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MLS Playoff Preview

Here’s a look at the match-ups for the 2006 MLS Playoffs which start this Saturday, October 21.

Note: The conference semifinals consist of a two-game total goals series. The higher seed will host the second game. If after the two games, the teams scored the same number of goals or no goals are scored, two 15-minute overtimes are played. If still tied after the 30 minutes, the teams go to penalty kicks. The away goals rule is NOT in effect. The conference finals consist of one match played at the higher seed. Conference winners advance to MLS Cup 2006, Nov 12 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas! For conference final matches and the MLS Cup, if the match is tied after 90 minutes, then two 15-minute extra periods are played. If still tied after 30 extra minutes – penalty kicks!

Eastern Conference Semifinals:

#1 D.C. United (15-7-10) v. #4 New York Red Bulls (9-11-12)
The Supporters Shield winners stumble into the playoffs losing four of their last five games against mostly Eastern Conference rivals. The lone win (and possible reason for hope) was against their first round opponent – NY RedBull. MVP lock Christian Gomez (14G,11A) was consistent throughout the season and is reason enough to pick this team to advance to the conference finals.

As I predicted in my MLS Season Review (September, 16), Bruce Arena had just enough games to rally NY Redbull past KC and into the playoffs. I mentioned Edson Buddle, but it was actually 16-year-old Josmer Altidore who scored two huge game winning goals down the stretch that made the difference. Look for Arena to use O’Rourke and Kovalenko in his favorite Williams/Armas role with close marking on Gomez to try to neutralize him. Adu could be a key by playing more compact and distributing to Moreno and Esskandarian. With master architect Arena in charge NY will be a team to be reckoned with in the future, but I think they’ll have to be satisfied with just making the playoffs this year.

Quarterfinal – 2nd Leg
Sun Oct 29 3:00PM Pacific/6:00PM Eastern
ESPN2

#2 New England Revolution (12-8-12) v. #3 Chicago Fire (13-11-8)
DC will have to be very wary of the winner of this series. Two-time defending Eastern Conference Champion New England used a late surge by going 5-0-2 in its last seven games to finish the season strongly in second place. Dempsey (8G,4A) and Twellman (11G,5A) continue to fuel the offense and Coach Nicol is one of MLS’ best.

The U.S. Open Cup Champion Fire are also dangerous having lost only three times in their last sixteen games. Nate Jaqua (8G,2A) scored some big goals down the stretch and will be counted on heavily along with Andy Herron (9G,1A). The quest for the double will be a burning incentive but not enough to get past the Revolution.

Quarterfinal – 1st Leg
Sun Oct 22 10:00AM Pacific/1:00PM Eastern
ABC

Western Conference Semifinals:

#1 FC Dallas (16-12-4) v. #4 Colorado Rapids (11-13-8)
Dallas should have no trouble with Colorado after winning 3 of 4 regular season match-ups (and tying the other). Kenny Cooper (11G,4A) and Carlos Ruiz (13G,5A) provide plenty of firepower but new GK Shaka Hislop has been less than stellar conceding 10 goals in only 4 starts.

The only hope Colorado has is if Joe Cannon has a super-human series and the Rapids win on penalty kicks. Actually, that is only a better than slight chance.

Quarterfinal – 1st Leg
Sat Oct 21 6:00PM Pacific/9:00PM Eastern
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC)

Quarterfinal – 2nd Leg
Sat Oct 28 4:30PM Pacific/7:30PM Eastern
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC)

#2 Houston Dynamo (11-8-13) v. #3 CD Chivas USA (10-9-13)
This promises to be an outstanding match-up after the teams with almost identical records split the regular season series each winning one (and tying the other two). Another solid season for the Eart…er…Dynamo with major contributions from Brian Ching (11G,2A) and Dwayne DeRosario (11G,5A). Coach Kinnear has done another great job keeping the team consistent on the field despite their off-season move.

Speaking of another coach doing a great job, Bob Bradley has turned Chivas LA around in only their second season. Veteran players like Ante Razov (14G,8A), Claudio Suarez, Jesse Marsch, and Francisco Palencia give this team instant credibility and Juan Pablo Garcia is having a strong season. I had them as a darkhorse in September’s review but despite that, I think (like NY) they’ll have to be happy with the progress of just making the playoffs this time.

Quarterfinal – 1st Leg
Sun Oct 22 1:00PM Pacific/4:00PM Eastern
ESPN2

Quarterfinal – 2nd Leg
Sun Oct 29 05:00PM Pacific/8:00PM Eastern
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC)


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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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