>Friday Lunch Special: TSL 2010 MLS Cup Predictions

Posted: November 19, 2010 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

>By TSL Staff and Friends

As the MLS Cup is nearly upon us, The SACK Lunch reached out to our writers and friends to express their opinion of what will happen Sunday in Toronto. We hope you have enjoyed our first MLS Cup Week, and hope you will enjoy our future blog specials, the next one scheduled for the BCS. Note: some people are more informed than others.

Russell Jordan
 
FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids are playing in the 2010 MLS Cup, and a lot of people might say it’s a bit of a let down considering neither team is a powerhouse and neither team has a great fan base, but I bet to differ. Not only will this MLS Cup be amazingly entertaining, but it will be the best MLS Cup in history. Why? I’ll tell you why.
 
BREK SHEA. Every once in a while, a player comes along, and he’s just got something different about him, something special. Ladies and gentlemen that player is Brek Shea. Not only do his flowing golden locks bring joy to all that watch him gallivant about the field like a blond current day Jesus, but his style of play is of a man that could bring Pele and Maradona to their knees. Now, some of our readers might not know a lot about soccer, so let me put it in some other terms. If you took LeBron, MJ, Magic, Dr. J, Bird, and Chamberlin, mixed them all together, and sprinkled in some Shaqtus, that player would be about 1/100th the caliber of Brek Shea.
 
When Brek Shea shoots the ball, it travels around the earth before entering the net. Brek Shea preforms perfect give and goes…. With himself. Chicken Pox got Brek Shea… twice. Brek Shea has received two red cards… in the same game: He was not ejected. Brek Shea once asked a man what time it was… the man died. Brek Shea has scored a goal on every continent, and on three different planets. If Brek Shea were to miss a shot the universe would explode, but don’t worry, Brek Shea never misses.
 
Needless to say my prediction for the 2010 MLS Cup is a Dallas victory.
2-0 Over the Rapids.
Stat Projections.
Goals: Brek Shea (2)
Assists: Brek Shea (2)
Saves: Brek Shea (13)
Yellow Cards: Brek Shea (7)
Red Cards: Brek Shea (4)
Souls Consumed: Brek Shea (entire COL roster and coaching staff)
Possession %: Brek Shea (100%)
 
Matt Ream
 
So, now that the participants of the MLS Cup Final are set, here is my take on how the game will play out.
 
Dallas (12-4-14) and Colorado (12-8-10) only finished four points apart in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Both teams are very physical and have a couple of difference makers in David Ferreira and Omar Cummings, respectively.  Each team has a strong back line – Dallas only allowed 9.7 shots per game while Colorado allowed 10.2.  To put this into perspective, Supporter’s Shield winner Los Angeles allowed 9.63 while eighth playoff seed San Jose allowed a whopping 13.6.
 
The real difference in this game will be the goalkeeping. Over the course of the season, Dallas gave up 0.93 goals per game and Colorado gave up 1.07. However, while this seems like a comparable number, consider that Kevin Hartman was only in goal for Dallas for 20 of their 30 games (only finishing 19 of those games). During this time, Dallas only lost one game and gave up 0.62 goals per game while facing an average of 3.4 shots on goal per game (going 10-1-8). The other ten (eleven, if you count the game he came in for Hartman) games featured Dario Sala, who gave up 1.6 goals per game.  During that time, Dallas went 2-3-4, which is hardly a solid record.  In fact, I’d say that if Hartman hadn’t gotten injured, Dallas may have made a strong push for the Supporter’s Shield, but that is a story for another time.  Assuming Hartman is fit to go the full game on Sunday, I would give the edge to Dallas.
 
One final note is that Colorado struggled to score against San Jose. Omar Cummings and Conor Casey were largely ineffective against a tough, yet beatable (by more than one cross turned shot goal) team. Dallas, however, has looked the part against two higher seeds – riding Hartman’s saves against Salt Lake and dominating possession against Los Angeles. My prediction is: 2-1, Dallas.
 
Nick Gallaudet
 
The extent of my MLS knowledge comes from what I have watched these past three weeks. I didn’t pick up a whole lot from these teams, but here’s what I got. 

