Pedro Santos

Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

MLS Conference Finals: Toronto, Seattle on collision course?

Leave a comment

The ties are leaning away from the underdog stories as the MLS Cup Conference Finals reach their second legs.

[ MORE: Premier League Weds. preview ]

Reigning champs Seattle are 90 minutes away from a return to the final after scoring a pair of away goals in Texas, while Toronto needs a win at home to bring out the fine china for a rematch of the 2016 title game at BMO Field.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew — 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday
Scoreless after one leg

The good news for Columbus Crew is that a scoring draw is good enough to take them through to a second MLS Cup Final in three seasons under Gregg Berhalter, taking the embarrassment of owner Anthony Precourt’s public desire to relocate an MLS original club to Austin, Texas.

The bad news? That scoring draw has to come at noisy BMO Field against the team with the best record in MLS history, a Toronto FC bunch which will be welcoming Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco back to the fold after suspension.

Columbus has veteran savvy and some wild cards like Pedro Santos, but it’s going to take a lot of defending to handle TFC’s field-switching work and busy full backs (let alone Altidore and Giovinco).

Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo — 10:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Seattle leads 2-0

Clint Dempsey is among the most important and accomplished players in American history, and his work since returning to Major League Soccer certainly ticks a lot of boxes: influential, clutch, prolific.

He’s helped the Sounders to an almost insurmountable advantage. At home for the second leg, the Sounders can make Houston’s task near impossible just by scoring a goal.

That said, Wilmer Cabrera is a heck of a coach and has assets that can attack and fire at will. While it may be improbable for Alberth Elis and Erick Torres to spring a massive comeback in Washington, it’s not quite impossible. That’s about as much as we can give the orange-clad men from Texas.

Crew breaks transfer record for Portuguese midfielder Santos (video)

Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Columbus Crew is using all three of its Designated Player slots for the first time in club history, and doing it in style.

Columbus boss Gregg Berhalter has brought in Braga playmaker Pedro Santos for what the club reports is its highest acquisition fee in history.

[ MORE: Can Chelsea handle pressure of reign? ]

The DP also carries Discovery Status, which is fairly hilarious for a 29-year-old player who has 15 Europa League appearances under his belt, but such is the processes of our oddball top flight here in America.

This is another promising signing for MLS, as Santos is in fine international form and joins Crew DPs Jonathan Mensah and Federico Higuain. The Crew currently occupy the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Here’s Berhalter, from the Crew press release:

“We are excited to welcome Pedro Santos to Columbus Crew SC and look forward to him making an immediate impact on this club this season,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “Pedro brings extensive tenure at a high European level and also has Europa League experience which we believe will be an asset to Crew SC and will fit well into our style of play. I want to thank [Investor-Operator and Chairman] Mr. Precourt for his continued support and investment in helping shape this roster as we make the push for the postseason and continue to compete for championships.”