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MLS Playoffs Are Now Set: Who Will Win the 2010 MLS Cup?

 MLS Playoffs Are Now Set: Who Will Win the 2010 MLS Cup?

I have to say that after seven months of hardnosed football in Major League Soccer, we have been entertained with a great season with plenty of ups and downs. Tons of surprises as the western conference have more sides into the playoffs than the East.

Yet towards the stretch of this season we are seeing some sides losing steam after fantastic starts like the Los Angeles Galaxy or the Columbus Crew with their amazing fixture congestion competing in the league’s regular season, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. But in the case of the Seattle Sounders they found a way to survive a horrible start and were able to right the ship to clinch a playoff spot.

For the very first time in a long the last weekend of matches in the regular season was used for clinching a playoff spot. Now those positions have been filled in the last month or so, yet all that was left was positioning for opponents into the playoffs. All the Red Bulls needed on Thursday night was a win and they have home field advantage throughout the eastern conference playoffs.

But in the West it would be much more interesting to see who goes to the East or stays in the West and plays the top side. On the final Saturday of the regular season three spots were available as two would move to the East. All the Sounders needed was a draw or a win against the Dynamo to remain in the west, but after the second half started and the score leveled it was Cam Weaver with the go ahead goal to give Houston a win at home for the last game of the season.

After a fantastic performance from the surprising Chris Wondolowski to earn a hat trick at Buck Shaw Stadium against Chivas-USA, the Earthquakes had to travel into America’s heartland and face the Kansas City Wizards. But what they didn’t expect was a fantastic performance being created against them, as Birahim Diop scored a hat trick and kept the Quakes down in the eastern conference portion of the playoffs.

Now that meant the Colorado Rapids had a great chance to push down the Sounders into the East, so that they could face the top of the West table Los Angeles Galaxy. They had a two goals to nil lead on the defending champions Real Salt Lake, but unfortunately history came back to haunt the Rapids as they gave up two goals within the final moments of the match. Alvaro Saborio scored two goals inside second half stoppage time to get the comeback draw and that moved Real Salt Lake into a first place tie with the Galaxy for the league lead at the moment.

But it was a victory for the Galaxy on Sunday and they won the Supporters Shield for most points in the season. Let’s also not forget they will be starting next year’s tournament in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. But for the playoffs that start this coming Thursday, this will be an exciting time to watch these match-ups. Even though the system is a bit flawed, the concept is correct. I also agree that conference tables have to go and stick to a full league table where finishers one through eight make the playoffs.

But right now this is the time to get ready and see who will make the trip to BMO Field in Toronto, Canada and raise the MLS Cup high into the Canadian night. I am ready and I hope most of you guys are too.

MLS Cup Playoff Match-ups

Western Conference

Los Angeles Galaxy Vs Seattle Sounder
Real Salt Lake Vs FC Dallas

Eastern Conference

New York Red Bulls Vs San Jose Earthquakes
Columbus Crew Vs Colorado Rapids

Who will win the 2010 MLS Cup?

52 Responses to MLS Playoffs Are Now Set: Who Will Win the 2010 MLS Cup?

  1. Ivan says:

    In my humble opinion, either New York, or the winner of FC Dallas/RSL match-up.
    Either way, I hope MSL gets rid of that Jabulani abomination for next season…unless you’ve played w/ it, you can’t realize how awful this ball is…truly the worst ball in human history. I cringe every time I see a picture… too bad Bundesliga, MLS, and Europa League are forced to play w/ this thing.

  2. Dan says:

    For the sake of the MLS I really hope its LA vs NY. No other matchup would draw those kind of TV ratings and right now the MLS needs tv ratings more than anything.

    I must say its a really messed up situation. Why are the Sounders, who are 3 positions above the bottom qualified teams playing the best team in the MLS first round? LA vs SJ is a lot more fair, its penalizing the teams that did well, ridiculous! They need to get rid of this stupid conference and make a single table finally! Especially next year when the West will have 2 more teams than the East!

