Major League Soccer’s 2010 playoffs kick off tomorrow night, when the Colorado Rapids host the Columbus Crew at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado (9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2).
This year’s edition has the potential to be the best postseason in the history of the league. Every team in the field has a winning record, there are six legitimate title contenders, no weak sisters, and an impressive array of international stars will be taking part, including David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Rafa Marquez, Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry (hopefully, but more on that later), Geovanni, and Blaise Nkufo.
We could go on, but it might be more effective to hand the mic over to “Jon,” a pub owner in Denver who recently offered an impassioned email plea to his fellow Coloradans on behalf of their hometown team, and their domestic league.
Take it away, Jon:
“It is always easier to be negative than positive in life, and we’ve heard it all when it comes to our domestic league (MLS). The naysayers are quick to make claims like, ‘the play is too slow,’ … or, ‘it isn’t like European or world football.’ I say ‘Rubbish to that!’ Having attended every Colorado Rapids and MLS match I could since 1997, I have personally watched our league, and team, improve year in and year out. Those arguments, although they may have held water up until a few years ago, are simply no longer valid. … MLS has improved tremendously over the last few years, and there are really no more excuses. The pace of play, the coaching and training, the atmosphere at the matches, and the competitiveness of the league, have all risen to a world-class level. This is a call to arms for those of you that love the sport: Get your butts out to DSG and support your team. If you love the game, it is your responsibility to get involved!”
Jon speaks the truth.
Without further ado, then, here are the scoring system and selection form for the 2010 BP MLS Playoff Pool, brought to you by debonair reader Abraham Thinkin’.
(We’ll post a playoff preview next to help you along in your picks. Check back for that shortly.)
No money is at stake, but the winner will get a copy of Simon Kuper’s and Stefan Szymanski’s excellent book, Soccernomics. That, and glory, plenty of glory.
Submit your completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org before kickoff tomorrow night.
• First round: 1 point [The first-round matchups are two-leg, total-goals series. Simply select the winner.]
• Conference Finals: 2 points
• MLS Cup Champ: 4 points
† 1st: Both MLS cup finalists predicted
† 2nd: Total goals scored during the entire MLS Cup Playoffs (all teams, all games)
Complete the following form (don’t forget the ‘total playoff goals’ tiebreaker blank at the end) and submit to email@example.com before kickoff on Thursday night:
EC1: Columbus v Colorado (1 point): ____________
EC2: New York v San Jose (1 point): ____________
EC Champ: EC1 Winner v EC2 Winner (2 points): ____________
WC1: Los Angeles v Seattle (1 point) : ____________
WC2: Real Salt Lake v Dallas (1 point) : ____________
WC Champ: WC1 Winner v WC2 Winner (2 points) : ____________
Champ: EC Champ v WC Champ (4 points) : ____________
1st Tiebreaker: Participant who predicted both Cup Finalists
2nd Tiebreaker: Total Goals Scored during MLS Cup Playoffs (excluding pks) : ____________ [so a 1-1 draw decided on PKs counts for 2 total goals]
Good luck, and enjoy the games.