MLS Playoffs: Where the unimaginable happens at any given time

MLS Playoffs (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
MLS Playoffs (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The MLS Playoffs will always be where the unimaginable happens

Football is complicated. It didn’t use to be, but we’ve developed rules that have lead to unimaginable scenes in the MLS Playoffs already. Helped along by upsets, poor coaching, and all the fun of the game!

I’ve never been an avid supporter of the man in the middle or his 3 trusty sidekicks. And now, the guys watching the game on a computer screen. Aka, referees. My dad says that of the 22 players kicking a ball around, it’ll be the referee who ruins the game. He’s right. The MLS Playoffs are witnessing this too.

Focusing on the MLS Playoffs, how does a referee manage to lose control over a penalty shoot-out? The slowest, most painful part of football. Which is notoriously under scrutiny by the ref, the assistant linesman, the fans, players, coaching staff, and more. It’s nerve-racking, exciting, and potentially heartbreaking. But it’s controllable.

The MLS Playoffs will always be complicated

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So how did we all witness what we witnessed between Orlando City and New York City FC back on Saturday evening? I’m sure you know what happened. Let’s just briefly recap what we saw to make the case for ‘Referee of the Year’. We witnessed; A second yellow for a keeper coming off his line and therefore the 2nd red card of the game. Illegal substitutions taking place, then un-taking place?

A whole-time allocation for premature celebrations and in the end, two minutes shy of a 25-minute shoot-out in which Orlando somehow came out as triumphant? Better than any Hollywood director could dream.

Ladies and Gentleman, the MLS Playoffs. In Columbus, we had a repeat of 2008, this time in the earlier stages of the competition rather than the MLS Cup Final itself. The Crew knocked New York Red Bulls out, winning 3-2. Not to my surprise either.

I’m no board director or chairman at a professional football club. Although, I’m not sure I’d have to be one to know that appointing a coach with zero experience going into a playoffs game may not work out for the best.

Nashville took down Toronto in what I’ll call a cup upset, but don’t say that about the Revs after they beat Philadelphia Union. They’re adamant that people are overlooking them this year, and that’s arguably motivating them to taste their first success!

They overcame Union 2-0, and Bruce Arena is getting a bit tired of the lack of respect on their name this season. As well as Revs midfielder Tajon Buchanan via MLS’s official site in an article written by Jonathan Sigal:

"“As a team, we’re probably being overlooked,” Tajon said.  “At the end of the day, we know what we bring to the table. If we just keep playing our game, keep up the energy and keep up the fight, we can go far.”"

Buchanan’s words will be music to the Revs fan’s ears. I’d like to label these results as unimaginable too. When you take a look at the Eastern standings, to see first place fall at home to the team who came 8th. And second, fall to the team who came 7th, you’ve got to be able to say ‘I didn’t see that coming’. No matter what the logic is that you may apply to these situations. Whether it’s head to head records, form, injuries…it all seems redundant. Because that’s football.

Must Read. New York City FC falls in heartbreaking loss to Orlando. light

Slightly less to my surprise, relentless winners Seattle Sounders knocked out LAFC. In my final ‘unimaginable’ moment, Carlos Vela, who’s dominated in the MLS since his move from Real Sociedad, sent a penalty straight into the hands of Sounders keeper, Frei. The Mexican forward is usually ice-cool from the spot, but the pressure of his team being a goal down may have got to him a little? The Sounders went on to win 3-1. The MLS Playoffs resume this coming weekend with Orlando City taking on New England Revolution.