Monday, October 29, 2007

2007 MLS Playoffs - Week 1 recap - I guess everyone was actually playing for week 2

The first leg of the first round is over and even though three teams hold an edge, nobody is in a real bad place. Traditionally, the first leg is a low scoring affair, but even by MLS post-season standards, this round was mighty lacking in the goal department. I would like to say that it was do to outstanding defensive work, however it had more to do with sloppy midfield play and failures to finish. But on the plus side, each of this week's games should see some offensive pushes as every team needs a goal.

But first, the playoff table:
PlayoffsWeek 1
Att per game14,24514,245
Goals per game.75.75
Ties1 (25%)1 (25%)

New England 0-0 New York
The Red Bulls must be disappointed after this match as they owned the possession game and even found open space in front of the Revs goal, but could not finish. Claudio Reyna was showing his skill in the midfield and Francis Doe had his chances (as did Angel), but they New England defense either just got a touch on the ball or sent the ball right to Matt Reis. The Revs were cool on attack as they didn't for Jon Conway to make a stop until the second half and often found a way to loose the ball on weak challenges. Overall, not an interesting 90-minutes of soccer. Still, got to hand it to New York for getting over 14,000 people out for the game.

With this series tied going back to Gillette Stadium, the Revolution have to love their chances for advancing to the East Conference finals for the fifth straight year, but to make it happen, they need keep Angel from getting free in the box and find a way to push more players into the final third.
Attendance: 14,165

Houston Dynamo 0-1 FC Dallas
If I hadn't watched the match, I wouldn't have believed just how lopsided this one was in favor of Houston. They were pushing forward, making passes, stopping counters and overall doing everything that should win you the game. Well that is except scoring and making a defensive mistake in your own box.

Did Dallas even try to attack during this one? It seemed like their plan was get a goal and then hold on at all costs. Once that happened, they sat back and absorbed all Houston's pressure and fouled a lot. A win is a win, but it does make you wonder what they plan on doing in Houston on Friday. Is their plan to let the Dynamo run the game like they did on Saturday and hope to hold them goalless for 90-minutes? If so, head coach Steve Morrow is one hell of a gambler.

As for Houston, their problem continues to be their offense as they have just one goal in their last three matches. De Rosario is looking lively again but Brian Ching is still off his track. The perfect example of this came in the closing minutes when Ching had a great chance on goal but Dario Sala was able to get just enough on it to knock it wide. Last year, Ching made that shot. With neither Joseph Ngwenya nor Nate Jaqua really looking that great either, one has to wonder where the goals will come from (hard to believe they got 9 corner kicks and didn't look dangerous on any of them).

Heading down to Houston, FCD has to be a bit concerned. The Dynamo were unlucky to get out of Dallas with nothing while the Hoops looked lackluster just about everywhere except in goal. Houston will be able to get at least a goal at home, which will force Dallas to make something happen or go to penalty kicks, and with their history on pks, that would be a very bad thing.
Goal: Clarence Goodson (1) 23'
Attendance: 12,537 (wow, that is a tiny number, what happened here?)

Chivas USA 0-1 Kansas City Wizards
These two played an interesting match for the first hour but by the final 30, they both seemed happy to just let the game end. The Wizards came out fast and furious at the start and put the goats on their heels, but could not punch through. Once the game settled, it became obvious how much Chivas was missing Maykel Galindo and Ante Razov. Chivas would push the attack but had no idea where to place the ball for a finish.

The Wizards tried to get Eddie Johnson involved, but for the most part, he was a no show, except when he got a foul about 30 yards away from goal. The following free kick by Davy Arnaud was simply beautiful as it just edged over the Chivas wall, hit the slick ground and caught Brad Guzan off his mark. Really was nice.

So now things head back to California with Chivas needing to make up a goal. The goats are still the favorites in this one but I could easily see an upset taking place. Without the power up top, they just don't have the options needed to beat back defensives lack they did during the second half of the season. Jonathan Bornstein and Jesse Marsch are doing a good job of causing trouble, but it just doesn't seem like enough.
Goal: Davy Arnaud (1) 35'
Attendance: 12,442 (a really good number by KC's standards)

Second Leg schedule:
Chicago Fire vs. DC United - 1 Nov 7:30pm ET, ESPN2
FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo - 2 Nov 8:30pm ET, DK, MLStv
NY vs. NE - 3 Nov 7:30pm ET, FSC, FSE
KC vs. Chivas - 3 Nov 10:30pm ET, HDNet, DK, MLStv

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