Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

USA: Major League prepares for the Play-Offs

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on October 30, 2010
MLS Cup

Who will win the MLS Cup?

So with the Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season completed the Play-Offs begin in earnest this weekend. Fresh from winning the Supporters’ Shield, the trophy given to the team with the best overall record during the regular season, will Los Angeles Galaxy go one better in this year’s Play-Offs and come away with the coveted trophy? Or will one of the other seven Play-Off qualifiers deprive them of the title that gets more competitive every year? Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews this year’s Play-Off series.

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS

The tie of the round inevitably involves regular season champions LA Galaxy playing against Seattle Sounders. Both of these teams have already qualified for next year’s CONCACAF Champions League with the former securing their place thanks to their Supporters’ Shield triumph whilst the latter will feature in North & Central America’s elite club competition thanks to their recent U.S. Open Cup victory in which they defeated Columbus Crew 2-1 in the final. Both teams, therefore, see this year’s Play-Off series as a chance to secure a ‘Double’ and the Sounders have the most to prove if they are to jump over the first hurdle. They lost both times to the Galaxy during the regular season (4-0 at home; 3-1 away) but they have shown some good form leading into the post-season having won five out of their last six games. The Galaxy will have all of the pressure heaped upon them as their all-star line-up including the likes of Landon Donovan and David Beckham will know that, despite topping the regular season standings by three points from Real Salt Lake, they could be just two games away from elimination. The other Western Conference match involves last season’s MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake who are undefeated in their last fourteen Major League matches and who, like last season, have timed their run into the finals perfectly. They face up to a FC Dallas team who know that it was only a fortnight ago that they lost in a regular season match to Real and will want to avoid the same thing happening again. It should prove to be a fascinating match-up.

LA Galaxy v Seattle Sounders (1st leg 31.10; 2nd leg 07.11)

Real Salt Lake v FC Dallas (1st leg 30.10; 2nd leg 06.11)

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS

With six of the top eight regular season teams coming from the Western Conference two of those clubs have had to ‘switch sides’ to the Eastern Conference due to the format. Both of the two eastern qualifiers will play one of their western counterparts at this stage with the most prominent tie involving Eastern Conference champions New York Red Bulls against the San Jose Earthquakes. With stars of the immense quality of Thierry Henry and Rafael Márquez in their ranks the Red Bulls are hoping that the huge investment placed into the team by the famous drinks manufacturer will finally begin to pay off and will herald a first major trophy for the underachieving club. The Earthquakes, twice winners of the MLS Cup in 2001 & 2003, finished eighth in the regular season but they will be satisfied if their head-to-head against New York in this year’s regular season is replicated as San Jose got the better of the games losing 2-0 in New York but winning 4-0 at home. The final Play-Off encounter pits Columbus Crew, MLS Cup winners in 2008 and second in this season’s Eastern Conference, against the final Western Conference outfit Colorado Rapids who have qualified for the post-season for the first time in four years. Both teams have been in less impressive form coming into the finals with Colorado winning three of their final eight regular season matches whilst Columbus have fared even worse winning just one but they have had to juggle the CONCACAF Champions League into their schedule. In the regular season head-to-head Columbus got the slight edge over the Rapids with a 3-1 home win in August coming after a 1-0 defeat in Colorado two months earlier.

New York Red Bulls v San Jose Earthquakes (1st leg 31.10; 2nd leg 05.11)

Columbus Crew v Colorado Rapids (1st leg 29.10; 2nd leg 06.11)

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