The MLS Cup Conference Semi-finals came to a conclusion this past weekend, and now we know who will be squaring off in the Conference Finals starting on November 23. In the East, the mighty DC United fell to the Red Bulls, and the Revs knocked out the Crew as well. Let’s talk about the particulars.
The Red Bulls came into this matchup somewhat in the drivers’ seat, as they had beaten DC United 2-0 in New York the week before. That being said, a 2-0 aggregate lead heading to the home field of the best team in the East isn’t exactly sitting pretty. When Nick Deleon scored for DC in the 37th minute, things definitely got uncomfortable for NYRB fans. That feeling of discomfort was replaced with jubilation just 20 minutes later, when Péguy Luyindula finished beautifully after a crisp set up pass from the great Thierry Henry. DC managed to score again to win the game (Sean Franklin, 91′), but the away goals tie breaker meant they would have needed three goals to move on, and they couldn’t do it. It was a great series win for the Red Bulls, who came into the matchup as underdogs, and were predicted to lose by yours truly.
We got a fun game in New England between the Revs and the Crew too, but that was mostly because the Revs continued their systematic dismantling of their rivals from Ohio. After drubbing the Crew 4-2 in Columbus last week, the Revs got goals from MVP candidate Lee Nguyen (43′), José Gonçalves (55′) and Teal Bunbury (77′) on their way to a 3-1 win at home, and a 7-3 aggregate win for the series. Not much else to say here, just that the Revs looked pretty mean against Columbus in this series.
All of the above means we’ll have a pretty interesting matchup for the Eastern Conference Finals in a couple of weeks. New England will have the advantage of playing the second leg at home because they finished slightly ahead of the Red bulls in the season standings, but I think this one could go either way. Both teams are playing very well right now, and I find it pretty difficult to give either team the advantage, but I’m going to choose New England to keep their momentum going in this one. The Red Bulls offense can be quite streaky, and hinges an awful lot on how well Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips are playing. As for New England, they have been a completely different team since they signed Jermaine Jones to solidify their midfield. Nguyen, in my opinion might be the best midfielder in the league. Also, they do hold the ever important Uruguayan Advantage, with young Diego Fagúndez in the mix. I think the Revs will win 4-3 on aggregate. I will say the Red Bulls will tie the game in New York though.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the Western Conference.
Featured image courtesy of: LAG Confidential
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