There's a misconception among a vocal minority of soccer types that a playoff system isn't the way to go. The logic goes that the Big European Leagues don't use a playoff, and therefore we shouldn't either. There's often more evidence provided with the argument than that (something or another that includes the phrase "competitive balance"), but that's the gist.
You know the argument persists because Fox play-by-play man John Spencer made a mention of it in his call of the second leg between Seattle and Dallas on Sunday. In the second half Spencer mentioned that Seattle midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz liked the playoff system because, "It's the American way." That's all fine and good, but it misses the point.
The playoff system is our method of determining a champion because it's more fun. Anyone who watched Seattle-Dallas or Columbus-Montreal knows that. The do-or-die scenario gives opportunities for extreme moments of heroism in the midst of high drama. The result can be really exciting and, simply put, lots of fun.
If you missed any of the fun from this weekend's second legs, we've got you covered in this week's roundup.
Here's a link to the updated bracket.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
New York Red Bulls 2 - D.C. United 0 (Aggregate)
ESPN brought out the big gun for the second leg between the Atlantic Cup rivals with UK-based commentator Jon Champion on the call. Champion, if you don't know, is notable for being one of the many voices of the Premier League in England and was the play-by-play for ESPN's second commentary pairing in the World Cup pecking order in Brazil last year.
The only problem? The game was kind of a dud. With only the third Red Bull Arena sellout crowd on hand, New York and D.C. combined to have only seven shots on target. New York came out on top after Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in stoppage time to seal up the Supporters' Shield Winners' place in the Eastern Conference Final.
Quote to know: "When I seen him going through, my eyes lit up, man" - BWP on teammate Gonzalo Veron in the buildup to his goal.
Columbus Crew SC 4 - Montreal Impact 3 (Aggregate)
In what was the start of a great finish to Playoff Soccer Sunday, C-Bus halted the Didier Drogba-fueled freight train that had been steamrolling the rest of the league. This game had everything; two blown offside calls that led to goals for either side, a missed PK attempt by Kei Kamara and even extra time. In the end, Kamara scored his second goal of the game on a perfectly placed header in the 111th minute, and the Crew held strong at home to advance to face the Red Bulls.
Stat to know: To put the NY-D.C. game into context, Columbus and Montreal combined for 20 shots on target.
Western Conference Semifinals
FC Dallas 3 - Seattle Sounders 3 (Aggregate - Dallas Advances on Shootout)
This one took the cake for best game of the day. After 84 minutes of futile effort, Dallas and Seattle exploded for three goals that looked to put both teams in and out of the postseason picture. I'll let twitter add in some details.
84 minutes of crap followed by an UNREAL 2nd leg between #DALvSEA - 3 goals in 5 minutes & PKs. Great job by both teams. Congrats @FCDallas— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_FOX) November 9, 2015
Just sat down 5m ago to watch the MLS playoffs for the first time this year - given the 5m I chose, I think I am the winner tonight #DALvSEA— Bluebeard (@BluebeardRex) November 9, 2015
In short, it was a strong candidate to convince the uninitiated as to why playoffs are awesome. Alexi Lalas was cackling with joy on live television. It was fantastic. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and find a friend who DVR'd it. It was a classic MLS Playoff moment.
Not to mention that Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez, who looks like he should have been in an algebra class somewhere, made a name for himself in the shootout with two saves.
Quote to know: "That's the MLS for you. I think that's one of the strong things about the MLS, its parity." - Seattle keeper Stefan Frei on the loss to FC Dallas.
Here's a good recap, courtesy of the FC Dallas communications department:
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 - Portland Timbers 2 (Aggregate)
The nightcap saw Portland escape a strong playoff atmosphere in Vancouver with two away goals that sent them through to face Dallas in two weeks. Fanendo Adi scored a great goal in the 31st minute to put Vancouver in a hole. The Whitecaps would need two goals to overcome the advantage the away goals rule gave Portland, and with speedster Kekuta Manneh leaving the game early with an ankle injury, the Caps' chances were grim. With Vancouver pouring numbers forward, the Timbers put things away in the 94th when Diego Chara scored on a counter attack to put the last nail in the coffin of Canada's MLS Cup hopes.
Stat to know: Diego Valeri lead both teams with seven shots in the game.
With an international break between us and the Conference Finals, enjoy watching Darlington Nagbe wear a U.S. jersey this week while playing in a baseball stadium. Come back next week, where I'll preview and predict MLS's final four.