I probably should have posted this before I looked ahead at the conference finals, but I wanted to put together a recap of the first round of the MLS Playoffs. So, here goes.
G: Danny Cepero
D: Wilman Conde
D: Gonzalo Segares
D: Andrew Boyens
M: Brian Carroll
M: Guillermo Barros Schelotto
M: Javier Morales
M: Dane Richards
M: Chris Rolfe
F: Juan Pablo Angel
F: Yura Movsisyan
Subs: Steven Lenhart, Robbie Findley, Dema Kovalenko.
Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio. Not sure how he was able to motivate and prepare the team for the daunting task of facing Houston but he did and New York pulled off one of the biggest playoff upsets in MLS history.
Top player: Dane Richards. He was outstanding for New York as Houston had no answers for him. Richards elevated his status in MLS because of this performance.
Top game: New York-Houston. Not many 3-0 games are full of intrigue and moments of anxiety but this game was. Right until John Wolyniec put it away, Houston seemed to be just moments away from getting back into the game.
Top goal: Brian Carroll's pass over the top of Kansas City's defense onto Brad Evans' path, and Evans' timely finish were each great plays that collectively made for a great goal. That it was the series-clinching goal is a bonus.
No surprise here: Chicago beat New England. The Fire had outscored New England 9-1 during the regular season and after not scoring in New England, it looked like an impossible challenge to go to Chicago and put a goal or two away without Steve Ralston or Taylor Twellman. It didn't happen.
Big surprise there: New York over Houston. This is probably a bigger surprise than the Galaxy knocking off San Jose in 2005 because the Galaxy did not win in San Jose. Also, that Galaxy team had been actually pretty good at the start of the season. New York was decent at some points of the season but seemingly just a middle-of-the-pack team. That and the Bulls were a big heaping pile of cow dung down the stretch.