Last night was yet another wild night in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Two teams moved on while two others began their post season.
Now the conference finals are set. D.C. United will play the Houston Dynamo in the East while out West we get a fun series between LA and Seattle.
I have a couple of thoughts to share on last night’s games and hopefully later today I’ll preview the two conference finals for you all.
1. D.C. now owns the inside track to hosting MLS Cup.
I said it yesterday before the game that they and New York had the inside track, now it is solely United’s track to lose. If D.C. wins the series with Houston they will host MLS Cup. Yes, a MLS Cup at RFK, not a shiny MLS stadium like BBVA Compass Stadium or even one of the older soccer stadiums like the Home Depot Center.
D.C. is a young team that wears their hearts on their selves. That kind of emotion comes from the top with Ben Olsen. I’ve felt they’ve been living dangerously with that youth and lack of experience but the further they advance the more I am becoming a believer.
One thing to remember, they’re on a nine-game unbeaten run at the moment. That kind of momentum can’t be matched out of the other playoff teams.
2. Seattle gets rid of their playoff demons
How about Mario Martinez folks? Seattle has a stud in that kid and hopefully we’ll see more out of him in the coming games. His late cracker was more than enough to seal the deal in the series with Real Salt Lake. I knew that one was going to be low scoring but just one goal in the two games was a tad surprising – I thought last night would have been at least a 2-1 game.
Still, good for Seattle to finally break through and get further in the playoffs. The next round is unchartered waters for this bunch and they face a team that has loads of experience in LA. Sigi Schmid knows how to win the playoffs and will be wanting to play his style of game against LA.
3. Time to rebuild a bit in Salt Lake
I would focus my last point on New York but I really wasn’t surprised with their exit in the playoffs. Thierry Henry didn’t show up that much and Rafa Marquez was once again the toxic player that doomed the club.
No, I want to talk a bit about RSL and how they will move forward from this loss. One positive – though I know RSL and their fans won’t take it as one – is that RSL will now have fewer games in 2013. No CCL for RSL means a few things in my mind. For one, it means they may be able to keep some veteran players along and just have them focus on the regular season and the US Open Cup.
After that, it means they may need to rebuild in some key spots. I won’t go much more into that at this point. I just think this is a good time for RSL to move forward and get a little younger and start finding some new playmakers in the midfield and up front. They’ve done well for three seasons with this group but people have figured them out and it is time for something new.