MLS Playoff Matches, First Leg: So Far, So Good
As most of us have been wondering or hoping that these playoffs are going to be fun, exciting and worth watching, I believe right now we haven’t been disappointed at all. There has been some exciting and attacking soccer that most of us never thought would happen till the conference finals. But from what I have seen there hasn’t been a dull match yet.
Some of you might argue that the opener between the Colorado Rapids and the Columbus Crew could’ve been a little bit better, but you have to give credit to Rapids keeper Matt Pickens as he made several one handed punching saves to keep alive Pablo Mastroeni’s tally. It was also a shocker to see Guillermo Barros Schelotto get subbed out in the 70th minute as Robert Warzycha’s game plan wasn’t working.
As I have said about the Red Bulls playoff match at the Earthquakes, that match could’ve been four goals to nil if not for the heroics of Jon Busch to keep his side alive even though he did allow Joel Lindpere’s 56th minute strike. At the same time for the Red Bulls Bouna Coundoul has had a solid season up to this point. Seventeen year old Juan Agudelo got his first start of the season in the playoffs and didn’t look out of place, as his speed gave the Quakes fits.
Can the Earthquakes make it a series when they travel to Red Bull Arena this coming Thursday? Only if someone else who isn’t Chris Wondolowski can step up and give the club some help. Frank Yallop is probably not too happy that the club is relying too much on Wondoloski’s fantastic season and he needs goals from other players.
When you saw the match-up between Real Salt Lake & FC Dallas most thought that this could be an interesting matchup. But what Fabien Espindola did in the first five minutes with that fantastic strike, you knew it was game on. But what RSL did early in the first half, Jeff Cunningham did well late in the half as he stayed with the ball and found a way to poke home the equalizer.
But Schellas Hyndman knew he had to change something after both sides lost a man to a red card. So as Eric Avila was subbed into the match in the 87th minute he struck a fabulous ball that mirrored Espindola’s in the 88th minute and got FC Dallas the aggregate lead. And as everyone saw the wonder goal by Edson Buddle against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night, that’s all the Galaxy needed to take the lead. A long rainbow shot that bounced on the goal line and into the net.
So far the conference leaders – Los Angeles and New York - have won on the road, while the second best finishers have gone down on the road. But so far all matches are within a single goal and the only match to have more than a goal scored was FC Dallas and RSL. But now the shoe will be on the other foot as the clubs who started on the road will host their home leg.
For the first time in a good while I think we are going to have some spectacular matches before we get to the MLS Cup Final in Toronto on Sunday, November 21st. I have a great feeling there will be some fantastic playoff soccer again this coming weekend and it will start at Red Bull Arena this Thursday night.