The air is cooler and the pace is accelerating . It’s time for the playoffs in the MLS that come with, as a novelty this year, a suicide match between the teams ranked fourth and fifth in the same association.
Respectively champion and runners-up, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo will be affected by this “double or quits” which begins tonight. Let’s go for a busy month with in line of sight, the MLS Cup on December 1st.
Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo (East)
The Houston Dynamo is only the fourth team in history to be undefeated at home during an entire season. The problem is that the Texans, who will head to Chicago are not good travellers, with only three wins. Both teams finished their season with a few wrong notes, in particular, a common reverse against Philadelphia.
If the Dynamo was able to rest nine of his eleven main players on Saturday, Chicago still has the advantage of a better second half of the season with, for example, two defeats in nine games during the months of August and September. Have they peaked too soon? The winner of this match will face, on Sunday, Sporting Kansas City, which has dominated the Eastern Conference with 63 points.
Choice: Houston wins 2-0
Los Angeles Galaxy-Vancouver Whitecaps (West)
After a disastrous start to the season, the Galaxy has fully recovered to finish fourth in the West. Only downside: its difficulty to win duels against good teams, as illustrated by his two wins in nine games against San Jose, Real Salt Lake and Seattle. The mission of David Beckham and Landon Donovan, back from injury, looks simple but against the Whitecaps, who have validated their ticket to the playoffs without glory. Among the qualified teams, it has the worst defense – and only with a negative goal difference – and one that has been less successful in the outside world. The poisoned chalice after this victory? A duel against the San Jose Earthquakes, the regular season champions with Chris Wondolowski, author of 27 goals.
Choice: Victory Los Angeles 2-0
Semifinals of the Eastern
– DC United-New York Red Bulls, Wednesday and Saturday, November 7 at 20h.
Without the hard work of Frank Yallop at the helm of Earthquakes, Ben Olsen would be a perfect candidate to coach of the year. The 35 year old man has contributed to an increase of 19 points in the standings compared to 2011, in addition to the absence of well-managed Dwayne De Rosario. DC United has finished the season with a record of five wins, two draws and a much improved defense. It will also make a tremendous job against the Red Bulls New York, best attack in the east. Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry – 33 goals combined – make up a very experienced midfield, the Bulls need to forget their recent failures in the semifinals of Association. According to Dax McCarty, rumors of departure (forced) the coach Hans Backe did not compromise the team play.
Selection: Qualification of New York (2-0 and 1-1)
Semifinals of the Western Association
– Real Salt Lake Seattle Sounders
Last year, both teams had already delivered a return epic duel, while Seattle had failed to fill a delay of three goals in the last 90 minutes. This season, only a few points separating the two teams in the standings. In normal times, Seattle has more punch to the attack, but his top scorer Eddie Johnson injured his thigh in the last game of the season. Real Salt Lake, champion in 2009, is especially noted for his defensive Hermeticism, with eight shutouts in the last 10 games. In attack, the RSL seems too dependent on Alvaro Saborio, whose recent absence has highlighted a lack of depth.
Choice of qualification Seattle (2-0 and 0-0)