Posted November 06, 2013

Houston Dynamo dump Red Bulls from MLS Playoffs in extra time

Houston Dynamo, MLS, MLS Playoffs, New York Red Bulls
Houston Dynamo in MLS Playoffs

Omar Cummings (right) scored for the second time in as many games to help eliminate New York from the MLS Playoffs. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Three thoughts on Houston’s 4-3 aggregate victory over New York to advance to the MLS semifinals.

• Houston. Dom Kinnear. Playoffs. — It’s what Houston does: The Dynamo barely sneaks into the playoffs and then turns into a SuperTeam when it counts, upending higher seeds left and right. This time the victim was Supporters’ Shield winner New York, and Houston’s comeback from 2-0 and 3-2 aggregate deficits added an even more impressive element to the win. Omar Cummings didn’t score a goal in the regular season, but his second goal of the tie — coming in the 104th minute on Wednesday — was the game-winner on the road. Give plenty of credit also to Houston goalie Tally Hall, who made up for his first-half howler (which gifted Bradley Wright-Phillips a goal) by making two remarkable reaction saves and keeping things solid late. Houston’s playoff mentality is simply incredible.

• More New York misery. — You thought things were different this year for the Red Bulls once they finally won the franchise’s first competitive trophy with the Supporters Shield. But how do you squander 2-0 and 3-2 leads? How do you lose at home in a game like this? Jámison Olave’s foolish red card in Houston changed everything. New York didn’t win a game all season in which Olave was absent, and that streak continued on Wednesday. It was Olave’s central-defense running-mate, Ibrahim Sekagya, whose horrible pass gifted Brad Davis Houston’s first goal, and we’ll never know if Olave would have kept Cummings from getting to the Houston game-winner that just snuck over the goal line. Oh, this New York collapse was so Metro.

• The MLS playoff format still stinks. — For the sixth time in 10 years, the MLS Supporters Shield winner has gone out in the first main round of the playoffs. We’ve been saying it over and over again: If you want to make the MLS regular season mean anything, anything at all, then you have to make the lower seeds climb a higher hill to advance in the playoffs. The best way: A Confederations Cup-like group stage in which the top seed would host all three of its group-stage games and the bottom seed would have to go on the road for all three of its group games. I’d love to see if a Dom Kinnear-coached team could find a way to advance as the bottom seed in those circumstances. Who knows? With the determination these guys have, they probably could.

17 comments
johnpearl1970
johnpearl1970

how about aggregate away goals in case of a tie like the rest of the world?

TwitSpif
TwitSpif

MLS has to do better with playoff TV. They get me interested on the weekend, but then on the weeknight games I have to hunting through all the Spanish Language channels to find the games. And their iPad app lacks important information, such as the total goals. But it is still exciting if you can actually find the games.

Doug1
Doug1

Don't play home-and-home.  Just play single game knockout, with the higher seed playing at home.

The only reason that they play home-and-home is so each team that makes the playoffs gets a home game for their fans.  I understand that, and it's a money maker for the clubs, but it just seems odd to play a 2 game series all the way to the cup final, and then it's a single game.

In some ways I like what they do in England, or used to do anyway, which was a full replay if the final ends in a tie.

tbrice
tbrice

Or we could, you know, just give the MLS Cup to the highest seed.  

Or maybe we could have two different troph...oh wait...someone already thought of that.

Is there a need for the top seed to win?  Or is it more dramatic this way?  I suppose the fact I'm from Houston makes me a bit biased though.

Forever Orange!

JonMaciel
JonMaciel

Grant, the one reason I would disagree with you about the group stage thing is that you have to picture the regular season and MLS Cup playoffs as two separate tournaments. That's why there's two trophies.

