With two draws and two one-goal victories in the first leg of the conference semifinals, there isn't much between the eight MLS playoff teams. Kyle McCarthy tries to sort it all out in the Goal.com MLS rankings.(Note: In my consternation in trying to assemble the rankings this week, I opted for a different approach from the one I used to compile the power rankings last Wednesday and the weekly rankings during the course of the season. In this edition, I have slotted each of the four playoff series from the most likely to turn over [Houston-Seattle] to the least likely to turn over [New England-Chicago] in my estimation. With the fine balance in each of these ties, it's a rough science at best.)
1. New England – After Shalrie Joseph's goal snatched a 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon, the Revs will defend for their lives and attempt to snatch a goal off a set piece in the return leg at Toyota Park. (-)
2. Los Angeles – The Galaxy will look to replicate the latter stages of the first half of Sunday's 2-2 draw rather than the beginning of either stanza. (-)
3. Real Salt Lake – With the Crew's attack stumbling in recent weeks, RSL's best bet to spring an upset may be pressing players into the attack and trying to grab another goal. (-)
4. Houston – In the tightest of the four series, the Dynamo holds the narrowest of advantages after a gritty 0-0 draw at Qwest Field on Thursday. (-)
5. Seattle – Sounders FC's recent road form (4-1-1 in the past six) certainly should give the Dynamo pause. (-)
6. Columbus – The Crew should find a way to break through at Crew Stadium, but can Columbus score enough to avoid the perils of overtime and penalty kicks? (-)
7. Chivas USA – Speed, speed, speed over the top with a dash of Kljestan and a return to defensive sanity. That's how the Red-and-White should approach the “away” leg. (-)
8. Chicago – The first 20 minutes (and last year's 3-0 second leg playoff win) showed the Fire can rip the Revs apart when required, but Chicago have to cope better with New England's physicality and improve its set piece defending (or avoid conceding them in the first place) to advance to a second consecutive East final. (-)
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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