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2010 MLS Playoffs, Preview, Picks and Predictions

Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha and his players, will they find the way to get positive result in Colorado vs Rapids? PHOTO by CHRIS REIKO

Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha and his players, will they find the way to get positive result in Colorado vs Rapids? PHOTO by CHRIS REIKO

By Chris Reiko

All games expected to be very close, because we will watch the best 8 teams in USA. All 8 teams know how much early mistake can cost their chances to win MLS Cup, which really means USA and Canadian Championship. Should we expect first matches with full of calculations and conservative soccer? Stake are high, and is hard to pick clear favorite in the 1st leg of conferences semifinals, in fact most of those games been called by professional handicappers as typical “NO BETS”. Despite those loud “be careful” voices, I made attempt to pick some winners or results. Not everybody will like my conclusions and picks, but other than in Colorado, in my opinion host teams should be able to take advantage of playing first matches of 2 games series at home. I had some doubts about game in Seattle, and I am explaining them below.

Seattle Sounders FC (4W) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy  (1W)

Sunday, Oct. 31: LA Galaxy at Seattle Sounders FC, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2/Deportes/ESPN3.com

This is the toughest game to pick the winner and just to be clear from the beginning, in handicapers terminology this is typical NO BET, but if you have to……pick the winner, lets try.

“Oh my God” Sounders fans been screaming every time Landon Donovan had or was around the ball, at Qwest Field last May. Donovan concert in Seattle, shakes thing in the club and as result was later departure of Freddie Ljungberg. That game was also subject of study by England NT coach Fabio Capello. After this 0-4 loss, Sounders as first club in MLS promised to refund fans money for the tickets, but since then Sounders engines are dynamic as ever and all cylinders seem to work.

The Galaxy swept the season series. LA won 4-0 at Qwest Field on May 8 at Landon Donovan set up the first three goals and scored the fourth. It was the biggest defeat in Sounders FC history and prompted the club to give a refund in the form of a free game in the 2011 season ticket package.

The Galaxy won 3-1 at The Home Depot Center on July 4, as Edson Buddle, Juninho and an own goal contributed to a third consecutive Seattle loss.

The two losses this year were Seattle’s first against the Galaxy. In the Sounders FC inaugural season, they won in Carson and tied in Seattle. This means that Sounders FC are back in the business, and Galaxy should feel that, plus Landon Donovan and David Beckham, as well as Edson Buddle they ALL don’t like to play on this unique Qwest Field artificial turf. Just to be clear I never heard that from Landon Donovan, who missed important (possible confidence taker) penalty kick, but we can hear opinions that artificial turf was one of the reason why Galaxy did not win MLS Cup last year.  Seattle fans sure hope, that this could be the case this year, and LA boys will be the one complaining in post game quotes.

Both teams very offensive minded and in my opinion we should see more than 2 goals, for some reason in this game I will feel more comfortable with taking OVER, instead picking the winner.

CHRIS PICK: OVER 2.5 goals at rate 1.90

San Jose Eartquakes (6W) vs. New York Red Bulls (1E) 0-1

Saturday,Oct.30 –  10 p.m. ET, TeleFutura, 10:00 PM ET will be telecast live on MSG+2. The match will also be shown in progress on MSG at 10:30 PM.

The teams split their season series. The Earthquakes rolled to a 4-0 victory May 8 at Buck Shaw Stadium, the biggest of the season for San Jose and the heaviest defeat suffered by New York.

Please DON’T use this game as factor. Why? Keep in mind that in that game Red Bulls been playing with 10 man for almost 80 minutes, after midfielder Luke Sassano got red card just in 13 minutes into the match. Red Bulls gave up all these goals when they simply got tired. October playoffs match, could be very different story this time, both teams improved trough the season, but on the paper Red Bulls seem to be stronger and more consistent.

Thierry Henry, his first MLS goal scored against the Earthquakes, and his New York team took a 2-0 win Aug. 28 at Red Bull Arena, unpredictable Dane Richards scored second, by simply embarrassing SJ defenders. By coach Backe recent statement Thierry Henry will not play on Saturday, but rest of the New York gang should be ready.

The Earthquakes lead the all-time series 15-9-6. New York last won in San Jose in league play in 2003, a 2-0 win by the then-MetroStars. The Quakes have won five of the six meetings since, with one draw.

