It doesn't get any bigger than this. The Seattle Sounders are playing on the road this Saturday at one of the toughest stadiums against one of the best, most well-coached teams in the league. Forget the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls. This is the marquee match-up of the play-offs. One very good team will be eliminated at the culmination of this home-and-home series and I'm just hoping it's the other guys!
Also, if you're a betting man, here are the Vegas odds for the series. The Sounders are favorites by a roughly 2-to-1 odds (unless you count in the 90 minute draw which has the best odds).
The Battle of the Blands: The play-offs started early this week with some un-marquee (or is it biz-marque?) match-ups in the wildcard/play-in games. The look on biz-maquee's face from the Turn Back the Hands of Time LP perfectly captures my expression while watching the Colorado Rapids out thug-ball the Columbus Crew to a 1-0 victory. At least they offered it free on Match Day Live. I missed the New York Red Bulls 2-0 win over listless FC Dallas, but I've heard it wasn't much better. /sarcasm on Fortunately, the stadium atmosphere was electric! /sarcasm off.
Rosales Gets Injection: The Seattle Sounders have one of the best, if not the best, sports medicine teams in the league. And they're pulling out all the stops to try and get Mauro Rosales ready for a playoff game or two. Recently they've given Rosales an injection of platelets. The injection has apparently helped speed up the recovery process according to Sigi Schmid in a post-game interview on Wednesday. Still, the dynamic midfielder is
very unlikely to play on Saturday, now will not be traveling.
Nicol Leaves the Revolution: Steve Nicol is parting ways with the New England Revolution after a strong 10 year run at the helm of the league's cheapest team. The face of Nicol on the sidelines pushing his team onward has been a constant for almost every Revolution fan. Despite the good times, it's a break-up that had to happen after two very disappointing seasons. Unfortunately, the problems with the Revolution go well beyond Nicol and his axing is unlikely to help a team that refuses to invest or innovate in a new era of MLS.
News Flash!: Saudi Arabian princes have more money than they know what to do with. And they like soccer. Therefore it makes perfect sense for a group of Saudis to invest heavily in the New York Cosmos. Unfortunately, for the new investors, it looks like Garber is cooling on the idea of selling the 20th team to the Cosmos group. Maybe these new backers will change his mind. Hopefully, before Chuck Blazer gets his corpulent mitts on the backing needed for a serious bid.
Draft Talk Begins: The post-season is just getting started, but already we have plenty of buzz around the various drafts the league will hold in preparation for the 2012 season. Here at SAH we have the Protectinator (as does our sister blog Black and Red United). Drew Epperly over at WV Hooligan is doing mock protected lists for every team in the league. Meanwhile, Ives has put up his first mock-draft board up at Fox Soccer.
Wildcards & Yellow Cards: An interesting new wrinkle in the latest play-off format is how yellow cards are accrued. Players like Tim Ream who earn a card in the play-in game will carry that card into the home-and-home series. Yet another little boost for those teams who get a better record in the regular season.