MLS Cup Playoffs: Knockout Round Picks


Well after a grueling seven month season, it is now officially MLS Cup Playoffs time! For those of you who are new to North America’s premier soccer league, MLS Cup is the league’s end-all be-all.

Yes, we also have a domestic cup – the US Open Cup. Yes, we also have a regular season trophy – the Supporters Shield. But unless you’re DeAndre Yedlin, the MLS Cup is the most valuable piece of soccer hardware available in North America.  So, yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.  And us here at Playing for 90 love placing bets on things that are kind of big deals.

So, several editors and writers have decided to engage in a little friendly competition. We each have placed our picks for each round of the playoffs, starting with the knockout round.  Loser has to do something unspeakable, and yet to be determined. Now without further ado: our contestants for this year’s MLS Playoffs Pick ‘em:

Baxter Colburn: Playing for 90 Editor; Playing experience at academy and college levels.

Chris Blakely: Playing for 90 Editor; Cascadia columnist for Red White and Green.

Phil Naegely: Playing for 90 Editor

Jimmy Lee: Playing for 90 Writer

John Adair: Playing for 90 Writer; Coaching experience at high school and youth academy levels.

Marc McCormack: Playing for 90 Writer; Former Chicago Fire columnist for

Additional Notes: A correct pick will constitute of selecting the right overall result: Score lines will not matter unless a tiebreaker is needed at the end of the tournament.

The playoffs kick off tonight at 9PM Eastern Time with FC Dallas hosting Vancouver Whitecaps at Toyota Stadium.  It’s available on TSN-1, MLS LIVE, and Time Warner Cable Sports Net-Texas.  Tomorrow, the New York Red Bulls take on defending champions Sporting Kansas City on their home turf, 8 ET on ESPN2, Watch ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and TSN-1.

Oct 4, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted (1) makes a save against FC Dallas forward Blas Perez (7) during the first half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

First Up:

#5 Vancouver Whitecaps (12-8-14) at #4 FC Dallas (16-12-6)

Baxter: Dallas, 3-2

FC Dallas is a team full of talented players that does not get enough respect. The Vancouver Whitecaps always struggle to finish games and their problems will only continue against FCD. Watch the Whitecaps to get up early but blow a late lead.

Chris: Vancouver, 2-1

I’m picking Vancouver to win because they are a stout defensive team. They enter the playoffs with 4 straight shutouts from (their keeper; David) Ousted.

Phil: Vancouver, 3-0

Vancouver has been on a tear lately. This won’t change when they take on FC Dallas.

Jimmy: Dallas, 3-1

I’m picking Dallas 3-1 because first of all, I think they are a better team and second of all, I think they have much better attack. Plus they are at home.

John: Dallas, 3-2

Despite Vancouver’s ability to get hot at the right time, FC Dallas is dangerous in so many ways. With the emergence of rookie forward Tesho Akindele as a consistent goal scoring threat and the return of Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas can be as versatile as anyone in the attack. Whether it’s springing Akindele in behind, playing to his feet in a hold-up role or dominating 1v1 battles in the channels with pace and creativity, Vancouver will have their hands full trying to disrupt their explosive attack.

Marc: Vancouver, 1-0

Both of these teams are extremely underrated in my book, but Vancouver showed in Seattle that they’re not afraid of big games on the road.  Their attack is what wins me over, and I think Darron Mattocks scores late to send ‘em through. Defensively, David Ousted has developed into one of the league’s more dependable keepers and will likely save the game for the ‘Caps on more than one occasion.

Oct 26, 2014; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting KC midfielder Antonio Dovale (9) attempts to help up New York Red Bulls defender Ambroise Oyongo (3) after an injury during the second half of the match at Sporting Park. The Red Bulls won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Game Two:

#4 New York Red Bulls (13-10-11) vs. #5 Sporting Kansas City (14-13-7)

Baxter: Kansas City, 2-1

The defending MLS Cup champions have something special still left in their tank. The amount of pride will bottled up inside SKC will be enough to propel them past the New York Red Bulls. Bradley Wright-Phillips will cause problems for the SKC back-line all match, but he will not do enough to secure the victory for his club.

Chris: Kansas City, 3-2

Sporting will be looking to show that they are still the team to beat and they just got shut out at home by NY. I expect them to come out with a steady attack.

Phil: New York, 2-1

Bradley Wright Phillips will lead NYRB yet again. With a chance of Henry playing, New York should have no problem rolling by Sporting Kansas City again. SKC will score a late goal that won’t end up mattering.

Jimmy: Kansas City, 1-0

Even though Sporting KC has had an awful final month of the season, I expect them to pull off the upset.  Plus, the game is the night after game 7 of the World Series, KC has turned into the luckiest city on the planet.

John: Kansas City, 2-0

Simply put, this is a gut pick. Sporting Kansas City has been in poor form lately, but there is something about the playoffs that tend to bring the best out of Peter Vermes’s side. Defensively, they will be much improved with Besler and Collin pairing at center back after Collin’s recent return from injury. NYRB has struggled finding consistent play out of their right backs. Rookie Chris Duvall was replaced by Richard Eckersley down the stretch, but with the threat that Graham Zusi presents wide left, expect it to be a long night for Eckersley.

Marc: New York, 2-0

KC’s postseason ends with an unlikely loss to RBNY.  The knock on Wright-Phillips all year has been the fact he plays with the world-class Thierry Henry, but BWP showed us last week that he is a handful for even without #14 on the pitch. And it’s looking like Henry will be playing after all, which spells trouble for KC.

Aaand there you go. The writers are split down the middle for Vancouver at Dallas, while the scales have tipped towards Kansas City for their trip to New York. 4 Writers go with the defending champs and 2 with the former Supporters’ Shield winners.  God, that would’ve been a great matchup last year.  Enjoy the games, stay tuned for results and analysis, and check in next round for more predictions!