The Portland Timbers are not in the playoffs. That stinks. Still, the playoffs are happening no matter what and some of us will probably watch them.
With that in mind, let’s push past the pervasive ennui of the early offseason and take a look at the MLS Cup knockout round games.
Wednesday, October 26th
Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC
Watch it on: ESPN2
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. PT at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada
Toronto FC: 14-9-11, 3rd place in the Eastern Conference
Philadelphia Union: 11-14-9, 6th place in the Eastern Conference
Who to root for: Toronto has a few things going for it in this one: Giovinco is amazing to watch, Will Johnson is not starting but we still love him around these parts, and Jozy Altidore’s resurgence is quite heartening for USMNT fans. It helps that they are facing off against the Union, who have been in a death spiral for several weeks and feature the talents of Alejando Bedoya who would be an utterly vanilla US international if it were not for his willingness to express a series of unfortunate opinions on women’s soccer.
Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy
Watch it on: Unimas
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA
LA Galaxy: 12-6-16, 3rd place in the Western Conference
Real Salt Lake: 12-12-10, 6th place in the Western Conference
Who to root for: This is a rough one. On the one hand, everybody enjoys seeing LA lose; on the other, as Jeff Cassar would say, everyone knows that Real Salt Lake is a classy organization. In the end, RSL’s unwillingness to return the ball after a Timbers injury, their attempt to take advantage of that injury for a goal, and their insinuation that the injury was not real despite the player being subbed off immediately basically gets them a spot high on the list of teams to root against.
Thursday, October 27th
Montreal Impact at D.C. United
Watch it on: Unimas
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. PT at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
D.C. United: 11-10-13, 4th place in the Eastern Conference
Montreal Impact: 11-11-12, 5th place in the Eastern Conference
Who to root for: United are playing fun football on a shoestring budget, getting the most of a roster full of MLS castaways. To see United so transformed after playing pragmatic, defensive, route one ball for the last several years is impressive and that they are doing it without a coaching change is doubly so. Montreal’s issues with Didier Drogba have a real “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” quality to them and watching the team win without him would be great, but in the end they will not be able to ignore the Chelsea legend if they need a late game goal and the moment he steps onto the pitch Montreal instant become less likable.
Sporting Kansas City at Seattle Sounders
Watch it on: FOX Sports 1
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. PT at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA
Seattle Sounders: 14-14-6, 4th place in the Western Conference
Sporting Kansas City: 13-13-8, 5th place in the Western Conference
Who to root for: Neither. The Sounders are the Sounders, while SKC have steadily built themselves a reputation among Timbers fans as a thuggish side that try to muck up games with overly physical play. In the end, you just have to hope that whichever side goes through, they get obliterated by the Colorado Rapids or FC Dallas in the Conference Semifinals.
Who are you rooting for in the playoffs? Are you even watching them?