Two of the series went as expected in yesterday’s MLS Conference Semifinals, and two “surprises” were pulled off.
Seattle and Toronto held their leads and took care of business on the road. Dallas made a game of it with the Sounders, but were ultimately too far behind at the start. NYCFC never showed up, but they were doomed from the start due to their poor defense.
Most people seemed to expect the LA Galaxy to do what they usually do, get the job done in the playoffs. A moment of individual brilliance from Shkelzen Gashi leveled the series:
From there, it became a war of attrition. The Galaxy’s vaunted big names were unable to create magic in the mountains of Colorado. They seemed to tire as the game stretched into extra time. The Rapids did what they do, they played solid defense and looked to their individual talent to shine. Yesterday, it was Gashi, Jermaine Jones, and Tim Howard who stepped up. Jones went much deeper into the second half than anyone expected in his first start since July. Howard earned his big paycheck in the penalty shootout with two saves.
The Red Bulls were the biggest disappointment, failing in the playoffs again. Sacha Kljestan’s early penalty was saved by Evan Bush. Ignacio Piatti struck early in the second half, and again after New York pulled a goal back, to carry the Impact to the Eastern Conference finals. Montreal’s strategy of counterattacking has been working, can it withstand Toronto’s onslaught in the conference finals?
After the international break, we’ll get back to the MLS final four on November 20. Let us know your MLS Cup picks in the comments.
Robbie Keane confident he’ll be back in MLS in 2017 (MLS)
Montreal to host their leg of the Eastern Conference final at the Olympic Stadium (Mount Royal Soccer)
Ignacio Piatti: "We knocked out an important team but we knew they're a weak team in playoffs. They showed that last year, this year." #IMFC— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) November 7, 2016
Red Bulls feel disappointed in the way their season ended (Once a Metro)
Toronto peaking at the right time (Waking the Red)
Jordan Morris strained his hamstring in the Sounders’ win over Dallas (Sounder at Heart)
Oscar Pareja laments Seattle’s big lead going into the second leg (MLS)
Difficult season for the Columbus Crew on and off the field (Massive Report)
Best Liga MX goals of the weekend:
¡Qué golazos vimos en la #J16AP2016! ¿Cuál es tu favorito? ⚽ #SienteTuLiga ⚽ #AbrazadosPorElFutbolPosted by LIGA Bancomer MX on Sunday, November 6, 2016