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SBI MLS Playoff Predictions


The 2008 MLS Playoffs kicked off last night with Chicago’s 0-0 tie vs. New England, and while the playoffs are already under way, you can’t have playoffs without playoff predictions.

SBI senior writer Dylan Butler and I will give you our picks for the first round, and predictions for the entire playoffs, including our picks for the MLS Cup final.

Now, without further ado, here are the SBI MLS Playoff Predictions:



(IVES)- Chicago got the tie it needed in game one and should overwhelm the Revs defense at Toyota Park on the way to a series win.

(DYLAN)- This series would have been a lot closer, but no Taylor Twellman, no Khano Smith and especially no Steve Ralston, no shot for the Revs.


(IVES) Kansas City has played well down the stretch but their set plays won’t work as well against Columbus, which have the defense to stop the Wizards and the attack to cruise to victory.

(DYLAN) I’ve still not jumped on the Columbus bandwagon, but I think they’re one of the most dangerous attacking teams in MLS. KC will put up a fight, but in the end the Crew will prevail.


(IVES)– The Red Bulls could get a result from their home leg, and even win, but the Dynamo will be just too tough at Robertson Stadium in the second leg.

(DYLAN)- Before you kill me, let me explain. Houston has not won an MLS game on the turf in its existence and the Red Bulls are pretty good at home. I’m taking the same tact I bring with me to the track often — every so often the 50-1 comes in and its nice to have the winning ticket.


(IVES)– Real Salt Lake has an improving attack and good defense, but RSL doesn’t have Chivas USA’s experience. Look for Ante Razov and Alecko Eskandarian to have big series’ in a Goats series win.

(DYLAN)- This is a tough one for me. I think it will come down to playoff experience and Chivas has that, but this will probably be the most entertaining series of all. Of course, I won’t be surprised if Salt Lake wins.


(IVES)– Chicago and Columbus tied both meetings this year but I believe this is where the Crew’s youth and lack of playoff experience will hurt. Brian McBride will score the winner against his former club, leading countless Crew fans to burn their vintage McBride Crew jerseys.

(DYLAN)I’ll say it right now — for me, Chicago is the MLS Cup champions. The signing of Brian McBride put the Fire over the top and he’ll score the winner to sink his former club.


(IVES)– If you want to see an intense battle, Chivas USA-Houston will be a can’t-miss. Chivas USA’s attack can test the Dynamo back-line but the Houston attack will expose the Goats’ back-line and help the Dynamo reach a third straight final.

(DYLAN)Yes, I picked the Red Bulls to shock the MLS world and upset the two-time defending champions in the first round, but the Western Conference Final is a one-off game and New York’s record away from home is horrible. Sure their lone road victory was at the Home Depot Center, but that was against the Galaxy.


(IVES) Chicago vs. Houston. Blanco vs. DeRosario, Ching vs. McBride, Rolfe vs. Davis. So many great match-ups between the league’s two strongest starting lineups. This one will be a tight contest that will come down to penalty kicks. Cuauhtemoc Blanco will sky a PK over the crossbar and Brian Ching will score the game-winner as the Dynamo become the first team to three-peat in MLS history.

(DYLAN) Chivas playing an MLS Cup game at the Home Depot Center should make for an electric atmosphere and give the Goats a tremendous advantage. But again, this is a Chicago team that has depth and probably the best XI in the league. The Fire wins MLS Cup 10 years after winning the title in its inaugural season.

Now that you’ve seen our predictions, it is time to make your own. Share your thoughts, opinions and playoff predictions in the comments section below.


  1. Eskandarian and Rasov to have big series? RSL have consistently shut down forwards this season, especially since the arrival of Olave. They completely shut down Cooper, Ching, Schelotto, etc. this season. Their recent goals given up have been fluke defensive plays and incredible shots from deep. If anyone is going to have a big series from Chivas it’s going to be Sacha.

    That being said, I like RSL in this series. They already beat Chivas once this year at the Home Depot Center, where RSL have had recent success. And we all know about RSL’s incredible home record.

  2. There have been too many signs that Columbus is going to win this year to ignore. The last being the Goal Post. It kept out 3 DC goals last weekend and allowed in a Crew winning goal. That convinced me-its a Crew year!

  3. Round 1:

    Chicago over New England – New England is wounded, and won’t get any better.

    Columbus over Kansas City – GBS is a killer. If KC won this series, that would be the biggest upset of all time.

    Houston over Red Bull – I don’t think RBNY has what it takes to take down the giants in Houston.

    RSL over Chivas – There has to be one upset, I think Kreis and RSL deserve it more than anyone.

    Round 2:

    Columbus over Chicago – Even though I think Columbus has one of the lowest quality rosters in the league, the team is just unstoppable.

    Houston over RSL – The dynamo have a killer offense, and recently RSL’s defense has not been as stellar as it was in the beginning of the season.


    Columbus over Houston: Houston won’t win again. Columbus deserves it.

  4. This was written AFTER Stammler was injured? NYRB’s ONLY chance is on the concrete, if they lose the first leg the second should be canceled. I’m glad the Dynamo don’t play out east, Crew v. Fire will be a war. Best of luck to all (except the Utes, Goats, Cows, and whoever makes it to the finals), but we need a fancy new cup.

