Daily Kickoff - 11.5.23
What you need to know

Two more Match 2s tonight

Sporting KC host St. Louis CITY SC at 5 pm ET on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. A win at home and SKC advance. Then, Vancouver take on LAFC at 7:30 pm ET. The 'Caps need a win to survive. You can find that one on MLS Season Pass or on FS1 and FS2.

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Things got a little too Metro, Cincy advanced and Dallas did a little more than survive another day. Let’s talk it out.

T. Barlow (45') | A. Boupendza (75') - CIN win 8:7 on PKs

What happened?: Oh man, I’m not even sure where to start. First things first, I wanted to offer my thoughts and best wishes to Red Bulls fans. There’s… there’s always another sunrise, ya know? Or something. Look, I’m genuinely unsure what y’all did to deserve this, but maybe the curse has a shelf life? Maybe there’s some way to break it? It could be that you need to go out to the Meadowlands and bury a MetroStars jersey next to Jimmy Hoffa? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers and for that I apologize. But there’s always next year, I guess.

Anyway, the Red Bulls took a lead, gave up a late goal where multiple players just kind of fell over as Cincy carried the ball forward, gave up a goal in stoppage time, but were given new life after Video Review showed a handball, went to penalties, took the lead in the shootout, had a chance to win, watched as their best player bricked a potential winner off the post, took the lead in the shootout again, had a chance to win again and watched as the potential winner missed the net by about 20 feet. Then they lost.

There’s almost a beauty in it if you try to find it.

So, did we learn anything?: Besides another batch of clear evidence something bigger than us hates the Red Bulls, Cincinnati took a moment to once again prove why they were the best team in the league this season. They could have faltered, but stayed in it and caught a few breaks. Now they’ll move on to face the winner of Philadelphia and New England in a single-elimination semifinal. They’ll be favored no matter who they face.

That being said, there are a couple of problems they’ll have to worry about. Matt Miazga picked up his third yellow of the playoffs in this one and will miss the next game. On top of that, they have a three-week layoff between games now. We’ve seen some of the best teams in the league falter after long playoff layoffs and Cincy will have to take extra steps to make sure it doesn’t happen to them.

P. Arriola (6'), J. Ferreira (18' PK), J. Obrian (89') | J. Morris (48')

What happened?: Dallas put together a beautiful team goal six minutes in, Jesús Ferreira converted from the spot moments later and Dallas took care of business from there on to earn a huge 3-1 win.

So, did we learn anything?: I’m… kind of stunned. And also impressed. Dallas went into this one missing Alan Velasco against the best defensive team in the West and played their best game of the season. Seattle got overrun early and Dallas (who have an excellent defense of their own) never truly let them back in the game. Full credit to this group for stepping up in a situation where the odds seemed stacked against them.

Now they have to head back to Seattle to try to do the same thing. I would talk about how unlikely that is and how difficult it’s going to be, but the last time I did that with this team they bulldozed the Sounders in a playoff game. So, yeah, they’ve got a chance. They’re good enough defensively to be in every game they play until the end.

Two quick keys to two big games

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning (probably) and we’re all well-rested from an extra hour of sleep. We ain’t got time to waste time today. Here are two brief, but still important keys to each playoff game today.

Sporting KC vs. St. Louis CITY SC: It’s (probably) gotta be early for St. Louis

St. Louis have been at their best this year during the moments where they seem to suddenly go Super Saiyan and pile on four goals in 10 minutes before the other team can even realize what’s happened. I’m not saying they need to score four times in the first 10 minutes of this one, but I’m saying they need to remind us of their ability to overwhelm teams as soon as they can tonight. SKC have home-field advantage and, to be honest, they might even be the better team. But if St. Louis can blitz them early, take the crowd out of the game and get this thing back to Missouri (Google Children’s Mercy Park and don’t @ me.), they’ve got a chance. If SKC handle that first wave of attack and stay in control, St. Louis might be in a lot of trouble.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. LAFC: Have you tried not giving up four goals on set pieces?

The Whitecaps aren’t a shoo-in to win, but they’ll have a much better chance if they don’t give up four goals on set pieces this time. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Don’t let LAFC bully you like they did the last game. At that point, you still have to deal with Dénis Bouanga and all that, but at least you won’t get memed if you lose. I’m worried about y’all, Vancouver.

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Good luck out there. Show appreciation the best way you know how.