Major League Soccer's play-off action
gets underway on Wednesday with Thierry Henry and the New York
Red Bulls facing last year's runners-up, FC Dallas, in the
opening wild card game.
Four teams face the prospect of a knockout game for a place
in the Conference semi-finals which start at the weekend. The
other wild card game sees defending champions, Colorado Rapids,
hosting the Colombus Crew on Thursday.
David Beckham and the L.A. Galaxy, who finished with the
best regular season record to earn the "Supporters' Shield",
begin their attempt to win their first MLS Cup since the
English midfielder joined them five seasons ago on Sunday
against the lowest-ranked wild card winners.
If the Red Bulls were to triumph in Dallas, then they would
be the team to take on the Galaxy over two legs - pitting the
two biggest name foreign players in MLS against each other.
The Red Bulls barely scraped into the postseason by
finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference after coming up with
three wins from their last five games. Henry finds the whole
play-off system a little baffling.
"I will never get used to it; in Europe, Los Angeles would
be champions," he said this week, comparing the MLS system,
which mimics that of other North American sports, with the
European model, which rewards the top finishing team in a
league where every team plays each other twice.
"You fight all season like the Galaxy, but rules are rules.
You have to adapt to it. I guess it can make things more
exciting but I will never get used to it," he added.
Whatever Henry's thoughts on the system, it means his team
with a league record number of draws - 16 from 34 games -
could have a chance to eliminate L.A who had 19 wins and just
But getting to the Galaxy game is no easy matter. Dallas
are tough opponents and the Red Bulls face them without their
talisman - English forward Luke Rodgers.
Rodgers, who has scored nine goals this season, has a left
knee injury and worryingly for Swedish coach Hans Backe, the
Red Bulls have won only once this season without the aggressive
"We have a frightening record without Luke," said Backe,
who has yet to decide whether Jamaican winger Dane Richards or
teenager Juan Agudelo will partner Henry in attack.
The game in Dallas will be decided on the night - with
extra-time and a penalty shootout if needed.
The weekend's Conference semi-finals feature 2009
champions, Real Salt Lake, at home to the Seattle Sounders,
while the Philadelphia Union host the Houston Dynamo in their
Along with L.A., the other team waiting to face a wild card
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