Major League Soccer Knockout Round Preview and Predictions


With the 2014 Major League Soccer regular season at its completion, the time to decide the MLS Cup winner is now. The Major League Soccer playoffs are here, and we have the preview and predictions for what could happen over the next month.

If there ever was a time to bring your A-Game, that time is definitely now. Every player must give 110% in every match if they wish to become a 2014 MLS Cup Champion.

Knockout Round

Eastern Conference

New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City

In a rematch of both clubs’ final regular season match, Sporting KC heads to New York for a must-win match for both clubs. The Red Bulls silenced a normally jubilant and rowdy crowd at Sporting Park by winning the last encounter 2-0, it is hard to see how Sporting can bounce back and compete in the next match. The defending MLS Cup champions cannot be counted out though. With Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer and Matt Besler leading the squad, anything can happen.

Live Feed

Playoff Chase: Inter Miami tries to rebound with a home match against hapless Toronto; could move to 12th with win
Playoff Chase: Inter Miami tries to rebound with a home match against hapless Toronto; could move to 12th with win /

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  • The New York Red Bulls counter with a leading trio of their own in Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry and league MVP candidate Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips — who tied the league regular season scoring record with his brace against Sporting last time out — will be looking to continue his scoring ways. The return of Henry, who recovered from Achilles inflammation will help bolster the Red Bulls side, abeit as a sub. In the end, it will be the Red Bulls scoring trio which should be too much for the defending champions. They will take the win and move on to face the Eastern Conference Champions, DC United.

    Prediction: New York Red Bulls defeat Sporting Kansas City

    Western Conference

    FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

    In what was the closest playoff place battle this season, it took Vancouver’s final home win against Colorado to secure their playoff spot. The side did manage to win four of its final five matches, and has not lost a league match since September 20th. Playing on the road could be a problem for the side however. Vancouver only won three road matches all season, which does not bode well for the clubs chances in this match. Having scored only 42 goals this season puts the club last amongst fellow playoff sides.

    FC Dallas — which holds an all-time record of 7-2-2 against Vancouver — will be looking to take this match and build some momentum leading up to their possible match in the next round against the Supporter’s Shield Champions Seattle. FC Dallas will need to focus on this match if the club wishes to advance though. Vancouver will be no push-over and they will be fighting to very end. That being said however, Vancouver has  struggled offensively at times this season, the club will need to avoid such hindrances if it is to win the match. Should Vancouver find their scoring touch, then the match will be theirs for the taking.

    Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps defeat FC Dallas

    Playoff Rankings

    The rankings of how confident I am in each squad’s ability to win the MLS Cup. The rankings do not reflect my views on any club’s strength or ability against the other, only the matches that they will have to play in order to win the MLS Cup.

    1. Seattle Sounders

    2. Los Angeles Galaxy

    3. New England Revolution

    4. DC United

    5. Columbus Crew

    6. New York Red Bulls

    7. Real Salt Lake

    8. Vancouver Whitecaps

    9. FC Dallas

    10. Sporting Kansas City

    More from The Top Flight

    As can be seen in the rankings, Seattle and Los Angeles are the favorites. The winner of the Western Conference this year should also be the winner of the MLS Cup. With Seattle and Los Angeles being the overwhelming Western Conference favorites, all the other sides suffer somewhat in the rankings compared to their Eastern Conference Counterparts. New England and DC United will be the favorites out of the east. New England receives the nod because of their possible road to the MLS Cup. While they will have to take on Columbus in the Conference Semi-Finals, DC United will face either the New York Red Bulls or Sporting Kansas City, both extremely tough opponents.

    No matter which clubs win each game, fans can look forward to some great matches in the Conference Semifinals. A possible Cascadia Cup tie between the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps could happen. A possible showdown between the original MLS Cup Champions DC United and the defending MLS Cup Champions Sporting Kansas City looms on the horizon. The New York Red Bulls are also in the mix, in what could be their final chance to deliver an MLS Cup title to Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill. Will Bradley Wright-Phillips be able to continue his regular-season goal production in the playoffs?

    Plenty of story-lines lie ahead for the playoffs. The Los Angeles Galaxy take on Real Salt Lake in the Conference Semi-Finals. Can Landon Donovan lead the club to another MLS Cup championship and cap his historic career on an all-time high? In the Eastern Conference, the New England Revolution take on the Columbus Crew in what will be Jermain Jones’ first MLS playoff series. No matter the outcomes, this year’s playoffs promise to be an all-time great.