If you've been under a rock the last week -- or perhaps you live in the 62% of the country that doesn't have Univision Deportes -- then you would've missed a terrific start to the 2015
Some Car Company MLS Playoffs. Fear not, though, because we here at The Mane Land have decided to keep you up to date and privy to all the latest and greatest information in something we're going to call "The Mane Land MLS Playoff Roundup."
Reminder: The MLS Playoff system is a bit of its own monster. The knockout round was played this past week, pitting the bottom four seeds in each conference in one-off games that saw the winners advance to face the two highest seeds in the conference semifinal stage. The first legs of those semifinals were played on Sunday, and the highest scoring team on aggregate in each matchup after next Sunday's second leg will advance to the conference final round. Note that ties go to the team with the highest number of road goals. If you're a visual person, here's a link to the playoff bracket.
Let's get started.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
After taking care of business at home against a New England Revolution squad that limped its way into the post season, D.C. got the privilege of hosting the Supporters' Shield winning New York Red Bulls in a postseason edition of MLS's second oldest rivalry (behind the California
Clasico Classic between LA and San Jose, no I don't count the "Brimstone Cup").
The first leg saw the regular season champs take a 1-0 lead in the series with a key road goal from a Dax McCarty header on the end a well-worked set piece. If you like tactical details from a guy with a Dutch accent, Russ Thaler would like to introduce you to Thomas Rongen who has the breakdown of the goal.
Stat to know: D.C. leads the all-time postseason series, 7-2-2
Prediction: New York takes care of business and advances to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Columbus Crew 1 - 2 Montreal Impact
Montreal stomped their Canadian rivals Toronto FC, 3-0, in the knockout stage. In what was a typical Toronto defensive performance, the Impact scored all three goals in a matter of 21 minutes in the first half and advanced to face the second-seeded Columbus Crew, which ended the regular season by dominating D.C. United, 5-0.
The first leg saw Montreal continue its winning trend of late behind goals from captain Patrice Bernier and Costa Rican international Johan Venegas. C-Bus got the all important road goal from Federico Higuain, and set themselves up nicely for what should be a terrific second leg back in Ohio.
Stat to know: Didier Drogba has 12 goals and one assist in his 13 games for Montreal.
Prediction: Montreal gets a goal on the road and advances to the conference final.
Western Conference Semifinals
FC Dallas 1 - 2 Seattle Sounders
Seattle dispatched of its playoff nemesis and the defending champion LA Galaxy in the knockout round in no small part due to LA's atrocious defending. Omar Gonzalez, Steven Gerrard, Donovan Ricketts, A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo all deserved game balls for their contributions to Seattle's 3-2 victory.
Seattle's opponent in the semifinal round is FC Dallas, and the Sounders nearly bit the bullet in the first leg after Dallas' budding star Fabian Castillo scored on a lightning quick counter in the first half. Seattle answered in the second with spectacular goals from Austrian international Andreas Ivanschitz and Clint Dempsey, the latter of which was a spectacular free kick.
Quote to know: "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't," Clint Dempsey said of his free kick goal. Thanks for that, Deuce.
Prediction: Oscar Pareja seemed confident in his postgame comments saying, "The series is open, and we wait for them in Frisco." Dallas seals the deal at home, winning 2-0 and advancing 3-2 on aggregate.
Portland won what has to be one of the wildest playoff games ever in its knockout round bout against Sporting Kansas City. The match ended 2-2, and saw the penalty shootout go all the way down to the goalkeepers. Adam Kwarasey was the better of the two, scoring his penalty while saving Tim Melia's. If you missed it, stop what you're doing and check out the highlights. With that the Timbers advanced to face their Cascadia rivals in the Whitecaps.
The first leg ended scoreless at Providence Park, with Portland nearly taking the late winner when Max Urruti's curler ricocheted off the post in the closing minutes. Heading into the second leg in British Columbia, both teams have the bit between their teeth.
Stat to know: Vancouver has won the most Cascadia Cups since its inception in 2004 with five. Seattle and Portland have won four and three, respectively.
Prediction: Portland bags an away goal in the second leg and advances on a 1-1 aggregate scoreline.
Do you disagree with any of these predictions? Let us know in the comments section!