100 Percent Soccer: World Series may be over, but MLS season is still going strong
By Nick Green
Completely overshadowed by a World Series for the ages, a little-known fall clasico known as the MLS playoffs has finally reached its “maybe you want to think about watching stage” now that the history-making Dodgers’ season is history.
Sure, the worst-season-ever Galaxy were eliminated from the playoffs in about August (or thereabouts), while LAFC doesn’t start play until next year.
That leaves the underdog likes of the small-market Columbus Crew, a city its owners just announced they want to leave after two decades in a stroke of tasteful timing.
Both New York clubs are still in it, and there’s a tense Pacific Northwest derby between the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Portland Timbers, Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC round out the last eight.
It’s no slugfest out there, not with two 0-0 first-leg conference semifinals, including the game between Seattle and Vancouver, which set an MLS playoff record with just one shot on target over the entire 90 minutes.
Sadly, the deeply flawed MLS playoff format rewards conservatism over adventurism. Few take chances in the often cagey opener regarded as the initial 90 minutes of a 180-minute game.
History rewards that approach.
Only three times in MLS playoff history has a team that hosted the first leg and lost then won the second leg on the road to advance.
It was left to MLS Cup favorite Toronto FC, first in wins and pretty much everything else in the MLS regular season, to provide more than one goal with a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.
And then the Crew, coming off an unlikely win over Atlanta and their massive record-breaking home crowd of 67,221 in the last round, broke loose Tuesday night and spanked New York FC 4-1.
How’s that for a metric, as one observer noted on Twitter?