The long MLS season has lumbered to an end, and as the cold chills of November fill the lungs, we embark upon the postseason. We have used power and meteor showers to gauge the relative strenghts of teams, but is anyone stronger than Jack Bauer of 24? Your playoff-power rankings with a hint of lie-detector. Enjoy.
Season One – The Hook
24 hooked television audiences the world over with its real time cinematography – each minute for the public corresponds to a minute for the audience. There has been one flashback in the show´s history and no slowmotion. The plot: an assassination attempt in a California presidential primary, not unlike the RFK killing.
The Chicago-New England matchup is a flashback to the days when Stevie Nicol´s routinely played the final day of the season. Ralston has aged, Twellman is perpetually injured, and only Shalrie Joseph remains steady in a nucleus once the cream of the MLS crop. For Chicago, Blanco´s impendning departure means this may be the last hurrah – this could end in an old fashioned shootout, as both sides like to get forward with pace. Each minute should be gripping, but expect Blanco to lead the Fire onward.
Season Two – Saving LA
In the second season, the shadow of 9-11 loomed large as terrorists played the part (?) of villain. Jack raced against time, 24 hours fo time to be exact, to prevent an atomic bomb from destroying L.A. However, on his way to a Galaxy game he got stuck in a 405 bottleneck and gave up, saying – “F$@# Carson. I´m catching a Laker´s game.” Okay so that last part did not happen.
Chivas USA and the Galaxy share the home depot center, in the same way you and your younger brother shared the same bedroom – with fisticuffs. The Goats turned a corner midseason under Preki and Galindo strikes fear into the heart of any MLS defense. Beckham´s tackling will not win him any awards, but his passing has been sharp as a razor, a shaving razor, a shaving razor capable of eliminating that hideous beard. And Donovan comes alive in the playoffs.
This should be a tense, close fought affair between the direct Galaxy and triangulating Chivas, with but one thing sure – one team will leave the HDC muttering “F&%$K Carson.”
Season Three – The Cartel
In season three, Mr. Bauer heads south of the border to infiltrate a Mexican cartel that may have a deadly virus. There´s just one major problem…his smack addiction.
Columbus sports an attacking trifecta to make the mouth water – Roger´s pace, Gaven´s intelligence, and Guille´s vision. Yet when the Argentine is off the game, the offense struggles to find space in the attacking third. On the other hand, Real Salt Lake has produced moments of collective footballing brilliance at times, while digressing into skirmishing individuals at others. Still, RSL will struggle to get any breathing room against the Marshall-led backline. And despite the Argentine addiction, the Crew should clear the first playoff hurdle.
Season Four – The Edge
Cue the Guantanamo references and sketchy extradition tactics. Jack again must battle insidious terrorist forces, but this time pushes the limit. And by push the limit, I mean tortures them, in real time. Ugh.
Houston is in the hunt for another championship trophy, stymmied by the Red Bulls in last season´s shocking upset. But after that tortuous performance, Kinnear retooled the team around Stuart Holden, a budding star with dreams of Europe. DeRo was a proven playoff performer, but can Stu take center stage with aplomb? At the other end, Seattle has exceeded expansion expectations by making the playoffs in its first year, but a late season dip left them gasping until the end. Can the QWest homefield super advantage limit the Dynamo´s dreams? Houston´s collective experience should make the difference.
Season Five – Recycle, Repeat, Reuse
This the season when you officially stopped caring. You got cable and better stuff is on, the real time spin got abrasive, and the recurring terrorist antagonist got both redundant and slightly offensive.
I hate to break your Galaxy hearts, but the Columbus Crew have a leg up on the championship race. Guille pulls the strings to perfection, Roggers provides pace, Gaven gifts a bit of creativity, and Alejandro Moreno is better than competent but not quite good. But he´s good enough. And Chad Marshall? Let´s assume Jack Bauer confuses him for a terrorist, ties him to a chair, and begins an “interrogation.” What does Chad say? Nothing. Ice cold.