European soccer leagues and the Champions League may get more respect, but let's not look past the very competitive MLS Cup Playoffs currently in the semifinals stage.
We've got some of the league's top stars (Landon Donovan, Chris Wondolowski, Thierry Henry) in action. The defending champs, the Los Angeles Galaxy, are on the brink of being eliminated, while there's an epic east coast clash between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.
Two of the four matches are tied after the first leg, while Sporting Kansas City will try to overcome a two-goal deficit at home. There's plenty of drama left to be had, folks, and I'm here to predict exactly how it will play out.
To the predictions!
San Jose Earthquakes over Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy were a stoppage-time free kick away from making this a very tough second leg to predict. Instead, Victor Bernardez's late goal gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 lead heading back to San Jose, making the likelihood of a repeat championship for the Galaxy that much more unlikely.
Already boasting the league's best record and top goal scorer (Chris Wondolowski), the Earthquakes were favorites to begin with. They won't blow their advantage at home.
Houston Dynamo over Sporting Kansas City
Don't expect the Dynamo to blow their two-goal advantage, even having to travel to KC in the second leg. And keep in mind that Houston hasn't lost to Kansas City this year, with two wins and two draws.
Crazier things have happened, of course. Plenty of teams have traversed a 2-0 deficit and ultimately won, after all. But I don't see this Dynamo team allowing that to happen.
Seattle Sounders over Real Salt Lake
I like Seattle in this game for one main reason—after salvaging a tie on a wet and soggy pitch at home, they now get leading scorer Eddie Johnson back for the second leg. Johnson has been brilliant in bursts for both the Sounders and the United States national team this year, and I expect him to have a major impact in this game.
Real Salt Lake can take solace in the fact that they have the only win between the two teams this year (they've drawn on three occasions) and they'll have the backing of their home crowd (they were 11-4-2 at home this year).
I'm going a bit against the grain on this one. Real Salt Lake haven't given up a goal in 433 minutes and have been excellent at home, but my gut is telling me Seattle will find a way to prevail. Hopefully, my gut doesn't make me look like a fool.
New York Red Bulls over D.C. United
The Red Bulls have several advantages in the second leg (currently locked in a 1-1 tie), which is why I feel they will advance.
- After Hurricane Sandy forced the two teams to swap home dates, the Red Bulls will be playing at home in the decisive match.
- United will be without Andy Najar and likely won't have top player Dwayne De Rosario.
- The Red Bulls' top scorer (and second-leading scorer in the league) Kenny Cooper will likely see himself reinstated into the lineup.
These teams are pretty evenly matched, so this game could honestly go in either direction. But I expect New York to come away with a tight win.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets aren't afraid to get emotional after a big win.