The MLS Playoffs are set to start this week. Instead of the regular, boring game previews I thought we could change it up a little for our opening coverage of the postseason. I rounded up the other Sporting KC writers here at KC Kingdom and asked them a few questions about how they felt about Sporting’s chances and a few other things. My fellow writers are Nathan Edwards and Brandon Whetstone. Keep in mind however that when this was written Seattle successfully beat Colorado, and Houston/Montreal had yet to play.
First Off, Who Wins These Series?
New York Red Bulls vs. Houston/Montreal:
Nathan: NYRB knocks off Montreal. Great form lately, momentum will carry them through.
Brandon: I personally would like to see Houston get past Montreal, so that NYRB can destroy Houston in the two game series in the conference semi-finals. I think from a Sporting KC viewpoint, that would be glorious.
Aaron: It doesn’t matter who gets through the Knockout Stage, the Red Bulls are just too good to lose two consecutive games to either the Impact or the Dynamo.
Sporting KC vs. New England Revolution:
Nathan: SKC wins. Hard to pick this one I think, and I’m hoping SKC will be galvanized by losing out on the cup instead of fretting about it.
Brandon: Sporting KC will win this series. They’ll lose the first game 0-2, but after coming back to win in dramatic fashion. Maybe.
Aaron: This is a matchup I think Sporting can win. They have one of the best defenses in the league, so all they have to do is just play their game like normal.
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders [Seatlle already beat Colorado]
Nathan: Rapids beat Seattle. Portland knocks off Colorado (though I could see an upset here).
Brandon: I think Colorado will get past Seattle. Seattle has a history of disappointing their fanbase in the playoffs, and I expect that trend to continue tonight. But Portland gets past Colorado in the next round.
Aaron: I don’t want to toot my own horn, actually I kinda do, I correctly predicted Seattle would win. But I don’t see anyone getting past the electric, fervent crowd in Portland. This will be great to watch either way.
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy
Nathan: I see LA Galaxy beating out RSL, but that’s a tough one to call really.
Brandon: LA will go through this round. With Landon Donovan in excellent form, I can’t see RSL stopping the Galaxy. Unless something very suspicious happens to Donovan, Tonya Harding style.
Aaron: Let’s not forget that RSL was the best team in the MLS for the majority of the season. I also think this is hard to predict, but I don’t see the Galaxy coming through with the win. Of all the Semifinal matches, this is definitely the closest on paper.
Who Do You See Going to the Championship?
Nathan: I’m picking Sporting KC vs Portland in the Finals.
Brandon: I honestly see a Portland vs. Sporting KC match up in the championship. If that happens, it will be soccer porn. Two teams that play high pressure going at it for a championship. How amazing would that be?
Aaron: Jumping on the bandwagon, I also think it will be Portland vs. Sporting. Portland is a lock in my opinion, but Sporting has to get through NYRB. I’m pretty sure they can do it. (Resounding vote of confidence)
Who Wins the MLS Cup?
Nathan: Hopefully we can beat Portland, but I’m not sure of it but I don’t want to pick Sporting to get to the final and suddenly go against them…so I’m picking them to grab the Cup this year and make sure they put some silverware in the cabinet.
Brandon: It hurts me to say this, but I have a feeling it is Portland’s year. They play a style similar to SKC, but they have something we do not have: players that can consistently score goals.
Aaron: All the signs I’m looking at are pointing at Portland. Manager Caleb Porter has this team playing extremely well and they have an amazing home field advantage. I want Sporting KC to win, but if I’m being subjective, I think my vote has to go to Portland.
What Are Your Opinions on the Home Field Advantage in the Playoffs?
(The team with the better record gets home field advantage during the 2nd game, which means the lesser team can win at home, during the 1st game, and then play only defense to hold on to their lead. Is that fair?)
Nathan: Yeah, I think that’s a little ridiculous. It gives the “away” team an obvious strategy and really makes it so there is no advantage, and is almost a disadvantage should you not be able to grab a win or draw in a tough away environment.
Brandon: It is kind of ridiculous, but I understand why they do it. If the high seed can get a result on the road, why not award their fanbase to see their team go through to the next round?
Aaron: I always like when a team wins their championship in their city, but this setup does draw some disadvantages for the team with the better record. I think it’s the best way possible right now. A three game series isn’t a traditional standard for soccer.
If You Could Be at Any Series, Which Would It Be?
Nathan: If Portland plays Seattle in the playoffs, there’s no question I’d want to be there. Great rivalry and amazing environments in both stadiums, plus great breweries in the Northwest to hang out at. Honorable Mention: Poutine in Montreal…french fries, gravy, and cheese curds? Can I have that as a side with my KC barbecue?
Brandon: Championship game at Sporting Park. There is no other answer to this question, whatever Nathan and Aaron say.
Aaron: The most appealing matcup is without a doubt the Seattle at Portland game. Those fans will be going bonkers. Bo-nan-ners. With a win against their greatest rival, in their first ever playoff match (Portland joined the MLS in 2011), the fans there would be some of the craziest in sports.
Who Has the Best Jerseys of the Teams in the Playoffs?
Nathan: Sporting Kansas City. I really like the two blues, and our black argyle alternates are great as well. Real Salt Lake is probably #2 for me.
Brandon: The Portland third kits. I am a sucker for throwback jerseys, and those are as good as it goods. They even have an old school Alaskan Air logo on to match the throwback jerseys.
Aaron: I do agree that Sporting has some good ones, but I’m going to say the Colorado Rapids. Both of their kits mean something. Their first kit has these very faint horizontal stripes on them that are actually made up of the names of season ticket holders. Their second kit, the blue one, is made to resemble the state flag of Colorado.
What Does Sporting KC Need to Do to Guarantee They Get Past New England and Go to the Conference Championship?
Nathan: They need to keep their attacking midfielders from getting too much time on the ball, and prevent them playing one-two’s with the forwards. They’ll be looking for goals and if we can keep possession and stop their ability to counterattack we can win and move on.
Brandon: Find someone to step up and score goals. Our defense is the best in the league, and we have a great midfield. But we lack that one person we can rely on all the time to score goals. If someone can step up and put the ball in the back of the net, Sporting will win the MLS Cup.
Aaron: If SKC can get a lead the first game, I think they’ll win. The defensive line and keeper Jimmy Nielsen are capable of stopping the Revolution’s young strikers.