Three Big Storylines:
- D.C. United will be without Bobby Boswell, who was suspended on Friday by the disciplinary committee for endangering the safety of an opponent in Wednesday's playoff match. D.C. United have been a Jekyll and Hyde team in the second half of the season. They are almost unbeatable at home and putrid on the road, but their biggest asset might be Bill Hamid in net. Hamid is having another great season and came up huge on Wednesday against the New England Revolution. New York Red Bulls won the Supporters' Shield and will be looking to make a mark in the playoffs. In 2013 NYRB won the Shield and lost in this same round. Last year they were knocked out this by this same DC United team 2-3 on aggregate in this same round.
- The Portland Timbers are in this spot because they made 7 out of 11 penalty kicks while Sporting Kansas City only made 6 out of 11. It might have been the most entertaining and compelling PK shootout in MLS history, but 9 misses from 22 kicks did not say much for the quality. How quickly Portland can turn around from Thursday night's shootout to prepare for this Cascadia clash will be something to watch. The Vancouver Whitecaps finished second in the Western Conference and must have been relishing the idea of seeing Portland play 120 minutes on Thursday. With the attacking speed on the flanks and up front, look for Pedro Morales and Mauro Rosales to spring the break at every opportunity.
- There were three tight and compelling MLS Cup playoff matches mid-week that realistically could have gone either way. And then there were the Montreal Impact who were up 3-0 in the 39th minute over Toronto FC and cruised to the win. Didier Drogba scored his 12th goal in 12 matches since joining the Impact and will likely be a factor against a Columbus Crew SC team that finished second in the Eastern Conference. The Crew feature joint MLS top scorer in Kei Kamara (22 goals on the season) along with Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay (12 goals, 13 assist this season).
From a Sounders Point of View:
If the Sounders are to make MLS Cup, here is the list of teams that finished above them in the Supporters' Shield, and thus would host the game:
- New York Red Bulls
- Columbus Crew SC
Vive le Montreal and let's go DC United!
As for Portland versus Vancouver, that is more of a personal preference. As the holders of the 2015 Cascadia Cup, the Sounders handled both of these teams in 2015. Personally I would rather face Vancouver, again. For the sixth and seventh time in all competitions this year.
Plus, this penalty not going in is the only reason that Portland survived the PK shootout:
sports can be cruel pic.twitter.com/KCrgydb3TO— Haunted Housé (@whoisjoserivera) October 30, 2015
National TV Listings:
DC United v New York Red Bulls
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Portland Timbers v Vancouver Whitecaps
Sunday, 2 PM
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Montreal Impact v Columbus Crew
Sunday, 4 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Cup Playoff Conference Semi-Final Opening Match Gamethread. Watch with us.