In the first week of Major League Soccer playoff games, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Chicago Fire were eliminated, and the remaining eight teams—the LA Galaxy, the San Jose Earthquakes, Real Salt Lake, the Seattle Sounders, DC United, the New York Red Bulls, the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City—all played the first leg of their respective conference semifinals matchups.
Let’s see who makes the MLS Playoff XI from this past week’s action.
Nick Rimando was an absolute warrior in Real Salt Lake’s first leg 0-0 draw with Seattle.
Not only did Rimando make incredible save after incredible save, but he did it in the final 25 minutes of the game with a broken nose and a nasty gash above his right eye.
Ashe was a big part of the Dynamo’s victory in the first round of the playoffs, beating the Chicago Fire on the road 2-1. The Dynamo then continued their great start in the playoffs, beating Sporting KC 2-0.
The Vancouver Whitecaps were the only team with a losing record that made the playoffs this year, but one of the biggest reasons they were there in the first place was the defending of Jay Demerit.
Against the LA Galaxy, Demerit put in a warrior-like performance before succumbing to what appeared to be a complete tear of his groin muscle.
The Whitecaps were leading the game early, but on the play that the Galaxy evened the game up, Demerit was injured and forced out. He looked to be in excruciating pain on the bench.
Shortly after Demerit went out, the Galaxy won the game.
For two straight games, Gonzalez has put on fantastic defensive performances.
Against the Whitecaps, Gonzalez was flying all over the pitch stopping Vancouver’s attacks.
Against the Earthquakes, Gonzalez was no different, and for 94 minutes, he and the LA defense shut down San Jose’s vaunted attack trio of Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
Yes, Gonzalez unluckily deflected Victor Bernardez’s free-kick past Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders late in the game, but Gonzalez’s overall effort was terrific.
Franklin put on a terrific performance against San Jose on Sunday night as he upset the Earthquakes' left flank.
Franklin gave the Earthquakes problems all night as he pushed forward, served a number of nice balls into the box and even cut in a few times for good shots.
Magee certainly could have done better finishing his chances against San Jose on Sunday night, but his goal against Vancouver last week saved the LA Galaxy’s season.
On a difficult fully volleyed attempt, Magee’s 69th-minute goal leveled the game against Vancouver and provided the energy the Galaxy needed to win the game.
Beckham, despite being 37 years old, is still a fantastic footballer.
His movement around the pitch, his smoothness on the ball and his ability to both maintain simple possession and provide fantastic service to his teammates is simply world-class.
Watching him boss the midfield against both the Vancouver Whitecaps and the San Jose Earthquakes in his two MLS playoff games so far this year has been an absolute treat.
He did miss a penalty against New York in the 33rd minute of their first-leg encounter, but that was due more to Luis Robles making a fantastic save other than Pontius taking a poor shot.
Pontius had a great game against New York, having caused the Red Bulls trouble on their right flank all game and having given Connor Lade some serious headaches.
Had Andy Najar not lost his mind and been ejected, DC United most likely would have come out of the game with the win.
Will Bruin has been absolutely on fire so far in the 2012 MLS Playoffs.
He started off with two goals against the Chicago Fire in the first round to knock the Fire out, and then, he picked up another goal and an assist against Kansas City on Sunday.
Calen Carr has made two assists so far in the playoffs; both of them were fantastic.
Against the Fire, Carr quickly took advantage of a Fire turnover to put Bruin in behind for the second goal that sealed the Fire’s fate.
Against Sporting Kansas City, Carr made a great run—he beat his mark and drove down the sideline before putting the ball into the middle for Bruin to finish it off.
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