This may be a stretch.. but I think the MLS playoff structure did its job in the Sounders vs FC Dallas series.
– The Sounders had to field the best 11 they had for the last game of the season vs RSL, to ensure they made the playoffs.
– By finishing 4th, they then had to play again that Wednesday in a winner take all match vs LA Galaxy, so they had to field their best 11 again on 2 days rest, or rest a couple of guys and take their chances.
– Predictably, as an older team, this led to small injuries that over the course of a season would be recoverable, but in the case of the playoffs, was not.
– So Dallas, already built younger, goes into the series with 7 days rest vs our 3. We got the win in game 1, but we were clearly taxed at the end.
– Now we roll Oba and Dempsey out again for game 2. That’s Game #4 in 14 days for these guys. I think our 30+ year olds at the end of a 40 game season were simply tired vs a bunch of 25 year olds who had one less game to play.
– Thus, the system worked. Dallas was rewarded for having a better record. And that slight edge got them to the next round.