The 2008 MLS Playoffs kicked off last night with Chicago’s 0-0 tie vs. New England, and while the playoffs are already under way, you can’t have playoffs without playoff predictions.
SBI senior writer Dylan Butler and I will give you our picks for the first round, and predictions for the entire playoffs, including our picks for the MLS Cup final.
Now, without further ado, here are the SBI MLS Playoff Predictions:
CHICAGO vs. NEW ENGLAND
(IVES)- Chicago got the tie it needed in game one and should overwhelm the Revs defense at Toyota Park on the way to a series win.
(DYLAN)- This series would have been a lot closer, but no Taylor Twellman, no Khano Smith and especially no Steve Ralston, no shot for the Revs.
COLUMBUS vs. KANSAS CITY
(IVES) Kansas City has played well down the stretch but their set plays won’t work as well against Columbus, which have the defense to stop the Wizards and the attack to cruise to victory.
(DYLAN) I’ve still not jumped on the Columbus bandwagon, but I think they’re one of the most dangerous attacking teams in MLS. KC will put up a fight, but in the end the Crew will prevail.
HOUSTON vs. NEW YORK
(IVES)- The Red Bulls could get a result from their home leg, and even win, but the Dynamo will be just too tough at Robertson Stadium in the second leg.
(DYLAN)- Before you kill me, let me explain. Houston has not won an MLS game on the turf in its existence and the Red Bulls are pretty good at home. I’m taking the same tact I bring with me to the track often — every so often the 50-1 comes in and its nice to have the winning ticket.
CHIVAS USA vs. REAL SALT LAKE
(IVES)- Real Salt Lake has an improving attack and good defense, but RSL doesn’t have Chivas USA’s experience. Look for Ante Razov and Alecko Eskandarian to have big series’ in a Goats series win.
(DYLAN)- This is a tough one for me. I think it will come down to playoff experience and Chivas has that, but this will probably be the most entertaining series of all. Of course, I won’t be surprised if Salt Lake wins.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
(IVES)- Chicago and Columbus tied both meetings this year but I believe this is where the Crew’s youth and lack of playoff experience will hurt. Brian McBride will score the winner against his former club, leading countless Crew fans to burn their vintage McBride Crew jerseys.
(DYLAN)I’ll say it right now — for me, Chicago is the MLS Cup champions. The signing of Brian McBride put the Fire over the top and he’ll score the winner to sink his former club.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
(IVES)- If you want to see an intense battle, Chivas USA-Houston will be a can’t-miss. Chivas USA’s attack can test the Dynamo back-line but the Houston attack will expose the Goats’ back-line and help the Dynamo reach a third straight final.
(DYLAN)- Yes, I picked the Red Bulls to shock the MLS world and upset the two-time defending champions in the first round, but the Western Conference Final is a one-off game and New York’s record away from home is horrible. Sure their lone road victory was at the Home Depot Center, but that was against the Galaxy.
MLS CUP FINAL
(IVES) Chicago vs. Houston. Blanco vs. DeRosario, Ching vs. McBride, Rolfe vs. Davis. So many great match-ups between the league’s two strongest starting lineups. This one will be a tight contest that will come down to penalty kicks. Cuauhtemoc Blanco will sky a PK over the crossbar and Brian Ching will score the game-winner as the Dynamo become the first team to three-peat in MLS history.
(DYLAN) Chivas playing an MLS Cup game at the Home Depot Center should make for an electric atmosphere and give the Goats a tremendous advantage. But again, this is a Chicago team that has depth and probably the best XI in the league. The Fire wins MLS Cup 10 years after winning the title in its inaugural season.
Now that you’ve seen our predictions, it is time to make your own. Share your thoughts, opinions and playoff predictions in the comments section below.