2016 MLS Playoffs

Discussion in 'Soccer' started by Phall, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    The MLS season wraps up this weekend, and the playoff bracket is mostly set. Six teams from both conferences qualify: the top two sides earn byes, while the other four play one-off games to advance. The conference semi-finals and finals are home-and-home series, followed by the MLS Cup Final on Sunday, December 10 (hosted by the highest remaining seed). There will be four Sundays with games overlapping the NFL.

    The MLS is not particularly a white-friendly league, drawing its replacement-level players from all over the CONCACAF region. Some teams field a majority white side and feature many integral white starters; others trend toward the opposite. The league's salary cap structure has created a lot of turnover, so a team that started 7-8 whites one year may end up starting 7-8 non-whites the next, and vice versa.

    In this thread, I'll try to summarize the playoff teams based on their star players, regular starters, and goal-scoring threats. This keeps things simple enough that I won't go insane figuring out if every suntanned player south of the Mason-Dixon line is secretly Mexican or has 3/16 Amerindian admixture. I will try to do a few teams at a time, aiming to finish before the playoff games begin next week so that we can determine our proper rooting interests.
     
  2. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    The New York Red Bulls (who play in the outskirts of Newark, NJ) are all but assured the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Their usual starting lineup features 7 whites, 3 blacks, and a mestizo goalkeeper. Sasha Kljestan is probably the team MVP: he plays a "true #10" role as a CAM and leads the league in assists, many off set pieces. Kljestan's two excellent seasons with the Red Bulls have finally caught the eye of Jurgen Klinsmann, and he has recently been penciled into the eleven for the USMNT.

    Dax McCarty is the team captain and a workhorse as a defensive midfielder. He shares that duty with the Brazilian 'Felipe', who has banged in a couple of great free kicks this year. Aurelien Collin is a prolific French center back who dominates in the air and has previously won first-team MLS season honors.

    Other notables are Mike Grella (LAM), Alex Muyl (RAM), and Damien Perrinelle (CB). The leading goalscorer is (black) Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has done quite well for himself in MLS after flaming out of the Premier League (and lower English leagues).
     
  3. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    NYCFC should earn the other playoff bye in the Eastern Conference. This is a sister team of Manchester City and has received a few players on transfer/loan. They are stuck playing home games in Yankee Stadium for now, as the usual hooknosed characters argue over zoning subsidies and tax breaks for a new stadium. The team is coached by Patrick Vieira, who was absolutely an "affirmative action" appointment being "groomed" for the MC job; to be fair, he has done a great job putting pieces around the midfield pegs of Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

    David Villa has been in great form all season and should be considered one of the best all-time MLS players. He is one off the league lead in goals scored and a serious MVP candidate. Lampard has also really turned his attitude around - he arrived fat and tired last year and figured the league would be a pasture for retired fat cows. He's back and in form. Pirlo perhaps plays more withdrawn than he's used to, but this has given him space (where he thrives).

    Tommy MacNamara is a great young American success story who has been thriving on the wing playing with those three. Out of nowhere, he is just outside the USMNT player pool right now. RJ Allen is a similar local (New Jersey) prodigy who has performed well at fullback, alongside Frederic Brillant. Federico Bravo, an Argentinian, helps hold the outside midfield and cover for the old guys making runs. Top keeper Josh Saunders is a rather nondescript yet reliable journeyman with low variances.

    Finally, Jack Harrison is a relative prodigy from England at age 19. He creates plenty of messy scoring chances for the rest of his teammates to clean up. Harrison emigrated to the US for college so he could learn a profession for after sport; he may not have had to, and could be headed back to Europe very soon (to play more soccer).
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
  4. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    Toronto FC is firmly slotted into the #3 seed, meaning they will host the #6 team in one match to advance. They are definitely less "white-centric" than the top two New York teams, although their best players are both familiar faces.

    Sebastien Giovinco, aka "Atomic Ant," is a 5'4 superhero and clearly the best pure player in MLS. Only through muscle strain injuries did he lose pace with David Villa and Sasha Kljestan (and Bradley Wright-Phillips) for clear-cut league MVP for the second straight year. The good news is that Ant is back now for the postseason.

