Friday, October 27, 2006

MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 2

New England Revolution vs Chicago Fire
Saturday - 7:30pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick, MLStv
Radio: Boston - 850am; Chicago - 1030am (Polish), 1200am (Spanish)
Aggregate score: Chicago 1-0 New England

The clash continues as the Revolution looks to save their season in spectacular fashion with a home win against Chicago. The problem is, they will need to do it without Shalrie Joseph. Yes, Joseph was out for a large part of the Revs great late season run, but most of that run was against not so great teams or teams suffering from a slump. Without Joseph, the Revs attack will be less effective and more midfield balls will go the Fire's way.

I've also read a lot about the touch conditions the Fire will face in Foxboro. Cold weather and maybe wet weather on a pitch torn up by American football. People talk of this like its the Revs 12th player on the field. But let's be honest, Chicago is not a place of warm sunshine. I think they might know what cold weather feels like. It is true that the pitch condition will be worse then what Chicago has been playing on at home, but they did play in a football stadium last year, so it's not like they have never done it before. Also, bad conditions can cause balls to bounce in strange ways no matter if it is your field or not.

So what is my point? The Revolution is going to come out looking for an early equalizer. If it is rainy, they might hurt their air attack and lessen Taylor Twellmann's ability on the ball. Clint Dempsey will make a few good moves at goal, provided his injury from last week really wasn't serious, but he has not been playing to the level needed to carry his team.

The Fire's big concern has got to be their inability to prevent goals (bad for any soccer team), especially late in the game. It will be hard for Chicago to find net in New England, so they will need a tight backline and a midfield that can intercept.

This should be a non-stop game for the full 90-minutes, but in the end, Chicago should have enough to hold their own against a strong Revolution squad.

New England 1-1 Chicago (Chicago advances 2-1 on aggregate)
So, if my prediction is true, will Andy Dorman become for the Revs what "Bill" Buckner is for the Red Sox?

FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids
Saturday - 8:30pm ET
Radio: Dallas - 1160am, 990am (Spanish); Denver - 950am
Aggregate score: FC Dallas 2-1 Colorado

Could this be the year Dallas breaks their Colorado playoff curse? If it isn't they have some serious voodoo working against them. With Thiago Martins out due to a really stupid red card, the Rapids will be looking to Clint Mathis to lead their offensive attack. Yeah, it is that bad for Colorado.

The Rapids were lucky to walk away from home only down a goal, so their only hope this weak is for a Dallas implosion. On that note, Carlos Ruiz suffered a strained right quadriceps at the end of practice on Wednesday. He did not train yesterday and might miss today's practice as well, but he still plans on playing. If Ruiz is lacking a bit, it might provide a small opening for Colorado. Then again, FCD has Kenny Cooper, Abe Thompson and Ronnie O'Brien there to plug any such holes, so maybe they shouldn't be that afraid.

In the end, I think it will be Colorado's lack of offense that will cost them the game.

FC Dallas 1-0 Colorado Rapids (Dallas advances 3-1 on aggregate)

DC United vs New York Red Bull
Sunday - 6:00pm ET
Radio: DC - 1160am, 1540am (Spanish); New York - 1280am (Spanish)
Aggregate score: DC 1-0 New York

I read an article a few days ago saying something about New York not being that impressed with DC's play. I can understand that because I haven't been for impressed with United for a month or two now, but I've been even less impressed with New York for about, um, 10 years. Okay, cheap shot, but it was fun to do.

Anyway, United did look beatable last weekend, but the Red Bulls could not figure out how to do it. Youri Djorkaeff and Amado Guevara were inconsistent and Marvell Wynne was not holding his own in the back. If New York wants to pull off the upset of the ages, they will need to improve their one touch game and find the openings DC's backline seems to be leaving around these days.

For United it is simple, stop losing the ball in midfield. If they can just hold the ball, New York will fail. It is the easy giveaways that are going to kill this club.

DC United 2-1 New York (DC advances 3-1 on aggregate)

Houston Dynamo vs Chivas USA
Sunday - 8:00pm ET
Radio: Houston - 850am (Spanish), 101.7fm (Spanish); LA - 1020am (Spanish)
Aggregate score: Chivas 2-1 Houston

And then it all comes down to Houston. The city that holds the honor of being the first word spoken on the moon will host what could just be an all time classic American soccer match. Both clubs had strong showings last weekend, but due, in part, to luck, Chivas was able to walk away with a win. They now stand 90-minutes away from advancing to the conference final. Not bad for a side that was the worst team in MLS last year.

To get there, Chivas will need a fantastic work rate from Jesse Marsch and Francisco Mendoza in the middle of the field because Dwayne De Rosario's plan is to mark that place as his own. If there is one place Houston is good it is in the middle so Chivas will not want to fight it there. Their plan has got to be forcing Houston to commit fouls. If the goats get 3 or 4 free kicks in dangerous positions, they will find a goal.

Of all the games, I think this is the most likely to go to penalty kicks, but don't be surprised if a late overtime goal ends the match.

Houston 2-0 Chivas (Houston advances 3-2 on aggregate)

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