The 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs kick off this Wednesday, October 31, capping an exciting, progressive season for the North American soccer league.
Expectations for the 2012 playoffs are high. Several teams are real contenders, including San Jose Earthquakes, 2011 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy, Sporting KC and the New York Red Bulls. Both the Quakes and the Red Bulls each roster not one, but two of the 10 highest goal scorers this season. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski won the Golden Boot for his 27 MLS record-tying goals this year, helping the Quakes win the 2012 Supporters’ Shield. Needless to say, the Quakes are the favorites to win.
The dangerous Knockout Round
The playoffs kick off when the Chicago Fire host the Houston Dynamo in a single-game Knockout Match, required for the bottom two teams in each five-team Conference bracket. On Thursday, November 1, the LA Galaxy host Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Knockout Match for the Western Conference.
Each Knockout Round winner will face its respective conference leader in a two-leg, aggregate goals Conference Semifinal series. So, the Western Conference Knockout Round winner will face San Jose Earthquakes and the Eastern Conference Knockoff Round winner will confront Sporting Kansas City
The second- and third-place teams in each conference will begin their playoff campaigns in the Conference Semifinals: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC and D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls.
New this year, the Conference Championships will be decided by two-leg aggregate goals series, with the winners advancing to MLS Cup 2012 on December 1, to be hosted by the finalist with the better regular season record.
MLS Cup Playoffs schedule
· Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo – Wed., Oct. 31, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes, TSN2, RDS2)
· LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Thurs., Nov. 1, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN, RDS2, UDN)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
· New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United – Sat., Nov. 3, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
o CHI or HOU vs. Sporting Kansas City – Sun., Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
· D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls – Wed., Nov. 7, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2)
o Sporting Kansas City vs. CHI or HOU – Wed., Nov. 7, 9 p.m. ET (MLS Live, Direct Kick)
Western Conference Semifinals
· Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake — Fri., Nov. 2, 10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
o LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes – Sun., Nov. 4, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN/Deportes, TSN2, RDS2)
o Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes – Sun., Nov. 4, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes, TSN2, RDS2)
· Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC – Thu., Nov. 8, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes or MLS Live/UDN, TSN2, RDS2)
o San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA – Wed., Nov. 7, 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes, TSN2, RDS2)
o San Jose Earthquakes vs. VAN – Wed. Nov. 7, Time TBD (MLS Live/TSN2, RDS2)
First Leg (at lower seed)
· Eastern Conference – Sat., Nov. 10, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
· Western Conference – Sun., Nov. 11, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN/Deportes, TSN2, RDS2)
OR if at Seattle: Mon., Nov 12, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes, TSN2, RDS2)
Second Leg (at higher seed)
· TBD – Sat., Nov. 17 or Sun., Nov. 18, Time TBD (NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2)
· TBD – Sun., Nov. 18, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN/Deportes, TSN2)
MLS Cup 2012
Saturday, December 1 (hosted by finalist with best regular season record)
v 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, TeleFutura, TSN, RDS) Site TBD
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