    Michael Bradley is Toronto's second big deal. I've followed Bradley's career and can't quite decide if he's best as a holding midfielder or upwards. In the presence of better attackers, I will say "leave him back!" At his best, he is a world-class athlete by any measure (search for "Michael Bradley beep test")

    Jozy Altidore is an anchor baby by any true interpretation of the term (his parents allegedly conceived him on the bus from Ellis Island to section 8 apartments in NJ). He's been scoring some nice goals these past few months, which is all I will say about that.

    Drew Moor is an invaluable mainstay in midfield but won't draw too much audible praise from the announcers.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
  5. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    Montreal has been floundering lately. Their top draw player Didier Drogba just flouted his manager's decision to bring him off the bench by refusing to dress. This creates drama, but probably doesn't matter much since Drogba, age 38, already sucks and can't change games.

    Drogba's evil, racist white replacement is Italian Mario Mancosu. The best player on the Impact is surely Argentinian Ignacio Piatti, who has scored wundergoals and set up many others through the run of play.

    Harry Shipp arrived in Montreal via Chicago and hasn't really thrived yet. He's a young maestro, maybe his ceiling is at #10, but it's discouraging that he bounced from Chicago to Montreal without finding regular minutes.

    Laurent Ciman from Belgium is one of only two MLS players to feature on Euro 2016 rosters! He's a rock on the backline, obviously. Evan Bush is a fine journeyman MLS goalkeeper.
     
  6. Freethinker

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    Excellent write ups. I wasn't planning on watching any MLS but I think you have inspired me to tune into a playoff match or 2. Since the 2 local teams are in, I have no excuse.
     
  7. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    MLS playoffs kick off tonight at 7:30, with Toronto hosting the Philadelphia Union.

    Philadelphia qualified for the postseason despite a negative goal differential and more losses than wins. They made a big midseason splash by signing Alejandro Bedoya to bolster their midfield. Bedoya is usually counted affirmatively at CF as a "white Hispanic." Tranquilo Barnetta, from Switzerland, and Chris Pontius, a longtime MLS veteran who never quite made the national team picture, are questionable to start tonight due to injury.

    Philly has a palatable but not particularly prolific attack. Expect 23 yr old German Fabian Herbers to start alone at forward. Ilsinho is another new signing this season, playing well enough on the wing.

    On defense, the Union boast fullback Keegan Rosenberry, who should finish second to Jordan Morris as 'rookie of the year.' He will probably be joined on the backline by center backs Richie Marquez and Ken Tribbett. Jamaican goalie Andre Blake (definitely not white) has made some very impressive saves this season; he will inevitably be fawned over in the announcers' scripts, but seems to deserve some of that praise.

    Hard to pick a clear CF 'favorite' tonight. Both Philadelphia and Toronto are likely to start six white players and bring 1-2 others off the bench. Toronto has superior white star power in Giovinco and Michael Bradley, but also features more non-white goalscorers.
     
  8. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    The second of four play-in games sees the LA Galaxy host Real Salt Lake tonight at 10:30pm.

    The Galaxy are both a CF and a Vegas favorite in the Western Conference, despite their #3 seed. Bruce Arena is perhaps the greatest American coach of all-time. One of the stories of the year, depending on playoff success, is the return of Landon Donovan. After a two year break, Landycakes made his return to the Galaxy last month and quickly found full fitness. He has buoyed the midfield with Steven Gerrard out injured. Robbie Keane, who's also put together one of the best MLS careers of all-time, should return tonight from his own injury.

    Los Angeles always gets some groans from MLS fans who believe the league bends its salary cap rules to accommodate a flagship team. It's true that the Galaxy have a very beefy roster. Other starters include all-star defender Jelle Van Damme, midfielders Baggio Husidic, Sebastien Lletget, and Jeff Larentowicz. Mike Magee and Alan Gordon are veteran goal-scorers who often start on the bench. Possibly the best player on the team this season is the mestizo Mexican Giovanni dos Santos. The Galaxy should start eight white players tonight.

