The Major League Soccer playoffs begin this Thursday night when the Chicago Fire visit the New England Revolution. The first round features a home-and-home, aggregate-goal format. The Fire will host the Revolution the following Thursday. The Revolution have not been playing well recently and I expect that Fire will win this.
Other first-round match-ups have Houston at New York, Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake, and Columbus at Kansas City on Saturday. The reverse match for the Dynamo and Red Bulls will be in Houston on Nov. 9. Salt Lake is at Chivas and Kansas City at Columbus on Nov. 8.
Chivas versus Real Salt Lake marks the first-ever playoff appearance for RSL. RSL have been playing well recently and are unbeaten in their last five games. Interestingly, their last defeat was to Chivas USA 1-0 back on September 20th. While Chivas won 2 of the three matches this year I think that the suspension of Dan Kennedy is really going to hurt them and that RSL will continue its Cinderella season and go through to the conference finals.
New York has a big hurdle to climb against the two-time defending MLS Cup Champions Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo know how to win in the playoffs and that experience will help them defeat the Red Bulls.
Kansas City is another team that is making the playoffs for the first time, but I do not expect them to much luck with Columbus. Columbus were dominant this season and I think are looking very much like the Eastern Cup representative in the MLS Cup on November 23rd.
MLS Playoff Schedule – Conference Semi Finals
THU., OCT. 30 — CHICAGO AT NEW ENGLAND, 7:30 – Buy Chicago at New England Tickets
SAT., NOV. 1 — COLUMBUS AT KANSAS CITY, 8:00 – NOT AVAILABLE YET
SAT., NOV. 1 — HOUSTON AT NEW YORK, 4:00 – Buy Houston at Red Bulls Tickets
SAT., NOV. 1 — CHIVAS USA AT REAL SALT LAKE, 6:00 – Buy RSL vs Chivas Tickets
THU., NOV. 6 — NEW ENGLAND AT CHICAGO, 8:30 – Buy NE at Chicago Tickets
SAT., NOV. 8 — KANSAS CITY AT COLUMBUS, 7:30 – Buy Crew vs Wizards Tickets
SAT., NOV. 8 — REAL SALT LAKE AT CHIVAS USA, 10:30 – Buy Chivas vs RSL Tickets
SUN., NOV. 9 — NEW YORK AT HOUSTON, 3:00 – Buy Red Bulls at Houston Tickets
Thursday, November 13 to Sunday, November 16. Conference finals will be staged on Nov. 13 and either Nov. 15 or Nov. 16.
MLS Cup – Buy MLS Cup Tickets
The MLS Cup 2008 will be played Sunday, Nov. 23 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.