MLS Weekend Playoff Preview

MLS Weekend Playoff Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 26, 2007

The MLS playoffs got off to a bang last night in Chicago with the Fire downing DC United 1-0. Some may call it a rather unexpected start to the playoffs since United are the Supporter’s Shield winners this season, but history seems to be repeating itself with those two clubs as DC has yet to score on Chicago in a playoff game.

Chris Rolfe delivered a nice touch for the Fire last night in the victory. DC’s defense seems to be becoming it’s weakness as of late.

United have a chance to get back into the series and win it next week at RFK Stadium. A win there could mean possibly two more home games and a MLS Cup. But with the start like last night, that dream could be on its way out the door.

The other playoff series get under way this weekend. All around the same time tomorrow evening. After going so many weekends of six games or more, only having three to preview is a little nice for this hooligan.

New England – at – New York: Eastern Conference Semi-Final

Over the past few seasons the Revs have owned the New York club and sadly have quickly become the MLS version of the Buffalo Bills. Both clubs are hot when they are hot and boringly cold when they turn the switch off.

This series won’t be pretty and that isn’t because both games are played on turf, no, neither club have a great defense. Sure the Revs have the best defender in the league in Michael Parkhurst and one of the best keepers in Matt Reis; however they have given up a sloppy 43 goals, a huge amount for a team that has championship aspirations.  New England inconsistencies have posted a 2-3-2 mark since Aug. 25, giving up deciding goals three times late in games (that included a Juan Pablo Angel’s  strike in a 2-2 tie at Giants Stadium Sept. 22.)

New York isn’t any better though, they have given up a league high (tied with Kansas City) 45 goals. Their backline has been hampered by injuries and inconsistencies of their own.

So we should see goals right? Absolutely. The Red Bulls feel this is their year to get over the hump against the Revs but I feel otherwise. Their backline is still among the worst in the league and their keeper situation isn’t anything to brag about. If New York can win some midfield battles then yes, they will be able to score against New England. I just like the Revs to score a little more than New York though.

WVH Prediction: New England 3, New York 2

Houston Dynamo – at – FC Dallas: Western Conference Semi-Final

If defense wins championships then expect Houston to repeat as MLS champions this season. Houston’s defense established a league record by allowing a measly 23 goals. Also, goalkeeper Pat Onstad crushed the old league mark for goals-against average over a season, landing at a paltry 0.82. That’s going to be difficult to beat.

Dallas on the other hand will need the out-score the opponent style of play to get them past their Texan rival. Dallas has given up an ugly 44 goals this season due to a backline that never got healthy enough to get to know one another.

Most Dallas fans and even the Hoops themselves welcomed this series, they wanted this match-up to start the playoffs. Even with Dallas’s late season slide (going 1-4-2 at home since August), head coach Steve Morrow will hope that youth will be served in this series. Only a couple guys on his club have any good playoff experience and none are better than Carlos Ruiz, who holds the playoff record for goals scored.

If Dallas is to be successful they must jump out early on Houston tomorrow and hope they can hold on in Houston in the following week. Biggest thing to note is that Dallas won’t release their midfield lineup until game-time tomorrow, so Houston won’t know where certain guys will be lining up.  Will Adrian Serioux be in the back, as he was most of the season, or in a central midfield role, as he was late in the year. Juan Toja has played along the left, at the top of a central triangle and in a holding spot at different times this year. And what about team assist leader Dax McCarty, who wasn’t even in the lineup towards the end of the season.

Biggest factor for Houston is recovering from the suspension of Ricardo Clark. They have had a couple games to get used to worrying about this and have found an answer. But they also haven’t faced a guy like Carlos Ruiz since they lost Clark.

I think in the end Houston just has the better club even with Dallas going for the upset. I think this one will be close in Dallas but once the series shifts to Houston it will be another story.

WVH Prediction: FC Dallas 1, Houston 1

Chivas USA – at – Kansas City Wizards: Western Conference Semi-Final

Probably the most interesting series in my mind. You have a good, strong side in Chivas going against a club that will probably be happy to finally be back in the playoffs in Kansas City.

Both teams are hard to gage at the moment. Chivas has had a rash of injuries in recent weeks to key players like Jesse Marsch and the biggest to Ante Razov, not to mention the other slightly less stinging injuries (meaning they could be able to go tomorrow) to Maykel Galindo and Francisco Mendoza.

If you have problems figuring out Chivas then Kansas City is no different. Curt Onalfo’s first professional coaching assignment was a smash hit right away as Eddie Johnson fired goals in bunches and helped establish the Wizards as early season conference favorite. But as the summer months rolled around we saw just how overrated the Wizards were due to sloppy midfield and terrible defense.

Also, key midfielder Carlos Marinelli switched off his play more than turned it on, something we all knew could happen when he was signed by the Wizards. And going into July Eddie Johnson looked like a MVP candidate with 12 goals but since then has only scored three. Yes, three, so the production dropped off just like the team that barely go into the playoffs.

Good teams know how to win even with a rash of injuries, that’s Chivas. Kansas City is too inconsistent in their play and are really mistake prone. With the way the Goats play, if they are patient enough they will find the gaps and the holes that the Wizards will leave and cash in on those mistakes. The Wizards do know to force the turnovers and cash in on them but they haven’t done that in months and I doubt they will recall how to do so.

WVH Prediction: Chivas 2, Kansas City 1