  3. Robert says:

    I agree with Dan, LA and New York would be the best ratings scenario for MLS. I have to say the Seattle/Galaxy matchup the first round is the most exciting, if for no other reason than I like the fans of both teams, and the atmosphere should be excellent.

  4. Robert says:

    LA Galaxy is the best team in the league and not the Cup Winner! The weaker teams have an easier route to the Final. NY better win because there is a chance of it being LA v. Rapids. MLS keeps shooting itself in the foot with decisions like these. The playoff format is nothing new in American sports and there is a model already set-up but Garber can’t get that right. Soccer leagues are already established around the world and Garber can’t figure out how to operate one correctly. Anyone see a pattern?

    • Charles says:

      Yeah, I see a pattern…you ripping on our league.

      LA had the best regular season, but as we have seen in the EPL. (I believe Chelsea has a winning record against Man U since EPL was formed )
      that doesn’t always mean they can beat the best.

      We will find out shortly.

      I voted Seattle, who I think has a great chance based on BY FAR the best second half. But if I were to put up money, I would pick a repeat.

      One thing for sure MLS had a very exciting season and now the playoffs are going to double that.

      BTW, not sure why everyone thinks that LA-NY is best for MLS. Seattle obviously would sell the most merchandise ( they sell twice what the second highest team does ), plus do you think there are a lot of guys in Tulsa that are dual Yankees/Red Bulls fans watching on TV ?
      Has ESPN doomed us to only show Red Bulls games like they do Yankees-RedSox ?

      • Robert says:

        It isn’t “our” league like you stated. Its a group of million dollar investors’ league who have little regard in what the fans want. So, stuff it Charles and buy your Sounders gear when you probably didn’t offer any support when they were a USL side.

        • Charles says:

          He has ripped on the league many times, see the latest post.
          And Robert, I went to almost all the USL games. I have been a fan of the Sounders for almost 30 years now.

          And it is my league. I love it.

      • jleau says:

        He’s not ripping our league he’s making a valid criticsm of a ridiculous playoff format.

        NYRB is my pick to win, they’ve got the easiest path to he final and they have big game players.

  5. LI Matt says:

    The single table is not going to happen.

    Why?

    You try selling tickets for an 18th-place team. That’s why baseball went to divisions.

    • Roger says:

      the single table allready happened!
      if you want to know wich franchises make the play-offs,you have to combine east and west into a………single table ….dont you?

      MLS is a “league”…..pardon me! an entity, that :

      *has east and west conferences but you have to combine then into 1 table to know the franchises that advances to play-offs

      *it is better to finish 8th ,that sometimes 4th or 5th.

      *a suporters shield(regular seasson)winner that, in spite of been the best franchise of the whole seasson, still have to go to play-off to win its conference.

      *an east conference team can win the west conference championship.

      *50% of franchises qualify for play -offs,making the reg seasson semi-meaningless

      *after 30 games of reg seasson, a team on halve the table can win the whole thing on a few games.

      *uses home field advantage on play-offs, wich is very very unsoccerlike.

      *the comissioner makes more money than any franchise pays their whole rosters,with the exception of DPs.While some of our young talent is going to third tier euro leagues.

      I guess in order to design such a brillian set of rules you got to get paid well right?!

      • Charles says:

        Un soccer like ?

        Soccer is a game, how they set up a league is seperate from the game.

        MLS doesn’t have to be lemmings. Playoffs are exciting. Does it sacrifice fairness ? yes, but fairness can be very boring. The EPL will have more than half of teams completely eliminated at the half way point. Not mathmatically but realistically…d u n, done. BOOOORING.

        Plus there is the Man U, we don’t have to beat the winning teams, just beat up on the losing ones consistant way to many, many titles. I believe Chelsea has a winning record in all time EPL play against them.

        • Robert says:

          Charles, not once did he mention the EPL. There is a problem with MLS playoff structure. Understand that and stop being such a cheerleader for MLS. You can’t have 50% of the league compete for the League Cup if that is going to determine the Champion. The Galaxy for having an amazing season is being punished for other teams mediocrity.

          • Charles says:

            Well if the point is there should be playoffs, just not with 1/2 of the league we are on the same page.

