2012 Conference Semifinals: What To Watch For

2012 Conference Semifinals: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 2, 2012
  • 0 Comments
  • 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs, Features

RSL and Seattle will battle it out tonight. (Getty Images)

The conference semifinals are all set, my predictions have been made but there are still plenty of talking points to say before things kickoff tonight in Seattle.

So with that here is a special What To Watch For, Conference Semifinals edition!

We have eight teams remaining and now it is time for the home-and-home series to begin. Remember, no away goals in these series either, it’s all about how many you score. 

Schedule | New York/D.C. Swap Games | Eastern Conference Preview | Western Conference Preview

Eastern Conference

Sporting Kansas City vs Houston Dynamo

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  • Dynamo are unbeaten at home this season, going 11-0-6. Those six draws will be something SKC will zero in on as a weakness. There were plenty of home games that the Dynamo should have won but didn’t. Let’s also not forget that SKC gave New York their first loss at home just a few weeks ago as well.
  • SKC will look to employ their high pressure on the Dynamo defense, which had to deal with a fair amount of pressure on Wednesday night in Chicago. It will be worth noticing how well the Dynamo can handle the pressure for 90 minutes on Sunday after playing a midweek game.
  • Dynamo are a decent squad this season when coming off a shorter rest period. In all competitions they are 5-4-5 on shorter rest. Decent but not great. Gotta point out that Houston played in a lot of games over the last two months thanks to the CCL. Tired legs can come back to haunt a team.
  • Set pieces will be key once again for Houston, it may be one of the only ways they beat SKC.
  • SKC will be looking for revenge over the Dynamo for knocking them out of the playoffs last year.

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 D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls

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  • The two clubs swapped home games due to Hurricane Sandy. Even though some believe it won’t matter, it will be interesting to see how New York has handled the lack of training this week due to the storm.
  • The switch will only be a disadvantage for United if they don’t take care of business at home (United is 12-1-4 at home; New York was 5-7-5 on the road). This year against NY in RFK Stadium, D.C. is 1-0-1 with six goals scored and three against.
  • Chris Pontius will be the focal point for the United attack, he scored a hat trick earlier this season against New York in a 4-1 win.
  • Expect goals in this series. As stated above, D.C. was 1-0-1 at home with six goals scored and three against, New York won their home game this year 3-2.
  • United come into this game on a seven game unbeaten run, going 5-0-2 down the stretch. New York was 3-2-2 in that same stretch.

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Western Conference

San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy

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  • This one will be ugly. Go ahead and expect a red card or two in this series as these two squads do not like one another.
  • There will be goals. In three meetings this season, San Jose was 2-0-1 against LA but the score lines were a tad nuts, 3-2, 4-3, 2-2. Lots of goals scored here.
  • If LA can play defense late in the game, they will win this series. At some point the Goonies magic has to run out right? Most believe it will in these playoffs.
  • LA will focus on Chris Wondolowski but the real threat may be in guys like Steven Lenhart and Simon Dawkins.
  • The Galaxy will need a big series out of Robbie Keane. The Irishman was quiet last night against Vancouver until the Mike Magee show started. Keane and Magee have to work their stuff together if LA wants a shot at this series.
  • Oh and that Landon Donovan guy will probably make his impact in this one as well. He has a tendency to do well against the Quakes.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

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  • Defensive wins championships and both of these teams know it. Each have had their ups and downs along the way but I am super excited about this series.
  • Many wonder if Seattle can finally get over the hump in the playoffs, many believe this is the series to do it in. RSL seems like a team they can beat but that is never a sure thing.
  • Throw home field advantage out of the window, both teams have and can win in the other’s building. But saying that, should RSL go up early in Seattle tonight, they’ll win this series. Seattle hasn’t shown the ability to respond from being down.
  • RSL has to get Alvaro Saborio involved early and often. He took care of business this season against the weaker teams in MLS but against playoff teams not so much. He has to be the man to lead them offensively.
  • Is this the final playoffs for this RSL group? It sure seems that way.

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