1st Round Recap: Favorites Struggle

1st Round Recap: Favorites Struggle

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 8, 2010
  • 2010 MLS Playoffs

Arturo Alvarez and San Jose are in the eastern conference finals. (Getty Images)

The old saying goes if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. We’ll unfortunately that isn’t true in the MLS playoff structure as it is severely broken. We knew the possibility was there for an all western conference final again this season with six of the eight playoff teams coming from west of the Mississippi River. But the other thing we giggled at the possibility of happening came true, the eastern conference final is between two western clubs.

Once again the playoffs show that the higher seed really has no advantage in the playoffs too. Real Salt Lake and Columbus both went down due to probably some tired legs in some form or another. Then you have New York who had no excuse really in their loss to San Jose, they were just outplayed up and down the field at home.

The strategies of each club going into a playoff series like the first round presents is always interesting to watch. Most of the higher seeds know the opener on the road is always tough but if they manage a draw or better they feel they’re more likely to advance. Columbus, RSL, and New York all went with the hold as much as possible in the road leg and go for gold in the home return. It nearly paid off for the Crew but the others weren’t as lucky.

Even with the slight complaining that only one higher seed moved on I think the first round of this year’s playoffs went very well for the league. Not only were each series entertaining in some level, they all provided some serious drama and excitement that only playoff soccer brings. Just look at the FC Dallas-RSL series. That may have been the best first round series the league has ever seen. Drama up and down the pitch with Dallas finding ways to hold off the RSL attack, a certain jacket that made Twitter blow up a bit, and some amazing stops by Kevin Hartman.

Colorado and Columbus gave us some penalty kick drama which is always nerve wracking. I have to say the Crew just ran out of gas. It is as simple as that. Colorado on the other hand will now host the Quakes in what should be an interesting conference final. I won’t even get into the┬áridiculousness┬áthat is two western teams in an eastern final. We all know this is a format that has to change and fast.

The western final should be stellar as you have the true favorite left in the playoffs in LA hosting the hot FC Dallas squad. LA looked like their dominate self once again against Seattle. Dallas will prove to be a different test for the Galaxy but in all seriousness this MLS Cup is LA’s to lose this year. I also think if you’re MLS you want LA to win but that may be a story for another post. I know Toronto folks are hoping for LA to win so they can sell more tickets.

Just as we’ve seen in recent years the hottest clubs usually win the Cup, at this point its anyone’s guess who will make it. My money is on San Jose and LA. But I’m not sleeping on Colorado and Dallas, two clubs that have never won a MLS Cup.

Who do you all see winning it this year? Think the Galaxy can manage to win it all? Or will one of the other “lower seeds” surprise them?

  • Garbage Time Sports Blog

    LA will take it for sure. The club without Beckham was probably the most well rounded team in the MLS but now with their English star, they are truly unstoppable. LA beats FC Dallas 3-2 and SJose beats Colorado 4-4 in PKS. Then in the battle of California Galaxy romp 3-1.