Category Archives: Sports

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.

Major League Soccer Playoff Preview: Knockout Round

I am a huge soccer fan.  That includes being a huge MLS fan.  I’ve watched the league grow from the very first moment of its existence.  I remember the Clash, the MetroStars, the Mutiny and the Fusion.  So, I wanted to combine my love of beer with my love of this shaggy dog of a league.

Picking a bracket for MLS playoffs like a NCAA Tournament basketball practices is silly.  MLS playoffs are a crap shoot. Picking winners based in part on beers and breweries I the respective cities is as good a way as any to predict the eventually MLS champion as any.  I choose breweries in or around each city that I think are good.  I have either had beer from these breweries (all but 2) or I picked beers that writers I trust recommend.

Here are my Knockout Round picks:

Toronto FC (Folly Brewing) v. Philadelphia Union (Tired Hands) – I’ve had and really like Tired Hands (Philadelphia) my favorite is the SaisonHands.  I’m partial to Belgian style beers (this will become apparent as we move along). I’ve never had any of Folly’s offerings, but from looking at the beer list and descriptions, I would be in farmhouse heaven if I ever get there.  So, I’m going with Toronto to win this knockout game.  They have who should probably be MLS MVP, Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and an inform Jozy Altidore. Anything can happen in a one-off game, but this is probably too much for as slumping Philadelphia to overcome. Pick: Toronto FC.

DC United (DC Brau) v. Montreal Impact (Unibroue) – I’ve had both brewery’s wears and as much as I love DC Brau for doing a beer with my favorite MLS team (favorite player of all time is Eddie Pope, fellow Tar Heel), I must do go with the Impact here.  Unibroue makes Blanche de Chambly, La Fin du Monde, Trois Pistoles, and Maudite.  That is kind of like saying, whatever else, we have Didier Drogba.  That is assuming Drogba doesn’t go all diva and refuse to sit on the bench if he doesn’t start. Pick: Montreal Impact.

LA Galaxy (El Segundo Brewing) v. Real Salt Lake (Uinta) – I have had a lot of Uinta because we carry them regularly at Craft and I’ve only had a few tastes of El Segundo at the last two GABFs I’ve been to.  My favorite from Uinta is the Baba Black Lager (another one of my obsessions: schwarzbiers).  Mostly I picked El Segundo so I could link to this song (RIP Phife Dawg).  The Galaxy should win this game.  Much like the Toronto/ Philly matchup in the Eastern Conference, they are entirely too talented to lose to Real Salt. Pick: LA Galaxy.

Seattle Sounders (Urban Family Brewing) v. Sporting Kansas City (Boulevard) – I love both teams.  Seattle has put it all together after firing Sigi Schmid and bringing in Nicolas Lodeiro.  Both things happened in July.  Kansas City is led by a guy who looks like a hardcore military officer in a bad action movie, but Peter Vermes is a great coach.  This is a game about the solid and occasionally transcendent (because of Benny Feil Haber and Dom Dwyer) Sporting KC and the solid and occasionally transcendent Boulevard Brewing against one of the hottest teams in the league and one of the hot breweries out of the Pacific Northwest. In a one-off game, I’ll take my chances with the hot team so I’m picking the Sounders. Pick: Seattle Sounders.

Coming Friday, the conference semifinal picks.