Three Big Storylines:
- The last time Columbus Crew SC played the New York Red Bulls in the playoffs, it was MLS Cup 2008. Sigi Schmid was the Crew manager, Chad Marshall was the starting CB and Brad Evans was the starting CM. Frankie Hejduk captained the Crew, today he will surely lead the supporters section. Alejandro Moreno, now commenting on this match for ESPN FC was the starting target striker until Sigi brought on Steven Lenhart. Seven years from now, will we be talking about Federico Higuain, Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay and where they are now? One thing is certain, Ethan Finlay should not make plans for January as he will surely get his first extended look from the USMNT in the upcoming January camp.
- The storylines this week were all about young MLS managers making their mark in the playoffs. Caleb Porter (40) and Oscar Pareja (47) lead their teams out in Portland today. Portland Timbers Darlington Nagbe is coming off his first two caps with the USMNT appearing as a sub in both World Cup Qualifiers to glowing reviews, it appears Nagbe will have a long tenure with the national team. Timbers fans will be relieved to know that Jurgen Klinsmann did not return their star injured (this time). FC Dallas is dealing with distractions heading into this crucial first leg surrounding their young prized attacker as rumors were circulating this week about a $7.5M offer from Club America of Liga MX for Fabian Castillo.
- As we saw in the conference semi-finals the first leg of these two legged affairs typically are more cautious affairs. Some would even say tepid. Away teams just want a draw so they can close out the series on home soil in the return leg and the home squads are worried about giving up the away goal. Will today be different? Both home teams, especially Portland, are generally predisposed to attack and should not sit back and play for the nil-nil.
From a Sounders Point of View:
Penalty Kicks. Three Minutes! Who is marking the post? Let's just move on as this section is depressing me.
National TV Listings:
Columbus Crew v New York Red Bulls
Sunday, 2 PM
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Broadcast Info: Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman on the call.
Portland Timbers v FC Dallas
Sunday, 4:30 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Broadcast Info: John Strong and Alexi Lalas on the call. Rob Stone, Brad Friedel and Julie Stewart-Binks on site broadcasting from in front of the Timbers Army.
Here is your Sounder at Heart MLS Cup Conference Final first leg playoff gamethread. Watch with us.