Who will be playing for the Eastern Conference Finals? We will know on Wednesday night. By Tenzin Choephel.
There were some surprising results over the weekend. Houston came back from being down 2-0 to level the game in the 90th minute. New England stole a win from Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake looked vulnerable against the LA Galaxy. Finally, the Seattle Sounders continue their frustrating play against the red-hot Portland Timbers. But who will end up advancing?
New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo
New York gets to come home for the second leg of their playoff tie against Houston after dominating play in the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium. While they may be shaken up after Houston’s comeback, they shouldn’t have much to fear. The Red Bulls have been on a tear for the last month. Tim Cahill, not Thierry Henry, has put the team on his back. Cahill has 12 goals in his last 20 games, an amazing feat that helps his MVP candidacy. Cahill is getting support, though. Players like Erik Alexander, Dax McCarty, and Peguy Luyindula have all stepped up. In the first leg, the Red Bulls excelled in all phases of the game: from possession, to service, to finishing. The real problem will be the loss of Jamison Olave after his red card in the 65th minute. The loss of Olave played a huge part in Houston’s 2nd goal.
Houston needs to exploit the Red Bulls’ defense because of Olave’s absence. The Red Bulls lack depth at center back, so it will be up to the strikers to take advantage of the situation. Whether that is Will Bruin, Omar Cummings, or Giles Barnes, whoever plays needs to attack the defense from the wide play of Brad Davis. Getting as many set pieces and corner kicks as possible will put pressure on the Red Bulls and give the Dynamo a chance. Despite Olave’s absence, New York’s offense will roll at home. They just have too much firepower.
Result: 3-1 New York (5-3 Agg)
Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution
Most critics were surprised that New England was able to pull out a win against Sporting KC. But looking at the Revs play, they won three consecutive games to secure the #3 seed in the playoffs. What’s not to like about them? They are a young team that plays exciting soccer. Add that to their solid defense and Matt Reis’ tremendous form at the age of 38 and the result no longer surprises. However, the Revs did come out very slowly against KC; the difference in the match was New England’s ability to finish its chances.
Kansas City, on the other hand, had very few opportunities. However, those that they did have were gilt-edged and should have been more than enough to put the game away. Teal Bunbury’s chance had to be the most disappointing. Luckily, a late goal by Aurelien Colin gave KC some life heading back home for the second leg. Defensively they were not bad, but the few breaks they gave the Revs were converted. KC has had a lot of problems finishing this year and needs better play up top. Maybe inserting a midfielder like Benny Feilhaber to open up the Revs defense or replacing Bunbury with DP Claudio Bieler could turn the tide. KC will get their chances again, but will find similar results. Revs will play it safe and bunker down to advance.
Result: 1-1 Tie (3-2 Agg)