There are only two matches remaining before MLS Cup, with both conference’s top seeds in need of a big result.
FC Dallas lost to the Portland Timbers 3-1 in the first leg out West, while the New York Red Bulls fell 2-0 to Columbus Crew SC in the East.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
Leg 2 of the Conference Finals will both be played on Sunday, as we will know the MLS Cup finalists by the end of the night.
WEST: FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers — 5 p.m. ET
EAST: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew SC — 7:30 p.m. ET
With each home-side needing to overcome a two-goal deficit, here’s what to look out for in the Conference Finals.
Will FC Dallas capitalize on home-field advantage?
Despite being down 3-1 on aggregate, FC Dallas will be looking forward to Sunday’s second leg. Dallas finished the season 13-2-2 at Toyota Stadium, the best home record in MLS. After scoring a crucial away goal in Portland, a 2-0 win for Dallas will see the side advance to the final. Their 33 goals scored at home was the second-best mark in the Western Conference, as Oscar Pareja’s men will feel confident despite the aggregate.
Is Norberto Paparatto ready to replace Liam Ridgewell?
Norberto Paparatto has played just six matches for Portland this season, but it looks like he’ll be starting on Sunday. Liam Ridgewell, who started all 32 matches at center-back, injured his calf in the first leg and manager Caleb Porter said Paparatto will “most likely” be starting, as Ridgewell was seen warming up separately from the rest of the team in training. With FC Dallas in need of goals, Paparatto will have his hands full on defense, especially with the likes of Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz bombing forward.
Can Luis Robles keep a clean sheet for RBNY?
The Red Bulls’ Luis Robles was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year this season, and he’s going to need to play like that on Sunday. After losing 2-0 in the first leg without scoring an away goal, New York needs a 2-0 win themselves just to force extra-time. If Columbus scores at Red Bull Arena, New York needs to score four goals to advance. While it will have to be a collective team effort to keep the Crew off the scoresheet, Robles will have to make some big saves in goal to keep his side in it.