MLS Curtain Calls

The regular season ended over the weekend, with L.A. beating Dallas to take the Supporter’s Shield and overall top seed into the playoffs.  The MLS post-season ticket looks like this:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. New York Red Bulls vs. 4. San Jose Earthquakes

2. Columbus Crew vs. 3. Colorado Rapids

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Los Angeles Galaxy vs. 4. Seattle Sounders

2. Real Salt Lake vs. 3. FC Dallas

With both the #1 seeds struggling somewhat over the last month, the field seems pretty open.  If we were to pick a team from each bracket not to advance, it would be Dallas in the West and Columbus in the East.  Salt Lake has probably played the best soccer the final month of the season, and San Jose has also looked tough.  Should be fun.

But the real news for Major League Soccer is the retirement of a handful of of stalwarts – guys who’ve been with the league since the 90’s.  Start with D.C. United’s Jaime Moreno, who’s been here since 1996 and retires as the top scorer in MLS.  He saw limited duty this year and only scored from the penalty spot, but he’s been a great asset to the league – both in the early days as a dynamic forward and now as an elder statesmen.

In Chicago, Brian McBride finished his career in style with a class goal (see below).  He also picked up a knock on the play, also fitting.  McBride is an all-time favorite for his courage and commitment and the way he represented both the USA and MLS.  I always followed him with special interest, because he’s the same age as me and we were both born in the same town.  He goes on to do youth soccer development – a good sign for soccer in this country.  CJ Brown, the last remaining Fire original from their 1998 inaugural season has also retired.  CJ has been a consummate MLS pro – always on the cusp of a National Team callup, always steady on the backline for the Fire.

Finally, in L.A. Chris Klein and Eddie Lewis will be done after the playoffs.  Chris Klein’s best years were in Kansas City, and if not for an untimely ACL injury, he might have made the World Cup in 2002.  He’s been a great ambassador for the game and a player’s advocate for years.  You could see him cropping back up as an agent or even a franchise executive at some point.  Eddie Lewis played for the old San Jose Clash before a long stint in Europe.  He returned to MLS and the Galaxy a few years ago.  He retires as one of the best crossers in league history.

These guys were worth watching over the last decade, and with league attendance up again, with Portland, Vancouver, and Montreal set to join, and more young players in the pipeline, MLS is on solid ground in this country.

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