Three Big Storylines:
- New York Red Bulls carry a 1-0 lead back to Red Bull Arena behind a Dax McCarty goal off a Sacha Kljestan assist. D.C. United have not won away to NYRB since the famous snow game in 2012 played in this exact same point of the playoffs. D.C. United trotted out Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola in the starting lineup last week, apparently trying to capture some of the early 2010's Real Salt Lake playoff mojo. It did not work as they rarely threatened at home over the 90 minutes while the Supporters' Shield winning NYRB showed just why they had such a strong regular season.
- Le Impact Montreal travel to Ohio with a 2-1 lead over the Columbus Crew. Didier Drogba scored his 12th goal in as many matches for the Montreal Impact and will be starting again today after only picking up a yellow card for an inexplicable slide tackle and extended leg grab (cling, clutch, grasp, claw?) on Crew keeper Steve Clark. On a related note Drogba continues to make headlines in Europe for his MLS play. Your author is in Europe this week and saw highlights of Drogba's (truly bizarre) leg grab at least 14 times on the television. The Crew will be looking to lean on Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay to make up the one goal deficit and will cherish that lone away goal.
- The Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers played to a nil-nil draw in Portland last Sunday, their third scoreless draw in Portland this year, and both teams will like their chances in the return leg. Fresh off his first call to the United States National Team, Darlington Nagbe will be looking to carry his good form from the end of the regular season into attack. Vancouver set out a conservative lineup in the opener leaving Mauro Rosales and Pedro Morales on the bench who came on in the 63rd and 77th minute respectively. Expect both to play major roles in what will surely be a wide open match. The Timbers have won their last three road games and will be confident as they head up I-5.
From a Sounders Point of View:
Nothing much changes from last week where this section contained this:
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.
National TV Listings:
New York Red Bulls v D.C. United
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Columbus Crew v Montreal Impact
Sunday, 2 PM
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers
Sunday, 7:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Cup Playoff Conference Semi-Final Closing Match Gamethread. Watch with us.