MLS Playoffs: Critical Second Leg Action Today


Major League Soccer is back in action today with the second legs of the conference semifinals taking place this evening and tonight.

The away goals rule will come into effect this year if the two teams are tied in regulation time, something new for the MLS Playoffs that we have not seen in recent years. This brings a different element to the action, some teams could play very defensive if they have the edge on away goals, and the teams that find themselves behind, will throw numbers forward to push for the crucial goals.

Here is a rundown of today’s games and storylines:

New York Red Bulls vs DC United 

In the first leg in DC, the Red Bulls were clearly the dominant side. United could not manage a shot on goal, and found themselves on the back foot for almost 90 minutes. Dax McCarty’s 72nd minute header gave the visitors a one goal lead that would hold up for the rest of the match. Ben Olsen’s DC side have to win at Red Bull Arena score at least twice and win by a goal to advance in regular time, a 1-0 win would send the game into extra time, and a draw would ensure advancement to New York. It looks likely that United will be without the services of Chris Pontius and Sean Franklin who have not trained this week, so it will be an uphill battle before the first kick of the ball for DC United. The match will kickoff at 3 pm ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Columbus Crew vs Montreal Impact 

The Columbus Crew will host the Impact in what is sure to be an extremely loud Crew Stadium, however, the hosts are coming off a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Montreal. The first leg was decided by a late mistake from Michael Parkhurst that saw Johan Venegas capitalize for the home side and hold a 2-1 lead to full time. Both teams have firepower up front, with Didier Drogba for Montreal and Federico Higuain for the Crew. Columbus has proven a tough place to pull out a win, but Columbus have an away goal. A 1-0 win for the Crew would put them through to the conference finals, so the Impact will have to look to score and not just to hold a lead. The match will kickoff at 5 pm ET on ESPN.

More from CF Montreal

FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders

Once again, the away goal rule could play a major role in the second leg. An 86th minute free kick golazo from Clint Dempsey was the decider in the first leg at CenturyLink field, but Fabian Castillo tallied what could be a crucial away goal for Dallas. Seattle has an explosive scoring offense, and in fact, haven’t been held scoreless in two months. The chances are, Sigi Scdmid’s side will find a goal at some point in this match. This leaves FC Dallas with a clear decision, they have to score. Explosive in their own right, Dallas can generate offense, and with an away goal, they a bit of a higher margin of error than what they would without it. The kickoff for the match is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers 

The only scoreless draw of the first leg games, both teams played defensively and with caution. The Timbers generated more chances on the hunkered down Whitecaps, but could not find the go ahead goal. Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted was one of the main reasons Portland could not net a goal, as he finished the night with six saves. As it stands, both teams are in position to advance, Caleb Porter’s Timbers side is much more well rested than it was in the first leg, which should lead to more attacking soccer, and the Whitecaps are playing at home. The park the bus, battering ram style of the first game for Vancouver will not be as evident tonight, as they did the job of not conceding away from home. This game has the chance to be the most wide open of the second legs, as there is no away goal from the first leg. This match will kickoff at 10 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.