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Second Season, Second Chances

One of the great things about the MLS Cup Playoffs is that it doesn't matter much how you got there (for some this is also one of the worst things). Instead it matters how a team does in their next five or six matches.

The Rapids showed that the second season is not about their regular season
The Rapids showed that the second season is not about their regular season

In hockey they call the Playoffs the second season. Similar to the NHL the MLS Playoffs add significant chunk to the end of the season to declare a champion. There may be no bigger symbol of the idea that this second season is a second chance than this nugget from the Seattle Sounders FC weekly notes;

Four Seed's the Charm
Sounders FC will enter the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, marking the first-ever Knockout Round match in club history. The placement matches Seattle's lowest finish as the club qualified for the 2010 playoffs as the fourth seed. A No. 4 seed has reached the MLS Cup Final three of the past four seasons, including the winners in 2009 and 2012. Overall, the fourth seed from the Western Conference has reached the MLS Cup Final four times, including the Colorado Rapids (1997), LA Galaxy (2005 and 2012) and New York Red Bulls (2008). Additionally, the two teams that played for the 2010 MLS Cup were both three seeds, though Colorado finished fifth in the West and was moved to the Eastern Conference playoffs bracket.

Since the Knockout Round was introduced in 2011, two teams have advanced to reach the MLS Cup Final while the other two teams lost in the conference semifinals. Last season marked the first time that two Knockout Round teams reached the championship match as the fourth seed in the Western Conference (LA Galaxy) and fifth seed in the Eastern Conference (Houston Dynamo) played for MLS Cup.

After the seeding, and it is only a minor influence on advancement, nothing else about the regular season matters. Well, being able to see the club at home is important, because we like Sounders soccer. That is probably why Seattle fans should root for the Dynamo, the Impact or the Revolution to advance to the MLS Cup Final.

But the woes and glories from early March until last week no longer matter. This is the second season. These are the second chances. No more CCL trophy, no more US Open Cup, no more shot at a Supporters' Shield.

It is merely MLS Cup time. This is the only chance that matters.

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