Controlling the quality of life. That's what she said.
This article is a follow-up on Part 1 of the MLS Cup playoffs Conference Semifinals. Now that leg 1 of each of the four series has been played, it’s time to preview leg 2. I must say that MLS did a horrible job of scheduling these games, seeing as three of them are on the same day around the same time (only 3 hours apart). I for one will only be able to watch half of the leg 2 games seeing as I’ll be attending San Jose hosting LA. What an exciting week ahead, so let’s get to the previews.
D.C. United hosting New York Red Bulls was a tight affair with the game ending in a 1-1 draw. With the Red Bulls appearing to play better than the tail end of the regular season, they just might push United to overtime n’ possibly penalty kicks.
Eastern Conference Semifinals Leg 2: D.C. United at New York Red Bulls
Wednesday 11/7, 8PM ET (5PM PT) on NBCSN
To be honest, I was greatly distracted by (American) football during this game. However, I saw enough to see how amazingly explosive Houston Dynamo is on offense. Even in stoppage time when they were up 2-0 over Sporting Kansas City, they still kept at it on offense trying to score instead of retreating to defense like most teams would do. Dynamo truly is amazing at home. However, this series is far from over. Sporting KC is also known to be virtually invincible at home, which is where the second leg will be played. KC is known for its defense, so I was a bit surprised they allowed two goals even on the road, but look for them to jump back. I can see this next leg come down to penalty kicks.
Eastern Conference Semifinals Leg 2: Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City
Wednesday 11/7, 9PM ET (6PM PT) on MLS Live
Although San Jose spent much of the night retreating to defense, they still managed to end the game in typical dramatic Earthquake fashion. In stoppage time Bernardez drove a penalty kick hard towards the wall of Galaxy defenders, but Gonzalez psyched himself out n’ jumped up & leaned slightly to his right, which enabled the ball to sneak in right under him. This was followed by an (godd)awful save attempt by the Los Angeles goalkeeper. This goal may have been 90% luck, but it does not take away from its awesomeness. The Quakes were very strong on defense, and with a bit of luck on their side, they were able to shutout LA. Even the ESPN commentators admitted that they were playing good defense, which was surprising because Quakes never get respect when it comes to their defense n’ are always looked down upon for their style of offensive attack. If San Jose keeps up this level of play throughout the playoffs, it won’t matter what critics say – last-minute heroics wouldn’t hurt either. Tune in on Wednesday for an exciting second leg – Quakes are quite the force to be reckoned with at their temporary Buck Shaw home.
Western Conference Semifinals Leg 2: Los Angeles Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes
Wednesday 11/7, 11PM ET (8PM PT) on ESPN2
Friday was quite the intense matchup between the Sounders n’ RSL. I forgot that Sounders play at Century Link, the NFL’s Seahawks stadium, so the endzones & sidelines threw me off (n’ the huge Seahawk at the center of the field). Both teams started by being very physical. Each team seemed poised to score a handful of goals, but then their amazing defenses kicked in. While Sounders goalkeeper had one or two amazing saves, RSL goalkeeper Romando had a dozen (almost literally) incredible game-altering saves. He was injured on a play where he collided with a Sounder player who appeared to have been accidentally pushed by an RSL player. Romando was down for quite some time, which prompted the other RSL goalkeeper to warm up, but he ultimately continued to play n’ made some more incredible saves. This did, however, result in 8 minutes of stoppage time. RSL is an amazing team at home, which is where the next leg will be held, so this puts the Sounders at a bit of a disadvantage having not been able to score at home in this new playoff format. It should be one intense second leg of this series, which is the last Conference Semifinal series to conclude.
Western Conference Semifinals Leg 2: Seattle Sounders at Real Salt Lake
UPDATE: Thursday 11/8, 10PM ET (7PM PT) on NBCSN (the network picked it up last-minute)
I am beyond psyched for the second leg games of the Conference Semifinals. These two-legged Conference Semis & Finals round, although exhausting for players, surely provides a boost in dramatic n’ entertainment value. Although hardcore soccer (“football”) fans may not care for the dramatic flair many MLS teams exhibit, it is undeniable that these two-legged rounds contribute positively to the competitive nature of the MLS Cup playoffs. The only possible slight flaw is that the higher seeded teams that play the first leg away appear to often retreat to defense in an effort to save their offensive energy for their home games where most of them have extraordinary home-field advantage. Then again, sports are all about strategy.