COLORADO: Omar Cummings is a total baller, and by far my favorite MLS player. He’s a wizard with the ball and made Columbus look like a JV team at times. Conor Casey is a chump. Looking at his face makes me angry and he makes it hard for me to enjoy watching my new favorite player. Other than that, I don’t have much, except that my cousin lives in Colorado and I took my first train ride there when I was like six.

FC DALLAS: Kevin Hartman was unbelievable in their 3-0 housing of the Galaxy, but I don’t really like their uniforms. I don’t think they have much of a chance, because if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s to bet against Texas teams, the Longhorns stink, the Rangers lost, the Cowboys have two wins, and Tony Parker is getting a divorce. It’s just not in the cards, and I don’t think they should have changed their name. The Dallas Burn was more intimidating.

I said FC Dallas wouldn’t win in my playoff preview, and what kind of prognosticator would I be if I went back on my pick, so here’s to hoping my inner Paul the Octopus comes through…I’ll take Colorado 2-0

Kyle “The Intern” Mohr

Like most MLS games, the key to this final will be which team can open the scoring. In every game that Colorado lost this season, they gave up the first goal. FCD scored first in every one of their wins with just a single exception, a 3-1 victory over the Union (DOOP!). As obvious as it is, scoring first will be critical for both sides and set the tone for the rest of the game.
 
Both teams will be cautious to start, as neither will want to concede first. The last time these teams played (2-2 tie in Dallas), Jeff Larentowicz got the opener on a quick counter attack. Look for Colorado to try to lock up the back in order to counter and play long balls from deep in their defense to Casey and Cummings. I also thought that Colorado had reasonable success against Dallas playing diagonal balls through and behind the FCD defense for Omar Cummings to run on to. The Dallas backs will be in serious trouble every time Cummings gets in behind them, where he is both a dangerous scorer and passer and the Rapids should try to get him as many touches as possible. Colorado’s biggest concern should be their defense though. If they can stay organized and structured in the back, they will have a reasonable chance to take the Philip F. Anschultz Trophy back with them to Denver, although I think a collapse in awareness/ communication/ positioning in the back will lead to at least one Dallas goal.
 
FCD are just solid. They ground out more draws than any other team this year and know how to not lose. They have David Ferreira. And Kevin Hartman. The back line will no doubt be in for a long battle against the strong Colorado attacking duo and Hartman will need to have an impressive performance (i.e., play like himself) for Dallas to stay in the game. As long as FCD’s defense can minimize the influence of Casey and Cummings, it’s hard for me to see them losing. The Dallas midfield is loaded, with the likes of David Ferreira, Dax McCarty, and Brek Shea, just to name a few. I think Dallas will try (and succeed) to win the possession battle, switching the point of attack and penetrating the Colorado back line until they can capitalize on a defensive breakdown. Dallas will not have an easy time however, and they must go in being very alert, especially to where Cummings is on the field, especially if he takes a roaming free role as he did last time against Dallas. FCD also need to be sure they have adequate numbers back when Colorado tries to counter. Both regular season match-ups ended in ties and Colorado certainly could grab a goal or two to steal the win. Although I predict a Dallas victory, it would not shock me if the game ends up going into extra-time. If this is the case, I see Dallas getting the win due to their depth, especially compared to Colorado’s. Whether the game goes more than 90 minutes or not, I will be very surprised if Dallas doesn’t cap off their record breaking season as MLS Champions. Dallas wins 3-1.
 
Brett Andersen
 
What simple excitement to know that come Sunday night, a first time champion will be crowned in the MLS Cup final. The game will be played on Canadian turf, which I think is just absurd considering the matchup involves two teams from what I consider to be the Midwest. Despite the fact the fans will travel to the game, MLS should figure out a way to get this matchup closer to home to get those poor fans involved.

Unfortunately for FC Dallas, they probably couldn’t buy a spot on Monday’s front page (darn you, Cowboys) to announce that they’ve been crowned champions. David Ferriera will lead the charge for the former Dallas Burn, helped by that decent goalkeeping play of Kevin Hartman. For me, Dallas’ victory last week over the Galaxy was quite a statement about their abilities. On the other hand, Colorado did win last week over San Jose, who despite that loss is the greatest team ever assembled (they clearly needed my cousin, Joey Gjertsen, to be in uniform).

