Skip to content

Looking at the MLS conference semifinal matchups – and they are dandies

Nov 2, 2012, 11:15 AM EST

Los Angeles Galaxy v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

Now that the one-game elimination round is done – the 4th - vs. 5th-place finishers clashing in those 90-minute knockout contests – the eight survivors are paired neatly for conference semifinals. And there isn’t a dog of a series among them.

Storylines look strong in each matchup. Remember, these are home-and-away, total goals series. The lower seeds generally host first, which means the 30-minute extra time in the event of a tie after 180 minutes plays out at the higher seed’s venue.

Each matchup is stocking stuffed with viewing appeal and ample “wow” factor. A quick glance at each. (The complete playoff schedule is here.)

Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo

Chief storylines:

  • Sporting Kansas City is the league’s top team in terms of applying high pressure, immediate and ferocious – and the extra rest afforded to SKC can only help as the Eastern Conference winners bomb and bounce around.
  • The Dynamo is unbeaten at BBVA Compass Stadium, although the “weakness,” if you will, has been in a few too many draw at their amply orange downtown ground. Houston is 11-0-6 there.
  • Sporting Kansas City will be favored overall, but might be a little nervous after what happened last year; Houston prevailed as these teams (with many of the same players) met in last year’s Eastern Conference final at Livestrong Sporting Park outside Kansas City.
  • Two of the league’s top assist men are in this one, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi (pictured) and Houston’s Brad Davis.

(MORE: Analysis of Houston’s Wednesday win over Chicago)

(MORE: Houston manager Dominic Kinnear is good at this playoff thing)

D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls

Chief storylines:

  • D.C. United did the right thing in agreeing to swap spots here. Some things are bigger than soccer, clearly. Set to begin in Harrison, N.J., the series will now launch at RFK Stadium, a switch driven by logistical concerns surrounding the hard-hit areas of New Jersey. It creates a slight competitive disadvantage for D.C. United.
  • The consensus says New York has more talent, but D.C. United finished stronger and more confidently, 5-0-2 down the stretch.
  • United is 12-1-4 at home; New York was 5-7-5 on the road, so Ben Olsen’s side has a chance to grab a good result and add pressure on a New York side that surely already feels some, with all that ballyhooed talent and a manager whose place seems anything but certain.

(MORE: Looking the venue swap)

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Chief storylines:

  • The teams, as they say, do not like each other. The latest, greatest is example is here. Simply delicious.
  • The Galaxy regulars have injury concerns and cannot feel as well-rested as they would ideally like to be. L.A. played a close one last night (a 2-1 win over Vancouver) while San Jose benefits from the additional R&R.
  • One of the injury concerns is to David Beckham, who is slowed by an ongoing ankle injury.
  • You’ll hear a lot about Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski, and for darn good reason. “Wonder Wondo” just matched a 17-year-old league record for most goals in a season with 27.
  • Earthquakes teammate Steven Lenhart may be the most polarizing figure in MLS. He’s either an effective striker who rightly exploits the league’s lenient refereeing ways, or he’s more battering ram than soccer player and fouls or flops on almost every sequence in which he is involved. All dependd on your point of view.
  • The league’s top pair of center backs will stand and be counted in this one: San Jose’s Victor Bernardez and the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez.

(MORE: Analysis of L.A.’s win over Vancouver)

(MORE: Landon Donovan and some very impressive numbers)

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

Chief storylines:

  • Real Salt Lake put together a wonderful, core group four years ago. It helped the Utah side win an MLS Cup and establish itself as one of the more consistent, reliable sides in league and regional competitions. But it seems this particular group’s time is up. Changes are ahead … so this looks like a last hurrah kind of thing.
  • Seattle has been on the cusp of “more” for approximately the same amount of time. Are all the elements finally in place, all the holes plugged?
  • Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero were the West’s top strike duo down the stretch, but Johnson’s hamstring strain in Seattle’s regular season finale may have left him in doubt.

(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s preview of tonight’s Seattle-RSL meeting)

Latest Posts
  1. Has Southampton’s bubble burst? Top four challenge takes yet another hit

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Koeman’s Saints have scored just once in their last five matches. Can they recover and remain in the top six?

  2. Report: England U-20/Man City U-21 defender loaned to New York City FC

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    http://www.mcfc.com/ http://www.mcfc.com/

    Facey, 20, was the captain of Man City’s highly-touted Elite Development Squad and had been on trial with NYCFC since early January.

  3. In-form Luis Suarez leads Barcelona to 3-1 win at Granada; La Liga, UCL beware? (video)

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi AP

    With an edge on Man City in the UCL and second place to Real Madrid in La Liga, Barca has a chance to do big things if it continues to click.

  4. Manchester United’s two-goal hero Wayne Rooney hails “deserved win.” Should he stay up front?

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:33 PM EST

    With RVP out injured and Falcao firing blanks, surely Rooney should remain up front…

  5. Stoke City 1-0 Hull City: Super sub Crouch stays hot, nabs Potters point

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:10 PM EST

    b0f8e07f8546f054f178b35c8325c107 Getty Images

    The giant Englishman scored less than a minute after subbing on for Mame Diouf, and Stoke stayed in the top half.

  6. Burnley 0-1 Swansea City: Own goal, Fabianski foil Clarets at Turf Moor

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:03 PM EST

    Burnley v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    The three points moved Swansea ahead of West Ham for eight in the Premier League table.

  7. Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland: Rooney nets double to seal easy win

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:57 AM EST

    Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

    Rooney’s double sees off a stubborn Sunderland side to cement United’s spot in the top four.

  8. Newcastle United 1-0 Aston Villa: Cisse’s goal keeps Sherwood’s Villans in the drop zone

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:55 AM EST

    cd5e63930af01b2ae5ebb9355e08734b Getty Images

    Villa’s 22 points are even with Burnley and QPR, but their goal differential is the worst of the three.

  9. VIDEO: Allardyce “shocked” by West Ham’s two-goal loss to Crystal Palace

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-CRYSTAL PALACE Getty Images

    Mark the date as the moment Sam Allardyce’s long shot dreams of European football for West Ham all but died.

  10. WATCH: Aubameyang/Reus pull Batman/Robin celebration, then Reus makes a GK look silly

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:34 AM EST

    @Bundesliga @Bundesliga

    TheRevierderby was all Borussia Dortmund, which keeps climbing the Bundesliga table after a horrible start to the season.

  11. VIDEO: Alan Pardew delighted with two-goal hero Murray despite red card

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Murray scores twice, gets red card in eventful outing at Upton Park.

  12. LIVE – Premier League, at the half: West Brom, Newcastle ahead; goalless elsewhere

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:55 AM EST

    Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Goals are in short supply. See if they arrive in the second half by watching live, here.

  13. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Hull City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:44 AM EST

    Hull City v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Sone Aluko and Gaston Ramirez move last week’s hero Dame N’Doye to the bench, as the Tigers look to put together a three-match winning streak.

  14. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Danny Ings will lead the charge for Burnley, which has controversially non-suspended Ashley Barnes in the Starting XI.

  15. West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace: Eagles win fiery London derby

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Eagles soar past Hammers a Murray scores twice, gets red card.

  16. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:35 AM EST

    Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Emmanuel Riviere gets a start for Newcastle, with Ayoze Perez heading for the bench. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez is back in the 18 as well.

  17. Watch Live: West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:27 AM EST

    Koeman's arrival as boss has been key in steadying Saints. Getty Images

    Can the Baggies beat high-flying Saints? Watch live online, right here.

  18. Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:08 AM EST

    Swansea City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Red Devils stay in the top four with a win? Watch live online, right here.