MLS: Cupcakes/Center Picks Pool, First Round, Second Leg

Welcome to the next round of picks for the Center Holds It/Who Ate All the Cupcakes Playoff Picks Duel (current standings).  My picks appear down below and I invite my colleagues and the guys from Who Ate All the Cupcakes to leave their picks in the comments so they’re all in one place.

On that, the subject of picks that is, I got about halfway through Jeff Bradley’s “lessons learned” First XI (which is currently formatted in “crazy, oversized” font) when I realized that nothing likely to happen between now and Thursday (or Friday, or Saturday) will give me the seeing-eye tips I need to make lock-of-the-week quality calls on each of the four games.  To give an example, we could learn tomorrow that Maykel Galindo will start for Chivas, but that news must be weighed against how fit he really is and how long he’s been out.  Short of bonding with key players’ psyches – y’know, to see whether they’re up for the game, or just thinking about a nagging ankle, doing laundry, dinner reservations, cruising for prostitutes and blow, suppressing erotic longings for a teammate, etc. – I’ll never get the kind of dish I truly need to make sense of these, frankly, nightmarishly complicated draws and scenarios.

Crap.  Was that even a sentence?

So, with one arm crossed and a dead goat’s organs splayed across my desk (hmm…that liver looks like Ronald Reagan), here are my picks for all four first-round second leg games – with commentary as the spirit moves me.  And, for the record, I changed these things around, literally, half a dozen times – totally against the tried-and-true multiple choice method.  Dammit…

DC United 1-1 Chicago Fire (agg. 2-1 to the Fire): DC will believe they broke the curse till the very end, when some nausea-inducing defensive gaffe kills them dead.

Houston Dynamo 2-0 FC Dallas (agg. 2-1 to Houston): One of these things has to play to type…right?  I am 100% pulling for the upset and had two different scenarios penciled in here featuring a Dallas win.  But, as one should always do when gambling, I’m placing this bet stone-cold sober and with my heart ripped from my chest.  (It hurts…)

New England Revolution 1-0 Red Bull New York (agg. 1-0 to New England): OK, two have to play to type.  As for the game itself, our worst collective expectations come hideously true.

Chivas USA 0-0 Kansas City Wizards (agg. 1-0 to KC): I can’t see Chivas scoring.  I just can’t.

Well, that’s it for self-immolation…now to see what everyone else picks.

DS, 10.30: Bruce-Gate Over Already?; The “Don Garber” Ball; Predictions Fun

With the soccer blogging world struggling for content today, I figure an early edition is in order.

– Few things bring the fun like a he-said/he-said, something happening over the little to-do over Red Bull’s coach Bruce Arena’s seemingly alleged call-out of Juan Pablo Angel after Saturday’s draw with New England.  Soccer Source, an attendee at the post-match presser, provides the full-text of the quote, which, as he points out, is qualified out of “bitch-slap” territory.  Then again, as things work with retaliation versus instigation (just ask Ricardo Clark), the “Arena bitch-slap” lives on: toward the end of Pat Walsh’s write-up on The Bruce’s reputation-spraining stint with Red Bull, Walsh faults Arena for driving “a knife into the back of his unsuspecting MVP candidate.”  I’m not really knocking Walsh, so much as marveling at the magical life-cycle of a media myth.

– I didn’t find much of interest in Don Garber’s Q & A session with Sports Illustrated’s Jonah Freedman; the man – that is Garber – is simply too slick to say anything interesting without timing it just so, never mind something shocking or offensive (I’m also guessing I’m the last man to have read the thing).  At the same time, the Garber Years really have been something else – so much so that I predict the following: the future powers-that-be will rename the Alan I. Rothenburg Trophy for Garber.  Oh yeah, I’m feeling saucy today.

– I’ll end (this post) with something of an itsy-bitsy cheap shot – though not one actually intended to insult.  I don’t spend much time on Fox Soccer’s web-site; it just doesn’t it for me.  I meandered over today, perhaps out of boredom, and finally read Keith Costigan’s 2007 playoff predictions.  As noted above, I’m hardly belittling Costigan’s powers of prognostication – especially given how hard I’m struggling with my second-leg picks – but I do find something funny, say, in his expectations of a goal-fest between New England and Red Bull.

OK then….I’ll just keep biding time till Thursday…just like the rest of you.

Then again, I expect I’ll have my picks for the second leg posted by the end of today.