MLS Cup Playoffs: Saturday’s Conference Semifinal Picks


Well, talk about starting with a bang.  After a nail biting knockout round, MLS Cup Playoffs are already seeping in fresh new narrative.  As Stefon from Saturday Night Live would say, this knockout round had everything: handballs, come from behind victories, British strikers, CANADA…

Yeah, it’s been a good week.

With New York and Dallas advancing to the conference semis, our Playing for 90 MLS experts are back for Saturday’s round of matches.  5 of our 6 writers split the spoils in the first round, while one unfortunate editor went behind early, dropping both.  Let’s meet the staff: Table style.

Note: Tiebreakers are decided by the scorelines. Ex: Baxter Colburn had Dallas winning by one.  That is two points.  Correctly guessing the score line is four (Ex. Phil).  Guessing the score line correctly but for the wrong team is a point (Chris).

  1. Phil: 1-1; 4 pts. Phil is a writer and editor for Playing For 90. His faith in Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York Red Bulls puts him atop the standings after correctly predicting the New York/Kansas City match.
  2. Baxter: 1-1; 2 pts. Baxter is a former footballer for the Chicago Fire Academy and Wisconsin Lutheran College. His prediction that the two most boring teams in the playoffs would score 5 goals total kept him from joining Phil atop the standings.
  3. John: 1-1; 2 pts. John is a youth academy and high school soccer coach who enjoys long walks on the beach. While on said walk, he heard a voice from the heavens, saying “Dallas wins by 1”.  Turns out it was just Baxter’s voice and John now joins him in second place.
  4. Jimmy: 1-1; 1-1 0 pts. Jimmy is a staff writer for pf90 as well as the father of the USMNT’s future right back/captain at the 2038 world cup. The Soccer Gods found his lack of faith in New York Red Bulls disturbing this weekend.
  5. Marc: 1-1; 0 pts. Marc is a staff writer for pf90. He hopes to one day replace Michael Bradley at the top of the USMNT’s diamond midfield but promises to stay at AS Roma and never to follow the money.  He has as many MLS Cup playoff appearances as Toronto FC and hates himself for placing faith in Vancouver last week.
  6. Chris: 0-2; 1 pt. Chris is an editor for Pf90 as well as a columnist for Red, White, And Green. He was the main reason behind the sympathy point for correctly guessing the score line for the wrong team.  Chris will be put between a rock and a hard place this weekend, having to actually pick between LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.

Game One:

#3 Colombus Crew (14-10-10) vs. #2 New England Revolution (17-13-4)

Oct 4, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones (13) celebrates the victory as Columbus Crew forward Jairo Arrieta (19) walks off the field after the game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Phil: Columbus, 3-2

It’s simple for Columbus. Contain Lee Nguyen and score goals. However, it’s easier said than done. Columbus has a hosts of goal scorers who can shine when needed. They are the hottest team in MLS right now and the league’s playoff dark horse.

Baxter: Columbus, 2-1

Baxter could not be reached for further comment at this time.

John: Columbus, 2-1

Both Columbus and New England had somewhat of a roller coaster season to get to this point. On paper, this one seems pretty even, and both finished the regular season strong. Ultimately, this match may come down to which goalkeeper makes makes the bigger saves, and if I had to put my money on either Steve Clark or Bobby Shuttlesworth, it’s an easy decision for me. I’m taking Clark

Jimmy: Columbus 3-1

This is a matchup of two of the hottest teams in all of MLS.  NE has gone 9-1-1 in their last 11, but that one loss was to (Columbus).

Marc: Columbus, 2-1

As someone who has been an away supporter at Crew Stadium, I can officially say it’s a very hard place to play.  New England’s demons from that fateful September day come back to haunt them, and Columbus will continue on their hot streak.

Chris: New England, 2-1

This game and series will be one of the closer ones in the playoffs. NE has reigning player of the month Lee Nguyen hitting on all cylinders. He has 9 game winning goals this year and he will make it 10 with the winner after the 75th minute.

El Segundo Partido:

#2 Los Angeles Galaxy (17-7-10) vs. #3 Real Salt Lake (16-12-6)

Jul 12, 2014; Carson, CA, USA; Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (5) and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan (10) battle for the ball at StubHub Center. The Galaxy defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Phil: Los Angeles, 2-1

This is a tough one to pick a score of. Both teams are talented and have star power. As long as Robbie Keane is healthy and ready to go, LA Galaxy will have no issue getting a win in the first leg.

Baxter: Salt Lake, 2-0

Baxter couldn’t make it, he’s got a thing.

John: Los Angeles, 3-2

With Landon Donovan’s retirement around the corner, it feels like the Galaxy are destined to take send him off as MLS Champion. Regardless, the firepower with Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes, and Donovan is more than enough to score goals in rapid fashion. Real Salt Lake, while a good defensive side, will be picking the ball out of the net behind Nick Rimando more often than they will have hoped for.

Jimmy: Salt Lake, 1-0

The upset of the tournament, LA and Landon Donovan are sent home early.  Donovan fails to make a meaningful impact in either match and no one on LA’s defense can find Joao Plata and he uses his shortness to his advantage to sneak in behind the LA defense.

Marc: 0-0 Draw

RSL coach Jeff Cassar has already said a clean sheet is in his plans for their home game vs. LA.  That’s “Coach Speech” for we’re going to park the bus.

Chris: Los Angeles, 2-1

This is a hard one for me. I despise both clubs but I think I despise LA a little more. RSL won’t make it easy for the Galaxy but LA wins 2-1 on the road as Keane and Zardes both score.

Tune in Tomorrow for Sunday’s edition!