By Amon Kehr
Toronto advances to Eastern Conference Finals after defeating Red Bulls
Toronto FC fell to New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Sunday night, but advanced on aggregate 2-2 with and away goal lead. Although Toronto will move on to the conference final, the game against New York was a testy and hard fought series that Toronto is coming out of in bad shape.
Teams were on edge as the game developed into a feisty affair. During halftime, teams fought in the tunnel at BMO Field. Tempers were high and everything seemed to boil over at halftime. Toronto striker Jozy Altidore and New York midfielder and captain Sacha Kljestan were both given red cards for their involvement.
The game was scrappy as well, referee Chris Penso, gave out eight yellow cards during throughout the 90 minutes. In the 53rd minute, New York striker Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 100th goal for the team to put them up 1-0. This did not help push the Red Bulls through, as Toronto had the edge on away goals. The Red Bulls needed to win the game by a two-goal margin to see them through to the conference finals.
Columbus holds off against New York City
Columbus Crew came into the game Sunday evening with a three-goal lead on New York City FC after winning the first leg 4-1 at home on Tuesday. Columbus has been one of the stories of the playoffs, as there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the club with the owner possibly moving the team to Austin, Texas, in 2019. With the move looming over the club, it doesn’t seem to be affecting the play on the field one bit. Columbus were dominant in the first game against New York getting goals from Ola Kamara, Justin Meram, Harrison Afful and Artur. New York striker David Villa did get New York a much need away goal, but it was not much help as the team was already down three goals at that point.
Columbus only needed to defend well during the second leg at Yankee Stadium to secure its spot in the conference final. New York was able to get back in the game pretty quickly when Columbus conceded a penalty in the 16th minute. David Villa put away the penalty scoring his second goal of the series. New York got another goal in the 53rd minute when Columbus defender Johnathan Mensah put the ball into his own net after trying to head the ball away. Columbus held off in the end and will face Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Houston and Seattle advance to Western Conference Semifinals
Cascadia rivals, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver were three of the four finalists in the Eastern Conference, but it was the defending champions Seattle, who were able to advance to the conference finals. Vancouver and Seattle had an uneventful first leg last Sunday as neither team were able to get a goal as the game finished scoreless in Vancouver. The second leg at CenturyLink Field in Seattle was won 2-0 by Seattle with striker Clint Dempsey coming up big for the Sounders with two goals. Seattle will move on the Western Conference finals where they will be facing Houston.
The Dynamo advanced to conference final after defeating Portland on the road Sunday evening. Portland jumped out in front with a goal from Dairon Asprilla in the 39th minute. Dylan Remick and Mauro Mantos were able to put Houston back on top giving them a 2-1 lead and two away goals. The game would finish with the same score and Houston will have to go up against the defending champion in the conference finals in two weeks.