The Conference Championships are now upon us, and I must say: “Could we have asked for anything more?” After all, these two games have more storylines than a Tarantino film (and they could end up being as violent). But, before I further tease this week’s monumental matchups, I want to first take a look back at last week’s amazing results.
Salt Lake 3 – 2 Columbus: RSL is arguably the league’s hottest team right now in large part due to Robbie Findley’s incendiary play. He brought his squad back from a two goal deficit (both were by my main man GBS) to rally RSL to their second straight Conference Championships (weird, I know). Now the question is: Can they snuff the Fire?
New England 0 – 2 Chicago: Fire fanatics had mostly ire for Blanco this year. The Old Man just didn’t play with passion. But, sure enough, he got the 83rd minute goal (from a fabulous Nyarko assist) that pushed Chi-Town into yet another Eastern Conference Final. RSL is certainly a scary side right now, but the Fire seem to have fate on their side.
Seattle 0 – 1 Houston: Sigi’s Sounders couldn’t get a single goal in two games, so all it took was one very late goal from Brian Ching to seal Seattle’s fate and launch the Dynamo into the Western Conference Final. Houston did what they always do: play great defense. While it was enough to best Montero’s mates, can the D prevent LD from scoring?
Chivas USA 0 – 1 Los Angeles: Landon Donovan is simply better than everyone else he plays against in MLS. That fact was reaffirmed as he led the Gals to their first Western Conference Final in nearly a half-decade. The man got some help from Becks, the crafty legend, as well as Chris Klein, the Iron Horse. If they win it all, who gets the movie rights?
As for predictions, I must say that I am sticking with my preseason pick in the East and going with Chicago to make it to the Big Dance. RSL is hot, sure, but they are also prone to defense lapses, and Rolfe is playing some very good soccer right now. In the West, I really like the Gals to gallop past the Dynamo. LA just seems like a team of destiny.
Regardless of who plays for the MLS Cup, I must say that this year’s playoffs should be converting some new fans to the league and the beautiful game in general. The games have been absolute nailbiters, and the skill that has been on display rivals that featured in big foreign leagues. I think an LA victory would bring even more fans to the table.
Will Arena’s arsenal of stars deliver? Who knows. I – for one – will be watching this week to find out.