Monday, November 2, 2009

MLS Playoff weekend #1: A look back

The West's top two seeds are in favorable position while the East's top two are backed into corners follwing the first weekend of MLS playoff action.

Halloween came a day late to the Home Depot Center, as strange mistakes on both sides played a major role in the 2-2 draw of the first ever Playoff Superclasico between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA.

Chivas got in front just four minutes into the match, but two bad clearence attempts by Chivas resulted in two Galaxy goals. The first error came in the 14th minute, when defender Yamith Cuesta failed to clear a ball out of the penalty area and Mike Magee scooped up the loose ball and buried the equalizer. The second error came in the 41st minute when forward Maicon Santos tried to clear a ball away, only to see his punt attempt go back into the Chivas box and to the direction of Landon Donovan, who buried the point blank shot.

In the second half however, it was the Galaxy's turn to be bitten by the error bug. Defender Omar Gonzalez attempted a back pass to either Sean Franklin or keeper Donovan Ricketts, but the ball instead went to the feet of forward Mykael Galindo, who evaded Ricketts and buried the open net shot. Both clubs are hoping the mistakes are few and far between in next Sunday's final leg.

Meanwhile, defense and rough play was the sticking point in the 0-0 draw between the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field last Thursday. The defense came early in the first half when a shot attempt by Patrick Ianni was cleared at the goal line by Brian Mullan. The rough play however stood out more than anything else. Seattle forward Nate Jaqua was knocked in the head by Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark int he 27th minute. The hit was bad enough for Jaqua to require a jersey change and a bandage on his head the rest of the match. Houston was called for 18 fouls and six cards (three on each side) were issued out in the match.

In the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire head home needing to win by two goals or more after both sides came up short in their first legs of their respective playoff series. Columbus looked poised for a draw in its playoff opener against Real Salt Lake on Halloween night, but a strike in the 88th minute by Robbie Findley enabled Real Salt Lake to come out with a 1-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Chicago is also in a deep hole after the New England Revolution came from behind to record a 2-1 win over the Fire at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Chris Rolfe gave Chicago the lead in the 17th minute, but Emmanuel Osei equalized for the Revolution just before halftime, and Shalrie Joseph won the match for New England in the 75th minute as Joseph pounced on a loose ball in the box and buried the point-blank shot. Chicago had a chance to grab the lead back in the 71st minute, but a shot attempt by Baggio Husidic went off the crossbar, hit the field, but didn't clear the goal line.

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