    Real Salt Lake is more pedestrian in all respects. Their biggest star is still the jewish rastafarian Kyle Beckerman, who is past his prime. Forward Yura Mosvivyan from Azerbaijan has had a decent campaign. Justen Glad is still a teenager and has been pegged as a future USMNT center back. Chris Wingert is a veteran starter at fullback. RSL plays strong defense, anchored in net by true multiracial keeper Nick Rimando. They will have a tough time playing catch-up if Los Angeles scores first. I expect them to start six whites (if you include Beckerman).
     
  9. Phall

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    LA advances to play in Colorado; Toronto moves on to face NYCFC. The league offices breathe a collective sigh of relief as two of its highest-profile squads clear the knockout round.

    Tomorrow (Thursday night), DC United hosts Montreal. DC certainly has momentum on its side, ending the regular season on a bit of a tear. Coach Ben Olsen has already won trophies in the league and is still very young. Someday, he will be on a shortlist to succeed Klinsmann on the USMNT.

    Unfortunately, DC is one of the least white-friendly rosters in the playoffs. Patrick Mullins may be the lone reason to watch - Mullins is on his third pro team in three seasons despite winning the collegiate player of the year award twice. He arrived at DC in midseason and has thrived as their primary goalscorer and lead forward. Mullins has netted eight times in 14 matches.

    Midfielder Jared Jeffery should start along with defenders Taylor Kemp, Bobby Boswell, and Steve Birnbaum (jewish, USMNT player, longtime rumored Maccabi Tel Aviv target). Including Birnbaum, DC United project to start five white players. Maybe Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas passes muster as a 'white hispanic.' They will be favored against Montreal, although Montreal's white players (Piatti, Mancosu, and Ciman especially) give them the edge as a CF rooting interest.
     
  10. Phall

    Phall Mentor

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    The fourth and final knockout-round game pits the Seattle Sounders against Sporting Kansas City.

    The Sounders fired their longtime head coach midseason and have turned their prospects around, finishing as a home seed. Probably this reversal of fortune had more to do with the summer signing of Uruguayan star Nicolas Lodeiro, their missing "true #10." Clint Dempsey will undoubtedly be missed, as he continues to sit with an irregular heartbeat and may end up retiring. Jordan Morris is already a budding household name and will probably win RotY honors after scoring 12 goals. Joining them in the starting lineup are Uruguayan Alvaro Fernandez, American veterans Chad Marshall and Brad Evans, and Swiss keeper Stephen Frei. Seattle native Aaron Kovar could also see time in midfield, as well as versatile Swede Eric Friberg. Seattle should play about six white players at a time.

    Sporting Kansas City already seems a far cry from its halcyon days of 2012-2015. Graham Zusi missed time with injury and national team duty this season, and fellow USMNT regular Matt Besler lost his starting club spot at CB for a brief period. Benny Feilhaber (jewish) has not had his best campaign either, but can be a dangerous attacking playmaker; Brad Davis is still a box-to-box mainstay. Tim Melia is a solid and perhaps underrated keeper. These are currently the five white starters penciled in for tomorrow.

    Connor Hallisey and Jacob Peterson have been a surprising pair of attacking/wing options off the bench. However, mulatto Dom Dwyer, an English citizen, has tallied more goals than the next three SKC players combined. Dwyer is a good poacher but overrated by MLS standards.

    Seattle is the one MLS fanbase that can fill its local NFL stadium, so expect a rowdy crowd of DWF's who need something to tide them over before Sundays. Lodeiro will be the best player on the field, and I think the Sounders' roster is slightly preferable right now to that of Kansas City.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2016
  11. Phall

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    The top two seeds in the Western Conference are FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids.

    The Rapids play in Los Angeles on Saturday in the first leg of their home-and-home series. Colorado really came out of nowhere this year, nearly switching their place in the standings from worst to first. As such, they are the #2 overall seed in the playoffs.

    The team has two non-white stars, USMNT regulars Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard. Still, they are one of the most white-friendly clubs in the playoffs, regularly featuring 8-9 per game throughout the course of the year. The 6'7 Swedish giant Axel Sjoberg is a defensive player of the year candidate. He anchors a defense that has rotated relative unknwons Eric Miller, Bobby Burling, Marc Burch, and Jared Watts to great success. The midfield is equally deep and versatile, including Sam Cronin, Kevin Doyle, and a young fringe USMNT CAM in Dillon Powers. Sebastien Le Toux, Albanian international Shkelzen Gashi, and Argentian Luis Solignac have found playing time further up the field as well.