I'm a RBNY fan, and was at the game, and that loss stung, but to me, it's fair. The Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup are two different objectives. Red Bulls couldn't do it.... again. "Sigh"

MattS
MattS

The problem with putting more emphasis on the regular season is teams often lose their better players for stretches of the regular season when they are called up to their national teams for international games.  

sportsGuy12
sportsGuy12

Dynamo always make noise in the playoffs

cbarlow
cbarlow

How about the lower seed has to beat the higher seed, while the higher seed only needs to tie?

gurnick
gurnick

Good points on #1 & #2 but I disagree on #3. So far the playoffs have been close and exciting with the Away & Home total goal format and should continue tomorrow. The format and it seems to be working, just looks like the curse of Nicola Caricola haunted the Red Bulls. 

xfactor
xfactor

Happy to see our boys in Orange win tonight- when not many peolple outside Houston gave them a chance. Kannear proving once again he is one of the best coaches in the MlS! Anything is possible from here on! Da dale dale Dynamo!...dale dale Dynamo!

JosephMcDonald
JosephMcDonald

Sooo playing a game every three days isn't tough enough?

JakeSaltzman1
JakeSaltzman1

What about a 3 game series, higher seed hosts games 1 and 3, each game is self contained (you either win, draw, or lose each game as opposed to aggregate), the team with the larger number of points wins, game 3 isn't played if a team wins the first two games, if the two teams tie on points you can either have GD be the tiebreaker or have the higher seed advance. 

TwitSpif
TwitSpif

@johnpearl1970 Too complicated for American newbie soccer fans. Even for veterans its hard to explain how the team you just watched win a game 2 - 0, still lost the series. Too much math make brain hurt. 

tajknight
tajknight

@tbrice Yes, you are biased because you're from Houston.  :-)

In all seriousness, what Grant Wahl is saying is absolutely true.  If MLS is to be a true American sport, the seeding has to actually freaking mean something.  In the NFL, the higher seed hosts in a single elimination format.  In the NBA and MLB, the higher seed gets more games at home than the lower seed.  The current MLS system is not compatible with American sports in general.  I'm not a "Eurosnob" and I see no reason why we have to adopt European football's "home-and-home" crap just because we're playing soccer.

Having 4-team groups (as outlined by Mr. Wahl) followed by a knockout tournament of 4 teams would be much consistent with American sports in general.  It would also, frankly, be more exciting, as we'd get to see the top two seeds in each conference play each other at least once before any team is officially eliminated.  Would you rather watch Houston play NYRB for 90 + 90 + 30 = 210 freaking minutes or watch Houston play three different teams for 90 minutes each?  If Houston is as good as you think they are (and I agree -- they're darn good come playoff time!), then Houston would still advance under the new system just as often as they do under the old.


tajknight
tajknight

@JonMaciel  

It's not really fair the way it is, Jon.  Look, I'm an RSL fan, and I know the Galaxy are better than we are.  I'm still hoping we manage to upset them tonight, but even if we do, I feel the playoffs would be fairer if every playoff team in the West had to play every other playoff team in the West AT LEAST once.  We worked very hard to get the 2nd seed, and yet we get to play the ONE TEAM we match up against the worst; we never get to show our stuff against anyone else.  (We are much better, for whatever reason, against both Portland and Seattle.)

Your Red Bulls deserved a better shot than they got.  Yes, they blew it -- specifically, Olave blew it for your whole team -- but you should have been rewarded for your great regular season with three home games in a group format.  If you had been eliminated anyway (and you might have been, with the red card), your fans at least would've gotten to see your team in three playoff games rather than just one.  Not to knock the Supporters' Shield, a great trophy to win, but casual fans only care about the MLS Cup.  So the Supporters' Shield winner should get an easier road to the MLS Cup than the other teams!!

holtrunks
holtrunks

@JakeSaltzman1 MLS tried that in the past, its confusing nor does it really solve the issue Grant brought up about a higher hill to climb.

JakeSaltzman1
JakeSaltzman1

@holtrunks @JakeSaltzman1

It didn't work? 

In the 7 years that MLS used three game series, here were the seeds in MLS Cup-

1,1

3,5 (single table seeds, not conference ones) 

1,1

 1,1 

1,2 

1,4 

1,2

Every year but one there was at least one 1 seed, in 5 of the 7 years there was no team lower than a 2 seed. Not sure how it's confusing, its basically a group stage, the only reason it may have been confusing was because they did pk shootouts for individual games which my system would obviously not have. You're telling me it didn't work?