Ambitious Predictions for the Eastern Conference Final

Aug. 07, 2010 - Commerce City, Colorado, United States of America - August 7, 2010: Colorado Rapids midfielder JEFF LARENTOWICZ (4) and Earthquakes forward RYAN JOHNSON.

Tonight the Eastern Conference final will kick off in Colorado at 9:30 Eastern on Fox Soccer Channel.  In a playoff full of upsets, this matchup epitomizes the postseason so far: the visitors are the lowest playoff seed who were led by the Golden Boot winner who provided almost all of their scoring and overcame the team with the biggest payroll in New York.  On the opposite bench is a club with two prolific strikers, so we could see a high-scoring match tonight.  However, both previous matches between the two ended 1-0 with the two clubs splitting.  As a preview of tonight’s match, here are some ambitious, bold, and likely wrong predictions for the match:

Chris Wondolowski will not score, but San Jose will: New York’s defense in the second leg of their match was somewhat lacking, to be polite.  Not only did it allow Wondo to score, but Bobby Convey twice.  Colorado should not make the same mistake, with Pablo Matroeni and Jeff Larentowicz tasked with slowing Wondolowski down.  I expect that they will slow him down enough to prevent him from adding to his goal total, but Colorado’s back line is still a major weakness on this team.  The midfield focusing on Wondo will not overcome the defensive shortcoming, and look for Convey or Ryan Johnson to score.

Colorado’s Omar Cummings will get his first playoff goal of 2010: So far this playoffs, Omar Cummings has been the set-up man, using his speed to penetrate defenses and set up Conor Casey or, as in the first Columbus match,  Mastroeni.  Against a San Jose defense that is decent but not great, I can see him creating his own opportunities and finally scoring that first goal.  Even if he does not, San Jose will have to adjust to the Colorado speed up front and come up with a game plan to thwart the Colorado offense.  I’m not saying they can’t do it, because I won’t discount San Jose at any point in this playoffs, but it will be a tough task.

The actual crowd tonight will be under 15,000:  The first Colorado playoff match was on a Thursday night, so that helped hold down the crowd size.  But the matchup tonight is not the most exciting and lacks the big names that might bring a casual fan to the park.  Rapids fans are good fans and this will be a fun game to watch on TV and probably in person, but I suspect there will be empty seats.

The game will go into extra time, where Colorado will win 3-2:  As I said at the beginning, I expect this to be a high-scoring affair (which guarantees a 1-0 match) but fairly even.  So I predict a tight 2-2 match with Conor Casey scoring the game-winner in the extra period.

What are your predictions for the match tonight?

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