After a set of two-legged affairs in the quarterfinals, Major League Soccer is down to it’s final four teams: Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes.
In the Eastern Conference Final, a ridiculous title considering both clubs competing are two and three timezones away from the East coast, Colorado Rapids will host San Jose Earthquakes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The clubs split their regular season matches, each side winning 1-0 at home. Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski scored for San Jose in their win back in May while a Jon Busch own-goal gave Colorado their home win in August. Both sides are surprises at this stage of the competition, finishing seventh and eighth in the regular season table.
But San Jose controlled their second leg against New York Red Bull and certainly earned their spot. Colorado got a late goal from Conor Casey to pull even with Columbus Crew and ultimately won in penalties. Unfortunately this semifinal will result in either a team that won the fewest number of games of any playoff participant (Colorado) or a team that lost more games than any other playoff participant (San Jose) reaching the MLS Cup Final. In 2009 Real Salt Lake came from the eighth positon to win the playoff tournament. This semifinal will give a glimpse as to whether another miracle run is possible.
The Western Conference Final will be played in Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center as LA Galaxy host FC Dallas. The Galaxy cruised past hapless Seattle while Dallas knocked off holders Real Salt Lake with a 1-1 draw in Utah. Dallas was the hottest team of the second half of the season, taking an eighteen-game unbeaten streak from May to October, while Los Angeles was top of the league for twenty-eight of the season’s thirty weeks.
With a stingy defense and explosive attack, Los Angeles are certainly favorites to return to the MLS Cup Final, a game they lost on penalties last year. But Dallas are a quality side and did very well to take down a strong Salt Lake team in the first round. Dallas’ streak came to an end against Salt Lake and Los Angeles to close the regular season, but FCD responded by eliminating RSL last week. Whether they can do that in a single-game tie against LA Galaxy remains to be seen. Regardless, the winner of the Western Conference Final will absolutely be the favorite for the MLS Cup.
- Colorado Rapids v. San Jose Earthquakes
- LA Galaxy v. FC Dallas