Four teams remain in the chase for the 2017 MLS Cup, from Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto down to the team with the 10th most points in the regular season, the Houston Dynamo.
For those who haven’t been watching too closely this season, here’s what you need to know about the semifinalists.
[ VOTE: PST’s Big American soccer survey]
Regular season: 1st in East (20W-5L-9T)
Playoffs so far: Advanced past Red Bulls 2-2 on away goals
Last season: Lost MLS Cup Final to Seattle
Leading scorer: Sebastian Giovinco (17), Jozy Altidore (15)
In-form player: Goalkeeper Alex Bono
Secret weapon: Victor Vazquez — The Spaniard and ex-Barcelona prospect was the Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year in 2015, and has nine goals and 10 assists in his first MLS season,
Record vs. Seattle: Won 1-0 in Washington
Record vs. Houston: Won 2-0 at home
Record vs. Columbus: Won home and away; Lost away
The big question: Will MLS find enough evidence against the Red Bulls to reverse Jozy Altidore’s suspension for the weekend’s tunnel fracas? If not, TFC will not have its top two scorers for leg one.
Regular season: 5th in West
Playoffs so far: Defeatied Sporting KC, then Portland
Last season: Missed playoffs
Leading scorer: Erick Torres (14), Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis (10)
In-form player: Elis — four goals in last seven matches
Secret weapon: Juan Cabezas — The Colombia defensive midfielder averages 3.7 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game.
Record vs. Toronto: Lost 2-0 in Canada
Record vs. Seattle: Lost 1-0 at Seattle, Won 2-1 at home
Record vs. Columbus: Won 3-1 at home
The big question: Can backup backstop Joe Willis do the job with Tyler Deric suspended after a domestic arrest?
Regular season: 5th in East (16W-12L-6T)
Playoffs so far: Defeated Atlanta, then New York City FC
Last season: Missed playoffs
Leading scorer: Ola Kamara (19), Justin Meram (14)
In-form player: Artur — The 21-year-old center mid does the little things well, humming on a consistent motor.
Secret weapon: Pedro Santos — Gets into dangerous places, and knows how to draw a foul.
Record vs. Toronto: Won at home, Lost home and away
Record vs. Houston: Lost 3-1 in Texas
Record vs. Seattle: Won 3-0 at home
The big question: Can the Crew continue to rise above the furor and buzz of owner Anthony Precourt’s horribly-timed relocation discussion? (EDIT: Twitter user CG Hudson pointed out that there is rarely a good time for a relocation discussion, and that’s spot on).
Regular season: 2nd in West (14W-9L-11T)
Playoffs so far: Beat Vancouver 2-0 in quarterfinals
Last season: MLS Cup champion
Leading scorers: Clint Dempsey (14), Will Bruin (11)
In-form player: Dempsey
Secret weapon: Cristian Roldan — The University of Washington product has always good defensively, but has seen his goals rise from zero to four to six in his first three seasons.
Record vs. Toronto: Lost 1-0 at home
Record vs. Houston: Won 1-0 at home, Lost 2-1 in Texas
Record vs. Columbus: Lost 3-0 in Columbus
The big question: Can Seattle become the first back-to-back MLS Cup winners since the Galaxy in 2011-12?