It’s Time To Feast On The Smorgasbord That Is The MLS Cup Conference Finals
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR. Forgive me, but it’s been 15 days since the Conference Semifinals of the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs wrapped up and I’m just trying to bring the edge back. Tuesday, Nov. 21, sees the first legs of both the Eastern and Western Conference finals kick off in Columbus and Houston, respectively, and we’re here to offer a quick take on what to lookout for in both matches.
MLS Playoffs: Eastern Conference Final
Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC
MAPFRE Stadium | Columbus, Ohio
November 21, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
The Tale of the First Leg: The hullabaloo here is the one-game suspensions for TFC stars Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. Giovinco will miss the match through yellow-card accumulation, Altidore because of the red card he received against NYRB and Snitchin’ Kljestan.
The two have combined for 32 goals and 12 assists for Toronto, meaning that scoring some vital away goals will be less important for manager Greg Vanney than just keeping things tight before the return leg.
Victor Vazquez, Justin Morrow and Tosaint Ricketts will shoulder TFC’s attacking ambitions tomorrow while Michael Bradley will go about extinguishing any growing midfield fires at the MAPFRE.
For the #SavetheCrew, they’ll take heart from the previous round’s 4-1 home leg triumph over New York City FC. If Columbus is to advance to the MLS Cup final, they’ll likely need a margin of two or three goals heading back to Canada. This Toronto side is the best in MLS history, but not without Giovinco and Altidore.
The Crew will look to Justin Meram, Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara in attack while defensive midfielder Wil Trapp and in-form goalkeeper Zack Steffen aim for a clean sheet.
MLS Playoffs: Western Conference Final
Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders
BBVA Compass Stadium | Houston, Texas
November 21, 9:30 p.m. ET | FS1
The Tale of the First Leg: How will Houston’s Honduran trio of Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia respond after their devastating and taxing journey to Australia for a failed World Cup qualifying playoff? Will Ozzie Alonso return to provide more bite and balance in the Seattle midfield? Who will be the hero — Mauro Manotas or Nicolas Lodeiro?
There are so many questions here and I have so few answers. The Western Conference has been impossible to call this season, and this matchup really encapsulates that uncertainty.
The only thing we know for certain is that Jordan Morris remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, and I’ve long since grown irate with the Sounders medical team and their reluctance to rub him down with horse placentas.