The Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup playoffs 2017 are heating up, as two teams are one game away from advancing to the MLS Cup finals.
The first leg of both the Eastern and Western Conference Championship were played out on Nov. 21, with the Seattle Sounders beating the Houston Dynamo 2-0 in Houston and the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC battling it out to a 0-0 draw in Columbus.
Now, the Columbus Crew will travel to Toronto and the Houston Dynamo will travel to Seattle for the second leg. But as it’s looking right now, we could see a rematch of MLS Cup 2016.
Despite the 0-0 scoreline, Toronto FC mostly dominated leg one of the Eastern Conference Finals at the MAPFRE stadium. Without Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto failed to get a shot on target.
The team looked less threatening without their threatening attacking duo of Giovinco and Altidore. The Crew were keen to score, but the team could not find the back of the net. But heading into the second league at BMO field in Toronto, each team will have everything to play for. The Crew are looking to pull an upset in Toronto and gain redemption for their 2015 MLS Cup loss, whereas Toronto FC are looking to gain redemption after losing out on last year’s MLS Cup.
Seattle dominated on the road in Houston, beating the Dynamo convincingly with a 2-0 win at the BBVA Compass stadium. Gustav Svensson put Seattle up early in the game, heading a corner kick by Nicolas Lodeiro in the 11 minute.
Only 16 minutes later, it got worse for Houston as defender Jalil Anibaba was given a red card for pulling down Joevin Jones in the box, resulting in a penalty. Even though Dynamo keeper Joe Willis saved Nicolas Lodeiro’s penalty, the Dynamo were forced to play the rest of the game with ten men. Houston’s woes continued as former player Will Bruin scored a header in the 42nd minute to bring the scoreline to 2-0 against his former club. Now Houston travel to Seattle to play the second leg at Century Link Stadium, and with Seattle ahead with two away goals and the team’s incredible support, it’s going to be very difficult for Houston to bounce back from this.
Three of the four teams are going into the second leg with players facing suspensions.
For Columbus, the team will be without vital midfielder Artur and he looks to be replaced by young midfielder Mohammed Abu in the second Leg. Houston go into the second leg without defender Jalil Anibaba and key striker Alberth Elis. Without Elis, the Dynamo will have to rely on someone else to score the goals they need as Elis is currently on ten goals and four assists. Seattle go into the second leg without key Panamanian defender Roman Torres, but look to already have a backup in Tony Alfaro to help Chad Marshall lead Seattle’s back line.
Both of the second legs of the Eastern and Western Conference finals will be played on Thursday, Nov. 30, and as of right now, it looks as if we might have a repeat of last year’s MLS Cup.
Seattle and Toronto look to be favorites to advance to the final, and If that’s the case, it will be the first time since 2014 that the same teams will play in back to back MLS Cups.
If Seattle win, the team will be the third team in MLS history to win the MLS Cup back to back. If Toronto wins, it will be the first time in the club’s history to win the MLS Cup.
No matter the result, I’m very excited for these two matches.
Luke Stergiou can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org