Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MLS Playoff Preview

Western Conference
Los Angeles Galaxy (W1) vs. Chivas USA (W4)
The Superclasico get taken to a whole new level as the two occupants of the Home Depot Center gear up for two matches that promises to be just as intense as their three regular season meetings.

The Galaxy not only went undefeated against Chivas this season, b ut didn't allow Chivas to find the back of the net. The three matches however were grinders for Los Angeles. The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first meeting back on April 11, but LA took the last two matches by scores of 1-0. A first-half goal by Edson Buddle was the difference in the second meetig two months later and Beckham's 80th minute strike vaulted Los Angeles to the Superclasico trophy.

Prediction: Chivas USA finally finds the back net against Los Angeles, but the Galaxy pushes more goals across and takes the series 3-1.

Houston Dynamo (W2) vs. Seattle Sounders (W3)
Two teams that appear to evenly match heading into their playoff series, starting on Thursday. Seattle has had Houston's number during the regular season, winning the first meeting 2-1 in Seattle on July 11 and playing to a 1-1 draw in the second match in Houston on August 23. The Sounders also defeated the Dynamo 2-1 win in the US Open Cup back on July 21.

Both teams appear to be warming up heading into their playoff series. Seattle won its last three regular season matches while Houston went 2-1-2, including a 3-2 in last Sunday to wrap up the second spot in the West.

Prediction: Should be a hard-fought two games, but look for Houston's playoff experience to be the difference as the Dynamo edge the Sounders 2-1.

Eastern Conference
Columbus Crew (E1) vs. Real Salt Lake (E4)
The Crew open defense of their MLS Cup title on Saturday, as they travel to Utah for the first leg of their series against Real Salt Lake.

For the second straight season, the Crew are the top seed for the MLS playoffs and feature pretty much the same team that won it all two years ago. The Crew coasted for most of the regular season to the top playoff spot in MLS while Real Salt Lake looked to be on the outside looking in a few weeks ago, but won two of its last three regular season matches to get into the playoffs.

Prediction: The Crew have the advantage in every part of the field. Columbus advances to the Eastern Conference final 3-0.

Chicago Fire (E2) vs. New England Revolution (E3)
Another playoff series that appears to be too close to call. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Chicago back on May 9 and a 0-0 draw in New England a few weeks ago.

Both teams needed wins in the final week of the season to qualify for the playoffs. Chicago edged out Chivas 1-0 last Thursday to wrap up the second seed in the East while New England defeated Columbus by the same score on Sunday to take the third seed. New England is in despite being hampered by injuries all season, missing forward Taylor Twellman (cocussion) for the whole season and midfielder Shalrie Joseph for a good part of the season due to a combination of injuries and national team callups.

Prediction: Look for Chicago to squeak out a tight series 2-1.

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