Sunday, November 05, 2006

MLS Conference Championships review - Second best is better then the rest

The East and West have been won by the best teams of the moment. Neither game was a 'classic' but they did show promise for an interesting final. The Revolution will make their second consecutive trip to the MLS Cup while Houston get to the final in their inaugural year.

Anyway, here are the reviews:

DC United 0-1 New England Revolution

The DC faithful were there in full force, but even their best efforts were not enough to bring their side together. As has been the case for the last few months, their backline was weak and inconsistent while their attack missed opportunity after opportunity. They were better, but still not the United from June.

New England really didn't play that great of a game, but they were able to hold together in their back third. Time and time again, they got bodies in the middle of passes, but even when they didn't, United tended to blast their shots way off the mark or right to Matt Reis (not to take anything away from Reis who was fantastic). How they managed to not really threaten with nine corner kicks is beyond me.

During open play, United had little flow as even Christian Gomez seemed out of his natural element in the middle of RFK. The number of times they would build something up just to carelessly pass the ball away was maddening. I haven't seen anything like that since the US-Ghana World Cup match. Again, it was better then what they had been serving up for a while now, but still was not enough.

When Gomez came out in the 81st, United no longer had the options needed to force a miracle last moment goal. Jaime Moreno tried to step-up, but he was too little against the blanket of New England's defense.

The Revolution now has their spot in Dallas thanks to Taylor Twellman's wonderful shot in the fourth minute. Their ability to hold a one goal lead for almost a full 90-minutes will make them a major threat to Houston should they ever take a lead next weekend.

In the end, United might have been the better team of the day, but the match went to the better team of the last two months.

By the way, it is nice to see a visiting team know how to celebrate a victory on away soil without instigating a brawl. Maybe Colorado could learn a few things.

Houston Dynamo 3-1 Colorado Rapids

Those first five minutes had all the makings of an upset, but then the Dynamo started playing their game and within five minutes, the score was tied. Just 11-minutes later, Paul Dalglish struck again to put his side up. Even through they only had a one goal lead, the game was, for all it's promise, over.

Houston connected everything while the Rapids failed to threaten with any sort of consistency. Had it not been for the work of Joe Cannon in goal, Colorado very easily could have been down 3 or 4 to 1 at the half.

Every player on the pitch for the Dynamo played a good game, meaning there was no weak side. The Rapids tried to find some holes, but there were none to be found. Thiago Martin and Clint Mathis were taken out of the game by Houston's marking system and Hovan Kirovski was not getting feed, thus Colorado had no offense.

When Brian Mullan put his volley into Colorado's net in the 71st for Houston's third goal, the victory was secured and the crowd of 23,107 went wild. This was a wonderful outing for the Dynamo, however, they did blow a few big chances. When you have three 1-1s with the keeper and you don't get a goal out of any of them, you have a problem. Yes, Cannon is a good keeper, but there is no excuse for not finishing any of these chances.

Houston now gets to travel the 250 miles to Frisco, Texas, for their chance at the MLS Cup. With the Revolution much further away, you can expect to see plenty of orange in the crowd next week.

So the final has been set. I'm happy to say that I predicted both games correctly, while the wife was only correct with the Houston match (where she also predicted the score).

By the way, wonderful job by United fans. Almost 20,000 of them showed up even through the NFL Redskins-Cowboys game was going on at almost the same time. That said, the big wow goes to Houston where over 23,000 people made it to the game. They might not have been as loud as their DC counterparts, but it is only their first year. Who knows, perhaps their fan interest will help them land a stadium deal of their own very soon.

The team of Dave O'Brien, Eric Wynalda and Bruce Arena calling the DC match was a pleasant surprise. Arena brought a lot of knowledge to the team (including great information about the way New York played them last week), but O'Brien wasn't that bad himself. In fact, I don't think there was a single moment where I was embarrassed by something he said. Maybe if he had called a few more ESPN matches before the World Cup, there wouldn't have been such a negative reaction.

I'm no big fan of Clint Mathis, but he said something before his side's match that should ring loud and clear around the MLS. His quote, "The regular season doesn't really matter, as long as you make the playoffs." Very true.

Finally, D over at DCenters has lost his soul due to the result of the game. No word yet, but rumor has it that the Revolution will own it and it will be passed around amongst the players till the time that DC next defeats New England in the playoffs. First Rev to get the soul, Matt Reis.

For anyone looking to attend the MLS Cup, you can either contact Evan Mitz at 214.705.6752 or email, or go here.

Additional comment - I meant to put this in last night, but forgot. What was up with Fox Soccer Channel during the first 20-30 minutes of the Houston-Colorado match? The camera shots on screen were bouncing around enough to give people seizures while their replay system was playing everything but the event you wanted to see. Fox might be America's soccer channel, but yesterday it was ESPN2 that looked like they actually knew what they were doing.

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Blogger D said...

This explains my strange urge to Pahk the Cahhr in the Yahhd.

2:11 PM  

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