MLS Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals kick-off on Sunday

AP
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With the international break complete, Major League Soccer action returns as only four teams remain in the playoffs.

The Conference Finals kick off on Sunday, with the New York Red Bulls traveling out to Ohio to face the Columbus Crew, while the Portland Timbers host FC Dallas in the West.

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This round follows the same format as the Conference Semifinals, a two-legged tie with the lower seed hosting the first match. The team with the highest aggregate after both legs will advance to the MLS Cup Final.

Eastern Conference Final — Leg 1: Sunday, 5 p.m. ET @ Columbus

Columbus Crew SC (2) vs. New York Red Bulls (1) 

New York won the Supporters’ Shield with the best regular season record in MLS, and their strong play continued in the Conference Semifinals, advancing past D.C. United without conceding a goal. RBNY earned a big away win in the first leg against D.C., something they will look to repeat tomorrow in Columbus.

The Crew erased a first-leg deficit with a huge 3-1 win at home over Montreal, eliminating the hottest team in Major League Soccer. The last time the Crew advanced this far in the playoffs was in 2008, when they went on to win the club’s only MLS Cup.

Western Conference Final — Leg 1: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET @ Portland

Portland Timbers (3) vs. FC Dallas (1) 

FC Dallas faced a tough test in the previous round, needing penalty kicks to advance past the Seattle Sounders. They split the season series with Portland one game apiece, with the home team winning each match. The key for Dallas will be hanging in on the road on Sunday, as they are looking forward to the second leg in Frisco. Oscar Pareja’s men had the best home record in the league this season at 13-2-2.

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Portland is in the Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons. The Timbers are riding a six game unbeaten streak, while keeping two clean sheets in the semifinals against Vancouver. Darlington Nagbe earned his first caps for the USMNT over the international break, and Caleb Porter will be hoping he brings some confidence back to face the top-seed in the West.