After a thrilling weekend, the final two teams in the race to the MLS Cup have been decided. This Sunday the LA Galaxy will play host to the New England Revolution in a game that will crown the new MLS Cup champion and conclude the 2014 season.
Fortunately for Major League Soccer (and all us writers), this past weekend has been full of compelling storylines and captivating narratives that we all get to talk about. It has also set the stage for an exciting final, chock full of stories of its own to explore.
For me, this has been one of the most entertaining playoff races in quite some time and, as a neutral, I found myself discovering more and more reasons to pull for each of the four teams. Although two of the four teams have been eliminated, there are still plenty of questions left to be answered and many story arcs left to be resolved. Here are some of my favorite talking points that have developed from these Conference Finals. Continue reading MLS Playoff Weekend: Exploring the Conference Finals
If you can believe it, there are just two weekends left in the 2014 MLS season. In nine days time, two teams will square off for 90 minutes to determine a champion.
Of course, DeAndre Yedlin would have you believe that the Seattle Sounders’ regular season crown holds more weight. However, it’s impossible to deny the role of ‘playoffs’ and ‘championships’ in the American sports zeitgeist.
This is the weekend to decide who will play for the MLS Cup, as the for remaining squads will meet in the second leg of their home and away series to decide the conference champions. Continue reading MLS Conference Championships: Second Leg Predictions
If the opening round of the MLS playoffs was a manic under-card spread over two weeks, the Conference Finals are two prime time heavyweight title fights. In truth, Major League Soccer and the fans themselves could not have picked two better matches to take us into the MLS Cup.
First off, we get the Cinderella story New England Revolution taking on Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls. The Revs are the hip choice to win it all right now, led by their new World Cup hero field general Jermaine Jones and the resurgent attacking trio of Charlie Davies/Teal Bunbury/Lee Nguyen. NYRB have storylines as well, with Henry and perhaps Tim Cahill on their way out of town as soon as the playoff run ends. NYRB beat the Revs in both meetings this season, and head coach Mike Petke has never lost to New England in five meetings.
Continue reading MLS Conference Championships: First Leg Predictions
Orlando City takes the field in MLS in 2015 and, over time, a team will emerge that will infuriate our fan base and become the most hated team in all the land. Rivalries are forged over time, owing to on-field incidents, displays of poor sportsmanship, injuries or some other unexpected flashpoint.
Whether through a nasty challenge leading to a red card, a team-vs.-team brawl, or some other unforeseen event, Orlando City will develop a hated rival—some team that our fans will come to detest above all others. Which team that might be—and it’s possible that team isn’t even in MLS as of yet—remains to be seen. But why wait? Let’s talk about the top candidates before a single ball has even been kicked, because it’s fun and that’s all we can do at this point.
There are multiple reasons why New York City FC might become the most hated team among Lions fans. First of all, they’re from New York. Everyone outside of the greater New York area tends to detest New York teams. Call it a media bias toward the East Coast, the New York market itself, or a city-to-city inferiority complex, other towns tend to resent New York. This alone could build animosity.
Continue reading Top Five Candidates to Become Orlando’s MLS Rival
Last night’s FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders match was a pulsating, entertaining affair that ended in euphoria for the home side and dejection for the visitors. It was also the first true measure of MLS’s ‘away goals’ rule this season, as the 1-1 aggregate pushed Dallas out due to Seattle scoring on the road in the first leg.
The rule had its desired effect. Seattle probably could have pushed more numbers forward, but even without many bombing runs from Deandre Yedlin, the Sounders created plenty of scoring opportunities with Marco Pappa, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Meanwhile, knowing they needed a goal to have a chance to advance, Dallas players pushed hard for scoring chances, led by a trio of near misses by Fabian Castillo.
In my opinion, the rule provided the desired outcome of free-flowing football in a playoff system long bogged down by foul-happy bunker fests. Sure, there were whistles and fouls (and the game probably should have included a penalty each way), but for the most part, the players pushed up the pitch hard.
Continue reading Dallas-Seattle Match a Compelling Argument for MLS Away-Goal Rule
I’ve always enjoyed the pageantry of the home and away playoff format. The first week is cautious, guarded, conservative. The visiting team often playing for a tie from the opening whistle. The hosts, wanting to win, but knowing that conceding even a single goal could doom their chances from the start.
The second leg flips that all on it’s head. It’s frantic. It’s do or die. There’s no ambiguity on what result is needed. Restraint is gone in favor of the relentless pursuit of the result that the team needs to advance. And that’s why this may well be one of the most exciting weekends of the year in MLS.
We’ve put together a preview with our predictions for the matches here, but by all means, check out SB Nation’s awesome MLS Cup Playoffs Guide as well. Continue reading MLS Playoffs Week 2: What to Watch For
Orlando City SC has been gaining a lot of attention in the soccer community lately. So, it seems an appropriate time to examine some numbers behind OCSC to give fans something to look for as the Lions prepare for the MLS 2015 season.
Former FIFA World Player of the Year and marquee signing Kaká will suit up for the Lions in their newly released kit wearing his trademark number 10 for Orlando City’s inaugural season. The 32-year-old World Cup veteran brings name recognition and ample experience to the new MLS outfit. Kaká has won silverware with every team he has been a part of, a trend he aspires to continue as he enters into a new challenge in the MLS. He will be a valuable asset on the field, but will be equally important in exposing the club to markets worldwide.
The gaping hole in Orlando’s current roster is the lack of a natural number 9… or any forwards at all. With the midfield taking shape nicely and the back line overflowing with youth and potential, there is an increasing need for a player to spearhead the attack. Despite being several months away from preseason, the fans are anxiously anticipating who our man up top will be.
Continue reading OCSC By the Numbers