            I didn’t get that from the post…at all.

            I mentioned the EPL, and I can mention other leagues if you want the boredome that accompanies not having the excitement of playoffs.

        • Roger says:

          “Soccer is a game…………..”

          your coment is a very good example of MLS mentality,and how divorced it is from soccer culture reality.Ask soccer fans all around the planet what soccer means to them and you will realize that soccer is much more than a game.It is so because of the passion it generates; the symbolisms that roots that passion at the hart of cities and neighborhoods all around the planet.(find Cesar Luis Menoti’s entervierws to have an idea)

          “………….how they set up a league is seperate from the game.”

          can not desagree more, the principles of fairness; inclusion, a hierarchical merithocratic system of interconected divisions, are the ideas that have made our game an exeptional phenomenon.These ideas give our game a sense of purpose and universality.The way a league is set up is very important! It defines weather we are been integrated to world soccer or getting away from its principles.

          fairness may be boring for you,wich mentality is so very much in tune with that of MLS lords, but it is the right thing to do.

          unsoccerlike because the concept of home field advantage is ridiculously borrow from american sports.League cups, continental cups, promotion and relegation play-offs, world cup qualifiers..you name it, uses home and away format on soccer.
          Want to know why ??? fairness.

          I understand that some american sports fans may have no clue what soccer is.The problem is that we have people with that mentality on the top of the US soccer structure!

          • jleau says:

            I see where you’re coming from but I think you’re romanticizing soccer culture a bit. First off, there are plenty of play-offs around the world so they are not inherently bad. Second, the European model only provides the illusion of fair or meritocracy. In fact the measures they employ for “fairness” more often than not protect the have’s at the expense of the have nots. The ManU’s of the world simply don’t want a play-off, it’s not in their best interest. Not saying it’s necessarily wrong, but it’s far from fair.

            For me, I’m pro play-off. Overall it’s better than promotion/relegation. Each creates their own brand of excitement or version of meritocracy if that appeals to you. While I prefer the play-offs the MLS has made a real mess of this and they could do much better. I’m sick of the divisions in American sports. There is a simplicity of play everybody home and away in one table. MLS should move to that model and keep the play-offs. Keep them limited to 8 and play home and away for every round except the Cup Final.

        • Dave C says:

          I doubt Chelsea have a winning record against Man Utd “since the Premier League began.” It’s been known as the Premier League since 1992 (?), and Chelsea have only been a real force since 2003, whereas Man Utd have consistently been one of the top dogs. I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong, but I’m just interested in where you got that stat from since it seems so unlikely.

          • Charles says:

            Dave C. Pretty sure I am right on that. I will look it up when I get a chance. the only thing I am uncertain on is if it was Arsenal instead. I don’t give a rip about EPL so I could have made that mistake.

            I got the stats from looking up how the top teams had done against the top teams, looked it up myself.

          • Dave C says:

            Maybe it is Arsenal. They’ve always been there or thereabouts in the EPL. Even if it is the case though, I don’t think it represents a flaw in the single-table format.

            Firstly, the whole point of a league table is to determine a champion based on the strength of performance over a whole season, not just fluking one or two results. It’s no good beating Man Utd twice a year if you lose to Chelsea, Liverpool, Blackburn, Burnley, etc etc.

            Secondly, that kind of apparently freakish result isn’t unique to single table formats. In the MLB, it would be quite possible for a team to have a winning record against the Yankees, but the Yankees could top the conference and go on to win the world series, where as the other team might not even make the play-offs if they have bad results against other teams.

          • Charles says:

            I am not saying that one league is flawed for using a system, but that anti playoff guys are.

            And IMHO, they are wrong in that neither system is perfect.

            Man U beating Wigan to win the title, while losing both games to Arsenal would leave someone saying, “yeah, but…..” just like SLC winning the most games last year, but going sub .500 during the regular season.

            I do think a regular season only is more fair, but a lot more boring. I am very nervous for Sunday. That crowd is going to be VERY loud.

