MLS Playoffs: Editors' Roundtable: Who Can Upset?

It's another round of the Editors' Roundtable with Chief Editor Andrea Canales, Associate Editors Shane Evans and Zac Lee Rigg, MLS columnist Kyle McCarthy, and Mexico Editor Luis Bueno
Real Salt Lake and New England have one-goal leads, while out West, all are equal on aggregate goals, but the editors have definite opinions on which team will advance to the conference finals.

Andrea Canales:
Now that the first playoff games are done, which underdog team will advance in the playoffs? Apparently, no one has any faith in Real Salt Lake, even with their one-goal lead on the Columbus Crew.

Luis Bueno: I have no faith in RSL. They are dreadful on the road and always have been. I see no reason to think that will change. They got a tie out of their road playoff game a year ago, but that was against an opponent who they had some history with, and an opponent who had had zero playoff success of their own. Columbus won MLS Cup last year. They know a thing or two about overcoming adversity.

Canales: Real Salt Lake remind me of the Revs a few years ago - in terms of being a squad that has some playoff mojo. Something about the playoffs really motivates this squad and they turn it up a notch.

Zac Lee Rigg: Well, at least Yura Movsisyan. He came up big with another clutch assist last week. That guy comes awake this time of year.

Shane Evans: Gonna be his last game in those ugly kits.

Canales: If Columbus only scores once, then RSL could win in PKs. No one called NY in the final last year, so I'm not ruling anything out.

Kyle McCarthy: Look, if Columbus wants to win, they have to score and they haven't really looked like doing that recently. So it might be a bit more balanced than we expect.

Shane Evans: Why didn't they start Schelotto, Kyle?

McCarthy: He won't do the defensive work. I think that's what it came down to.

Canales: He's Argentine - aren't they culturally programmed to avoid playing defense? Zac, do you see Chivas USA moving on?

Rigg: Nah, Chivas couldn't beat LA back when it was a better team. Now that they're roughly the same, there's no chance.

Evans: Even when the Galaxy played horrendous defense.

Rigg: Plus, Landon just loves scoring against the Goats. He's got a couple more coming in this tie.

Canales: That leaves the Revs as the underdogs to knock off Chicago - anyone calling that?

Evans: I'd say so. I think Blanco already has one foot out the door.

Bueno: Chicago played average at home all season long. At this point, the Revs advancing past them doesn't seem like a huge upset. But I don't think Blanco's mind is already on Veracruz though. If they lose, it won't be because Blanco didn't show up.

Canales: It's hard to think of Seattle as an underdog, but Houston will be very unhappy with exiting the playoffs in the first round twice in a row.

Bueno: Yeah, in the numerical sense they are, of course, but the Sounders are a really good team. I can totally see them beating Houston in Houston. Seattle hasn't lost to Houston this year.

McCarthy: Seattle's recent road form is stellar, too.

Bueno: Seattle is 5-0-1 in their last six games on grass. Houston is gassed. They've had a long season. Seattle is determined. They won the US Open Cup against a DC team who had not lost at home until Seattle went in there and smacked them around.

Canales: It's do or die, now that the second leg is here.

Bueno: Every game is a final, isn't that what MLS says? We've seen some pretty dull finals if that's the case.

Canales: Well, they're wrong, the first playoff game isn't a final. From now on, they all are.

Bueno: Yeah, and teams won't play for draws in finals.

Rigg: They might - if they're really good at PKs.

Bueno: Road goals should count. They count everywhere else in the world, don't they?

Canales: No, some other competitions don't do away goals.

Evans: Yeah, away goals are where it's at.

Canales: I don't like the away goals rule. I think to say it encourages attacking soccer is bogus. A lot of the Champions League knockout games still had crappy first-leg soccer. To me, a goal is a goal. Where it's scored shouldn't count extra.

Bueno: MLS should change to one-off series all the way through, this first round of away games is lame and always has been. At least the West will play out as one-off conference semifinal series. One game, winner advances, that's that.

Canales: You don't think that as it gets harder to make the playoffs, all the teams deserve a home game?

Bueno: No way.

You'd deny that home game to Seattle?

Bueno: NFL teams don't deserve playoff games just because they made it into the playoffs. You gotta earn your home playoff game. Just getting in shouldn't be enough of a reward.

Canales: NFL is a different kettle of fish. They hardly play any games in the season - too much physical abuse of players. Soccer is more like basketball. The NBA plays a ton of playoff games and regular season, too.

Bueno: NFL's playoffs are legit. MLS playoffs are weak and need a lot of improvement. The NFL regular season matters. Every game matters. MLS... not so much.

Evans: Or, we could just go single table, but that's a whole other bag of beans.

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