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What's The Use Of Home Advantage?
Chicago Tribune, October 22nd, 2008 1:15PM



Luis Arroyave asks a pertinent question about the playoffs: what's the use of "home advantage"? The Chicago Fire will clinch home advantage in the Eastern Conference if it beats New York Thursday, but, he asks, "does the Fire even want it?"

"The team with the home advantage has advanced only six times in the last 12 first-round playoff series," notes Arroyave. "Some argue the lower seed has the edge because it plays host to the first game and then goes on the road for the second one. If the lower seed creates a sizable lead in the first match, it can spend the second match protecting its edge."

The Fire itself has advanced two out of the three years when it was the lower seed in a home-and-away series, and its other elimination came only after penalty kicks. But Fire coach Denis Hamlett would rather play at home in the second game because "you want to play the deciding game in front of your fans." Midfielder John Thorrington added, "When you host the second game, you know what it takes to win and you're at home for it."

The actual home advantage, of course, only comes once you've advanced and can host the single-game Conference final. But that's no advantage at all if you've already been eliminated.

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