Seriously, I’ve been so busy this fall that I think I’ve watched maybe one MLS match in the last two months. So take this look at the playoff picture for what it’s worth, unless I get something right, in which case, yay me.
#1 Columbus v. #4 Real Salt Lake
This, of course, completes the trade that saw New York compete in (and win) the Western Conference bracket a year ago. The Team To Be Named Later in that scenario came within a whisker of actually being the West’s rep in MLS Cup 2008, but were just 11-12-7 this year. They did blow out Colorado to earn the last playoff spot (claiming motivation from my man Steve Pastorino) and they’re at home for the first leg tomorrow night. But the Crew (sorry, The Crew) appears to be the best overall team in the league and I like them to advance after an ugly first leg. Oh, wait, they’re all ugly first legs in MLS, aren’t they?
#2 Chicago v. #3 New England
Haven’t we met? Chicago went 1-0-2 against the Revs this year, winning and drawing in Foxboro and drawing the one match at Toyota Park. New England has only won twice since September began and they’re banged up. I don’t think this will be pretty, but I like Chicago to advance.
#1 Los Angeles v. #4 Chivas USA
Wait, Los Angeles won the West? When did THAT happen? I really need to pay closer attention. I’m sure that made my man Dan Loney feel ambivalent all over. Kudos to Bruce Arena for getting the most out of a team dealing with old legs and The Now Short Sleeved One. The Kids Down the Hall will try to make it tough for LA and they won’t play pretty soccer at all (Preki is supposedly on the way out). I like the Galaxy to advance.
#2 Houston v. #3 Seattle
This, to me, is actually the most interesting first-round matchup, and one I’d pay money to watch. Oh, I don’t have to? The first leg, at least, is on ESPN2 tonight. I think Houston is the better team, but Seattle seems to have this team of destiny thing going on. First leg in Seattle, should be an intimidating atmosphere, the Sounders went 7-2-6 at home this year. It’s looking to me like the Sounders will take the first leg and force Houston to do the business at home. I think we all remember how that worked out last year. So I’m going with the Sounders.
That would set up Chicago-Columbus in the East final (again) and Los Angeles-Seattle in the West. We’ll see.