The 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs get underway Thursday night with a first leg quarterfinals match from Colorado, where the Rapids will take on Columbus (9 p.m., GOL TV Canada).
The conditions are similar to last season for the Ohio club, who were overwhelming favourites to move through the first round against another Rocky Mountains side, Real Salt Lake in 2009. But the Royals upset the Crew over two legs on way to lifting the MLS Cup in Seattle by beating Los Angeles on penalties.
While geographically the challenge is familiar for Columbus, their opposition is a quite different than last season. Salt Lake played a cohesive style that proved as rigid at the back as they were threatening going forward.
Colorado can match Salt Lake on attack but its backline is far more likely to concede goals. That gives Columbus a chance to compete on the score sheet against the twin-threat of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, a strike partnership that combined for 27 of their 44 league goals this season.
Columbus will be relying on backup goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum since starter Will Hesmer fractured his shoulder in the last game of the season. Hesmer has been a tremendous asset for an otherwise ordinary looking Columbus defence in 2010.
Two more first round contests take place on Saturday with Dallas-Salt Lake and San Jose-New York. On Sunday, Seattle hosts Los Angeles which will also be aired on GOL TV Canada at 8 p.m.
MLS Cup Final will take place in Toronto on November 21.
Colorado v. Columbus – MLS Cup quarterfinals, 1st leg (Thursday, 9 p.m., GOL TV Canada).
Colorado – 46 points, 44 GF, 32 GA
Top goal scorer: Omar Cummings – 14 goals
Columbus – 51 points, 40 GF, 34 GA
Top goal scorer: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – 9 goals
2010 MLS Head-to-head
June 5: Colorado 1-0 Columbus
August 21: Columbus 3-1 Colorado
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