Seeding: LA No. 1 Seed (Supporters Shield Winner) vs. NY No. 10 Seed (Wild Card No. 4)
Schedule: 10/30 at (NY) Red Bull Arena, 11/3 at (LA) Home Depot Center
Head to Head: NY at LA 1-1, LA at NY 0-2
The Word It is an absolute hell quarterfinal matchup for No. 1 seed Los Angeles, as the Red Bulls’ regular season struggles have forced these two Goliaths to meet head-to-head in a Western Conference Quarterfinal.
What NY Needs to do to Win
Avoid Costly Blunders. Silly defensive mistakes nearly prevented NY from even getting to the playoffs, and the Red Bulls cannot afford to concede these blunders against an experienced and disciplined LA squad. One faulty back pass by Tim Ream or lack of marking by Stephen Keel could lead to a costly goal that would most likely end the wild NY season a few weeks too early.
NY must also get on the scoreboard first, as the team is surprisingly undefeated when breaking the nil-nil deadlock this season.
What LA Needs to do to Win
Attack the Left Wing. New York might have pulled off the win last week, but it wasn’t without massive consequences. Starting right-back Jan Gunnar Solli will be suspended for Leg 1 due to a red card and right mid Dax McCarty is questionable to play after suffering an ankle injury on Wednesday.
That being said, any LA strategy that doesn’t include heavily attacking down the left wing should be thrown in the garbage immediately.
Health? We all know about LA’s current collection of lame stars (Donovan, Beckham and Keane all questionable), but New York now also has some knocks of its own, as Luke Rodgers and Dax McCarty are expected to sit for some of the series. Whichever team gets the most production from its wounded men will likely end up on top at the end of the two legs.
These teams were projected to be the top seeds in the MLS playoffs, yet NY has spoiled that scenario and created what will surely be an entertaining quarterfinal. While LA would have been heavily favored a few months ago, the Galaxy are nursing several incredibly impactful injuries and are not playing the same level of ball they were over the summer. While New York may be without Rodgers and Solli this weekend, the team has proven lately that it can still produce positive results without top players.
It is a whole new season for New York, so it must be judged like the phenomenal team we all expected it to be—s phenomenal team that will stay undefeated against the Galaxy this season and advance to the semifinals.
New York 3-2 on Aggregate.