    The Rapids conceded a league-low 32 goals in 34 regular season games but scored an anemic 39 themselves, which tied for second-last in the MLS and the lowest sum from the playoff teams. Head coach Pablo Mastroeni is another former MLS and US international player (emigrating from Argentina at age four) who is enjoying managerial success in the domestic league. He's one of four finalists for top coaching honors; his team is clearly doing more with less, so to speak. Colorado has a tangible "mile high" home field advantage, but will have their hands full with the Galaxy. Their series will determine the CF favorite from the west.
     
  12. Phall

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    The FC Dallas synopsis is a bit shorter. The team lost its MVP, playmaking mestizo Mauro Diaz, to injury just a couple weeks ago. Head coach Oscar Pareja, a fine young Colombian coach by Western Hemisphere standards, ironically left Colorado on his own accord for the greener pastures, bigger budget, and perhaps warmer climate of Texas. Pareja's team cruised to the Supporter's Shield, US Open Cup trophy, and a qualifying place in the CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds. He will have his work cut out for him to win the domestic treble without his top player.

    Dallas has a pair of stalwart white American center backs in Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman. Neither have quite cracked Klinsmann's camp squads, but should. Unheralded Ryan Hollingshead has split time between fullback and flank midfielder in 29 games overall.

    I am counting Maxi Urruti as a 'white hispanic' from Argentina - he scored nine goals this year to share the team lead. Dallas scores more easily than Colorado and shares the load more evenly, but they may struggle without Diaz. They will probably trot out five white players, including goalkeeper Chris Seitz, and should not be considered a CF favorite by any means.
     
  13. Phall

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    Well, I got out mini previews of all 12 playoff teams before anyone had to go in blind.

    The league website 'mlssoccer dot com' is a useful place for a casual fan, all things considered. The NFL counterpart often requires a 15-second commercial before every 25-second highlight clip: MLS gives you 5-9 minute highlight reels in high definition with only one opening commercial (sometimes none in short succession). Videos don't 'autoplay,' and there are no intrusive sidebar ads. Decent place to check on box scores after the fact. The resident analysts are generally fair too, that is to say they annoyingly slobber over any "hot young star" rather than just non-white players.
     
  14. Freethinker

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    Wright-Phillips misses a sitter from 5 yards out that would have sent the Red Bull's home with the draw.

    PS- Drogba in street clothing on the sideline looks like a middle aged lesbian.
     
  15. Phall

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    Big Sunday for every lower-seeded home team. Each "higher-ranked" team has a tough nut to crack on its return leg. Losing 1-0, 1-0, 2-0, and 3-0 creates a tough order.
     
  16. Phall

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    Seattle squeaks past Colorado this week on an early Jordan Morris moment of cleverness. Then, Montreal succumbs to Toronto in a goal-fest last night. Neither team was known for stopping goals, so to speak.

    Giovinco stepped off in extra time with a muscle pull. I hope it's mostly precautionary after 100+ minutes.

    Neither of these teams were listed as particularly "white-friendly," but it comes down to Lodeiro (from Argentina) and Jordan Morris versus Toronto's bull squad (and let's not forget Michael Bradley). If Giovinco plays, he deserves the match-winner.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
  17. Phall

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    The MLS Cup starts in about a half hour. Toronto will be the favorites: they are starting six whites, three blacks, one arab, and one hispanic. Seattle will start five whites, three hispanics, and three blacks.

    Toronto is the favorite at home, and having Giovinco cleared to play will alter Seattle's defensive attitude even if he is not quite 100%. The downside is that Jozy Altidore has been rather in form this month, so expect the announcers to slobber over him with unfitting superlatives. You may hear the same for Seattle striker Jordan Morris, who could cement his presence as a top American with a heroic goal. Nic Lodeiro will be a creative force against Toronto's cavalier 3-5-2 formation.

    Personally, I'm inclined to root for Seattle and their two white stars, but as mentioned before, neither of these teams are particularly "white-friendly" by MLS standards.
     

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