This is the face of greatness

Before I dive headfirst into the concrete-bottomed shallow end of the bracket, I'd like to take a moment to say something about an issue that's been bugging me. I don't follow the second division that closely, because it's not on TV, and there's even less money in writing about USL and NASL than there is in writing about MLS, but the move of the Austin Aztex to Florida is disappointing, if only for Austin soccer fans. I hate the notion that supporters can be left high and dry whenever the Front Office wants to chase a fresh dollar or two. Looks like there's two Mickey Mouse organizations in Orlando now.

And while I realize that emotions are running high, I don't quite get the hate for the name "Orlando City SC." Is it kinda clunky and an obvious bit of europosing? Sure, but it could have been worse. It could have been Lokomotiv Orlando. Orlando Albion. Bayern Orlando FK. CD Chivas USA.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system like so much bad Taco Bell, let's talk playoffs. Or as it will be known in the next round, the Western Conference Cup. Because right now, I have very little confidence in the two East teams. Columbus has played quite a lot of matches with a squad boasting an average age of seventy eight, winning just one of their last seven games (Against nothing to play for Philly, so it barely counts), and to top it off, Will Hesmer is out for the season with a Danny Califf'd shoulder. Against the physical presence of USMNT rejects like Pablo Mastroeni and Conor Casey, I don't see the Crew playing going beyond two.

Interesting side note, the other keeper besides Hesmer to score a goal in MLS? Danny Cepero, against Hesmer's backup and now, Crew starter for the playoffs, Andy Gruenebaum. Stay strong, Nordecke.

As for the other team from the Rust Belt, it's not that the Red Bulls aren't good, it's that they're playing against Chris Wondolowski, who has ten goals in his last eight games. That's not just "hot." Five goals in eight games is "hot." Ten? Tim Ream better bring plenty pf SPF50 if he doesn't want to end up like a ginger in Phoenix.*

Looking to the West, the most difficult team to predict is obviously the Galaxy. I wouldn't be surprised to see them steamroll everyone and romp their way to a third MLS Cup. I also wouldn't be surprised if they rolled over and meekly went two-and-out against Seattle.

The Sounders themselves are a bit of an enigma, too. Over their last fourteen games, the boys in rave green have posted a 10-2-2 record with 22 for and 11 against. On the flip side, they've also been outscored 7-1 by LA this season, and the vaunted home crowd advantage they have at Qwest wasn't much help when the Galaxy put four past Kasey Keller in May.

That just leaves Real Salt Lake against FC Dallas left to cover. If MLS used a single table, Dallas would be playing the dead-men-walking Columbus Crew. Instead, they get to play the reigning champs. Who haven't lost a home game since May. Of last year.

My picks:
San Jose defeats New York
Colorado defeats Columbus
Los Angeles defeats Seattle
Salt Lake defeats Dallas

San Jose defeats Colorado
Salt Lake defeats Los Angeles

Salt Lake defeats San Jose

*That is, burnt beyond recognition.
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