Real Salt Lake vs Los Angeles
MLS powers RSL and the LA Galaxy face off in a rematch of the 2009 MLS Cup Finals. This is one of the more evenly matched rivalries in MLS as the three matches this year were split down the middle with a pair of 1-0 games and a 1-1 draw. LA's high-powered trinity of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and breakout performer Gyasi Zardes will have a tough task ahead of them trying to score goals against U.S. National Team keeper Nick Rimando, but no team gave up fewer goals this season than the Galaxy so don't expect a high scoring series.
Players to Watch:
For LA: Gyasi Zardes. After a run that saw Zardes score 13 goals in 16 games, the 23 year-old homegrown talent has cooled off getting shut out in his last four matches, which not surprisingly correlated to just one Galaxy win. If LA is going to have a chance against RSL, they'll need Zardes to produce. He did have the game winner in their last match against Real Salt Lake in July.
For Real Salt Lake: Alvaro Saborio. Saborio missed almost four months of the season, and the World Cup, with a fractured foot, but he's back now. He's scored twice in six matches since returning and has eight goals in just sixteen games on the season.
Los Angeles advances. It's going to be close, but I don't see Landon Donvoan's farewell tour ending here.
FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders
Seattle has already claimed a double this year taking the U.S. Open Cup and the Supporter's Shield and their first hurdle in clinching a third piece of hardware this season will be FC Dallas. Seattle took two of three matches between the two teams this year, but Dallas did hand them a 3-1 defeat in September. Dallas needed a late penalty to advance to the semis edging out the Whitecaps 2-1.
Players to Watch:
For Dallas: Tesho Akindele. After going two and a half months between goals, Akindele scored the opener against Vancouver in the Knockout Round. If he can be a complement to Blas Perez up top and make the Dallas attack more potent, it will make for a much more competitive series.
For Seattle: Marco Pappa. The Guatemalan midfielder was the hero in the season finale against LA and has a knack for scoring goals on the big stage. Used effectively as a starter and a substitute, he's a terrific sidekick for stars Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey.
Seattle advances. The Sounders have too many weapons and they're hungry for a Championship.