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United's Playoff Opponent Is...

Okay, United supporters, your club is on the brink of clinching first place in the Eastern Conference. Which means a first-round home-and-home series with the fourth-place club starting on the road Oct. 25-28. Which at the moment is Kansas City, but could just as easily become Chicago or New York.

Here's the question: Who would you prefer to play?

Chicago is beginning to find its rhythm, has playoff-experienced players and possesses an attacker (Blanco) who can change a match on a moment's notice. New York is fading and has an atrocious back line, but like Chicago, offers a player (Angel) who can beat you with one cool strike. Kansas City has struggled since its fast start, but did thrash DCU back in April at RFK and has a fleet forward (Johnson) who could pose problems for United's defense.

While you are thinking about that, feel free to read the transcript from my live online chat on yesterday. And be sure to watch "Washington Post Live" on Comcast SportsNet this evening at 5 p.m. (replayed at 11) for my soccer segment.

By Steve Goff  |  October 11, 2007; 9:41 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Letters, We've Got Letters


At this point I'd take Red Bulls over KC or the Fire.

Posted by: Beans | October 11, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I'd take the RedBulls also. We can exploit that back line. And it's easier for the Barra to get there too.

Posted by: Chico | October 11, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I'd take KC. Angel is very dangerous, and we've seen our back line make some pretty bad mistakes. Hopefully boswell/vanney have worked that out.

Posted by: DC forever | October 11, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

RedBulls first choice, KC second choice and Fire third choice.

Posted by: Kosh | October 11, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Kansas City. They're in fourth place for a reason, and they have no home field advantage since they have no fans.

Johnson is a concern, but he's not Angel or Blanco.

BTW... why can't the former United coaches in MLS be in the other division?

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 11, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Red Bulls. They've been bleeding points since mid-season. Gomez, Moreno, Fred, and Emilio would chew up their back line.

Posted by: Ash | October 11, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

New York - they've been on a backslide ever since their hot start to the season. It's easy to forget they actually have two designated players.

plus, I'd get to go to both games of the series.

Posted by: pat | October 11, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Our defense has been rock solid since Vanney adapted and Boswell found the bench.

Posted by: DirtyHarry | October 11, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

KC; NY has too many potential weapons. I think Chicago is going to be really tough to beat, as well.

Posted by: Hacksaw | October 11, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm going with KC. They are the least dangerous of the 3. Too bad they seed the playoffs 1-8. We might get LA!

But seriously, first we need to concentrate on that Supporters Shield. Who cares about MLS cup?

Posted by: Matte | October 11, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

... too bad they DON'T seed the playoffs 1-8.

Typo, my bad.

Posted by: Matte | October 11, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Lets go with the Red Bull...the atmosphere will be dynamic, that's for sure, and the Urgent Care clinic could use a boost in Saturday evening revenue (is it me, or does DC vs NY ever pass without at least one fistfight?).

KC would be nice to watch, but they have about 17 fans, none of whom travel.

Posted by: Erick | October 11, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

red bulls, if only because I didnt get a chance to travel to the swamp this season.

In terms of matchups, I've got to go with KC. They're toothless. I never want United to face Chitcago in any playoff situation for as long as I live.

Posted by: d, dc | October 11, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter one little bit who we face in the playoffs. We have the team to beat all of them. Now it's just a matter of taking that belief onto the field.

My preference would be to face NYRB, because the away trip is easy to do, the atmosphere at RFK would be awesome, and because it'd be nice to knock them out of the playoffs...AGAIN...after all their crowing about their great start to the season.

Posted by: MattM | October 11, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"But seriously, first we need to concentrate on that Supporters Shield. Who cares about MLS cup?"

Er, the league? MLS Cup is how the league recognizes its champion.

Posted by: MattM | October 11, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Kansas City. Their home leg should go off without an advantage. Let the Red Bulls take out New England.

Posted by: DWE4 | October 11, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

It won't matter who we play. We should dispense with either one.

It would be a shame to let MLS Cup at RFK go without a United victory.

Posted by: delantero | October 11, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

New York. No question. Those guys don't scare me at all. Not that KC or Chicago really do either, but New York stinks.

Posted by: FP | October 11, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

NY. Because then its a very easy road trip, and once again the traveling DCU supporters will outnumber the latest segment of Metro Plaoff Failure people.