  5. Much as it pains me to say, I think Chicago wins it all. I think they face Houston in MLS Cup and take away a hard-fought win.

    BTW, Dylan, it’s ‘tack’, not ‘tact’

  6. I’m rather suprised that there’s this value on having playoff experience, but predictions overlooking Houston. They have the team with the best experience in MLS playoffs and I just can’t see the RB being able to overcome it.

    As for the Fire, yes McBride scoring the winner against his former club is a great story, but I think he’ll get too much attention. If the Fire do well it will like be the other players (Rolfe) taking advantage of the extra space created by McBride.

  7. DC United wins it all.

    They are the pride of the league, what with all of their amazing showings in international competition. They’ve made MLS proud so they’re going to somehow win it all. And, Tom Soehn should be re-hired until the day he passes.(From a bitter DC fan)

    Okay, realistically, I’m going to pick Columbus all the way. I just want them to win it.

  8. You know, if it weren’t for the turf I don’t think even the Red Bulls would think they could beat Houston over two legs. But teams have shown they can bunker in Houston and keep the Dynamo to a 1-0 win, so if they go a few up on the ping-pong table in NJ, they have a legit chance of bunkering in Houston and taking the series.

    Then again, the Red Bulls defense is awful. They might not even win the home leg. I’d let Ching and DeRo sit in NY (they don’t play great on turf, neither does Barrett but I think Chabala might be a bridge too far for playoffs) and play Ngwenya and Holden, who are better suited for the surface.

  9. You were right….Chicago REALLY looked like the strongest side last night.

    Who put a 4-0 clubbing of the Revs in September? Put your McBride underwear ad back under you bed before your wife finds out. Chicago is overrated and their goalie is a “little person”.

    Columbus and RSL in the final–That is if Kries benches Nat Borchers. He is horrible.

  10. hey, um Columbus guys? You had a pretty good run, but have you seen Chicago in the past few weeks? Robbie Rogers can’t defend on the left, and Justin Mapp and/or Chris Rolfe will take hug advantage of that. Chad Marshall has had a good year, but McBride can do it against John Terry, he can certainly do it against Marshall. As for the western series? Red Bull could ride Juan Pablo into the conference final, but he won’t be able to carry them the whole way. If they figure out how to effectively use Kandji, I could see them putting up a fight but I think either way, Houston or New York, Chivas finds a way to squeak through to the final.

  11. I find the specifics of the predictions pretty funny (especially since you both independently predicted McBride will score the winner against Columbus), and if they are right, Ives deserves a huge medal of honor (not that he doesn’t already).

    BrianK is right about Columbus: they have leaders who have been through much bigger games than any in the MLS playoffs. Beyond Hejduk and Schelotto, Brian Carroll has been there before as has Pat Noonan. Gino Padula has played in some very important games as well, and even Robbie Rogers and Ekpo have played in bigger games (the Olympics is a trump).

    I wouldn’t classify Columbus as inexperienced personally.

  12. Dylan, you ignorant slut. You still haven’t jumped on the Columbus bandwagon? It isn’t like Columbus is 6 – 3 and there is a lot that remains to be seen.

  13. Even as a Red Bulls fan it’s tough to see them getting past Houston. Having said that I don’t think it’s absolutely crazy.

    I’m looking for Columbus to come out over Houston in the final.

  14. I want to see Columbus v. CD Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center. I think it will end up being Columbus v. Houston.

    Columbus is being written off by many,…but I am going to say that Schmid, Schelotto and Hejduk lead the Crew through some tight matches and lift the Cup. A player like Schelotto is not going to be phased by the MLS playoffs.

    Columbus 2-1 over Houston. All the best LH!

  15. You’ve got the Crew right where they want you to have them – just as most have done all season long – keep overlooking them all the way til they hoist the cup in Carson.

  16. chicago and columbus advance out of the east in the rist round………and yes the red bulls pull a shocker and advace along with chivas usa….columbus will beat chicago….n the red bulls will come up just short away and lose to chivas usa….and finally columbus will prove that they were no fluke this season and win the mls cup…i am a red bull fan by the way…i think we match up well against houston but only if we played like the ny giants on the road….

  17. If Dylan is right and the Red Bulls somehow get past Houston, I think they would have a fighting chance against Chivas or RSL. When they played at Chivas this year, Chivas equalized only by virtue of a horrendous backpass by Goldthwaite in the dying embers of the first half. They are healthier now than they were back then and one of those now-healthy players, Eskandarian, used to be money against his hometown club when he played for DC. However, they don’t have Guzan anymore.

    Regarding RSL, Red Bull also drew with them on opening night for their stadium.

    Either of these conference finals would make for a fantastic atmosphere, since none of these teams have ever made it to an MLS Cup Final. A game at RSL would be better because it’s more likely that they would fill their stadium than Chivas.

  18. Fire fan loving the love being shown for them. If we get thru the Revs I think we get KC and they will give us a tough game at TP but we will get the 2-0 result but the game will be close the whole way. I think it will be us and Houston with a 2-1 OT game.


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