MLS Wild-Card Round Predictions: Dallas vs. New York, Colorado vs. Columbus

Two new teams, 34 grueling games interspersed with U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League games, and seven months later, the Major League Soccer playoffs are upon us at last. The wild-card round will determine two teams to join the three best records from each conference for an eight team playoff, culminating in the MLS Championship game on Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., joint home of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. An exciting year in which the playoff standings came down to the final weekend saw the high-priced preseason favorite New York Red Bulls lock in the last wild-card playoff slot while Sporting Kansas City won the Eastern Conference,The Houston Dynamo vaulted themselves from wild-card territory to second in the East, while in the Western Conference, the L.A. Galaxy had the Supporters' Shield wrapped up. The playoff standings finished as follows: Western ConferenceLos Angeles Galaxy 67Seattle Sounders      63Real Salt Lake          53 Eastern ConferenceSporting Kansas City 51Houston Dynamo       49Philadelphia Union     48 Wild CardsFC Dallas 52Colorado Rapids 49Columbus Crew  47New York Red Bulls 46 The top two wild-card seeds will host the two lower seeds in a single winner-takes-all game to advance to the eight-team playoff round. Dallas hosts New York on ...
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Colorado Rapids: Where Will the Major League Soccer Champions Finish in 2011?

The 2010 Major League Soccer Champions, the Colorado Rapids, nabbed the seventh out of eight playoff spots and went on to win the silverware.  Where will the champs finish this year? In 2010, the Rapids finished 12-8-10, with 46 points—which included only two home losses—an impressive 7-2-5 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and a more pedestrian 5-6-5 record on the road.Begin Slideshow
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Major League Soccer’s New Playoff Format Is a Winner

Major League Soccer unveiled its much-improved playoff format for the 2011 season.  Not only does it address the major criticisms of the previous playoff format, it increases the importance of regular season games, increasing interest across stratified levels, something MLS has been sorely lacking, and will lead to more competition deep into the season and increased fan interest.    2011 Major League Soccer Playoff Format The top three teams in each conference gain an automatic berth.  The next four best teams gain wildcard berths.  The wildcard teams play a seeded one-off game to qualify for the final eight team playoff bracket. Essentially, it's an eight team tournament, with six guaranteed spots, and a four team play-in.  This is not only a major improvement; it's a clear winner on several levels.  It addresses the major criticisms of the previous playoff format, which were that the playoff seeding did not reflect the final standings in the full table, and that a conference not only could be won by a team from the other conference, but that the championship could even be played in the other conference.   Conference Games Now Matter Conference games now matter.  Winning one of the top three ...
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Colorado Rapids: Who Should the MLS Cup Champions Draft in 2011?

After winning the 2010 MLS Cup, defeating Dallas 2-1 in extra time, the defending champion Colorado Rapids are sitting pretty come the January 13 MLS Superdraft.  Despite the expansion draft for MLS' two new 2011 franchises, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Portland Timbers, Colorado managed to keep its entire starting XI from the MLS Cup intact.   The MLS Superdraft will be three rounds this year, with expansion clubs Vancouver and Portland picking first and second each round, and MLS Cup Champions Colorado picking last at 18th and 36th.  The draft lasts three rounds, but the Rapids only have picks in the first two, having traded away their 2011 third round pick along with midfielder Nick LaBrocca to Toronto FC for Marvell Wynne during the season. Following the Superdraft, there will be a supplemental draft for players that were not selected initially. The Rapids are in a low pressure situation.  They don't have to worry about swinging for the fences with a high draft pick and missing.  With the main starting XI returning, the Rapids merely need to add smart depth and players that can develop behind the front XI into future starters.    Colorado's Depth Needs By Position Goalkeeper ...
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Major League Soccer: Should MLS Go To An NFL-Style Divisional Playoff System?

Is Major League Soccer's Conference system weakening the league's playoffs?  Should it be scrapped in favor of an NFL-style playoff system in which divisional games & rivalries are weighted more?  The Colorado Rapids, the overall No. 7 seed ended up winning the MLS Cup, after having defeated the No. 5 Columbus Crew in the quarterfinals, then the No. 8 San Jose Earthquakes in the semi-finals, before dispatching No. 4 FC Dallas 2-1 in the championship. These were the final standings in the MLS table at season's end: 1. Los Angeles Galaxy (59 pts.)  Western Conference 2. Real Salt Lake         (56 pts.)  Western Conference 3. New York Red Bulls (51 pts.)  Eastern Conference 4. FC Dallas                (50 pts.)  Western Conference 5. Columbus Crew        (50 pts.)  Eastern Conference 6. Seattle Sounders      (48 pts.)  Western Conference 7. Colorado Rapids        (46 pts.)  Western Conference 8. San Jose Earthquakes (46 pts.) Western Conference   Major League Soccer's playoff seeding system works as follows: There are two playoff brackets of four teams, one bracket per conference.  The brackets are seeded 1-4 within the conference.  However, if you look above, you'll note that there are six teams from the Western Conference in the top eight and only ...
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MLS East Final: Why the Colorado Rapids Will Beat the San Jose Earthquakes

The Colorado Rapids and the San Jose Earthquakes are in the MLS East Finals, one game away from the MLS Cup.  Each team has made the MLS Semi-Finals twice before in their histories, with San Jose going on to win two MLS titles and the Rapids never advancing to the MLS Cup. This year's tale of the tape has the seventh (Colorado) and eighth (San Jose) place finishers in the MLS table battling it out in a one-game, winner-takes-all shot at the Final.  Because of MLS' somewhat odd table/conference playoff scheme, both Colorado and San Jose ended up playing in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket as the #5 (Colorado) and #6 (San Jose) seeds. San Jose defeated the number one team in the East, the high-spending New York Red Bulls with Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry,and Rafa Marquez 3-2 in the aggregate score, including their 3-1 pasting of the Red Bulls on the road in New York. The Rapids defeated the No. 2 team in the East, the perennial MLS powerhouse Columbus Crew, in Colorado 1-0.  In Columbus, the game ended 2-1 in favor of the Crew, or 2-2 aggregate, which forced two scoreless fifteen minute overtime periods, followed by penalty kicks.  The Rapids were a ...
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