull off something special, but I don't think they will be able to outperform the playoff strong Galaxy.

Colorado 1 - 3 Los Angles


Eastern Conference
New England Revolution vs Chicago Fire
Sunday - 3pm EST

Chicago has not won in New England for a long time. If they want to reverse this trend, they will need their forwards to actually score a goal or two. Seeing as their front line has not seen net since Sept. 17, this might be a little difficult. Chris Rolfe has made his presence know in other ways, but to win against the Revs, he and Nate Jaqua will need to get goals. Midfielders Justin Mapp and Ivan Guerrero should help slow down the onslaught that is Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan, but they will not be able to stop them all together. The Revs will look to Shalrie Joseph to keep their midline steady since both Marshall Leonard and Khano Smith are out due to injury. If the Fire can find a way of knocking Joseph off his game, they will open up the middle of the field and produce many chances

For New England, they will need to force the Fire's defense to win this. The Fire surrendered more goals this year then any other none expansion team. The backline is their weak spot. If the Revs get the ball past the Fire's strong midfield (through without Chris Armas, out due to injury, it might not be so strong), they will have many chances. This will force goalie Zach Thornton, who was not really tested last weekend in DC, to have an outstanding game or else.

As noted, both sides have some key injuries, but New England should handle this better. They had to play a large percentage of their games this season without a full side due to injuries or international call-ups. This should allow them the depth that will let them win this one.

New England 2 - 0 Chicago Fire


If I am correct, it will be a repeat of the 2002 MLS Cup where LA beat NE 1-0 off a late Carlos Ruiz goal. I don't think Ruiz will get the game winner this time.


Post a Comment

<< Home