MLS Roundup: Conference Semi-finals are dramatic and intense as the Conference finalists are determined

MLS Roundup

The Western Conference Semi-finals was left to the second-leg in order to determine the result, but the results of the first leg ultimately earned both Eastern Conference teams the win. Sebastian Giovinco graced the MLS with another one of his serene free kicks that set him a level above the rest of the league and earned Toronto the first-leg win and a pass to the Eastern Conference finals despite a second-leg defeat to the Red Bulls. In Columbus, an emotional audience cheered the Crew to a thrilling 4-1 victory over NYCFC that ultimately carried them through their defeat in New York. The Sounders’ 2-0 victory over the Whitecaps during the second-leg in Seattle earned them their spot on the Western Conference Finals, while the Dynamo’s 1-2 victory in Portland earned them their second away victory of the season and a pass to the finals.

Leg 1

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-0 Seattle Sounders FC

Vancouver utilised the home advantage and kept the Sounders from scoring an important away goal.

Neither side really looked in control of the match, with only one shot actually being made on goal the entire game. With a return to Seattle for the second leg, both sides will need to buckle down and really search for the win in order to progress. Vancouver progresses either with a win or a draw, to the away goals advantage.

New York Red Bulls 1-2 Toronto FC

A Giovinco freekick gave Toronto the advantage going into second leg at home.

Victor Vazquez netted a rebounded Jozy Altidore shot in the eighth minute to put Toronto ahead 0-1. Daniel Royer tucked away a penalty in the first minute of added time that was earned by Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Sebastian Giovinco scored a spectacular freekick in the 72nd minute to put Toronto up 1-2, and give them not only a one-goal lead going into the second leg, but also two important away goals.

Houston Dynamo 0-0 Portland Timbers

The game ends level in Houston with VAR denying the Dynamo a penalty decision.

Despite both teams looking threatening going forward, neither is able to score a goal. This will mean that in the second-leg test in Portland, the Timbers will need to win outright with a draw going in the Dynamo’s favour due to the away-goal rule.

Columbus Crew SC 4-1 New York City FC

Amidst turmoil between fans and ownership, the Crew managed a huge home win in the first leg against NYCFC to the tune of “Save The Crew!” chants in the crowd.
Ola Kamara put the Crew ahead early, with a neat finish of the rebound of Federico Higuain’s shot in the sixth minute.

NYCFC’s Alexander Callens was shown a red card in the 52nd minute following a video review of his malicious collision with the Crew’s Justin Meeram just a few minutes prior. Artur doubled the Crew’s lead six minutes later with a deft shot from near the spot following a defensive error. Justin Meram made it three for the Crew in the 69th minute after his shot managed to make its way past NYCFC keeper Sean Johnson. David Villa scored NYCFC’s only goal, and an away goal at that, in the 78th minute after capitalising on a defensive error in the Crew’s penalty area. Harrison Afful ended scoring 4-1 for the crew in the second minute of extra-time, with an excellent dribble from the edge of the box past multiple defenders before finding the net.

Leg 2

Seattle Sounders FC 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Clint “Deuce” Dempsey led the Sounders to a solid home win over the Whitecaps to progress to the Western Conference finals.

Dempsey netted the first goal of the night in the 56th minute with a cool finish from the edge of the box to put the Sounders ahead at home. Dempsey earned his brace in the 88th with a leaping volley of Victor Rodriguez’s shot at the far post.

(Aggregate: Seattle Sounders FC 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps)

Toronto FC 0-1 New York Red Bulls

Despite losing the battle in Toronto to the Red Bulls, Toronto ultimately won the war and progress to the Eastern Conference Finals on away goals despite mid-game drama.

Both Toronto’s Jozy Altidore and the Red Bulls’ Sacha Kljestan were shown red cards during the half-time break following an altercation in the first half and then again during the half.

Bradley Wright-Phillips netted the only goal of the game in the 54th by deflecting Daniel Royer’s shot from distance and sending Toronto keeper Alex Bono the other way.

(Aggregate: Toronto FC 2-2 New York Red Bulls)

Portland Timbers 1-2 Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo manage only their second away win of the season to edge the Timbers and progress to the Western Conference final.

Dairon Asprilla put the Timbers up early in Portland in the 39th minute with a steady control and finish of Vytautas Andriskevicius’ cross. Dylan Remick brought the Dynamo level in the 43rd minute with a sharp finish of Jalil Anibaba’s headed ball. Mauro Manotas scored the winner for the Dynamo in the 77th minute from 30-yards out with an absolutely cannoned shot.

(Aggregate: Portland Timbers 1-2 Houston Dynamo)

New York City FC 2-0 Columbus Crew SC

Despite the second-leg victory, NYCFC are unable to find victory against a Crew side that now progress to the Eastern Conference final to face Toronto.

David Villa netted the first goal of the night for NYCFC in the 16th minute with a well-struck penalty earned by Rodney Wallace. Andraz Struna netted the second and last goal for NYCFC in the 53rd minute shot from the edge of the box that took a deflection in past Crew keeper Zack Steffen, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.

(Aggregate: New York City FC 3-4 Columbus Crew SC)

About the Author

Tyler Webster
I am a budding football writer trying to work my way into the world's game. I have written for ByFarTheGreatestTeam, and currently write here on MLSFootball.