MLS Playoffs - Win and Go Home; or, the Games That Should Never Have Been

Really?  3-0?  Wow.  Okay, I'll try to work around that.  But you guys are gonna have to win pretty comprehensively back at home, because otherwise we're all gonna look pretty stupid, aren't we? What happened to Seattle was NOT FUNNY.

No, SERIOUSLY.  It was an INJUSTICE.

STOP LAUGHING.

Real Salt Lake finished behind Seattle.  They did not deserve a home game.  There is no earthly reason why the Sounders should be in this deep a hole, as a "reward" for finishing second overall.

...apart from the whole "Let's play the second half in a fugue state" approach to the game Saturday.  But that's not the POINT.  if Salt Lake was that much better than Seattle - and they may indeed be -they should have had to prove such in Seattle, not at home.

This would all be fine and wonderful if we were talking about the Europa Cup, when teams are all allegedly supposed to be on an equal footing.  In a seeded tournament, it obliterates the importance of having a better regular season record.

And yes, I'm aware that's how they do it in Mexico, and they make money hand over fist.  It still bones teams that are supposed to be given advantages.  "Any potential overtime and penalty kicks get to be in your home park" is beer quite a bit more watery than "You get home field advantage."

But at least Mexico is consistent.  This year, we have an all-or-nothing home field round, a home-and-home, an all-or-nothing home field round, and then a neutral site game.  I hope Seattle wins 2-0 in the second game, triggering the kind of full on revolt from Sounders fans that's apparently necessary to get anything done in this league anymore.

Who knows, maybe Seattle can even win the series outright.  Although I don't exactly know how Sigi's going to word the "I of all people know that no lead is safe in the MLS playoffs" speech.

And this is just the beginning!  Who else will be victimized by this unfair playoff setup?

(Twenty-four hours later, after three visiting teams win three consecutive games)

Oh, for the love of...MLS has the biggest home field advantage in sports, practically, and this happens?  You just leave Seattle hanging like that?

Fine, that's what we expected out of New York.  The only tough task the Red Bulls can accomplish is making the Galaxy look sympathetic.

Rafa's final moments in New York

Which brings us to the Red Bulls-Galaxy game.  What, exactly, did New York do to deserve a home game, especially if they weren't going to do anything with it?  Well, except disgrace themselves, but that's not even news anymore.  The only things Sunday's game accomplished was ending Marquez' MLS career a game early, and getting Landon Donovan to (apparently) forget that he's ever played a road game in CONCACAF

You know, I wonder where Rafa Marquez goes on vacation.  Where does a man like that go, when he wants to get away from the pressures and responsibilities of professional soccer, and can just unwind and not give a crap about anything.  Oh, wait, I know - HARRISON, NEW JERSEY.

I mean...we don't think there's any suspense for Thursday's game, do we?  You saw the Red Bulls.  You've seen them all year.  They make the 2008 Galaxy look like Delta Force.

But still people bought into them.  Check out how many times the word "talented" was thrown around here.  Now, considering goalkeeper, defense, and Marquez, how many teams have a clear advantage at six positions right off the bat?  Damn near all of them.  And with the exception of Lindpere, everything the Red Bulls allegedly do well can be done by other players more cheaply, without a lot of personal and professional baggage, or (frequently) both.  Saying the Red Bulls are the most talented team in the league is like going into the Real Salt Lake locker room immediately before the game, peeing on the floor, and telling Jason Kreis to clean it up with his face.  

Because why would he?  Even if he didn't make some poor janitor do it, he wouldn't use his face.  That's inefficient and unsanitary.  The premise makes no sense.      

So, yeah, the Red Bulls were the wrong team to depend on.  But I had high hopes for Colorado.  Defending champions, at home, in the precious number 5 slot...you know, I wonder if there's room on the Kansas City bandwagon.  If MLS Cup wasn't in Carson, I'll bet they'd actually be a popular pick.  I don't know why people gave New York the time of day when the Wizards were playing as well as they have been.

Besides, Colorado had lost a grand total of twice at home during the regular season, and I didn't expect Kansas City to bring three points down from the Hall of the Mountain Kings.  But, on reflection, it's not that shocking.  Sure, Kansas City only won on the road four times this year, but that's misleading - they had to play them pretty much all at once at the beginning of the season.  Had they spaced out their road games, they might have done even better, and would have had a proper Western Conference point total. 

Also, man are the Rapids beat up.  Every team is, to some degree, at this stage of the season, but wow.  By far the biggest number of players, and starters, listed as full-on Out, plus Mastroeni with the dreaded concussion.  

Irritatingly, this page hasn't been updated for weeks, despite the high comedy offered over the weekend.  But the Rapids are in a position that they really wish they had Tyrone Marshall, i.e., they're meat.  And I apologize for forgetting which announcer said this during the game, but apparently the Rapids have scored six goals in the past eight games.  They will need two just to get to penalties in LivesTRONg, and, well, I'm not feeling it.  New champion incoming, or at least a non-consecutive old one.

Hm...maybe I can go the other way here?  The other problem with a two-leg series is that a big enough blowout makes game two an exercise in futility - maybe I can sell that.  I've written off Colorado, I've written off New York.  There might or might not be a game in the Pacific Northwest this week that answers that description, too. 

The Dynamo are damn good in Texas, too, so maybe that series is also over.  I guess they really want their security deposit back on Robertson Stadium.  But...Houston was garbage on the road, and the Union had only lost once at home, yet the Dynamo got/were helped to that result.  Anyway, Seattle had by far the best road record in the league this year, and how's that taste right now?  I guess it is a second season, after all.

So, because we wasted our time giving lesser teams a home game, what do we have to look forward to?

The Galaxy bunkering at home...which would have happened anyway.

Real Salt Lake either never crossing the halfway line, or never leaving the penalty area.

Kansas City and Houston trying to avoid goal-scoring onslaughts from two out of the three lowest scoring teams left in the playoffs.

Plus players on those teams trying not to get hurt or carded.  Yippee.