MLS Playoff Preview: Conference Semi-Finals

Somehow picking games on the beers/breweries I like put me at 4-0 on the knockout rounds.  That has less to do with any correlation between breweries and the soccer prowess of their home city teams, and more to do with MLS playoff games being random in their outcomes.

Anyway, simply because I went 4-0, I’m back for the conference semi-finals.  Somehow MLS has managed to stretch their playoffs into 4 rounds. The two middle rounds being two leg affairs.

For the soccer uninitiated, 2 legs mean the game is 180 minutes long with goals aggregated over two games.  In MLS, away goals are the tiebreaker if it is even at the end.  If the game is tied at total goals and away goals, we go to overtime and if it is still tied, to the dreaded penalty kicks.

Onto the previews.

Montreal Impact – Unibroue  v. New York Red Bulls – Sixpoint Brewery

In the first battle of New York v. Canada, we get Montreal v. Red Bulls.  Or Unibroue v. Sixpoint.  Where Unibroue makes some of the tastiest beverages in North America, it doesn’t come from the cradle of all culture:  Brooklyn.  Just ask anyone who lives in Brooklyn, they will tell you there is no reason to live anywhere else.  Plus, Montreal as lucky that their first opponent was the offensively challenged DC United who prefers to sit back and absorb pressure.  Now they are playing a Red Bulls team that wants to pressure their opponents all over the field and force mistakes.  Red Bulls may be the whiniest team in the league, but they should get the Eastern Conference final where they may slay the Curse of Caricola.  Some say the curse was vanquished with the 2013 Supporters Shield win.  I say no, it can only die with MLS Cup being raised in the air.  Pick:  Red Bulls

Toronto FC – Folly Brewing v. New York City FC – Grimm Brewing

In New York v. Canada, Part Deux, I’m picking Grimm Brewing.  They are one of my favorite breweries right now.  I look forward to everything they make that I can get my hands on. Anyway, they must win to set up the Eastern Conference finals everyone wants to see, NYCFC v. New York Red Bull.  And by everyone, I, of course, mean some people in New York and even fewer in New Jersey.  If the Curse of Caricola is going to rear its head, it will be in the conference final and it will be spectacular. This is the defense optional semifinal matchup.  Expect lots of goals.  Pick:  NYCFC

LA Galaxy – El Segundo Brewing v. Colorado Rapids – Ratio

Now we move to the Western Conference, where I’m hoping the game in Colorado will be played in the snow.  Just because it will serve MLS right for playing a game in Colorado in November. El Segundo may be a good young brewery, but the Galaxy is an old expensive team.  Colorado is either the MLS version of Leicester City or they are going to be a force for a few years.  I’m leaning towards a force for a few years.  They have the same we’re here to stay feel you get when you walk into Ratio. (Editor’s Note:  That was a really forced metaphor. The writer should be ashamed but isn’t.) Pick: Colorado.

Seattle Sounders FC – Urban Family Brewing v. FC Dallas – Deep Ellum

This and the Toronto v. NYCFC semifinal should be the two fun ones.  In this case, these teams can play some defense. They were two of the most fun teams to watch coming down the stretch of the season.  Dallas will be without its talismanic (soccer term) Mauro Diaz after he ruptured his Achilles against these very same Sounders two weeks ago.  Dallas as still managed to keep their season flying forward. Even though Nicolas Lodeiro is playing great and Jordan Morris is living up to the hype, I still must go with Dallas. Pick: FC Dallas.