If for whatever reason you did not watch the MLS playoffs this weekend, you're missed out on some pretty exciting matches. Even the ones that looked awful at the outset turned into drama-fests near the end. There were all sorts of goals scored, from the ugly to the incredible, as well as a few stoppage-time stunners to shake up the way the second rounds will play out.
Pareja picked puzzling players for playoffs. The Rapids lost 2-0 and never really threatened.
Montreal looked terrible and lost resoundingly to the Dynamo by 3-0. They were truly awful, and to top it all off Marco Di Vaio did his best impression of a cat-fighting harpy to finish the season.
The New England Revolution beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at Gillette Stadium, surprising a few folks in the process. While Sporting hasn't had quite the same aura of invincibility about them as they did last season, they still managed to keep it close in the Supporter's Shield race until the very end. The Revs didn't look quite capable of beating them, but they managed to do just that and take a 2-1 lead into Sporting Park.
The match was an unbelievable borefest through the first half. The excitement produced by the two sonambulous (an invented conjugation from the word "sonambulism") teams could only be matched by C-SPAN's thrilling all-day televising of the U.S. Dept. of Agrilcultural's hearings on federally-funded maize subsidies.
It came to life in the second half, and produced major drama and three goals. Matt Reis was on his absolute best, sporting the beginnings of a pretty studly 'stache and showing off his skills. Reis was assisted by his defenders plenty, but his last minute parry of a Dom Dwyer's effort on goal ensured the Revs head into the next game with a goal advantage.
There's more drama than just SKC vs. NE as the Houston Dynamo levelled the New York Red Bulls 2-2 in the dying seconds of the game. The Dynamo at one point looked completely incapable of even standing properly without falling over in a narcoleptic heap, such was their lack of energy in the first half.
The Red Bulls took advantage of Houston to start out, and dominated the first half in its entirety. It paid off in the 22nd minute when Tim Cahill scored on a fantastic pass from Thierry Henry. I can't stand divas in the game, but Henry is a much better player than Beckham was. It's much more easy to stomach when those fantastic moments of individual brilliance spill out.
Speaking of spilling out, we're giving you not one, but three videos to watch in this recap. First off, FC Dallas Legend Eric Alexander scored a wonderful cut-back goal to give NY a two goal lead.
As if that counterattack wasn't exciting enough, Omar Cummings' goal equalized for the Dynamo near the end of the game. I know it's Houston and all, but that's just fantastic theater. The (surprisingly small) crowd goes wild over this one.
What's crazier than the last-gasp equalizer is the stone cold penalty that Houston were denied afterwards. Fair is fair and Houston should have, based on PK conversion probabilities, won this game. Look at this clip and decide for yourself, though I think the decision is easy. That's a penalty.
The rematch between these two in Red Bull Arena will hopefully produce more excellent moments. This is what the playoffs are all about. Jamison Olave getting himself suspended certainly doesn't help New York's case.
The LA Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 on a fantastic strike by Sean Franklin. LA had effectively bossed the entire game and had nothing to show for it until Sean Franklin launched a Cruise missile at Nick Rimando. There wasn't even a chance that Rimando could stop it. I would have placed a replay here, but there's none to be found on the MLS site.
The truth is that LA could have won this one by two or three goals, that's how much better they were than RSL. Real showed enormous discipline and kept their shape well, but they really didn't threaten much at all. Things might be different a Rio Tinto Stadium though.
The Portland Timbers beat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 at CenturyLink Field, setting the stage for a dramatic last stand for Sigi Schmid and his troops at Portland later this week.
The Sounders didn't particularly impress, and the scoreline flatters their performance. If not for a last second (but pretty great) goal by Osvaldo Alonso, the Sounders would be looking at yet another assured early-round exit from the playoffs. As it stands, they're just looking at a likely exit as opposed to an assured one.
The Sounders choked, big time. They are capable of playing better than they showed, and the game was disappointing to watch only because I legitimately expected the Sounders to put up more of a fight. One has to wonder what morale is like in Seattle's dressing room at the moment. The crowds are certainly calling for Sigi's head, while they start collecting their pitchforks and lighting their torches.