The MLS playoffs start tonight with the Vancouver Whitecaps flying to Frisco to face FC Dallas. So without further ado, I present my MLS Cup Playoff Predictions.
Western Conference playoff predictions
Knockout Round: #4 FC Dallas vs. #5 Vancouver Whitecaps:
The playoffs kick off with an intriguing matchup. Vancouver, streaky for most of the year, is currently one of the hottest teams in the league. The Caps are 4-0-1 in their last five on a 6-1 aggregate. Though gifted with youth and pace, Vancouver doesn’t score a lot of goals. They win with defense, as centerback Kendall Waston and keeper David Ousted has this team’s net near impregnable.
Dallas is a quality side as well. Coach Oscar Pareja has done wonders maximizing the talent of these perennial underachievers. Like Vancouver, Dallas has speed to burn in Escobar and Castillo but they have a potent offense with a quality target forward in Blas Perez and, when healthy, supremely gifted midfielder Mauro Diaz. Dallas has only gone 3-2 in their last five, but that includes impressive wins over Seattle and Los Angeles.
These teams played recently, with Vancouver winning 2-0 on October 4th. Though the Caps seem to be on hot streak, Dallas has too much quality in the end: FCD 2-0.
#1 Seattle Sounders vs. #4 FC Dallas:
Our postseason officially starts Sunday night in Frisco. Soccer is so illogical. I am much more comfortable playing the better team, Dallas, than Vancouver. The Caps just have our number for some reason, whether coached by Carl Robinson or Martin Rennie. There is some juju about those Canucks that befuddles the Sounders.
Dallas is good, but we beat Dallas. Leo and Yedlin can neutralize Escobar and Castillo’s pace. No one on Dallas’s backline can handle the Deuce and Oba show. EBFG 4-2 aggregate.
#2 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. #3 Real Salt Lake:
Other than the Sounders, this is the matchup I am most excited about. The Los Angeles Galaxy-Real Salt Lake games promise to be thrillers. RSL has quietly had an excellent season. With all the hullabaloo surrounding Seattle and Los Angeles, Salt Lake just kept trucking with their championship core of Rimando, Morales, Beckerman, Saborio, Grabavoy and Borchers. New coach Jeff Cassar has done an able job of working Joao Plata and Luke Mulholland into the team with stellar results.
Los Angeles has been enjoying a season for the ages. A deadly attack and solid defending combined for a historic goal differential. There ain’t much more to say, this might be the best vintage of Galaxy yet.
Both teams stumbled to the finish. RSL’s last quality win was on September 6th when they beat Dallas 2-1. RSL is only 2-2-1 in their last five, and, surprisingly, so is Los Angeles.
In this semifinal, two proud teams, slightly slumping and looking to regain their edge and honor clash. I predict an echo of 2011. That season Seattle narrowly missed winning the Shied to a dominant L.A. side and went into a semifinal with RSL looking to mop up. We were quickly bounced. I’m calling a major upset, RSL 3-1 aggregate. Maybe it’s Robbie Keane’s quad, maybe it’s a leaky Jaime Penedo, maybe it’s Donovan not having his head right. Something is up with the Gals, and RSL will punish them.
#3 Real Salt Lake vs #1 Seattle Sounders
No offense to RSL, but everyone in Puget Sound will breathe a huge sigh of relief that they don’t have to face L.A. again. RSL is solid, but Seattle’s down the spine attack, illogically, wrecks havoc on the diamond formation. Esepcialyl when coupled with width provided by our fullbacks. No offense to the Pride of the Wasatch, but this a cake walk for the Sounders: 5-2 aggregate.
Eastern Conferee playoff predictions
Knockout Round: #4 New York Red Bull vs. #5 Sporting Kansas City:
These two just played at KC’s cauldron and New York, terrible away from home, won easily. Expect the same result in New Jersey: NYRB 2-0.
#1 D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls:
D.C. is the most balanced team in the East. They have scary depth with Chris Pontius rounding back into form. Bye Bye Titi: DCU 3-1 aggregate.
#2 New England Revolution vs. #3 Columbus Crew:
This is one helluva matchup. Every postseason, some random team gets red hot and makes a run. I can see either of these teams as prime candidate for such a performance. It is a shame they face each other so soon. But MLS fans are in for a doozy. Columbus is 4-1 in their last five and playing brilliant soccer. New England is 4-0-1 and looking equally indomitable. It’s a tough one. My brain says Revs, but my heart says Crew: Columbus 4-3 aggregate.
#3 Columbus Crew vs #1 D.C. United
The Crew have style and spunk in spades, and maybe that’ll give them just enough push. Honestly, I am gonna go chalk here: D.C. 4-2 aggregate.
MLS Cup Final
#1 Seattle vs #1 D.C. United
I don’t know the last time both number one seeds met in the MLS Cup final. I didn’t plan it this way, and it doesn’t feel right. But here goes: Eddie versus Dempsey for all the cookies! I do not see Seattle losing in front of 60,000+. No way. We are on a mission this year and there will be a reckoning. Seattle 2-1.