Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Playoffs: Who I'm Rooting For

The MLS Cup Playoffs are upon us. Starting on Thursday night in Chicago, the regular season means little to nothing as the eight surviving teams enter a knockout competition for the only trophy that really matters in American soccer: MLS Cup. So, who am I cheering on in their respective series? It's pretty obvious I want the Revs to win, but here's a breakdown on who I want to win in the other pairings:
(click title to read more)

DC United - Chicago

If the Revs make it out of the first round, they will play the winner of this match up. This should be a no-brainer, as the Revs would be looking at a home game against the Fire if they were to win.

Not so fast. Chicago have been major twats over the last few seasons. They have also picked up Blanco, a player who's as infamous as any among US National Team supporters. Personally, I'm not as big a Blanco hater as many of my com padres. He adds personality to the games in which he plays in, and will be contributing to his MLS side for a lot longer than most people think. Also, the Fire finally, err, fired a-hole head coach Dave Sarachan, who was the target of much of my derision over the years. So, I don't hate Chicago as much as I used to.

From a competitive standpoint, Chicago is playing as good as anyone in MLS. This makes the "weaker opponent" argument a push. Sure, we handled them at home in May, but that was a long time ago. DC beat us twice at home this year, but that will also mean little in a one-off game.

Still, I would sure like to end Chicago's season at Gillette for a fourth straight year.

Who I'm rooting for: Chicago Fire

Chivas USA - Kansas City

I was looking forward to this, but it seems MLS usurped my steam. Due to the new playoff system, the "Western Conference Final" could involve a team from the East. Now, that's according to the schedule on MLS's official site. However, I think they anticipated this and quickly printed up championship t-shirts for the CDC-Houston game Saturday night. The playoff system needs a little tweaking to fix this exploit (and why does Chivas get to play a lower seed when their conference proved to be worse?), and I would love to see Kansas City win to make a change imperative. Also, while I'm on the subject, they need to make the semifinals a home and home series.

Anyhow, I'm indifferent on both of the teams from an emotional standpoint. Chivas doesn't offend me in the least. In fact, I would love to see them really tap into the Latino market and start drawing players from the local community. It can only help the US team in the long run. I guess one of the problems is the huge rent they pay to AEG each year, which leaves them with limited funds. As for KC, I'm not nearly the Jimmy Conrad mark that most Revolution fans are. Sure, he's a good guy off the pitch and I enjoy his show. However, on the field, I hate his guts when they play the Revs. I'll save my fan mail for when he retires.

Who I'm Rooting For: Kansas City

Houston - FC Dallas

The battle of Texas. Texas is a place that I dig how their citizens think... from afar. In my naval experience, the Texans who I served with who acted like "typical Texans" are insufferable and really tough to work with. I still have great friends from Texas, but few of them epitomize what us New Englanders picture when we think of the Lone Star State. In reality, they act more like the people on Friday Night Lights during the first season. NBC writers should be defenestrated for murdering that show. They turned it into one of those shows which don't last four seasons on Fox.

Seriously, this is an easy one for me. The FC Dallas fans are easy to get along with, we seem to find our way through their defense when we play them, and I do not want to play Houston again in the final, especially after they have consistently played some of the best soccer in MLS since June.

Who I'm Rooting For: FC Dallas