Perhaps the most lopsided MLS playoff series is the New York-Houston encounter. Here you have the two-time MLS champions, fresh off their first-ever conference title, playing a team that barely made it into the postseason. New York also has the league's third-worst defense - and that includes teams that did not make the playoffs. In fact, New York allowed the most goals amongst playoff teams.
So does that mean Houston will have it simple against New York? Actually, it is quite the contrary. Houston must worry and stands the most to lose in the first round.
- For three consecutive seasons, MLS has seen a lousy club not only make the postseason but advance out of the first round. It happened last season with Kansas City, who beat Chivas USA by 1-0 in their home leg before heading to Carson to kill off Chivas and the series with a scoreless draw.
- In 2006, Colorado ousted Western Conference champions FC Dallas. Colorado had a losing record that season but still made the playoffs. Actually, Colorado had the league's lowest-scoring offense, the worst defense, the lowest goal differential and still made the playoffs. The Rapids proved to be too tough for FC Dallas and reached the title game.
- The Galaxy padded their record in 2005 against expansion teams Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, having won six games against their western opponents. The Galaxy finished ninth overall that season and, had today's playoff rules been in place, would have missed the postseason. Instead the Galaxy reached the playoffs, knocked off San Jose and Colorado before beating New England in MLS Cup 05.
So there you have it, three teams who few gave them a chance and instead made noise in the postseason. Of course, it's a complete travesty that MLS allows a team like New York to play against a team like Houston in the playoffs but that's a different topic for a different day.