Sunday kickaround: MLS playoffs, Terrapins in ACC tournament, Virginia loses, Georgetown upset
*Despite all of the flaws and geographically incorrect matchups, the MLS playoffs have provided us with wonderful theater, superb goals, outlandish saves, controversy and tense finishes. Each of the first three series ended in uniquely gripping manners: San Jose overcoming a first-leg deficit but then using a late goal by the Golden Boot winner; Colorado striking for a late aggregate equalizer and then triumphing on penalties; and Dallas surviving a wild finish to earn a draw and win on total goals.
Unfortunately, we have yet to see a home crowd celebrate a series victory, which exposes another shortcoming in the current playoff system: There's really no home-field advantage, thus undermining a seven-month regular season. Los Angeles, the Supporters' Shield holder, should change that trend tonight when it take a 1-0 lead into Home Depot Center against Seattle (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The first-round surprises provide excellent storylines for the conference finals but also leave the league with three of the least supported clubs in contention for MLS Cup berths. While postseason success will presumably spike interest in the local markets, San Jose, Colorado and Dallas are largely anonymous on a national scale. The Earthquakes had the lowest average attendance among the 16 teams (9,659), although that's close to capacity on the Santa Clara campus. Despite playing in medium-sized, soccer-specific stadiums, the Rapids (13,329) were 12th and FC Dallas (10,815) 14th on the attendance chart. Seattle (36,173) and Los Angeles (21,437) are first and second respectively.
With only a week until the club hosts the Eastern final, the Rapids' ticket office will have to scramble to come close to filling Dick's Sporting Goods Park. And if Dallas ends up hosting Seattle in the Western final, the same challenge with an even smaller window of opportunity will confront the FCD front office.
Dallas is seeking its first MLS Cup berth, Colorado wants to return for the first time since 1997, and two-time champion San Jose is vying to get back after the original team moved to Houston nearly five years ago.
*The second-seeded Maryland women's team (17-2-1) will play for the ACC championship today (2 p.m., Comcast SportsNet/DC) against fifth-seeded Wake Forest (12-7-2). Neither side has ever won the conference title. In the regular season meeting, the Terrapins lost on the road, 2-1.
*The Virginia men ended the regular season in poor fashion with a 2-0 loss at eighth-place North Carolina State. The reigning NCAA champions (10-4-3, 2-4-2 in the ACC) will be the No. 6 seed in the ACC tournament, which begins Wednesday in Cary, N.C.
*The Georgetown men, top seeds from the Big East's Blue Division, were upset at home in the conference quarterfinals, 2-1 by Providence. The Hoyas (11-6-1) will now have to hope for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament, when the field is announced Nov. 15.
| November 7, 2010; 9:26 AM ET
Categories: College Soccer, MLS | Tags: MLS, college soccer
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