This year's conference semi-final has, so far, been marred by play nearly as bad as the weather. But let's not forget about last year.
Steve Davis over at Pro Soccer Talk has a post up about the crazy weather we've been having.
Those of us in the New York area know the scenario: Hurricane Sandy rocked the area. Huge swaths of New York, Long Island and New Jersey are still without power. The Subway is only offering limited service, as is NJ Transit. The PATH is out of commission completely. Hoboken is just starting to drying off and a chunk of buildings in Lower Manhattan are either "contaminated" or "temporarily unavailable." Gas shortages run through New Jersey, into New York state and extend upstate.
It is, for lack of a better term, a clusterfuck.
The Major League Soccer playoffs feel inconsequential in comparison -- even when the competition is the MetroBulls' historic tormentor and biggest rival -- but it has thrown a wrinkle in the conference semi-final match-up with D.C. United, what with the venue switch. Now, there's a nor'easter on the way. And it's supposed to, as per Davis, hit at roughly the same time as kick-off Wednesday.
But this isn't the first time the weather has screwed with the playoffs. Remember last year? That freak snowstorm that hit right around Halloween?
The home leg of the Western Conference semi-finals against the LA Galaxy was expected to be a sell-out, but after the storm created general havoc across the region, the turnout was...meh. The match, despite ending 1-0 to the Galaxy, had it's moments. Former MetroStar Mike Magee scored in the first half, but the second half was all chances from the Red Bulls. Dane Richards had a chance on a ball over the top he just couldn't finish on. Thierry Henry just barely missed burying a bicycle kick. Joel Lindpere couldn't finish after some nice footwork from Richards. Stoppage time included a flurry of chances from the Red Bulls. But no finishing.
Oh, yeah, and there was that whole post-game fight, too that red carded both Juninho and Rafael Marquez.
Not that any of this is some sort of depressing foreshadowing. D.C. isn't the LA team of last year, who won the Supporters' Shield and came into the playoffs clear cut MLS Cup favorites. They're beatable, 5-9-3 on the road this year, including a 3-2 loss to a (mostly) Henry-less Red Bulls. They're without Andy Najar, after getting red carded in the first leg for childishness, and 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario due to injury (though, they were without him for the first leg, as well). While the Red Bulls aren't the chronic underachievers they were last year, though they've still had their hiccups here and there.
So it's not the same on-field situation. If there's one thing to take away, I guess, it's that the the deity of your choice does not like the Red Bulls hosting playoff games.