This trend likely to continue on Saturday, I wouldn’t bet my house that Earthquakes will advance to the second round, but they should be able to win at least at home. New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe is not only good coach, but also nice person, and has been nominated as one of top 3 candidates to MLS coach of the year prestigious title, but Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara is not very lucky for him.

Despite the fact that he is managing team with highest MLS payroll, in Santa Clara he experienced the highest defeat and Earthquakes fans sure hope for the replay. I don’t think the Earthquakes will win 4-0 like last time, but they are able to win by 1 or 2 goals. When putting your money on them keep in mind that Earthquakes are very inconsistent as they showed in their recent home loses to Dynamo (0-1) and Fire (0-3).

CHRIS PICK: 1 Earthquakes to win at rate 2.4

FC Dallas (3W) vs.  Real Salt Lake (2W) 2-1

The teams split their season series. Goals from Brek Shea and Atiba Harris in the second half gave FC Dallas a 2-0 win July 17 at Pizza Hut Park – Real’s only loss in league play since the start of May.

Real Salt Lake put an end to FCD’s MLS-record 19-game unbeaten run in a 2-0 win Oct. 16 at Rio Tinto Stadium, with second-half goals from Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales. Will that affect mental aspect of FC Dallas game? Not really. FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman is my favorite to win coach of the year award and he has black belt in…..karate, and his team mentally will be ready.

Real Salt Lake has lost all eight matches they have played at FC Dallas, outscored 18-5. FC Dallas leads the all-time series 11-6-1. Real Salt Lake has problems when playing in Dallas, and despite recent loss in Utah, I believe Texas team will win at home on this Saturday. In last 2 weeks they lost 2 games, the same number of loses they had in entire season prior those last 2 weeks? Well they say, timing is everything. Don’t you think is about time for FC Dallas win? I do.

CHRIS PICK: 1 FC Dallas at rate 2.00

Colorado Rapids (5W) vs. Columbus Crew (2E) 1-0 

Thursday, Oct. 28 – 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ ESPN Deportes/ESPN3.com)

The teams split their season series. A late Drew Moor goal gave Colorado a 1-0 win on June 5 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, after the Rapids went a man down. The Crew won 3-1 on Aug. 21 at Crew Stadium behind goals from Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart – the heaviest defeat suffered by Colorado this season.

The Crew suffered a stunning blow in their season-ending win against Philadelphia when goalkeeper William Hesmer was injured, suffering a shoulder fracture that will put him out of the postseason. Andy Gruenebaum – who started all six of the Crew’s games in the CONCACAF Champions League but did not play a minute in league games – will take the starting role.

Don’t worry about Andy Gruenebaum, last 10 minutes of the Crew vs. Union game, midfielder Eddie Gaven was in the net, and he allowed only one goal, simply because opponents had problem creating scoring chances. I take this as signal that Crew defense under Chad Marshall with Andy Gruenebaum between posts will be in charge, and even more focused and ready for Conor Casey – Omar Cummings duo. Both Cummings and Casey may learn that scoring in MLS regular season and scoring in the MLS playoffs are two different stories.

Although the result did not end their season as it has the last two seasons, the Rapids were stoppage time away from defeating Real Salt Lake. Instead, their Rocky Mountain rivals scored two stunning goals to forget a 2-2 draw. I would think about Rapids chances in this game, but when you looked at my their goalkeeper Matt Pickens, what kind of goal he allowed in last game. He make me feel good about Crew.

Before even season started, I predicted that the Rapids will advance to the playoffs and will end on the 1st round, nothing really changed from my pre season evaluation. The Rapids lead the all-time series 15-10-8. They have an all-time lead of 9-3-4 in games in Colorado, but “Our guys getting really comfortable lately in Colorado, so I am very positive before Thursday game” – told us Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha.

Am I getting too positive with all those positives? I am positive too that Crew is able to get positive result in Denver, but question is how positive? I am that positive, and I have positive news for Ohio fans,  there is “Nothing wrong with Ohio” and I will support the Crew WIN with the DRAW. Are you positive?

CHRIS PICK: X2 Crew or draw at rate 1.71

CHRIS PICKS: this 2010 season 9477 = accuracy  54.97 %

CHRIS PICKS: last 2009 season 8258 = accuracy  58.57 %

 

Chris Reiko

For comments or suggestions please email ChrisReiko@hotmail.com or follow on Twitter @ChrisReiko

 

What are your picks for this 1st leg of 2010 MLS playoffs?welcome below all your picks, comments, and points of view

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