Playoffs Scoreboard

Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/30 9:00pm
SEA
LA
ESPN
Western Conference Championship
Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1NY
2NE
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/29 3:00pm
NE
NY
NBCSN
Eastern Conference Championship

The Clean Sheet: Irish ayes

as the most dangerous sniper in the game. Ruiz backers on Planet L.A. will also tell you he does a lot more than just scoring goals.

While it sure does seem like an awful lot of people just can't stand the guy, I can't for the life of me figure out why that would be the case this year. A lot of the flopping seems to have disappeared, perhaps in part due to the influence (and talents) of guys like Andreas Herzog and Jovan Kirovski.

Pescadito's flipping goal last Saturday, on a play where in the past he might have stayed down to get the call, shows that there might be a new bit about his game.

LANDON DONOVAN: After a relatively slow start this year, Donovan's performance in the U.S.-Mexico game showed he is still the Golden Boy of American soccer. And how dangerous did he look in last weekend's pitchers' duel (yeah, right) in San Jose?

The bounce seems to be back in his step, and his finishing might soon follow, which will quickly see him back near the top of the points table where he belongs. It's also an interesting year for Landon psychologically, with more talk surrounding his future, fueled by some questions being tossed about regarding what exactly he can learn from the San Jose coaching staff.

HENRY RING: Is his success a product of a strong backline, or is the backline even stronger due to Ring's presence and organization from the back? Whatever the case, Ring has more than stabilized things after the losses of Zach Thornton and Carlos Bocanegra. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ring's game right now is the composure and presence he has in the box, especially for a guy that hadn't played regular MLS minutes ever before.

RONNIE O'BRIEN: The strategy behind my Burn's turnaround is pretty basic. Head coach Colin Clarke wants his new-and-improved defense to win the ball, find an outlet, and quickly look to transition to the track stars, Eddie Johnson and Toni Nhleko. That transition? Ronnie O'Brien.

But O'Brien brings so much more than the transition game, his versatility and field-awareness being the reason he is so hard to play against right now. His vision and passing are fantastic, whether it's hitting a long ball to a sprinting striker or slipping someone through with a clever touch, he is dissecting defenses on a weekly basis. With the ball, he is not afraid to take on a defender, and though predominately right-footed, shows the ability to cut inside from his right wing position. Finally, he has an absolute cannon for a right peg, and will definitely score a couple of silly bombs from long range.

MY CHOICE ... RONNIE O'BRIEN: Simply put, I think Ronnie O'Brien is playing the best soccer in MLS right now. And the scary thing about his form? As he told Hard C this week, he still does not feel like he is all the way back from last year's season-ending injury, which means we may see even better things to come ahead. Yikes.

THE NEWS: Speaking of my future MLS Cup champs, Jason Kreis made his much-anticipated return in Dallas.

TCS SAYS: So the question is, where does he fit in? The style Dallas is playing right now, he wouldn't seem to fit in up top, so it looks like attacking midfielder would be the best move. With Kreis and O'Brien behind the speedsters up front, there could be some fireworks down in Dallas this summer.

THE NEWS: In a ceremony on Wednesday, Pamela Anderson became a U.S. citizen.

TCS SAYS: Obviously, this means she is no longer a senior international, so I'd look for the Crew to try and snap her up in the next few days. Please, no comments about twin strikers.

THE NEWS: Did you see the San Jose-MetroStars highlights yet?

TCS SAYS: Forget about the fact there were 10 goals, the amazing thing about the game was the class of the finishing. Cornell Glen's heel was the Goal of the Week winner, but a few of the runners-up would have taken top honors most other weeks.

GRAB A COLD BUD (OR AQUAFINA) AND PUT YER FEET UP:

WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING:

Friday -- CRYSTAL PALACE-SUNDERLAND (2:45 p.m. ET on PPV): By Far The Greatest Team The World Has Ever Seen takes on Sunderland in the first leg of the English First Division playoff semifinal.

Saturday -- CREW-REVS (4 p.m. ET on ESPN2): If Columbus gets stomped at home by a disciplined Revs team who looked good in Denver last weekend, the heat may turn up quickly on head coach Greg Andrulis ... if it isn't already.

Saturday -- METRO-FIRE (7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports World): If I'm Henry Ring, I'm bringing a helmet (or a friend) after what those Metro forwards did last weekend.

FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY:

I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy ... so every week TCS is gonna put a little action on the action, if you know what I'm talkin' about. Each week in this space we'll track how last week went and what's on the books, so to speak, for the upcoming week.

LAST WEEK: O-for-4. I have nothing else to say.

CURRENT BANK: -400
THIS WEEK: Being down 400 on the season, I can't even answer the door right now when the bell rings. Those collection guys don't play nice. Heck, I know what happens, I watch "The Sopranos". I'm pulling back this week and just going 100 on L.A. over Mile High Club.

MLSNET.com COLUMNIST LOCKS OF THE WEEK: OK, you guys asked for it, so now you're getting it ... every week the MLSnet columnists are going to pick one lock of the week and we'll keep a running tally to see who actually knows what they are talking about. Late word is that The Commish was nice enough to offer a brand new Honda to the winner.

LAST WEEK:

What can I say, Lalas puts money every week on sisters kissing each other. So that's how it is in that family ...

STANDINGS:

Lalas -- 3-3

Palace -- 2-4

Bradley -- 1-5

Connolly -- 1-5

THIS WEEK:

Bradley: L.A. over Colorado

Hard C: L.A. over Colorado

Tino: L.A. over Colorado

Lalas: Columbus over New England

FLICK-ONS:

Is it worth trying to put into words what The Arsenal could accomplish this weekend?

Hey Waldo: The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning were talking about giving away free unlimited beer to people who bought season tickets. Sound familiar? Not sure if they were serious, or if they just knew there probably won't be a hockey season next year ...

FIFA annoyance of the week: Cameroon's appeal over the docking of six World Cup points for wearing the one-piece in the African Nations Cup was shot down.

I can barely get through an NBA game on TV these days (except when my Timberwolves are playing), but the fact remains that the TNT post-game show with E.J., Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley is simply the best sports highlight show going today. Kenny and the Chuckwagon make you tune in to see what they have to say, and E.J. is not only a traffic cop, but is unafraid to get stuck in himself.

Hated it: "Eternal Sunshine something or other" with Jim Carrey.

Loved it: "Mean Girls".

Okay, so the PK last weekend may have been a bit dodgy, but the fact remains: D.C. United holds a lead about as well as "Frasier" held a girlfriend in his character's 20-year run.

The Clean Sheet appears every Thursday on MLSnet.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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