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MLS Cup Playoffs semifinals, open thread: Crew win, Atlanta win, while SKC-RSL draw

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The road to the MLS Cup is down to eight teams and they all play today.

Manchester United v Real Salt Lake
Nick Rimando in his 87th MLS Cup playoff game today (all stats estimated).
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

The 2018 MLS Cup playoffs are down to the last eight teams. Goodbye, Los Angeles FC and D.C. United, we hardly had a chance to get to know you. Both DCU and LAFC lost at home on Thursday to the lower seeded teams, as the Columbus Crew won a knockout round shootout as the away team for the second year running when they defeated D.C. United 3-2 on penalties. Zack Steffen again came up big for the Crew. And LAFC lost 3-2 to RSL in front of a frankly embarrassing home crowd (constant throwing of objects on the pitch and a certain chant during Nick Rimando goal kicks were the two main culprits) on Thursday night. Walker Zimmerman scored the 69th minute own goal that stood up for the win.

Today’s quadruple header starts off with the Columbus Crew hosting the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls come into the match as the Supporters’ Shield winners and the most successful MLS regular season in history with 71 points, besting Toronto FC (69 points in 2017) and Atlanta United (69 points in 2018) for that boast. The Crew and original New York MLS franchise (Metro Stars to Red Bulls) have played three times in the MLS Cup playoffs, with the Crew prevailing all three times including in the 2008 MLS Cup and as recently as 2015 when the Crew beat NYRB in the Eastern Conference Finals 2-1 on aggregate before losing at home in MLS Cup to the Portland Timbers. The return leg will be on Sunday, November 11 at Red Bull Arena.

The second game of the day is the Seattle Sounders traveling down I-5 to take on the Portland Timbers. This is not the gamethread for that, but it will be covered extensively on Sounder at Heart. Take a break from this gamethread for two hours.

Welcome back! Our third match of the day is New York City FC hosting Atlanta United. NYCFC had probably the most uneventful knockout round win during the midweek games, and coincidentally were the only home team to win, as they cruised to a 3-1 home win over the Philadelphia Union. This is NYCFC’s third consecutive appearance in the Eastern Conference semifinals; they were defeated by Toronto FC 7-0 on aggregate in 2016 and 4-3 by the Crew in 2017. This is the farthest Atlanta United has made it in their two years of MLS action. Last year, they were a penalty kick shootout loser to the same Crew team that eventually knocked out NYCFC. One team is going to make history over these next two legs. The return leg will be on Sunday, November 11 in Atlanta.

In tonight’s nightcap, Real Salt Lake hosts Sporting Kansas City. RSL might be the most unlikely team still alive in the bracket, as they only qualified for the playoffs after the LA Galaxy blew a two goal halftime lead to a Houston Dynamo team that had only one away win on the season coming into MLS Decision Day. Nick Rimando has been in net for Real Salt Lake for so long it seems like he has been their since RSL was founded. But Rimando started his career with the Miami Fusion (RIP) in 2000 before going to D.C. United in the dispersal draft (2002) and was only sent to RSL in 2007 as part of the trade that saw Fredy Adu head to RSL as well as what was expected to be a backup keeper named Rimando. Currently, Adu has just finished his season with the Las Vegas Lights of the USL; as far as I can tell it was his 12th different team since he last played for Real Salt Lake. Sporting Kansas City come into this game on a high, having won their last three games and gone unbeaten in five to clinch the 1 seed in the Western Conference. The return leg will be on Sunday, November 11 in Kansas City.

Playoff Seeds

Eastern Conference

1. New York Red Bulls
2. Atlanta United FC
3. New York City FC
4. D.C. United
5. Columbus Crew SC
6. Philadelphia Union

Western Conference

1. Sporting Kansas City
2. Seattle Sounders FC
3. Los Angeles FC
4. FC Dallas
5. Portland Timbers
6. Real Salt Lake

From a Sounders Point of View

This is easy, NYRB, Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City all finished the regular season above the Sounders. We are cheering for them to lose, as an MLS Cup needs to be hosted by Seattle with the home team playing (unlike 2009, when Seattle hosted RSL versus the LA Galaxy for the MLS Cup).

How to Watch

Columbus Crew v New York Red Bulls

Date/Time: Sunday, November 4, Noon PT
Location: MAPFRE Stadium — Columbus
TV: ESPN
Streaming: Watch ESPN

  • Columbus Crew Injury Report: OUT: M - Mike Grella (left knee meniscectomy), M - Pedro Santos (right leg injury)
  • Suspended after next caution: M - Federico Higuain, M - Eduardo Sosa
  • New York Red Bulls Injury Report: OUT: M - Florian Valot (torn left ACL), D - Kyle Duncan (torn right ACL), M - Vincent Bezecourt (right MCL surgery), D - Tommy Redding (shoulder surgery), M - Ben Mines (broken left clavicle surgery)
  • Suspended after next caution: None

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders

Date/Time: Sunday, November 4, 2:30 PM PT
Location: Providence Park — Portland
TV: ESPN
Streaming: Watch ESPN

NYCFC v Atlanta United

Date/Time: Sunday, November 4, 4:30 PM PT
Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx
TV: FS1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go

  • NYCFC Injury Report: OUT: D - Cedric Hountondji (hamstring injury)
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Maxime Chanot, D - Ben Sweat
  • Atlanta United Injury Report: OUT: D - Sal Zizzo (right knee injury), D - Mikey Ambrose (right knee surgery), F - Brandon Vazquez (foot injury), D - Chris McCann (left quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: M - Miguel Almiron (left hamstring injury)
  • Suspended after next caution: None

Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City

Date/Time: Sunday, November 4, 7:00 PM PT
Location: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, Utah
TV: FS1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go

  • RSL Injury Report: OUT: D - Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), M - Jordan Allen (knee surgery), GK - Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery), D - David Horst (Achilles surgery)
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Aaron Herrera, F - Jefferson Savarino, F - Corey Baird, M - Albert Rusnak, M - Sunny
  • Sporting KC Injury Report: OUT: D - Jimmy Medranda (knee surgery), M - Cristian Lobato (quad injury)
  • Suspended: D - Seth Sinovic
  • Suspended after next caution: None

Join the Discussion

This is your MLS Cup playoffs Conference Semifinals Game 1 gamethread. Watch with us as we cheer for all the home teams to win. Except Portland.