FRISCO, TX - OCTOBER 26: The New York Red Bulls celebrate a goal by Joel Lindpere #20 against FC Dallas during a wild card match at Pizza Hut Park on October 26, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In the first wild card match of the MLS Cup playoffs, Joel Lindpere scored the winner midway through in the second half, guiding home a low cross from Mehdi Ballouchy to seal New York’s ticket to the playoffs proper. Thierry Henry tallied the insurance goal in stoppage time to ensure the win.
For most lay fans, the aggregate two-game series is the most confusing aspect. That's sort of the least of my problems. At least it's a replication of the knock-out style in many European cups. My biggest issue is that 56% of the league qualify for the playoffs -- 10 of the 18 teams. That's just too many. The only American sports that comes close (percentage-wise) are the NBA/NHL with 53%. They each have 30 teams.
All Sporting know at this point is that they will play one of FC Dallas, Columbus or Colorado. Which of the three it ends up being isn’t terribly important. "It doesn’t really matter, to be honest," C.J. Sapong said at training this week. "Obviously, we owe Dallas one for the comeback that they had on us, but we don’t really care who it is. We’ll be ready no matter what."
One of the more oft-repeated articles of faith among coaches is, "You want to finish strong heading into the playoffs." It makes perfect sense. What coach wouldn't want his side to be playing well heading into the postseason? For that reason fans in places like L.A., Seattle, Houston and Kansas City will all be hoping to ride that form into a deep playoff run.
According to reputable UK outlet The Independent, Arsenal has sent scouts to watch Ream in action during Wednesday night's MLS playoff match against FC Dallas. The Independent also states that the Red Bulls rejected Arsenal's bid of approximately $4 million for Ream this summer and he could be a candidate for a winter move to the Premier League.
Soccer By Ives: Report: Arsenal to scout Ream tonight (obviously this was last night)
Sporting Kansas City Hunter Jumper Defenseman Virginia Senior Hunter Jumper is one of the top left backs in the country. Sporting Kansas City has the offensive pieces with Teal Bunbury and Soony Saad to compete. Now Sporting Kansas City needs to add defensive pieces on their team so they can become an MLS contender year in and year out.
One of the kids that the Sporting Kansas City players met was 11-year-old Savannah Walters (pictured above), a sixth grade student at Delta Woods Middle School in Lee's Summit, Missouri and accomplished cheerleader. The players spent time getting to know Savannah and learned about Beta Thalassemia Major, a blood disorder that requires Savannah to receive blood transfusions every three weeks.
Lopsided season award: Sporting Kansas City The re-christened Sporting -- the erstwhile Wizards -- won just one of their first 11 games, losing six of seven over one particularly bad stretch. Then, as June brought the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park and some actual home games, Kansas City lost just three more games the rest of the way, winning 12 and the Eastern Conference, too.
Fifth overall, first in East. K.C. won just one of its first 11 games, yet managed to turn its season around and finish first, thanks to a high-octane attack led by Mexican veteran Omar Bravo (nine goals, three assists), Kei Kamara (nine, four), rookie of the year candidate C.J. Sapong (five, five) and third-year revelation Graham Zusi (five, seven). They’re 9-2-6 at brand-new Livestrong Sporting Park, and home-field advantage may serve them well.
After viewing a film like "Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story" it’s hard not to be emotional. The tale is one of intrigue and inspiration that will serve as motivation for young athletes all over the country. Make no mistake this is a real movie; with production value and a true story.
In the bigger picture, I know all aspects of MLS scheduling remains a major discussion point. What to do about FIFA dates, for instance, is a bruise that just won’t heal. And the playoff structure probably needs more tweaking (or a more thorough makeover in some opinions), and scheduling is inextricably linked.
"I sent a message in my first get-together that, 'The most important thing is that you guys play,'" Klinsmann said. "'If you are on the bench somewhere -- it doesn't matter in Europe, in the MLS or in Mexico -- you have a problem coming in here.'"