31 October 11:25 de la tarde

The Houston Dynamo have defeated the Chicago Fire, 2-1, in the Eastern Conference Knockout match, the opening match of the MLS playoffs.

Let the chatter, the praise, and the second guessing begin.

Watch +Greg Lalas +Simon Borg +Jonah Freedman and +Jason Saghini break it all down.

31 October 7:51 de la tarde

We're getting close to kickoff between Chicago and Houston. Like, really, really close.

The opening whistle will blow, and the 2012 edition of the MLS Cup Playoffs will be off and running. 

With everything else going on, it'll be really nice to actually, you know, watch the matches play out. 

Not like we needed any extra help getting hype, but the NBC Sports Network just dropped the spot below for good measure. Enjoy. 

31 October 2:54 de la tarde
Happy Halloween!  This past week, we held the Second Annual #MLSPumpkin Carving Contest and received over forty eerie entries that varied from unique club logos, favorite players, and even coaches.  Pumpkins were judged on creativity, originality and connection to MLS or a MLS club.
Congratulations to Marcelo Nina Valencia from D.C. who created an outstanding rendition of RFK stadium. His tribute was inspired by the "Blackout" that is taking place when D.C. United hosts the New York Red Bulls in the MLS Playoffs.  
For his seven hours of craftsmanship, Marcelo won a D.C. United authentic home jersey from  
And, because we love our supporters as much as you love us, we're going to add to the prize pack an autographed Chris Pontius MLS All-Star ball we've got here in the office at MLS HQ.  Congrats, Marcelo.
We'd like to thank all of the fans that took part in the contest, and we've chosen a few of this year's finalists to share below. 
Take a look at the #MLSPumpkin Facebook album to see more of this year's entries.
For fans who missed out on participating, keep your goblin eyes peeled for the Third Annual #MLSPumpkin Contest next year.



31 October 1:15 de la tarde

On efface (presque) tout et on recommence : ce mercredi s’ouvre la phase finale de la Coupe MLS 2012 avec le match du premier tour entre Chicago et Houston (21h00 HE, direct RDS2, TSN2, ESPN2).

Le match s’annonce serré, puisque quatre de leurs cinq confrontations ces deux dernières saisons se sont soldées par un partage. Seule exception, leur affrontement le plus récent, remporté 3-1 par Chicago début septembre. À en croire Tally Hall, Houston a retenu les leçons de cet échec.

Ayant terminé derrière leur adversaire et jouant donc en déplacement, les Texans ne partent pas favoris. Mais ils ne se sentent jamais aussi bien que quand ils sont dos au mur, prévient Brad Davis. Ce dernier détient peut-être les clefs de la victoire avec son pendant à droite, Boniek Garcia, et Houston prendra une option sur la qualification s’il arrive à faire le jeu à Toyota Park.

Mélange de joueurs jeunes et expérimentés, Chicago dispute son premier match de phase finale depuis 2009. La vivacité sera un de ses atouts principaux. Même les plus anciens, comme Pavel Pardo, affichent une forme physique étincelante ! La défense visiteuse devra être particulièrement vigilante pour éviter que Nyarko, Oduro ou MacDonald ne se présente seul face au gardien.

Si vous êtes trop impatients pour attendre le coup d’envoi de la rencontre, venez en discuter avec Greg Lalas (en anglais) à partir de 15h00.

31 October 12:52 de la tarde

Ahead of the first match of the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs tonight, editor in chief Greg Lalas snagged a special guest to break down the clash between Chicago and Houston tonight on ESPN2

Yep, the other Lalas jumped on a Google+ Hangout to talk tonight's match, and he brought props. Watch the video below to find out what Alexi is wearing for a costume on the broadcast tonight. 

Greg's not done hanging out today, either. You can catch him this afternoon, rapping with fans before #CHIvHOU officially kicks off. A man of the people, that guy. 

31 October 9:50 de la mañana

There is still time to join the MLS Network on MLS staff, players, clubs, supporters and partners have already joined to raise funds and awareness for men's health.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. will match funds raised by the highest individual fundraiser in the MLS Network (individual person, not team). The highest fundraiser will also receive the Soccer Kicks Cancer Prize Pack, which includes:

- One (1) $500 VISA Gift Card
- One (1) Panasonic Shave Kit (includes 5-cutting blade system shaver, Body Shaver, Beard & Hair Trimmer and Nose & Ear Trimmer – a $785 value)
- One (1) copy of FIFA Soccer 13

So what are you waiting for?  Join us and help kick cancer! 'Mo growin' officially begins tomorrow.

30 October 9:33 de la tarde

Not a whole lot going on in Manhattan these days. 

Power's out, subways are down, cell service is non-existant in my neighborhood, the offices are closed. As you might imagine, @MLS_Insider has been kinda quiet. Apologies for that. 

Still, we managed to surpass 200,000 followers today. It's been great talking (wait, tweeting) with all of you this season.

Here's to more of the same starting tomorrow night. Coming for you, Bieber

30 October 8:47 de la tarde

The playoffs are upon us, but if that isn't enough to satiate your thirst for soccer, we've got another contest to keep you busy throughout November.

Yes, it's time to select another AT&T Goal of the Year. Just like 2011, 64 of the year's best strikes – including all 31 AT&T Goal of the Week winners – are up for nomination, and a fan vote will whittle the field down all the way down to the year's best strike.

Whose goal are you looking forward to seeing in contention? One of David Beckham's many wonderstrikes? Or perhaps your tastes run more on the Fredy Montero side?

Tune in to tomorrow, Oct. 31 at 1 pm ET, to find out the first 16 goals up for election and cast your vote!

In the meantime, tide yourself over with last year's winner, an absolute stunner from the Portland Timbers' then-rookie, Darlington Nagbe:

30 October 8:11 de la tarde

Yes. Yes they are.

And yes, I picked Seattle to win it because it's a moral imperative to stick with the prediction I made in March. But have been wracking my brain to figure out just the right way of explaining why the Earthquakes are such favorites.

Turns out Redditor moatie2000 did it for me in one handy-dandy little chart.

Here ya go:

Not a lot needs to be said beyond that.

30 October 5:11 de la tarde

Join MLS W.O.R.K.S. as we support the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy disaster relief efforts. A financial donation or blood donation can make the biggest and most immediate impact. Learn what you can do to help.

American Red Cross

Canadian Red Cross