          • Dave C says:

            Well Man Utd can’t win the league solely by beating Wigan, so it’s not quite that simple. Personally I prefer a single league table because I think it’s the fairest way – everyone plays the same fixtures, every one plays home and away, it rewards the most consistently good teams rather than placing undue reliance on hitting a hot streak at the end of the season.

            I have no problem with a play-off structure either though (after all, that’s essentially what the World Cup and the Champions League are). I just think the main problem is that so many teams in MLS get into the play-offs. Reducing the number of teams that get into the play-offs might make things less “interesting” for the bottom-half teams, but at least it would make things interesting for the top-half teams.

            I agree that if soccer is ever to be described as a genuine “success” in the US, it needs to have about 30 teams, and for this reason a genuine single table doesn’t make sense here. Personally I think the best solution would be to have two conferences (or four or whatever is appropriate), where each team within a conference plays an identical set of fixtures, which I think is what you’ve advocated further down the thread somewhere.

  6. Alden says:

    Simple Playoff Fix:
    Seed the Eastern and Western Conference Champions #1 and #2 based on their regular season record. Scrap Eastern and Western playoff brackets. Every other team is seeded by regular season record regardless of conference. Conference Champion would mean something besides home field advantage.

    #1 Galaxy… (WC) vs. #8 Earthquakes
    #2 Red Bull (EC) vs. #7 Rapids
    #3 Real vs. #6 Sounders
    #4 Crew vs. #5 FC Dallas

  7. Kasey in Oz says:

    As a foreigner, I don’t understand this obsession with conferences. It just seems to create more difficulties than ‘good things’. Next season, 2 new clubs join Vancouver and Portland and even my basic knowledge of world geography shows that they will go into the Western Conference. So who moves from West to East to balance out the size of the conferences?? Is it no-one or is it imperitavethat the 2 conferences be equal in size? Logic would say it would be Colorado(can’t see the logic in breaking up the Texas derby). And then it gets even worse the following season anyway with MTL due. No human could possibly evenly divide 19 into two without a fraction remainder.

    • Charles says:

      It is more looking to the future when there are 30 teams and balanced play will not be possible.

      • Robert says:

        30 teams!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahah!!!!! you have never played soccer in your life! you’re just another fat sounders fan dancing in the stands and not paying attention to the game.

        • Charles says:

          First of all I am very skinny, not sure why that matters.

          Second, not much of a dancer.

          Third, I did play soccer and I coach a lot.

          Fourth, what the heck are you talking about not paying attention to the game ? You keep talking about the game, but what you really mean is how others structure their leagues for the game isn’t it ?

  8. Tom says:

    Your right, divisions are a weird cultural thing. Everyone is going to talk about travel now, but as I write this, I’m watching Dallas-NY in an NFC East battle! They will probably go three divisions of 6 next year.

    Looking forward to the play-offs. And I agree with Charles, Seattle would be just as good a finalist as NY or LA. I’m looking forward to Colorado hosting the semi final between the Rapids and San Jose!

  9. Roger says:

    Just one quick observation, MLS is trying to make the point that the issue about scheduling for next seasson is:

    bakanced schedule = sporting fairness
    unbalanced schedule = less travel, more rivalries.

    i disagree.If they make 2 divisions of 9 , do not have any interconference games and make it 2 home and 2 away against every team withing the divisions.We will have :
    -sportind fairness
    -less travel
    -more games between close rivals.

    It does not have to be either fairnes or less travel. It can perfectly be both.the heading on the pool done at the MLS site is misleading

    • Tom says:

      The problem with these type of plans is that fans don’t get to see every team. For example, as a Colorado fan, I don’t want to see Chivas and Houston at home twice and not see the New York Red Bulls at all. That is boring. Plus, for a team like us in the middle of the country, we would be seperated from on of our nearest rilvals- either KC or RSL; so, for us, it doesn’t reduce travel. Finally, the league is denied marquee matchups for TV, such as the NYRB-LA Galaxy games.

      • CoconutMonkey says:

        I totally agree. The move to regional divisions makes the league much less interesting to me as a fan, especially as a potential season ticket buyer. MLS is the only league in America where a fan can see every team in the league visit their town, every year. That’s a huge selling point IMO.