My gut tells me there will be at least two goals scored in this game, with PKs settling it in favor of Dallas. But the useless remainder of me tells me somehow the possibly chilly weather will take a goal off the board….I anticipate a 1-0 FC Dallas victory this weekend. Sorry Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban, the finest champion in Dallas this century will be the Dallas Burn.

Will Robinson

I’ll make my prediction short and sweet: Real Salt Lake will UPSET the LA Galaxy in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw, winning 5-4. BOOM!
 
What? This was LAST year? Dammit! TO be honest, I have not seen much of either team this year, but I have seen them recently while they are in form. Colorado is led by the dynamic duo of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey up top, and I can’t say enough about the play of Cummings. Fast, quick, creative: He’s the player every coach would like to have as one of their attackers. He doesn’t mind creating chances for his teammates, which is nice because some strikers don’t choose to or have that ability. Their defense is very fast and solid, led by the SPEEDY Marvell Wynne (93 speed in FIFA – the fastest for a US National) holding down the fort at center back.
 
Colorado has a solid side, but I am really favoring Dallas. The manner in which they demolished LA last Sunday was something else to watch. They didn’t seem to slow down until after they dropped their third goal on the Galaxy side. Their defense is very physical, and their attackers are led by Dax McCarty, Jeff Cunningham, BREEEEEEEEK SHEAAAAAAA, and the MVP, David Ferreira. Despite standing at 5’5”, Ferreira is one of the most dynamic players I have seen in MLS. His childhood idol was the great Carlos Valderrama, who, in the tail end of his playing career, notched 26 assists in one season, and is second place in MLS history with 114 assists. I don’t want to compare Ferreira to one of the 125 Top Living Football Players, but he definitely picked a good person to model his game after. He dismantled LA in his one goal, one assist performance in the Home Depot Center.
 
When it’s all said and done, I think FC Dallas will pull off the win, 2-1. Plus, DEUCE is supporting Dallas, and I can’t pick against him. 
 
Dylan Davis
 
I’m not gonna claim to know a lot about THE MLS. I didn’t follow the entire season. I don’t know all of the players and I can’t break down the strengths and weaknesses of every team. I don’t know all the coaches or even why the league hasn’t ditched its ridiculous two conference format and gone to one table. But there are a few things I do know.
 
1. I would rather scratch my eyes out with a rusty paper clip than have to endure another Robbie Findley “shot” at goal.
 
2. Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle are absolute beasts and they somehow play for the same team.
 
3. International superstar (I know that was like ten years ago, but still) David Beckham joined the league a few years back and is on the same team as Donovan and Buddle.
 
4. Omar Gonzalez and Sean Franklin are two of the best young defenders in the league and, you guessed it, they also play for the Galaxy, owners of Buddle, Donovan, and Beckham
 
5. The goalkeeper chosen for the MLS Best XI this year…also played for the Galaxy.
 
So as you can see, it’s obvious that the Galaxy will sweep through the playoffs and have no trouble against any teams, especially not at home. They seem like they will start quickly and never be behind at halftime of any game, especially once they get to the later rounds, such as the Western conference finals. Teams like Dallas will have no shot at taking them down…what’s that? Dallas beat LA 3-0 in the Western finals? Well it looks like I pulled an Al Davis there, I only looked at individual talent and offensive explosiveness over the team concept. Let’s try this again.
 
All year Dallas has been one of the stingiest defenses in the game and they’ve pulled together just enough offense to only lose 4 times all year. They seem to have gelled at just the right time and are taking on a Colorado team that needed a few lucky breaks (and playing against Robbie Findley) to even make the title game. I expect Dallas to win by a final of 2-0 in Toronto on Sunday, and I don’t think it will be as close as the score indicates.
 
Kenny Durell
 
Look, we all know who should win this based on their performance in the playoffs.
 
