Major League Soccer has survived the contraction of the early aughts to emerge as a league with 15 teams. This goes to 16 teams next year with two more expansion teams waiting in the wings. In the bad old days, 75% of the teams made the playoffs, but nowadays a playoff berth is actually an achievement so the final 8 are pretty solid teams. And the fact that going into the last two weekend’s of league play only two teams were eliminated from playoff contention made for a highly competitive and exciting finish. While the Eurosnobs would like to mimic the Old Country and do away with the playoffs, let me add to the chorus and assure everyone that our way is better.
Your matchups are:
- L.A. Galaxy v. Chivas USA. The Cali Classico. Underestimate Preki and the Goats at your peril. Still, we’ll take the Galaxy.
- Seattle Sounders v. Houston Dynamo. Expansion team vs. Proven winner. While it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Houston won it all, I like the graybeard in goal (the American one) for Seattle as the X-factor, so I’ll pick the Sounders.
- Columbus Crew v. Real Salt Lake. I like watching Real, and Clintino had the goal of the year (by a mile). But the Crew were your overall #1, and they’re too tough to lose this one.
- Chicago Fire v. New England Revolution. The classic trap game for the Fire. The Revs have ended their season so many times it seems, but this year they’re too banged up. The Fire have too much here.
Even though I have little faith in the Fire (Columbus does have some injuries), I’ll take them in the next round, to match up with the Galaxy. For MLS Cup, Bruce Arena will be the last man smirking. Hey, you have to pick someone… Tune in later to see how the picks pan out.