Posted by: Zero | October 11, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I am all for facing NYRB in the first round. They are falling apart. I mean, they just got beat by Toronto!!! KC next because they are somewhat flat too. We faced a tought game earlier in the season, and if half the team didn't have Montezuma's revenge I think we would have beat them in KC last weekend, even with the injuries. Never Chicago. I am actually a little tense about this weekend. And really, isn't it more fun to see United smack New York around? I have seen it 5 times so far, and it is awesome every time (especially when Olsen gets fired up).

Posted by: T. Henry | October 11, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

New York or KC. DCU owns the NY/NJ franchise, with or without Angel. KC is playing pretty lousy these days - a similar one-one draw in the first leg of the playoffs would be a decent result.

The team I would not want to face is the Chicago Fire. They are finding their form (which is a dangerous thing for an MLS playoff team)and Chicago has a good history versus DC in the playoffs - see MLS Cup 97 and the horrid 2005 playoffs. They will not be intimidated by going to play in RFK.

DC can help themselves secure a place against KC or NY with a win this weekend against the Fire.

Posted by: diego r. | October 11, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

MLS Cup 1998... Chicago Fire didn't exist in 1997.

Posted by: Soy United! | October 11, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

All this fear of Chicago has got to stop. If we're going to be the best we have to beat the best. Best way to get that monkey off our backs is to stomp them a new one.

Posted by: Chico | October 11, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I want the New York Red Bulls. For all the reasons above. And what better way to start the playoffs than beating a team coached by DC's former coaches, ex-players and even TV announcers?

Posted by: Bart | October 11, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

We can and should beat any of the three, but I fear Chicago the most because of Blanco's playmaking ability. He's involved on like 80% of Chicago's goals since joining the team. In my opinion, it's easier to key in on and stop a scorer (Johnson, Angel) than a playmaker like Blanco.

I say bring on the Pink Cows, if only because their fans get so bitter when we crush them like the scum that they are.

Posted by: CY | October 11, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I hope it's a DC-LA final; still trying to convince Posh to leave that fool.

Posted by: Hacksaw | October 11, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

We had a guy by the name of Richie Williams that stopped every playmaker in the league. Valderrama still has nighmares. Simm's could be Blanco's shadow.

Posted by: Chico | October 11, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the memories Chico. Richie Williams was the bomb at stopping playmakers. That little guy ate up the field in his day.

As long as we don't have to play the Rev's until the second round, it doesn't really matter. NYRB are trending more terrible than the rest right now. I'm personally hoping for a bench-clearing brawl in the second NE v CHI leg, resulting in about 10 red cards that carry over for a couple games.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | October 11, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Red Bulls - we own them.

Posted by: bobF | October 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm for the Red Bulls and lets make it one mother of a roadtrip!

Posted by: Tweaked | October 11, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

RBNY definitely over the rest. Then probably Chicago (post season revenge) or KC (early season revenge).

Posted by: TCompton | October 11, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Bring on the Red Bulls, and watch Benny have back to back hat tricks in the two game series.

Posted by: Shatz | October 11, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Red Bulls please. Better chance for a big travelling contingent of our supporters.

Posted by: Eric | October 11, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

KC, Energie NY, Chicago...

Posted by: RK | October 11, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Such conjecture over opponent preference in nonsense in sports. One game at a time is the only thing you can control.

Posted by: GrillMaster | October 11, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Yep, the Red Bulls. While Angel is certainly a talent, they are eminently beatable.

And I love beating any sport.

Posted by: KR in DC | October 11, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Red Bulls please. Better chance for a big travelling contingent of our supporters.

Posted by: Eric | October 11, 2007 11:53 AM

But Eric... What about the huge contingent of Red Bull fans that will travel to RFK to support THEIR team on the road???

Posted by: Shatz | October 11, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think both those guys are busy that weekend.

Posted by: Chico | October 11, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Shatz-- they only come if the team pays for the bus.

Posted by: -K | October 11, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

for all those commenting on kansas city's lack of home field advantage, don't forget that all 32k at their beckham game can use the ticket for a buy one, get one playoff ticket. it wouldn't surprise me if they got at least 20k for a playoff game given that.

Posted by: Kurt | October 11, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

plenty of comments in the match thread after the KC game that the field confines were very tight. think that would be at least as much of an advantage for KC as any number of fans.

home field advantage is about more than numbers of supporters...