FC Dallas ripped the top team during the regular season, L.A., for three goals in the semifinals, and handled last year’s champion in Real Salt Lake in the first-round aggregate. They should win according to any measurement. They are unquestionably the favorite, no matter whether the Colorado and Dallas coaches can’t decide who deserves the “favorite” title.
 
Of course, neither Dallas nor Colorado was supposed to get this far, what with the likes of Real Salt Lake, the L.A. Galaxy, the New York Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew lurking in the playoffs. And yet, three of these top four seeds found a way to lose in the first round.
 
To be honest, the MLS Playoffs, by Europe’s standards, shouldn’t exist at all, as the top regular season team isn’t necessarily the one that can play best in a single game, or even two game, elimination. And yet, that’s exactly what Colorado and Dallas have capitalized on.
 
What Colorado and FC Dallas have both discovered in these playoffs, and the reason Colorado actually has a chance, it that streakiness, which isn’t usually that successful when you have an entire season of 40 games to play, can take you a long way in the playoffs. Individuals getting hot is sometimes all you need to beat a team that has played superiorly for the last 40 games. Colorado’s made a living out of just this, winning on PKs against Columbus, and fluking a goal through to beat San Jose 1-0.
 
And for all the star power on FC Dallas, and there is a ton—Ferreira, Cunningham, Shea, Hartman’s amazing goalkeeping run in these playoffs—only one player on Colorado has to play well, okay two, and they can literally run away with the Cup.
 
That’s the beauty, and the maddening nature of a soccer playoff.
 
And Colorado’s Omar Cummings is that player. Matt Pickens is the slightly less important second.
 
If Cummings gets that one touch, that one through pass placed somewhat perfectly (he’s good enough that it just has to be close enough so he can make a run on it), he’ll finish, either by himself, or with a precise assist. Either way, if Omar gets close, FC Dallas, and the rest of the stadium, will know they’re playing with a loose cannon until he’s neutralized. His 14 goals and three assists in the regular season, and 13 shots on goal, and two assists in the playoffs, speak to that.
 
If Matt Pickens plays like an all-star, like he already did in posting two shutouts in three playoffs games, having an absurd .60 GA, it’ll only make Cummings’ job on the other end easier; Dallas will press, and Cummings will have much more leeway with his passing abilities as well as slashing and running aptitude. Note: The Dallas goalie, Kevin Hartman, might be the only goalie playing better than Pickens in the playoffs, but then it comes down to defensive units: Hartman’s line has let way more shots in on their keeper, 17, as compared to Colorado’s ten shots on goal allowed. With more shots comes more chances for something flukey, uncharacteristic or plain shocking to happen, and that’s almost surely what Colorado needs to pull this one off.
 
Colorado got past tough teams and fought there way to this point, but FC Dallas handled statistically even better teams. This Sunday, it’ll all play out, and I think Colorado, for all of its lack of tackling giants already, is going to get that bounce.
 
That one bounce that will guarantee their name on the cup and serve as a warning for future U.S. leagues that try to cater to U.S. sports fanatics’ tastes: you don’t always get the winner you expected, and because of this, the regular season games can become to seem irrelevant.
 
2-1, with Omar Cummings being directly involved in both goals, either assisting or netting it himself. Pickens will pitch yet another masterpiece, with Ferreira sneaking one through late when the outcome is basically determined and the Rapids can already see their reflections in the cup.
 
Evan Ream
 
When I was asked (by myself) to write 1-3 paragraphs on who would win MLS Cup, I immediately procrastinated and didn’t write my article in time; assuming that I would have time to write it once I got home for thanksgiving break. Then I got stuck in Redding, California for 27 hours (eff you Hanlees Toyota) so that is why I’m making my pick short and to the point as I am about 45 minutes past my deadline.
 
Colorado has some good players and some difference makers, but FC Dallas flat out has more. Dallas has the just-named league MVP in David Ferreira as well as the playoffs MVP thus far in Kevin Hartman. Dallas has better support players overall as well such as Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez. I think that Dallas’ defense is shaky and therefore the game will be a wide open with 5 goals being scored. Unfortunately for Colorado, Omar Cummings will only come up with 2 goals while Dallas will get 3 in a 3-2 victory for Dallas.

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