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Light Schedule Key To Playoff Success

The regular season stats of the Columbus Crew and RB New York may not have had much in common, writes Jack Bell, with the Crew superior in every department. But one thing the two MLS Cup finalists shared these past seven months was a light schedule that left them both in good shape to tackle the postseason.

"Neither the Crew nor the Red Bulls played more than a handful of games in addition to their 30-game league schedules," writes Bell. But at least four other MLS teams, including defending champion Houston, played nearly 20 extra games in additional competitions.

"Obviously, the more rest you can get is better for you," said Crew defender Frankie Hejduk. "Of course, all the travel does affect you. But there can be a positive -- you get to bond with the guys on your team. The negative is that some guys get tired. I guess we'll find out next year."

Before the playoffs began with a two-legged Conference semifinal against Houston, NY coach Juan Carlos Osorio was asked if his team's lighter schedule would work to his advantage. "I wouldn't say it's one way or the other, but I can tell you that in my opinion Houston has done extremely well," Osorio replied. "Just competing in MLS, with such a limited roster, is difficult. Never mind in other tournaments. Houston in particular, I think, has done really well." Crew Coach Sigi Schmid, meanwhile, conceded: "Getting to the final is some luck and yes, fewer games."

 

Read the whole story at New York Times »

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