    • Dave C says:

      I agree with this. I don’t understand the point of geographical conferences if the teams still have regular season match ups against teams from the other conference. And teams within each conference don’t even have the same fixtures as one another.

      (p.s. please correct me if I’m wrong on either of the above – I’m not a big MLS follower- but I know those kind of situations occur in NFL and I assume the other American sports).

      • Roger says:

        your assumption is totally right Dave C.
        The “similarities” between MLS and the american sports concepts are many!

        * They start with the league name(Mayor League),
        *the league logo(have anybody notice),
        *interconference play,
        *unbalance schedule ,
        *play-offs,
        *franchises instead of conventional clubs,
        *salary cap,
        *draft,
        *all stars game,
        *bargaining agreement

        The ones on charge come from american sports, that is all they have been familiar with their whole lives,MLS is a reflection of their mentality.Can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

        • Dave C says:

          The unbalanced schedule is just the weirdest thing for me. In any sport, I don’t see how it can be fair for a conference/division/league table to rank teams in order, if they haven’t all played the exact same schedule.

        • Charles says:

          Ummm, we are in America.

          If I am an investor, I give Americans what they want. Not some pipedream that barely works in Europe, much less here.

          You do realize the Sounders draw more than all in LaLiga but Barca and RM right now ?

          IT is NOT American enough for my tastes, and for a lot of others in my opinion, but the market will determine that over the long haul.

  10. Robert Hay says:

    How about this for an idea no one’s discussed (unless I missed it in this thread): if MLS wants to so badly keep the playoffs why not reduce the number of teams that make it? It would make the regular season less important for bottom feeders (teams like Chivas and Chicago would have been eliminated earlier) but most soccer leagues around the world are like that. Have the top finisher in the Eat and West automatically qualify, and play two “wild cards” who are the teams with the second and third or third and fourth best records.

    Mediocrity is not rewarded, but winning the conference is. I don’t necessarily endorse this idea, but wanted to throw it out there for discussion.

    • Tom says:

      Your right, with only 4 teams in the play-offs and no relagation, the season would become meaningless too soon for too many teams.

      I suppose, with 18 teams next year (19 the year after), they could do 12 teams in the play-offs. Seeds 9-12 play away at seeds 5-8 in the first round, then in the second round the winners play at seeds 1-4. This keeps the guarenteed home play-off games for the top 8 teams in the league yet eliminates the often dissapointing total-goals two-game format we have now (it works in the champions’ league because you have teams that don’t otherwise play each other). One concern I would have is that the bye week might result in the top 4 teams getting stale.

      As for the regular season when the league grows, I favor the unbalanced schedule with a single table format. We had unbalanced schedules with conferences a few years ago (that is teams within a conference played different schedules) and nobody complained about the scheduling. Why not play as many teams as possible twice, and the remaining teams once, but have one table so that play-off qualification and seeding is easy to decipher?

    • Charles says:

      I agree with that 100%, but I do think that enough teams need to make it to make in exciting.

      Less than 1/2 will make it next year just by growth. I think they will be past 20 teams in less than 5 years, so then lets say we have 8 out of 24….good number ?

      • Charles says:

        I meant I agree with Robert, I don’t mind divisions like Tom. I believe in soccer succeeding and as such they will have way too many teams to have a single table for my taste.

  11. Robert says:

    I may catch a lot of crap but since there is so much parity in MLS why not just ditch MLS Cup and go to a points title champion format? make MLS Cup seeds 1-4 and make it an invite tournament between top Mexican and South American Clubs (16 club tournament, group stage & elimation round) that will be played during MLS regular season. The CCL is a joke and no one takes that tournament seriously. Even mexican stadiums are empty.

  12. Roger says:

    jleau.
    I used the play-offs as one of the many examples that show MLS is a copy of the american sports model.

    I agree with he play-offs on american soccer.I think that we have to have conferences because of the travel distances,and if you have conferences,then you have to have play off to determine a league champion.