Posted by: bill urban | October 11, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Goffer - as a follow up question to your live chat - it seems like DCU will definitely have a shirt sponsor by next season. Is the sponsor decided and any idea who it is? I'm pulling for either a) Pollo Campero b) Soccer Insider c) Goff / Olsen 2008 !

Posted by: diego r. | October 11, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Who wins the Shield if Chivas and United have the same record?

Posted by: UVA to RFK | October 11, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

United wins due to head to head competition

Posted by: Chico | October 11, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"Er, the league? MLS Cup is how the league recognizes its champion."

Actually, the MLS Cup champion is just that. The MLS Cup champion. The league champ wins the Supporters Shield.

Personally, I think winning a competition that spans 7 months, where you compete against every team in the league, says more about the caliber of your team than a competition spanning 3 weeks, 4 matches, and 3 opponents.

But honestly, it's a matter of personal preference. You can't compare the two, cause their apples and oranges.

My personal preference is that I'd like to see the MLS Cup open to all teams in the league instead of having the regular season serve as a qualifying tournament. I understand why it is set up the way it is; so the average american sports fan can relate to the competition. I just think it makes more sense to follow the Eurpoean leagues in this respect.

Posted by: Matte | October 11, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Goff isn't the real story here how MLS came up with a lame brain system where the top seed in the East (and the league) does not play the worst team from the East to qualify? How about some good old fashioned investigative reporting to find out what the theory behind that was?

Also, I find the debate above about MLS Cup vs. Supporters Shield interesting, and have been disappointed that the Post has not done more to use its bully pulpit to educate the area's growing population of casual soccer fans on the significance of the regular season crown outside the U.S. Personally, I think it is great that we have both, but unfortunate that many tend to view last year's failure to win the Cup as, well, a failure, given the first place finish, when in fact it is a rare feat (I think) to win both, and so is something that should be recognized as a truly remarkable occurance when it happens, and not so much as a failure when it does not. The playoffs measure the best team over four games. The supporters shield is awarded to the best team over 32 games. Both are terrific, but very different, achievements.

Finally, in an elimination playoff series, it does matter who you play, and like many above, Chicago in the playoffs gives me the heebie-jeebies. Let New England take them out, or better yet, LA.

Posted by: regular fan | October 11, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

While I love where Chico's head is at concerning ending the Fire curse, they are objectively the best of the three teams in question right now. Blanco (and the return of Rolfe, who we should not forget missed like 3 months with an ankle injury) has turned them into a dangerous team. Personally, I'd say their current level is only a shade under that of the Revs (if not even). If things hold up and the Fire go into the West thanks to MLS's mind-boggling set up for this year's playoffs, don't be shocked if they take down Chivas/Houston. In the end, the system may be doing the East a favor.

When we talk about KC or NY, I think there's one thing that people (myself included) have been forgetting: Curt Onalfo spent several years living in VA and going to every United game he could go to. He knows us better than any other coach in the league. That might be why they beat us 4-2, massively outplayed us in the lucky 1-0 win there, and got a draw when both teams were missing 3 starters last week. That's the best record against us that any team in MLS has this season. Plus, that tiny field hurts our style of play much more than theirs; the Wizards are a very direct team, while we are less so.

NY, meanwhile, has Angel, Altidore, and...I guess I'll be nice enough to Richards to count him in, even though he can only cross on the ground and seems to have a very bad case of Blind Alley syndrome. They have 2 mediocre keepers, a bad backline, and will be relying on Clint Mathis for any real creative play. Granted, Mathis does have some big-game highlights in his history, but he has never done well against us.

I know I wrote a lengthy post before about playoff matchups and picked KC, but I'm changing my mind. It's November tradition for us to humiliate NY.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | October 11, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Chicago. They aren't that good, even with Blanco. Out of the three they are the least dangerous and most beatable.

KC has a good record against us. Rather not test those waters.

NY despite our owning them in the regular season scares me. They are the type of team that could drop a nasty on someone with Jozy,Angel and Mathis, especially at the Swamp where they have been very good this year.

I think they haven't won in the past few games but have outshot teams like 3 to 1 in those games. They also damn near took us out last year. I'd rather see them take on NE and have us play them or NE in a one off at RFK.

Posted by: VamosUnited | October 13, 2007 1:01 AM | Report abuse

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