MLS Playoffs Picture: Western ConferenceBy: Juan Mesa
SEATTLE SOUNDERS: The Sounders are in the playoffs again, this time stronger than ever. The club won the US Open Cup and the MLS Supporters’ Shield (with the regular season’s best record, no less), which means they are only one trophy away from becoming the first team to win the American Treble. The Emerald team’s big star is Clint Dempsey, but he is only one piece in a great team. The Sounders also have Obafemi Martins, Marco Pappa, DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Gonzalo Pineda and Osvaldo Alonso—probably one of the most powerful and balanced rosters in the history of the MLS. In short, they’re everybody’s favorites to win the Cup.
LA GALAXY: Landon Donovan’s last season could be an unforgettable one if the Galaxy wins the MLS Cup. The team had a head-to-head with Seattle for the Supporters’ Shield and has shown a powerful attack with Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes upfront. The midfield is probably the best in the MLS, but distractions on the defensive side have the Galaxy one floor down from Seattle. Still, with four championships and a coach like Bruce Arena, the Galaxy knows well what it takes to bring some silverware into their living rooms.
REAL SALT LAKE: The team from the Rocky Mountains will play the in the postseason for a seventh straight year. In those, they have reached two finals, winning one of them. This means the RSL is the team to beat if anyone wants to be a champion. The combination of a solid defense, led by goalkeeper Nick Rimando, a dynamic and experienced midfield and an explosive attack make them serious title contenders.
FC DALLAS: FC Dallas could have finished the season in a higher position, but the fourth place in the Western Conference is not bad for a team back in the playoffs after two seasons of absence. Still, Óscar Pareja’s team is nothing but unpredictable, a squad with two personalities: one that fights every ball and is able to beat Seattle and LA, guided by speedy Colombian attacker Fabián Castillo, and another one that forgets the game plan and frequently gives the ball away to its opponents. Let’s see which one shows up at the playoffs.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS: The only Canadian team in the postseason earned its spot after a hard fight with the Portland Timbers. And the feat was achieved thanks to its South American players—Argentines Mauro Rosales and Matías Laba, Chilean Pedro Morales and Uruguayan Sebastián Fernández. On a good day, they look like the Harlem Globetrotters of soccer, but the safest best is to assume they’ll be the classic underdog team that causes damage to some of the favorites.
LOGISTICS: MLS Cup Playoffs official website