    The european model may not be perfect,but it has found a way ,on a confederation with huge disparities in wealth and size among its members,to include everybody. A club from Albania may never win a Champions,just as Tulsa may never win an MLS Cup,but it is granted a chance at trying.I deeply believe that the rightfullness of that principle is worth imitating.

  13. Roger says:

    That’s right!

    What chance did we have to win the World Cup when our tean was made out of a bunch of amateurs? Very slim,but FIFA granted us the chance of trying!

    what realistical chance our clu……franchises have to go all the way and win the Fifa Clubs World Cup? Very slim,yet Fifa dont tell us……”we are going to let you out because you know…..how could you dream of beating the likes of Barcelona or Man Utd” Fifa let us try!

    204 nations play the qualifiers to the last World Cup ,even though only 8 nations have ever won it.

    So,if we take advantage of that philosophy,dont you think it only makes sense to apply it on our internal soccer structure?

    • Charles says:

      What team the US doesn’t have a chance to win the FIFA club tourney ? They all do Sounders won it the last two years after beating teams in USL and MLS. They will represent the US with three other teams.

      MLS is owned by some very rich owners…..you don’t have to support the structure.

      As I have said many, many times, there are free market leagues out there. Support them. I did for many many years.
      When the Sounders moved, I started following MLS.

      The free market leagues will and already have get/gotten crushed by the non ones for reasons I have already given.

      The US market will crush Europe eventually too. The leagues with just 2 good teams cannot compete against a league where all the teams have a chance. There are just too many people in the US and a way better structured league ( my opinion obvi ). Read the article in the Seattle Times about how the Sounders rank against Euro teams in attendance.

  14. ExtraMedium says:

    @roger. The distance between Moscow and Vladivostok is larger than LA-London. Russia doesn’t have conferences.

    • Roger says:

      valid point ExtraMedium!
      I still think conferences ans play-offs make sense for north america,less travel is good for the players and it is also cheaper.

    • Roger says:

      In Russia,FC Amkar Perm, based in the city of Perm,is the easternmost football club in Europe playing in top national competition.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perm#Geography

      Vladivostok is on 2nd div,wich indeed uses a single table.Waoooo that club put on some miles!

      The Russian Second Division,wich is the third level of Russian professional football is geographically divided into 5 zones

  15. Roger says:

    Thanks Extra Medium.
    looking at the Russian system gave me the oportunity to think about single table vs confefences.

    Russian Premier League (1st level)………..single table
    Russian First Division (2nd level)…………..single table
    Russian Second Division(3ed level)…… geographically divided into 5 zones

    I thin the equation is like something like this:
    potential profits > cost of travel = single table is ok
    potential profits < cost of travel = cost effective to brake into divisions

  16. Kasey in Oz says:

    Soccer.football in Australia is still only the 4th most supported of the football codes(behind Australian football and the 2 rugbies – although gaining on Rugby League I hope) we have a Single Table of 11 clubs, with each team playing the other clubs in a balanced schedule three times(2H&1A or 1H&2A – rotating by season) for a 30 game regular season. At the end of the 30 game Home and Away season, the team on top of the table is crowned the Premiers. The top 6 teams then compete in the Finals Series for the Championship. the Championship is considered way more prestigious than the premiers plate.
    Traditionalists would have us do away with the Finals all together, but Finals(playoffs) are a part of Australian sport and we would look kind of odd without them to the average sport follower in Oz. Given that 6 of 11 clubs make the finals, it preserves interest the length of the season, as much as it is recognised as rewarding mediocrity :(
    Incidentally, the Hyundai A-League holds the world record for the longest distance travelled to play a regular club football match between Perth Glory FC and the Wellington Phoenix (inNZ) at 5272km (3276Mi). As there is no relegation in Australia, whenever that Vladivostok club gets promoted to the Russian Premier League, Perth vs Welly gets relegated to #2, but is always there to go back to #1 when vladivostok get relegated.
    FWIW, I would like to see MLS move to a single table…it just looks better. MLS HQ can fiddle with the fixturing to reduce travel costs. e.g. teams that play away at Seattle could play Vancouver and/or Portland in quick succession. Not ideal, but better than an unbalanced schedule IMHO.

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