Playoff Preview: Conference Finals

Playoff Preview: Conference Finals

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 13, 2009
  • 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs


Tonight starts the conference finals in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs. We all know the pairings going into the conference finals and for the most part we know who the league and ESPN are hoping to see in the MLS Cup.

We have our favorites and we certainly have our underdog. These next two games will put either a really high profile match in MLS Cup 2009 or one that sees a couple of western conference clubs battling it out like last year’s two eastern conference teams did in LA.

I’ll start with tonight’s western conference showdown out in LA, followed by tomorrow’s clash at Toyota Park in the Windy City. As always feel free to pipe in your score predictions below.

Western Conference:
Houston Dynamo – at – LA Galaxy:

The game will come down to the battle in the midfield. Each have strong defenses with solid goalkeeping while the two offenses are good in their own different ways. More than likely who ever scores first will go defensive the rest of the way out because that’s how each plays during the regular season.

Who comes up bigger will be the question. Does David Beckham and Landon Donovan rise to the big game stage or will it be Houston’s Brad Davis and Stuart Holden? For Houston they’ve been here before and you know the experience factor is huge but Bruce Arena has a good mix of veterans who’ve always been here as well.

A big X-factor for the Dynamo has to be the speed of guys like Dominic Oduro. If Dominic Kinnear’s club is going to find any success against the tough Galaxy defense it will actually have to come at the speed of Oduro. Sure Oduro has a terrible first touch that typically lets him down but every now and then he finds space in behind the defense and can cause some serious damage. Teams that have done well against the Galaxy used speed to kill their defense.

For the Galaxy they just need a big time game out of Donovan or Edson Buddle. Both can score from anywhere and at anytime.

I see this game being as rough and as physical as they come. More than likely a card or two will factor in this one which is why I am going with the home team tonight. Houston gets themselves into trouble more often than not with the cards and LA will find a way to capitalize on that mistake. It will be close but I just see LA heading to Seattle for the MLS Cup here.

WVH Prediction: LA 1, Houston 0


Eastern Conference:

Real Salt Lake – at – Chicago Fire:

This one is really an interesting one. We saw RSL upset the mighty Columbus Crew on the road last week and it really begs the question can they do it again against a club that hasn’t been exactly dominate at home this season?

Let’s be clear though the last couple games out of the Fire at Toyota Park have been much better than the side we saw from June-September there. Denis Hamlett has his club playing very well and the recent addition of John Thorrington into the lineup has done a number on this club’s play through the midfield. Getting him back from injury came at the right time for this bunch.

I’d imagine we’ll see the Fire offense go all out early on in this one with Chris Rolfe, Blanco and Brian McBride. They saw last week how Guillermo Barros Schelotto tore about the RSL defense by himself in a short span. They’ll use that template to go after a defense that isn’t really as good as some make it out to be. Jamison Olave has to the beast that he can be in the back or else this could be a rough game for RSL.

RSL cannot be taken lightly and I doubt Chicago will do that. The Fire are too deep to take a dangerous club like RSL lightly. Robbie Findley has to come up with a big game offensively for RSL. We’ve seen him come and good with the offense and if he has an off night so will the rest of this club.

In the end I just like the Fire a bit more than RSL here. While the underdog role is always a good one to root for I just think the Fire will be too much in the midfield for RSL to handle.

WVH Prediction: Chicago 2, RSL 1