In what will be weather more suited to playing ice hockey on a backyard pond (Saturday's forecast high is 24), Sporting Kansas City will try to win their franchise's second MLS Cup, having won their first in 2000.
This time, however, they will be playing in front of their home fans, in what will be the club's 36th consecutive sellout.
Hello and Welcome to the Soccer by Ives Fantasy Corner – now with more snow on the pitch! Every week I dig through statistics, news, and rumors to provide the reader with the kind of fantasy advice that only the last MLS fan paying attention can provide.
Well back in my younger days there were these MLS playoffs and as I recall four teams played for the right to play in the MLS Championship game.
New England Revolution centerback Jose Goncalves has been named Major League Soccer's 2013 Defender of the Year.
In his first season in MLS, Goncalveshelped solidify a back line that featured a rookie and two other un-proven defenders to take the New England Revolution into the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in four years.
In his first season in Major League Soccer, there's no doubt that Jose Goncalves hit the ground running.
The physically-imposing center back helped solidify a back line that featured a rookie and two other un-proven defenders to take the New England Revolution into the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in four years.
The Portland Timbers have a monumental task tonight, but they'll face it in a home stadium with arguable the best home-field advantage in MLS as they face Real Salt Lake in the second leg of their Western Conference Final (9pm, ESPN).
RSL comes in off a 4-2 victory in the first leg, meaning Portland has to win by two goals to force overtime, or win by three goals to advance to the MLS Cup Final.
Not even the frigid cold air in Kansas City on Saturday evening could turn down the heat inside Sporting Park.
Behind goals from once-reserve forwards C.J. Sapong and Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City erased an early deficit to defeat the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, in the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals, advancing to the MLS Cup final for the first time since 2004.
The MLS Cup Playoffs are back, with Sporting Kansas City taking on the Houston Dynamo for a spot in the MLS Cup Final.
Despite the fact that there is a waiver draft happening on Monday, there are still games to be played in this 2013 MLS season. Tonight is the second leg of the Eastern Conference Finals/MLS Cup Semifinals, with the Houston Dynamo traveling to Kansas City to take on the Sporks.
Playoff drama at Red Bull Arena (photo: soccer.si.com)
OTF contributor T.J. Zaremba's manifesto tells the Editor he's wrong...
Scott Fenwick, the Grand Puba of On The Fire, will dislike this piece. His OTF Radio cohort, Brian Smith, won't be fond of it either. Last week, in the second segment of their podcast, both engaged in an anti-MLS Playoffs tirade.
A budding rivalry takes a new step forward as Sporting Kansas City meets the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season.
Both teams this season faced their fair share of adversity in the postseason already, with Sporting KC having to come back from a goal down on aggregate to win in extra time, whole the Dynamo came back from two deficits to the New York Red Bulls to outlast them in extra time too.
For the second time in three years, Real Salt Lake finds themselves in the Western Conference finals, just two games away from what would be an incredible appearance in the MLS Cup final, based on the preseason predications.
Standing in their way is Caleb Porter and his gritty yet highly clinical Portland Timbers, who won the season series, 2-1-0, though RSL did defeat Porters side in the U.
The Houston Dynamo had failed to defeat the New York Red Bulls in their first four meetings this season. But none of that mattered when the teams faced off for the fifth time on Wednesday night in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In their third game in seven days, Dominic Kinnear's side pulled off an impressive 2-1 victory after extra time against the Red Bulls, progressing to the Eastern Conference finals with an aggregate score of 4-3.
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — In an intense, physical affair, Sporting Kansas City overcame a one-goal deficit from the first leg of their conference semifinal with the New England Revolution to force extra time at Sporting Park.
Claudio Bieler, playing his first match in more than a month, came on as a sub in the 84th minute and scored in the second half of extra time for a 4-3 win on aggregate.
Can New England hold off Sporting KC tonight? (Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)
So last week I was a little off, okay, good ways off on nearly all of my 2013 MLS Cup Playoff previews/predictions for the conference semifinals. I still managed to come close on some things though. The conference semifinals turn to the return legs of the round tonight and tomorrow, so it is only fitting to put out another preview/prediction post for it.
A quartet of exciting conference semifinal first legs have set us up for four thrilling finishes as the MLS playoffs hit full swing.
In Episode 87 of The SBI Show, we take a look back at all four conference semifinal matches from the weekend, including Portland's win in Seattle, New England's upset of Sporting KC, New York's second-half collapse against Houston and the LA Galaxy's wasteful 1-0 victory against RSL.
SANDY, UT. Portland scored the early goal but it was Real Salt Lake that ended the night as the team in control.
