The first leg of the MLS Playoffs Conference Semifinals occurred over the last week, and the games proved to be worth the long wait. While some international players and foreign fans may not understand the need for playoffs, the excitement this year’s games have provided so far could very well make them all converts. Without further ado, here is a rundown of last week’s games, as well as a few things to look forward to during this week’s second leg matchups.
Seattle 0 – 0 Houston: The Sounders packed Qwest with fanatical supporters, but the 12th man could not will Sigi’s side to victory. Seattle arguably looked stronger than the Dynamo, but neither team could find the back of the net because two of the best GKs in MLS (Keller and Onstad) were in the zone. Now, the Sounders must travel south to Houston to face the Dynamo in Robertson Stadium, where the Men in Orange rarely lose, especially in the playoffs.
Salt Lake 1 – 0 Columbus: Real Salt Lake was a huge underdog against Supporters Shield winner Columbus, but RSL utilized their recent momentum to overcome the slumping Crew 1-0 @ Rio Tinto. Robbie Findley is officially the hottest young striker in the league, and he and his mates now have GBS and the Crew against the ropes. But, RSL is typically terrible on the road, and the Crew are about as good as you can get at home. The second leg should be good.
New England 2 – 1 Chicago: The Fire certainly silenced the home crowd when Chris Rolfe put one past the posts in the first minute, but Nicol’s Revs kept their cool and a late goal from one of the faces of the franchise, Shalrie Joseph, gave New England the home win they badly needed if they are going to get past the Fire. Now, the teams travel back to Chi-Town where the Fire will have to extinguish their nightmares about their horrible play at home this year.
Chivas USA 2 – 2 Los Angeles: Well, this game was simply ugly. Seriously. That was some of the worst defense I have ever seen in any MLS game, not to mention a game between two supposedly strong sides. Neither team looked very good, although the Gals at least had Donovan firing on all cylinders. Galindo’s late game-tying goal will make next weekend’s second leg more interesting, but one has to like Arena’s squad’s chances when the teams return to the HDC.
All four games will be televised this week. First, Salt Lake and Columbus will step on the stage on Thursday night on ESPN2. On Saturday, the Revs and the Fire will be featured on FSC. Then, on Sunday the Sounders and Dynamo will settle their feud on TeleFutura. Finally, on Sunday night, the Goats and the Gals will go for the win to advance to the Conference Finals. All four matchups could still go either way, so stay tuned and please come back to STO for more news and analysis as the 2009 MLS Season nears its thrilling end.