DS, 10.29: Big, Brimming Bowl of Post-Season Links/Chatter

Seriously, what else is there to talk about? The ever-shady FIFA’s decision to end the rotation system – or, as they call it in Geneva, après Brasil, Le Free-for-All? How ‘bout the Portland Timbers beating up on Toronto FC on Sunday night? Nah…it’s gotta be the playoffs.

– A good number of people seem to be lining up for kicks at the set-up after the first leg of the MLS post-season – and, for the record, I find it kind of relieving to know I wasn’t the only one to almost fall asleep (screw it; I actually did) at one point. Some of my favorites:

“It’s just odd that we spend six months and 195 games building up towards this — a long Saturday night of anti-soccer ruled by the tactics of fear and caution.”
– Ian Plenderleith, USSoccerplayas.com (LINK)

“We entered the playoffs without a single team carrying anything resembling momentum. It was more like eight runners stumbling towards the finish line and struggling to push through the tape. Combine that with the dour playoff psychology of ‘not losing’ and you get 3 goals in the opening round of matches. Ugh!”
– Um…Mr. Fullback, The Fullback Files (LINK)

Good plugs to be sure, but few crystallized the blue-balls mood of the weekend so well as The Beautiful Game. Open this link and enjoy.

The uninspired opening weekend has a couple people talking about changing the post-season formula (again); for instance, Soccer by Ives suggests a return to best-of-three series. For the record, WVHooligan’s drew epperly doesn’t think that would matter all that much. Here’s my two cents – and it’s informed by a lot of the same bitter-tasting shots of reality cited by mr. epperly: if everything must stay the same, make the playoff single-elimination from start to finish with the higher-seeded team hosting. Nice, neat, and simple as you please…next! Continue reading

MLS: The Song of My Belly, Looking to the Second Leg

The underdogs ruled the first leg of Major League Soccer’s playoffs.  Not powerfully or even always well, but every lower-seeded team picked up a result at the very least.  One big-picture similarity between the four games obviates any real need to write game-by-game analyses: nearly every contest turned on the inability of the Top Dogs to score on the road.  Some teams came close while others looked as it they could play for three weeks before they’d score, but they all suffered from that same bug.

Technical difficulties with MLSlive.tv kept me from viewing all four games – I missed FC Dallas edging the Houston Dynamo, even if I saw Dwayne DeRosario shank a certain equalizer – but caught the other three more or less uninterrupted.  While I don’t we’re looking at a situation in which none of the top seeds get out alive, I’m feeling pretty confident that at least one of them won’t.  Who is the question that needs answering – and this is no small question with dining on regional delicacies versus drowning in fortified wine riding on the answer.

Fortunately, I’m doing pretty well in the Who Ate All the Cupcakes/Center Holds It Playoff Pick Duel.  Team Cupcakes was good enough to embed the current standings in their sidebar.  I’m not savvy enough to do that, but will replicate their table below:

Points after Matchday One
El Güero: 4
Jeff: 4
Breton: 1
ECB: 1
Ryan: 1
Longshoe: 0

Nice as sharing the top spot feels, now comes the pressure of staying up there.  Given the way the first leg shook out, the temptation to approach the next round of picks like a multiple-choice exam is a strong one – e.g. what’s your gut telling you, son?  Then again, we live in days when “gut-check decisions” suffer by comparison with decisions made on the level of world events, which justifies a more pain-staking analytical approach.  So, time to get cracking… Continue reading