The Timbers shocked the home side with an early Will Johnson free kick goal, but RSL rattled off four straight goals from four different players before securing the 4-2 first-leg victory at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The top two teams in the Western Conference square off tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium when the Portland Timbers pay a visit to Real Salt Lake in the first leg of their conference final series (9pm, ESPN2).
The Timbers come in off a resounding victory against the Seattle Sounders, looking thoroughly dominant in beating their arch-rivals.
PORTLAND, Ore.-Not since the Timbers inaugural season as a professional soccer team had the club knocked their rival, the Seattle Sounders, out of postseason play. But that is exactly what Portland did on Thursday night in front of a frenzied crowd, some of whom had waited 38 years for a match of this magnitude.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 (1) 2 (2) Portland Timbers Johnson 15´ Nagbe 67´ ALONSO 90´ Un poderoso remate de zurda del cubano Osvaldo ALONSO que no pudo detener Donovan RICKETTS le ha alargado vida en los playoffs a los Sounders FC a pesar de caer 1 2 ante los Portland Timbers en el [...]
The gaffer and his vets played Q&A at Toyota Park this week (photo: @ChicagoFire)
#cf97Withdrawals led OTF editor Scott Fenwick to muse on the news from Fireland this week...
Frank Yallop certainly hit the ground running.
Within days of inking his contract to become Chicago Fire's Director of Soccer and head coach, Yallop sacked assistant coaches Leo Percovich and Aron Hyde, reassigned first assistant Mike Matkovich to an academy position, and showed Scouting Director Rafa Carmona his walking papers less than a year and a half after he was brought in from club partner Atletico Madrid.
The New England Revolution may have gone out of the MLS Playoffs last week, but the club are certainly headed in the right direction. With the likes of USMNT youngster Juan Agudelo and Diego Fagundez leading the front-line, the Revolution made the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Agudelo will now enter the next phase of his career as he joins Stoke City of the English Premier League in January, but the future of Fagundez is still to be determined.
And then there were eight. The MLS Conference Semifinals - which you may as well just call the MLS quarterfinals - get underway Saturday night with the first two of four games this weekend. These are essentially the first legs of two-legged ties, which will finish up mid-week, and they're all at the site of the lower seed.
With the play-in round in the books, and the final eight teams decided, the 2013 MLS Playoffs are ready to really kickoff this weekend and The SBI Show breaks down all the action in our latest installment.
Episode 86 of The SBI Show takes a close look at all four conference semifinal match-ups, including the highly-anticipated Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders series, and the tricky New York Red Bulls-Houston Dynamo match.
It might not be the match-ups the suits at MLS HQ and the league's broadcast partners wanted, but we certainly got the four results I wanted to see from the conference semifinals over the last week. Mostly, we got the Not New York Red Bulls, the Not New England Revolution, the Not LA Galaxy and the Not Seattle Sounders, which I think most D.
Some of the first legs were cagey, and some were wide open. Some (well, most) had football (as in gridiron) lines marring the field, and some had less-than-attractive play on showcase. But damn if the story lines aren't pretty compelling coming into the second legs of the MLS Cup quarterfinals conference semifinals.
After the first legs, the Eastern Conference semifinals are both wide open. The Houston Dynamo's inspired fightback - or is that the farcical collapse by the New York Red Bulls? - in the second half at BBVA Compass and MLS's allergy to the away goals rule means that the second leg at Red Bull Dumpster Arena is a winner-take-all affair.
The first 64 minutes of the 2013 New York Red Bulls playoff campaign were going about as well as they could have hoped for.
They held a 2-1 lead on the road against the Houston Dynamo, and though Mike Petke's side had conceded early in the second half and were on the back foot, they were repelling the Dynamo's subsequent attack and still in the game.
Even without head coach Dominic Kinnear on the sidelines, the Houston Dynamo showed why they're such a threat in the playoffs.
Despite trailing by two goals to the New York Red Bulls after 31 minutes of the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Dynamo battled back in the second half to level the scoreline deep into stoppage time, earning a 2-2 draw.
All of Black and Red United's playoff coverage - all of it, sadly, devoid of D.C. United - in one unhappy place.
With D.C. United basically firing everybody (except, so far, Ben Olsen and Dave Kasper), our betters in the league set out in the MLS Cup Playoffs tonight, with the Don't-Call-It-A-Wild-Card Round, which pits the fourth and fifth place teams in each conference in a single-game elimination.
"YOU SUCK, SEAHAWK!" "Oh the huge manatees!" North American football purists - that's purists of football played in North America, not purists of North American football; football meaning football, not football - were all in an understandable tizzy this weekend. You see football fans, (football not football) a majority of MLS' showcase playoff matches - televised on national TV - featured pitches covered in NFL gridiron markings.