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
Los Angeles Galaxy Vs Seattle Sounder
Real Salt Lake Vs FC Dallas
New York Red Bulls Vs San Jose Earthquakes
Columbus Crew Vs Colorado Rapids
Who will win the 2010 MLS Cup?