MLS Playoffs: Good, Bad, and Ugly

MLS Playoffs: Good, Bad, and Ugly

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 23, 2007

Weird and wacky world that is the MLS. Time to go from near pointless to completely meaningful. That my friend is the shift from the regular season to the playoffs, a playoff system that allows nearly two-thirds of the league in.

Clubs move on now to the playoff and the opening round of matches that always seem to get at least one shocker if not more. Usually this allows one club to sneak in the MLS Cup (think LA in 2005, or even Houston last year).

Somethings look good for certain teams, while most are bad if not down right ugly. So here is a look at the good, bad and ugly that could allow a club to win the MLS Cup or fall flat on their face.

D.C. United (16-7-7 record, 55 points)

Good: They won the Supporter’s Shield for a second straight season, bad part is that success has to translate into a MLS Cup this season or else. However this club is as strong as ever with Golden Boot winner Luciano Emilio up top, a midfield that is as tough as ever (Christian Gomez netted 10 goals this season, anyone notice that?) and a defense that is doing pretty well. Oh and the MLS Cup is at RFK this season, and three out of four games are at RFK (if they advance).

Bad: The defense may be doing well but for defending keeper of the year Troy Perkins things are a bit iffy in my book. At times he looks like the best keeper on the field and other times he has horrible spells where he allows in the worst of goals. Playoff form is something Perkins will have to find for United to win this season.

Ugly: Over coming the Supporter’s Shield bug. Sure they won it again for the second straight year. But the bottom line is they have to use that to win the MLS Cup this season I think. Before clubs who won the Supporter’s Shield have done nothing but put the trophy in the trophy case, DC must use that trophy as motivation and momentum.

Chivas USA (15-7-8, 53 points)

Good: They won the west, with 10 men against Houston. They boast the best home record in the league and could have the easiest path to the MLS Cup. Brad Guzan is the best goalkeeper in the playoffs and guys like Jesse Marsch are underrated.

Bad: Injuries are starting to take a toll. Ante Razov and Maykel Galindo are getting sidelined at the worst possible time. Other than those two who will score for this club?

Ugly: Houston looks like the better club in the west and don’t be too shocked to see an upset from KC in the first round. The rash of injuries look like they could really hurt this club who weren’t nearly as hot as they were a month ago.

Houston (15-8-7, 52 points)

Good: Four games from a repeat, their schedule allowed them to get loads of points at certain times of the season and then get rest towards the end. Health is an issue but Dominic Kinnear is one of the best to find the best 11 to go out on the field. Also, their first round opponent FC Dallas looks like a good club to start out against.

Bad: Again, injuries have taken some toll on some clubs, Houston is no different. But they should be able to hold it together for four games.

Ugly: Suspensions. Along with the suspension to Ricardo Clark for the post season due to his kick to Carlos Ruiz a few weeks ago. Houston seems to have trouble staying out of trouble. Guys like Eddie Robinson have to stay out of the books in order to even think of repeating this season.

New England (14-8-8, 50 points)

Good: All things seem to be a go for the Revs. Michael Parkhurst leads the defense, Shalrie Joesph leads the midfield and Taylor Twellman always seems to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net.

Bad: Has to win when it counts, losers of three out of the last four MLS Cups. Not to mention their end of season slump going into the playoffs was nothing pretty. This club too often turns the switch off rather than on.

Ugly: Kinda the same as the bad, its the on and off factor. One game they are totally on and dominate and the next they look pedestrian. With road games in New York and possibly in DC, the Revs cannot afford an off night now.

FC Dallas (13-12-5, 44 points)

Good: Kenny Cooper is back from his nasty injury. Steve Morrow is making some decent moves in the back that could help and Carlos Ruiz is playing a bit better (when he isn’t suspended).

Bad: Five goals in their last six matches. Defense is rather terrible most of the time.

Ugly: The team is still a bit too young, too inexperienced and most of all too inconsistent, especially lately. Also the match-up with Houston is horrible for Dallas. It hasn’t been much of a rivalry so far for the Hoops, 1-5-2 and a -6 goal differential.

Red Bull New York (12-11-7, 43 points)

Good: When scoring this club is as fun as any to watch. Juan Pablo Angel is a flash of brillance on the pitch and players seem to feed off of him.

Bad: Not the best of match-ups with New England I think. The Revs actually have a defense that can shut down Angel and company.

Ugly: The defense is a total mess. The keeper situation is just as bad too. Some say Bruce Arena is a coach of the year candidate, what many fail to realize is he has been shifting sloppy defenders for 30 games.

Chicago (10-10-10, 40 points)

Good: Blanco has really brought this club up from the ground since his arrival. As much as it pains me to type this, he is the league’s top playmaker at the moment, period.

Bad: The forwards are a bit shaky for me, if they want to  get by DC they have to be on their ‘A’ game. Chad Barrett has to come alive and have his Wayne Rooney moments in the playoffs and not his can’t-find-his-feet moments that he is known for.

Ugly: Defense is still a bit too bad for my liking. They did come together at the end of the season but still have a long way to go. Paulo Wanchope? Has anyone seen this guy play recently? Damn, I don’t have the time or effort to explain that situation.

Kansas City (11-12-7, 40 points)

Good: They made the playoffs, and now have a lot of proving to do (to me and plenty other doubters out there).

Bad: Eddie Johnson. Looked good at the first half of the season but since then he has only netted three goals. Are you kidding me? At times he has looked horrible when his club needed him most, they are lucky to be in the playoffs really.

Ugly: Defense is beyond fixing at this point. What once was a pretty solid midfield has lost its shape.