What's the one perpetual MLS narrative that will die in the playoffs?
Canadian teams can’t win. For as much money as Toronto has invested in players, it’s crazy that the club just won its first playoff game ever. But look for more to come as a Canadian team finally makes its mark in the MLS postseason.
Let’s hope it’s that away goals are a good idea. They’re an archaic throwback to the days when visiting teams needed some motivation after a harrowing bus ride through the Alps left them at a stadium with no running water in the visitors dressing room. Hitting the road is a bit more comfortable these days. Two years ago, Seattle advanced over Dallas in the Western semis on away goals. The Sounders scored in Dallas (1-1) but were shut out at home (0-0). Why is the former more important than the latter? It’s arbitrary, and the MLS playoffs already were sufficiently arbitrary before away goals were introduced.
If seeds mean anything–if the regular season means anything–then there shouldn't be an additional hurdle between the higher seed and a potential extra 30 minutes on home turf.
I'll second that thought on Canadian teams not being able to succeed in the MLS playoffs. The barrier was broken last year when all three sides–Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal–made the playoffs together for the first time, and Montreal became the first Canadian team to advance a round (albeit at the expense of another, Toronto) before falling in the conference semifinals. With TFC acting like the title contender it was presumed to be and Montreal suddenly looking more dangerous then was anticipated–and not Drogba dependent–there's reason for optimism north of the border, both now and beyond.
The LA Galaxy’s playoff invincibility. Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and others on the Galaxy roster through the years have proven time and again that even an underwhelming regular season doesn’t mean they won’t make a deep playoff run. That ends this year, thanks to a dominant Colorado defense and the Galaxy’s own aging core.
The Red Bulls curse narrative doesn’t have much longer to live. If not for five blown second-half two-goal leads, New York would’ve won the Supporters’ Shield going away. And while that propensity for collapses might be a worry, the two-leg playoff format erases half of the concern. Issues arise when opponents throw everything forward and the Red Bulls ease their press. Jesse Marsch said at training Wednesday, however, that his team won’t do that in the first of two legs.
“If we have a 2-0 lead, we’re going to be aggressive,” he said. “If teams want to throw things at us, we’re going to see if we can hurt ‘em on the other side.”
With New York unbeaten in the league since July 3, that’s a dangerous proposition for the rest of the East.