Sunday, October 29, 2006

MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 2 - Bad news for Republicans

This weekend saw four great games, which all showed the same thing; being red in 2006 is a sure way to lose. All four 'red' teams lost.

First the Fire fell, then FC Dallas, followed on Sunday by the Red Bulls and concluding with Chivas USA. With elections coming up in a week in the US, could this be a message into the future? If Republicans (who are the red and our red/blue society (I really hope the stupid red/blue thing dies after this election)) don't do so well, remember that the MLS predicted it.

Anyway, enough with the politics, here are the reviews.

New England 2-1 Chicago
New England advance 4-2 on penalty kicks

Chicago did what they needed to do during the first 40 minutes of this match, but then one goal by Taylor Twellman brought on the doubt that lead to their defeat. By the time Pat Noonan put the Revs second goal and aggregate tier into the net in the 58th, the result was set. The Fire lost their confidence and started surrendering balls all over the pitch. Until Calen Carr came on in the 98th minute, nothing was going Chicago's way.

The Fire did have some good shots in the overtime period, but they good not out flank Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis, which set the tone for the penalty kicks.

On the first kick, Reis put a big stop on Thiago's shot to the right of goal causing the almost 10,000 fans to begin the celebration. Slowly New England worked their way through their kicks, beating Matt Pickens every time. When Reis pulled a second save against Ivan Guerrero, it all came down to Twellman. The man that started the Fire's decline ended it. He nailed his shot and the Revs advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship for the fifth straight year.

The second half was a fantastic performance by the Revolution. They were connecting their passes, stopping the Fire's advances and using the clock wisely. However, they did grow tired in the late stages of regular time.

The Fire say goodnight to a season that looked very promising during the last three months. The question now is what off-season trades will they make to sure up their midfield before 2007.

FC Dallas 2-3 Colorado Rapids
Colorado advance 5-4 on penalty kicks

For only the eight time this season (and the second time since July 26th), the Rapids scored more then one goal in a match and what do you know, they end up winning just their third road match of the year.

To say this surprises me would be an understatement. All Dallas needed was a tie, while Colorado was without one of their main offensive threats in Thiago Martins. The Rapids needed Clint Mathis to step up and make something happen and sure enough he did. I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

But I'm really forgetting an important part of this match, Chris Gbandi. When he was tossed with a justifiable red card in the 29th minute, Colorado had their opening. Still, they were slow to take it. They actually let Carlos Ruiz put them in a two-goal hole before they opened it up.

The Rapids started connecting passes and getting behind FCD's line and sure enough, they forced it to kicks. One has to wonder what mind games were going on with Dallas since they lost under the same conditions last season to the Rapids. But Dallas had practiced penalty kicks during the week's practice sessions, so how bad could it be. Well, if it wasn't for a left post shot, it would have been okay.

In the end, goalkeeper Dario Sala missed the sixth Dallas shot, which set Pablo Mastroneni up as the hero when he made it for the Rapids.

Of course it being the Rapids, they couldn't just win a game and walk away. No, they had to taunt the Dallas fans, causing some punches to be thrown. Very classy. If the Rapids do make it to the MLS Cup (and I pray that does not happen) in Dallas, I hope these same fans show up to 'cheer them on.'

DC United 1-1 New York Red Bulls
DC advances 2-1 on aggregate

You have to hand it to New York, they gave DC a scare, but United brought it on them selves. Their backline is so disastrous that it is frightening. And I don't mean to pick on anyone (except Clint Mathis), but Facundo Erpen all but cost his side the game. If the Red Bulls where a bit more accurate with their shots or if Troy Perkins was less of a goaltender, New York would have pulled off the upset.

Josmer Altidore's goal in the 70th to tie the series was excellent, but it was due to Erpen's failure to guard his man. Yet DC's worse kept secret Christian Gomez was able to save the team's season. His goal in 86th was from a hard angle and showed why he might just be this year's MVP.

With over 21,000 fans screaming them on, United is always dangerous, but they have a number of holes that the Revolution should be able to exploit next weekend.

Houston 2-0 Chivas USA
Houston advances 3-2 on aggregate

I thought this would be a classic and sure enough, it was. Houston needed two, but it wasn't till all the yellow cards came out that the tide turned for the Dynamo. Seven yellow cards were issued between the 55th and 67th minutes and with good reason as the match was getting out of hand.

When Juan Franciso Palencia got his second yellow in the 58th, it really killed any chance of Chivas getting a goal on the night. However, instead of using smart play to frustrate Houston, Chivas started hacking at Dynamo players. This is not a good plan and double so when it takes place in the box.

Sure enough, Houston got a penalty kick when an ugly Tim Regan tackle in the middle of the box took down Dwayne De Rosario. Brad Davis took the kick and got keeper Brad Guzan to jump in the wrong direction. Everything was tied up with all advantages going Houston's way.

For the next 30 minutes, the 17,000+ crowd (great job Houston) roared for more, but the Dynamo could not put it in net. Then it happened. In the final moments of stoppage time, De Rosario crossed the ball into the box. Eddie Robinson headed it down, causing it to bounce back up in the air where Brian Ching slashed it home. At 92:45, Houston took the series lead. Seconds later, it came to a close.

However, the very final moment of the match saw Juan Pablo Garcia make a disgrace out of him self. As the final whistle blew, he went in for a hard, injury causing tackle on Brian Ching (actually, it might not have been Ching, but that is what I wrote down at the time). It was a disgrace and he deserves serious punishment for doing it. I can understand his frustration, but he could have caused serious harm to a player. Disgusting.

All four games were wonderful to watch and thankfully a few more fans made it to the matches. New England got almost 10,000, FC Dallas just broke the 15,000 mark, DC sailed past 21,000 while Houston impressed with 17,000 for a late Sunday outing.

By the way, I went 2-2 with my predictions. Saturday was bad for me, but Sunday was as I thought it would be.

Next weekend, Houston will host Colorado to decide the West while DC will play New England for best in the East.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd think after giving Joseph a match ban and a fine that they would heavily fine the Rapids and the Chivas players for doing those things. Watching the Game, Beckerman was flicking off the fans, they were taunting, and punches were thrown. MLS at least better be consistent. Same with the Chivas. Garcia should be fined heavily along with half the coaching staff. No class on either team.

12:04 AM  

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