Audi Player Index Playoffs Analysis

Audi Player Index Playoffs Analysis: Recapping the first legs out West

The Western Conference Semifinal first legs saw the LA Galaxyand Seattle Sounders protect their home field impressively. This Sunday, both the Colorado Rapids and certainly FC Dallas will have some work to do to overcome these deficits. With drastically different results in each game, what do each of these teams need to do moving into second leg?

FC Dallas

It’s no secret FCD have a major task ahead of them. But on their way to winning the Supporters’ Shield during the regular season, on two occasionsthey scored at least three goals without conceding.

Of their 11 starters on Sunday night, seven were age 25 or younger. And in order to make a push against the Sounders this week (9 pm ET; FS1 in US | TSN in Canada), one of these players must find the way to make a bigger impact on the game. For me, it has to be Kellyn Acosta.

Acosta is a player with too much talent and too many promising moments from the last match (like that below) to only have an Audi Player Index Score of 160.  Whether the team needs to do a better job finding Acosta, or Acosta needs to assert his presence more, there just has to be more of him for Dallas to stand any chance.

Colorado Rapids

Assuming Axel Sjoberg gets the nod from Pablo Mastroeni in the second leg (2 pm ET; ESPN in US | TSN in Canada), the Rapids will need a better performance out of him at center back to combat the Galaxy’s quality going forward.

Facing a team that scored 54 goals in the regular season, the Swede will have to tally more than a  -14 for his Audi Player Index score.

If the Rapids to make a push in these playoffs, they cannot afford peculiar moments like that below from Sjoberg.

LA Galaxy

To find continued success in their trip to Colorado, the Galaxy need to keep the pressure up from the wide parts of the field.

Between wide players Robbie Rogers, Ashley Cole, Landon Donovan and Emmanuel Boateng, LA attempted 17 crosses...only 4 of which were successful.

It’s not always about completed crosses (LA's goal came from a scramble after a Boateng cross was headed away by the Rapids). Sometimes offensive success can come from relentlessly asking questions of an opposition’s defense.

At the same time, if LA are able to continue to deliver service with even slightly more efficiency, the Galaxy will almost certainly dispatch their opponents in the second leg.

Seattle Sounders

The Sounders find themselves in maybe the most interesting position of all the Western Conference teams. How will they go about managing their three-goal lead? Will they rest the likes of Nelson Valdez or even Jordan Morris, or will they try to keep their players fit and sharp?

Ultimately, the team with the most dominant performance in the Conference Semifinals might just have the most pressure on them. It will be interesting to watch how Brian Schmetzer and his staff try to balance the big picture: The immediate task of finishing off FC Dallas while maintaining postseason momentum.