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Who will win in the MLS Playoff First Round?

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The 2009 MLS playoffs are set to kick off tonight with the Houston Dynamo taking on the Seattle Sounders and SBI will spend the next two days previewing the four first-round match-ups.

We will preview the Houston-Seattle series later today, along with the Chicago-New England series. The Columbus-Real Salt Lake and LA-Chivas USA previews will follow on Friday. For an overall primer on the post-season, you can read colleague Jeff Carlisle's overview of the MLS playoff first round.

Here is our question for SBI readers. Which teams do you see winning the four first-round series? I see Columbus, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle winning their series and advancing to the conference finals.

Now it's your turn to vote on all four series after the jump:

Who will win the MLS first-round playoff series?


Columbus Crew vs. Real Salt Lake

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution


Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA

Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders


Which teams did you vote for? See any upsets happening? Which series are you most looking forward to?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I like RSL, they have the strongest midfield transitioning into attack, They win a thriller series. Chicago wins a close, boring-ish one. Seattle wins an exciting series, winning the home game 2-1, the away game 1-0.

  2. What do you mean by Seattle’s bad road record? They are 5-5-5 which makes them 2nd best in the league on the road behind the fire. They won 3 of their last 4 on the road.

    Their home record has sucked of late. Prior to the Dallas game they hadn’t scored at home since the Houston game in July!

  3. Seattle v. Houston and LA v. Chivas are going to be awesome. I haven’t as excited for a non-Sounders game all year as I am for the first playoff SuperClassico

    Revs are gonna play bunkerball 🙁

    Crew-Salt Lake should be pretty good, but Salt Lake’s iffy and Crew’s not on form.

  4. Very exciting match ups all around. I had given up on the Fire, but now I’m curious. Voted against Seattle, but was surprised to see them leading in the votes, and they are my “heart” pick. I hope No one “red bulls” this year, but the red bull example only proves no body knows for sure what might happen, hence the excitement.

  5. I’ll have to go with RSL over Columbus…well, because a guy’s gotta dream hasn’t he. I think they can do well on any given day though, hopefully they pick these next few weekends.

    LA Gals over Chivas, although it’ll be interesting to see if Thornton turns it up more or Rickett’s does.

    Chicago over New England, Shalrie is a beast but the rest of the team is meh.

    Finally, I really think Seattle can pull the upset over Houston. The way Houston has been playing lately leads a lot to be desired, and Seattle played well against them all season. Calling that game a “slam dunk” either way though is hilarious.

  6. I go with all the favorites in the first round except for Houston. Houston has been all over the region playing games and has to be tired. Seattle will be almost as pumped as the city. This could be when Zakuani becomes a star.

  7. I think RSL is the most likely team to pull off an upset. They start off at home, where they’ve done well all season, and where Columbus will likely have problems with the altitude. Plus Columbus has been struggling the past month or so. So, if RSL lays enough smack down on Columbus in the first leg, they may just win on aggregate.

  8. obviously houston/seattle is the toughest pick. my heart tells me houston, but my head says seattle. i think the first game tonight will be crucial. i don’t necessarily expect dynamo to win, but if they can get a draw or lose by no more than 1 goal, then they can definitely overturn that result back in robertson.

    great to see legitimate home field advantage in most of these series. and then we’ve got the l.a. derby superclasico which should be fun. imho, these look to be the best mls playoffs yet

  9. RSL looked like the real deal against Colorado, but then again it was Colorado. Got to go with the Crew on that one.

    I think Chicago has a slight edge on NE, but both teams are hurting and neither are playing at their best. It hurts me to say it, but it’s a coin toss.

    LA over Chivas and Houston over Seattle are the slam dunks, no matter how many of Seattle’s faithful vote otherwise.

  10. of course the favorites will get the majority of the votes but every one of these series can go the other way (except NE who lacks the firepower)

    RSL is my darkhorse team..solid all over and if the ball bounces the right way you never know

  11. 1. I actually think RSL has a chance–a good chance. Let me say that Columbus has clearly been the best team in MLS the past two years. But….playing at altitude is a big advantage (and that’s the opening game of the series) and Columbus isn’t playing well right now. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see RSL win game 1. Then it goes to Columbus and RSL is a team designed to defend in depth and counter with Findley. With Marshall still possibly out, I think this could be one of those raw deals where the best team in the league ends up going out in the first series due to being in a slump and a bad matchup.

    2. I went for LAG over Chivas. Preki is a good coach but Arena has put together a decent team that defends and has two great game-changers with Donovan and Beckham. Now, if it was Seattle against LAG with the Sounder’s speed, I’d be going for Seattle–that’s a case of bad matchup for LAG. But as it is, I go with LAG.

    3. Chicago vs. NE. Chicago is tough on the road so they likely win game 1. Which puts an undermanned NE team having to go to Chicago and attack–which doesn’t fit their team (undermanned as it is) well. So I went with Chicago.

    4. Houston vs. Seattle. This is the toughest series for me to call. Normally I’d be going with Houston all the way. But they’ve been uncharacteristically sloppy the past 2 months–letting leads slip away, getting red cards, not winning a very winnable West–just not especially impressive. Meanwhile, Ljundberg has turned it up. Normally Seattle’s lack of depth, Alonso’s drop in play the second half, and their bad road record would have me going for Houston all the way. But Houston just hasn’t been that impressive lately. I just don’t have a good feel for where either team is right now. So I go for Houston in this series but feel relatively less comfortable with this prediction.

  12. i hate the revs, but i think theyll beat chicago. hope im wrong.

    galaxy, houston (i’d like to see seattle though), crew.


  13. From the western conference Id like to see either Seattle or Los Angeles come out on top, as far as the east i think Columbus comes out on top again. Would be ideal to see Seattle take on Columbus in the final…the city of Seattle would go nuts. Seeing the Galaxy in the final with Donovan and Becks should be interesting to say the least too!

  14. I picked Columbus and Chicago with some comfort. LA over Chivas, I think is a flip of the coin, but I took LA and Seattle has a big home field advatage combined with better form.

  15. Of the teams I’m impartial to:

    Crew over RSL – RSL will not pull a Red Bull

    Fire over Revs – but could see this as the upset

    Chivas over LA – clicked that one without thinking, wish I could re-do

    So, for Seattle and Houston: I’ve been a sports fan of too many letdown teams to know that there are no guarantees, but Seattle’s win at home against HOU and tie in HOU, not to mention knocking them out of the US Open cup gives me hope.

    Seattle is playing possessed and has had favorable results against HOU for me not to pick the Sounders.


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