The field has now been narrowed to four in the MLS Cup Playoffs, and it's time to find out how and who you should root for in the Conference finals! The rootability index has been spitting out numbers like you wouldn't believe, so fasten your seatbelt and get ready for the ride.
Houston Dynamo Vs. D.C. United (1st leg Sunday, 1 p.m. PST, NBC Sports Network):
Houston Rootability Index: 65
I said it on this week's episode of the Two SoCal Gals podcast that the Houston Dynamo are the MLS version of the San Antonio Spurs. They have a quality but unheralded group of players, a coach who is well-known as one of the very best in the business, a tendency to float through the regular season but to buckle down and crush opponents in the playoffs. The comparison doesn't end there - some people really admire the Dynamo/Spurs, but others lament their rather-dull style of play.
If you are on the side that believes they are boring and should not be admired for grinding out results in the playoffs against opponents, you won't want to root for the Dynamo. I can respect that. But we seldom see flowery, aesthetically beautiful soccer played in the playoffs by any team, so why hold that fact against the Dynamo? They know how to do it, and they do it year after year. I think that's pretty awesome.
D.C. Rootability Index: 80
This is the team to pull for if you want to bring another coach into the MLS playoff success pantheon. Ben Olsen is the new kid on the block, has blown his paycheck on buying sweet suits to fit in (although, ironically, none of the other remaining coaches favor suits on the sidelines), and oh yeah, brought his team to the playoffs (the team he played for no less) for the first time in five years. Then he played in one of the craziest playoff series in league history, by virtue of the unexpected weather that rearranged and delayed everybody and everything. Oh yeah, and it was against a main rival. Respect to this team.
The team has a feeling of being held together by bubble gum and paper clips, but they keep finding a way to raise their play. They haven't lost since Dwayne De Rosario went down with a knee injury, and they advanced to the conference finals through a rookie, Nick DeLeon, who hit the wall midseason and recovered in time to still produce when the team needed him. Can't argue with that.
Here's what Matt said: "Did you know that the 2012 Chivas USA squad is not the lowest scoring team in history? It's true! The 2010 DC United team only scored 21. So what did DC United do? Hire some MLS retread? No way! Ben Olsen, before 2011 never coached a game. And he's totally revitalized the franchise. Let's not forget, the man took a collection of MLS players and in three days constructed a roster that beat Chelsea. Finally, let's remember that DC United was fumbling around in the number five position--about to be usurped by Montreal, when De Rosario goes down. Instead of plunging to their despise, the team changed their trajectory to make the #2 seed."
Prediction: Rachna says, "I'll go with DCU. Really don't want a repeat of last year's final in any capacity to be honest." I like the sound of where that's headed. Matt wants to pick D.C. because of the rooting interests, but "two problems: #1, Andy Najar is out and now Bill Hamid is out. #2. As far as the east goes, at this point I would be stupid to pick against Houston this year EVERY. DARN. TIME. I've picked against Houston and they've advanced. I've got to go with Houston." I'm also going with the Dynamo again.
LA Galaxy Vs. Seattle Sounders (1st leg Sunday, 6 p.m. PST, ESPN):
Galaxy Rootability Index: -40,000
All I can say is thanks a LOT Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes. Sure, we didn't expect a great deal from the Caps, but they nearly beat the Galaxy and put us out of this nightmare scenario. You better put on your rave green and stand four deep to a row over the next week, as a second consecutive Galaxy appearance in the MLS Cup Final would be just awful.
Seattle Rootability Index: 92
Yeah, that's right, we're approaching maximum numbers, but desperate times, people. The new hashtag for the playoffs is #Chivattle. Pass it on.
Here's what Matt thinks about this series: "Remember way back in October when all MLS was atwitter with "You need to finish in the top three because you don't want to have to play in the play-in game?" Yet, here we are with the top four seeds (i.e. Sporting and New York in the East, San Jose and RSL in the West) eliminated, including the Supporters Shield winner and the US Open Cup winner.
The truth of the matter: I think there's plenty of good soccer to be played.
Talk about gambles, who knew what Seattle was going to get out of Eddie Johnson? What about Michael Gspurning? In three years Kasey Keller became a legend and Gspurning has played phenomenally. Yes, LA netted three against SJ but Seattle's defense is so much better than San Jose's and their offense isn't far off either."
Prediction: Matt - "I'd say its a coin flip but I'm giving the edge to Seattle"; Rachna - "Seattle! I'm sticking with them for the whole thing (crosses fingers)"; I'm making it a clean sweep, of course.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!