Thursday, October 25, 2007

Crystal ball is fixed

I pondered long and hard about my latest SI.com column. I previewed the MLS playoffs which start tonight as Chicago plays D.C. United. I didn't want to do a boring series-by-series preview. Instead, I wanted to break it down in terms of the teams I think have a shot of winning the cup and those who don't. It actually worked out pretty evenly between the contenders and the also-rans.

Still, given my recent run of making picks - which kicked off thanks to a poor weekend in Las Vegas recently - I hesitated. I went back and forth between picking who I thought would win it versus who a safe bet would be and I came up with a pick.

Anyway, let me know what you think about my picks and how I split the teams up.

12 comments:

EdTheRed said...

Hmmmmm...re: Blanco and Chicago, you wrote: "No MLS Cup champion has relied heavily on a midseason acquisition."

I'd actually say that, while all the other pieces were in place at the beginning of the season, DC United relied pretty heavily on Christian Gomez in their run to the 2004 Cup. Pretty heavily indeed.

JT (Chicago) said...

Yikes! I agree with your breakdown of 4 and 4.

Where I do differ is that I truly believe that the Fire will be able to add to their hoodoo over DC in the playoffs. Blanco and Conde have made such a difference.

The last two draws between the clubs could have been Chicago wins if Mr. Barrett or Wanchope decided to finish a couple of the numerous chances. Yes, DC was not a full strength but they probably won't be this week either. It'll be tight but the Fire will prevail and then get past the RedBulls on the way to their meeting with Houston. Sorry, Chivas injured forwards mean too much to their attack.

At this point, I'd say Houston is my pick to win it all but we can revisit that once the Final is set.

L.B. said...

In regards to Christian Gomez, yes, I overlooked him. When I was going back and looking at each MLS Cup champion, I thought about Ryan Nelsen and Alecko Eskandarian when I came to the 04 United squad. I failed to take into account Gomez's importance.

Still, even with Gomez, he is the exception to the rule. Typically midseason acquisitions don't have a tremendous amount of impact simply because it takes time to adjust to not only playing in MLS but living in the United States and adjusting to a new culture.

I guess that's why I've been so impressed with Blanco. He's been as important to the Fire as he was to America, and you can't say the same about other midseason acquisitions, ahem, Beckham.

I can;t wait for the game tonight. What a game to open the playoffs with. It's a shame because this would have made a good final.

Anonymous said...

What you seem to have completely failed to mention in your rush to talk about Blanco is just how bad the Fire's offense has been recently. Sure they have gone 8 games without a loss, but ony 3 of those have been wins. Why? Perhaps only scoring 3 goals in their last 4 matches has something to do with it (1 in their last 3). Right now Chad Barret can't even get a shot on net and Wanchope looks like he is 86 years old out there. I know you love your boy Blanco but that is some putrid offensive output.

L.B. said...

Yeah, it's too bad Blanco couldn't have brought Salvador Cabanas with him.

Nimodo.

I'd be more concerned if they weren't generating chances. Barrett played like crap against the Galaxy and needed to bury that shot late in the first half. Wanchope, meanwhile, is a good example of a midseason pickup that has struggled to adjust.

FC Uptown said...

The DP-free Houston Dynamo are rock solid. I don't sense a lot of love regarding that team from the East and West Coast writers. True, they are fairly boring and have none of the international panache of the Fire/DCU/NYRB, but they are very good - look at their defense alone. DeRosario is all quality and a step quicker than your Blancos of the world. I see them taking the whole thing.

JT (Chicago) said...

anon 12:16,

You can't fault Blanco for the lack of goals. He's served up many chances for Barrett & Wanchope but they haven't finished. I'd be more afriad if they weren't creating chances each week but they are. they have consistently outshot their opponents down this stretch.

If Osorio can finally back away from his Save Barrett's Ego project and move Rolfe up front, then we probablyy will see some goals in the net. Just look at how composed Thorrington was with his chance oppposed to the numerous chances Barrett's taken over the past few months.

By the way, I'm a long time Chivas fans so cheering Blanco and watching all the america fans supporting the Fire is disturbing but times change. Go Fire!

Sports Betting Man said...

I think Chicago are being underestimated. Plenty of time for the Fire to catch fire yet.

Anonymous said...

Listen Mr.Bueno..... I think you push your Mexican side a little to hard. YOu telling me that Chicago is a contender but New england is not.... I do understand that Blando is a good player and that he made the team better.. but he did not make the team a contender...But you do have a history of pushing the Mexican soccer to the fullest... which im kool with....

P.S. im not a New England Fan.... im a Red bull Fan...

My Opinion Over Yours said...

FC Uptown, I think the consensusm especially here, is that there is only one Blanco. Houston definitely has a good a chance as anyone but if they didn't make your eyes bleed when playing maybe someone would give a damn.

Luis, in your article you bring up the # of goals that New York allowed, but doesn't some of that have to be credited to the fact that teams go in knowing they need to play an attacking style to beat them. There is definitely no 2-0 lead that is safe from JPA and Jozy. But don't get me wrong there defense is horrid, and New England should beat them easily.

Anonymous said...

just freaking great.

you had to jinx us.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly not blaming Blanco for lack of goals. But the Chicago Fire, like any team is more than just one player. The fact of the matter is their strike force tandem of Barret/Wanchope has been finishing terribly and that has to come into play when you evaluate their chances. Last night was a great example. Rolfe had a great shot but it was pure good fortune that the opportunity was there (although credit Osorio for correctly moving Rolfe to his natural position and benching Wanchope). Other than that Chicago didn't look like they had a chance on goal until DC was (for some reason) attacking all out. Of course Blanco was pretty bad last night too so all we saw was a 65ish minute bunker. Pretty bad game all around and if Chicago plays that kind of match against a healthy DC starting Moreno and Emilio they are going to be going home for good.