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!
– I thought I’d fill the rest of this with news items from the individual games….even if I have only one item on the DC v. Chicago series: Steve Goff’s status report on DC (to summarize: it doesn’t look so bad).
On with the rest, with the aggregate score duly noted:
Houston v. FC Dallas (0-1)
I expect a response in kind to follow FC Dallas’ decision to go all-Slapshot in the first leg – and I expect Houston can dish out the harder blows. For their part, Houston looks like they’re walking the line between confident and cocky; I have no idea where that line is – I doubt anyone knows – so we’ll see how that works for them. Finally, say what you want about Denilson (he sucks!), but, based on his public comments, he doesn’t sound like locker room cancer.
Chivas USA v. Kansas City Wizards (0-1)
It’s not like I stalk the Web day after day just looking for validation, but I do like it when it comes: Kurt Onalfo dubbed Saturday’s defensive display the best of the season; it was certainly the best I saw out of the Wiz this year. Elsewhere, much like Houston, Chivas is feeling confident/cocky – and, again, we’ll see how that works for them. Also, Chivas USA Offside threw out some decent tactical dish…which just so happened to include a little more validation: Preki should field two strikers, regardless of who he has available; counting The Offside’s guy and me, that makes two who thought the on-field improvement was pretty apparent.
New England Revolution v. Red Bull New York (0-0)
I thought New England looked pretty crappy – Wells Thompson especially – but I came away sufficiently impressed with Boston Globe’s write-up on what both Thompson and Khano Smith did right, so maybe I’m all turned around this whole deal. That said, I think the more interesting copy is coming out of the RBNY media. Apart from giving good, generally talking points on tactics, the Red Bull Offside’s frustration at Clint Mathis watching a game in dire need of an offensive pick-me-up from the bench seems worth the thought (or two). Red Bull fans wanting to feel a little worse about the second leg should read the tea leaves sprinkled through Martin Rogers’ write-up on the snippy over-the-media tiff between Bruce Arena and Juan Pablo Angel. Those wishing to push themselves to suicidal lows (y’know, the really ramp up the euphoria in the event of a win), should check out Filip Bondy column – y’know, the one peevishly waiting on the moment the Red Bull’s bite into some lush green grass only to pick up a mouthful of their own droppings. Yeah, I know he’s probably right….still…
Filed under: Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Major League Soccer, MLS, MLS playoffs, New England Revolution, Portland Timbers, Red Bull New York, Toronto FC | Tagged: Bruce Arena, Denilson, Juan Pablo Angel, Khano Smith, Wells Thompson |