Well, with Denz unavailable through injury (though sources say he could be available for selection against Dallas on the 6th), and other writers suffering from some bad form in front of goal, good ol' Spoonsky's here to save the day! Or something like that. Anyhow, he's here to preview the first round playoff action.
Colorado vs. Columbus (Thursday, 7:00 MT, ESPN2)
I see this one being a bit of a dull game. Colorado is on a hot streak, barring 5 flukey minutes vs. RSL, and will definitely be smelling blood, especially after the news that Will Hesmer is out for the remainder of the playoffs. Andy Greunebaum (is that how you spell it? I've seen a couple of different spellings but I think this is what it says on his jersey) might only be known for allowing Danny Cepero's freak goal, but he's got to be better than poor old Eddy Gaven in goal, right?
More after the jump.
So, with the Crew looking shaky, despite a 3-1 victory over the Union on the final weekend, I see Casey, Cummings and Colorado shading this one. It might not be the best game, especially if the Crew can neutralize the C & C for large parts of the game, but in the end I see Colorado triumphing.
Prediction: Colorado 1-0 Columbus - Cummings will score to give the Rapids a narrow advantage to take to Crew Stadium.
San Jose vs. New York (Saturday, 8:00 MT, Telefutura)
Oh, how I'd love to see San Jose win this series. All the glitz and glamour of the Red Bulls (the city, the stadium, and of course the players) against the team with a stadium that seat 10,000 people. I think San Jose might, just might, be able to beat the Red Bulls in this one... but they'll need somebody else, other than Golden Boot winner and MVP candidate Chris Wondolowski to stand up. Geovanni has been a great signing for the Quakes, and has gone largely unnoticed to the tornado-like form of Wondo in the second half of the season. But other than those two, who will step up for them?
As for the Red Bulls, the message from Hans Backe will be simple: stop Wondolowski. If Tim Ream can do that, then you have to say it will likely be a fun day for Juan Pablo Angel and co. The latest reports are saying that Henry will be unavailable for the first leg; but really, do the Red Bulls need him? With Angel leading the line, supported by Mehdi Ballouchy and Estonian stand-out Joel Lindpere, NY is capable of playing some great soccer. Yes, Henry does bring that little bit of extra class... but the Red Bulls should be okay without him. Speaking of Henry, RSL owe him a huge thanks for his stupid stunt that injured Kevin Hartman. Just saying.
Seattle vs. LA (Sunday, 6:00 MT, ESPN2)
Ah, definitely the match of the first round right here. 40,000+ packed into Qwest Field on Haloween to see their Sounders beat Beckham and co upside the head? Should be good. And aside from all the hype, it actually promises to be a pretty competitive match. The experience of the Galaxy vs. the youthful exuberance of the Sounders, who will look to utilize their incredible speed on the flanks against a rather slow Galaxy backline. Zakuani and Nyassi, this is your time to shine.
For the Galaxy, of course they have the quality. But will they, like the '09 Crew, fall at the first hurdle? I see them playing for a draw here, and then looking to beat the Sounders at the HDC... but wasn't that the strategy of Robert Warzycha when they went into Rio Tinto last year? And you saw how that worked out for them!
Prediction: Seattle 2-0 LA - Nyassi and Zakuani to run riot on the flanks, and provide quality service for Montero and Nkufo, who'll get a goal apiece. And wouldn't it just be delicious if LA were to win a penalty on the right-hand (south?) goal of Qwest Field, meaning Donovan would step up and place the ball on the same penalty spot that saw him balloon his spot-kick over and hand RSL the advantage in MLS Cup. You never know...
I'll probably (read between the lines: might) do a more in depth preview of RSL-Dallas later this week. I hope I have served you well, oh all-mighty Denz. Get well soon, because this took longer than I thought!