A monthly column about the State of U.S. Soccer that takes a hard look at everything from the performance of the U.S. National Teams to pro soccer in the good ‘ole U-S-of-A. If you’re looking for a viewpoint that you won’t see in a generic, nuts-and-bolts U.S. Soccer press release, you’ve come to the right place.
We're going to Vegas. Heck, we might as well. When you're on a streak like this, it makes sense to try and win some money.
In our April MLS predictions, we correctly picked the final standings for both the Western and Eastern Conferences. That's right, we're the man...or men...whatever.
While some dolts picked the Wizards to pull through, we correctly picked the Revs to finish first in the East. You almost spit up your grande caramel mocha frappuccino when we said it would be San Jose, not FC Dallas, that would win the West, but Dwayne and the rest proved us right.
MetroStars miss the playoffs? No way. We knew they’d sneak into the playoffs, leaving the Wizards and Crew looking in from the outside.
We even predicted FC Dallas would come out flying before sputtering down the stretch, while explaining how Clint, Pat, Taylor and the rest would veer away from their usual slow start and come out of the gates faster than a Tara Reid movie jumps to video.
We even said you'd probably see United's Gomez banging away on a drum in the stands during a game in the month of...(editor’s note: Everything you are reading is a lie. The Revs were not picked to win the East. The Quakes weren’t chosen to win the West. And please tell me you weren't going to believe the Gomez stick. Click here for the real predictions.)
I’m guessing our editor just told you that in reality we weren’t perfect on our predictions. All right! So we may have gotten a few wrong. It’s not as easy as it seems.
I guess it would be easier if we could predict simple things, such as Jesse Marsch will argue every single call that goes against the Fire, someone will take off his shirt every chance he gets in place of the retired Troy Dayak (thanks Jeff Cunningham) and Freddy Adu will complain about his playing time.
We regress. How do we make up for our poor regular season predictions? We figure good shooters keep shooting, especially to get out of a funk. So, here you go, our MLS playoff predictions.
New England Revolution vs. MetroStars
The popular pick is the Revs. We must like to hang with the cool crowd because that’s who we’re going with, too. New England will have all their players in tow since no one will be with the national team, which means they’ll be at full strength. That spells bad news for a MetroStars defense that had to rely on the wall that is Tony Meola in their final match just to sneak into the playoffs. Although, it should be mentioned that the MetroStars went 1-2-1 this year against the Revolution, including a dramatic 5-4 win in the middle of September, so you know they wont go down easily. In the end though, the Cinderella story of Mo Johnston lighting a fire under the embattled team and guiding them all the way to the MLS Cup is nice, but flawed. It takes more than a good story to beat the Revs.
Pick: New England
D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire
The Freddy saga won’t help, but will it really affect United enough to make an impact? Doubtful. D.C. has won with Freddy and without him, and players like Moreno, Olsen and Rimando have been around long enough to be able to block out any external distractions and concentrate on the task at hand. The Fire will be dangerous for United, as the defending MLS champs had trouble keeping them off the board this year, but were fortunate to find the scoring touch themselves in 4-3 and 3-2 victories (their first match was a 1-1 draw). You could almost say United has been “playing with Fire.” (we know, we know, not clever).
Pick: D.C. United
San Jose vs. L.A. Galaxy
This will probably be the most entertaining first round matchup. The stinging in-state rivalry will only increase in the playoffs and you can bet L.A. would love to be the team that knocks the Supporters’ Shield winner off their pedestal. There’s definitely some history here as well. We all remember the 2003 first round match when San Jose lost the opening game 2-0 and then fell behind 2-0 just 13 minutes into the second leg before scoring five straight goals, including an overtime winner, to win what was probably the greatest game in MLS history. You think L.A. would relish a chance to exact a little payback two years later? We do, too.
Pick: L.A. Galaxy
FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids
After settling into Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas seemed to have some moving anxiety. You know what we do when we’ve moved to a new place and need a little comforting? We invite over a buddy (one you know isn’t as good as you) and beat him in a game of EA Sports FIFA 06, which reminds us that everything is normal once again. Dallas should heed our advice and take a whipping to the Rapids at home in the second leg. If in their first leg away they come away with a win or draw (which they’ve been able to do all year as they’re 2-0-2 against the Rapids), they’ll be sitting pretty and be that much closer to having an MLS Cup home crowd.
Pick: FC Dallas
New England vs. D.C. United
Here’s the deal: D.C. has the confidence to move on to the final because they’ve done it so many times before. New England has the confidence to move on to the final because during this year they’ve shown they have the ability to pull it off. So, a known winner vs. a team that truly believes it’s their turn. Who wins the tug of war? We’re going with the Revs. It's their year. And you know how they’ll pull it off? Just like they did all season – a last minute goal by Taylor Twellman.
Pick: New England
FC Dallas vs. L.A. Galaxy
A rematch of this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Galaxy hoisted the Dewar’s Cup with a 1-0 victory and you can bet the Dallas players vividly remember. What’s better: winning the Open Cup or getting to an MLS Cup? There’s an argument that can be made for both sides, but when you lose the Open Cup that's all the more reason to go all out to ensure you end up playing for the league title. Knowing they have the chance to play at home in the final, Dallas won’t let this one slip away – not even a Herculez-ean effort can stop them. Pick: FC Dallas
New England vs. FC Dallas
Leading up to the match, the big news will be the advantage FC Dallas has playing at home in their beautiful new Pizza Hut Park. After the match, the big news will be how it seemed it was New England that was playing at home. The Revs will outmatch FC Dallas, who will no doubt miss the firepower of Eddie Johnson, while their defense will not be able to hold off the constant pressure supplied by Clint, Taylor, Steve and the rest.
Pick: New England