The Thermometer: MLS Cup Playoffs edition
In a dramatic final weekend, Chris Wondolowski took home the Golden Boot while the LA Galaxy managed to win their third-ever Supporters’ Shield, and with it the regular-season Western Conference title.
Big deal. Now the second season begins. The MLS Cup Playoffs are set to start on Thursday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as the Colorado Rapids host the Columbus Crew (6 p.m. PT, ESPN2). The Thermometer takes a look at the teams who have built up momentum heading into the postseason.
Wild, Wild West
The Galaxy beat FC Dallas to take home the Supporters’ Shield on the last day of the season. The Seattle Sounders lost to the lowly Houston Dynamo to close out their regular-season campaign.
Counterintuitively, however, the Sounders still hit the playoffs as the hotter team. As a matter of fact, they’re the hottest of all the teams in this year’s dance.
Consider this: Before their Texas hiccup, the Sounders had won five MLS games in a row. After their hiccup, they still have 12 points from their last five fixtures, and have nine goals in those contests. That’s second to only Colorado among playoff teams.
The Galaxy, meanwhile, have nine points from their last five games. Respectable, to be sure, but in that stretch they have the same number of goals as Chris Wondolowski.
Seattle have the momentum. LA do not.
An absolutely Herculean effort gave the Bay Area native the Golden Boot in the last week of the MLS regular season. But now that race is over.
Not a moment too soon, perhaps. Wondolowski’s six strikes in the San Jose Earthquakes’ last five games are the only goals the club has scored, and the Quakes have gotten just seven of the last 15 points available. Frank Yallop needs to find someone else to carry the weight in San Jose.
Beasts of the East
The New York Red Bulls finally beat the New England Revolution. It was their first victory against the Revs since 2005, and it clinched them top spot in the Eastern Conference.
More importantly, it was a shutout for the club. Despite boasting a truly terrifying offense on paper, the Red Bulls are tied for last among playoff teams in goals scored over their last five matches. But in that stretch, they still have 10 points. If New York win, they will win because they shut opposing teams down. They’ve done that down the stretch, allowing just two goals in the last month. The Red Bulls are charging into the postseason.
Unstoppable Force, Movable Object
The Rapids have scored 11 goals in their last five games. The Crew have allowed seven goals in their last five games.
And now William Hesmer is out for the playoffs. Good luck, Columbus.
FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake put their mark on the 2010 MLS season with two remarkable streaks. The Hoops compiled a 19-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, while the reigning champs went undefeated at Rio Tinto Stadium. They split the season series down the middle, each team winning 2-0 at home against the other.
Now they collide in the playoffs. Based on recent performance, it looks like the Claret-and-Cobalt are going to get the upper hand.
Not by much, though. FCD have seven points in their last five games; RSL have nine. RSL have seven goals in their last five games; FCD have nine.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let the games begin.