I’ll be honest – I had forgotten too. What with World Cup Qualifiers, English Premier League being back, and the USSF pre-election, I don’t think anyone else realized it either.
But yes, the MLS Playoffs are still happening, and we actually might see some good games coming up.
Right now, we’re in the Conference Championship round. For those of you who don’t follow MLS at all, that’s basically the Final Four. After a 16-day break for all of these players, they were finally back in action last night.
In the East, we’re seeing the most interesting team, the Columbus Crew (5), take on Toronto FC (1). The Crew is interesting because its main investor, Anthony Precourt, is potentially (pretty much actually) going to be moving the Crew to Austin after the 2018 season. But team members and fans are desperate to stand behind the Columbus-based team until the very end.
They took an upset round-victory against new boys Atlanta FC, and followed up with another shocker against NYCFC in the semis. Side note: this also meant the last minutes of Andrea Pirlo’s career were played – sad!
So we saw how they fared in the first leg against Toronto, who plays without Jozy Onlyscore and Sebastian Giovinco. Both are serving one-game suspensions, Giovinco for yellow cards and Altidore for a halftime dust-up with the Red Bulls’ Sacha Kljestan two weeks ago.They played last night, and we actually saw a goalless draw, 0-0.
As a former player who used to revel in being the underdog, I love the Crew’s story this season. I would love for them to make it to the cup, and I do believe they have the chance to. They will have to take advantage of Giovinco and Altidore being out for the first leg, who were responsible for 31 goals altogether this season.
However, I think that the Crew’s journey will stop here. After a goalless draw last night I think Toronto kicks it up a notch having their two best goal-scorers back next game. Toronto takes this series, 2-1.
On the Western side, we saw the Houston Dynamo lose to the Seattle Sounders, 2-0. Personally, I think one championship per city is enough. The Astros did the damn thing in October, and the Sounders have been a potential Cup winner in the MLS for a number of recent years.
However, the Dynamo have been very reminiscent of their MLB counterparts, taking 9 of 9 from their last home games, including a 357-minute goalless streak in Houston. Seattle’s keeper Stefan Frei, on the other side, hasn’t allowed a goal in his past 4 post-season matches, including last season.
That was snapped though, and we saw a clearly stronger Seattle side play all over the Dynamo.
This still has the potentiel to be an awesome matchup in my opinion. And here’s a really cool stat: The Sounders had never won in Houston (0-5-4), while the Dynamo have never won in Seattle (0-7-2). So something’s gotta give. This screams upset.
Houston, actually beat the #1 seed in the Conference Semis (Portland), in what was a wild second leg. Houston’s Dylan Remick will be interesting to watch, and we will have to see a resilient, confident Dynamo in order to beat the experienced Sounders.
Off the top of my head, they’ll have Dempsey, Jordan Morris (if he’s healthy) and Nicolas Lodeiro at the top of the Houston watch-list. Not to mention former-Dynamo Will Bruin – a classic number 11 poacher who scored last night alongside Svensson.
I like the resiliency of Houston (like I said, very akin to the Astro’s spirit), but common sense makes me pick the Sounders to take this series, 4-2, after the two legs. They play their second leg on November 30th.
Honestly as much as I knock the MLS in my spare time, I do believe we’ll see some good soccer in the coming weeks. I will issue the caveat that I could be completely wrong. Last season’s MLS cup final was one of the worst games I’ve watched in recent memory.
Seriously, I would rather watch Man U park the bus against any of the top-6 than a repeat of last years’ cup final.
Stay tuned, and check these games out. A bracket for your leisure, per MLS.com: