MLS Conference Semi Final Previews
Eastern Conference Semi Finals
New England Revolution V Sporting Kansas City 1st Leg 2 November
New England contest a playoff game for the first time since 2009. Both sides come into this match-up in good form with the Revs six unbeaten and winning their last three, whilst Sporting are four undefeated, with two straight wins. This will be the first time they have ever met in Post-season play. The two sides met just twice in the regular season. The first encounter was in March when they played out a scoreless drawn in New England. In their final meeting in Kansas in August it was the hosts who came out on top 3-0 thanks to a brace of goals from Kei Kamara, who in September joined Championship side Middlesbrough and one from Benny Feilhaber. Sporting midfielder Paulo Nagamura is back in full training and could be back for the second leg game in KC which will take place on the 6th November.
Houston Dynamo V New York Red Bulls 1st Leg 3 November
Houston reached this round after they had defeated Montreal 3-0 in the Knockout Round game. New York enter their playoff run on the back of an eight game unbeaten run after clinching the Supporters Shield. In the encounters between these two outfits this term it has being the Red Bulls that have had the Dynamo’s number as they completed a sweep in their season series. The first time they met was at Red Bull Arena back in June were strikes from Fabián Espíndola and Jonny Steele sealed the success. The two other wins where in Houston’s back-yard when goals from Eric Alexander, Thierry Henry, Jonathan Steele and Lloyd Sam, saw them home to a 4-1 win, Jason Johnson got the tally for the hosts. Their final contest was only a couple of weeks ago as New York were victorious by a 3-0 scoreline, Tim Cahill, Ibrahim Sekagya and Bradley Wright-Phillips were on target this time. Red Bulls goal-keeper Luis Robles. who injured a knee when he collided with team-mate Ibrahim Sekagya against Chicago last weekend is expected to start, but Ryan Meara who himself has being troubled by a hip injury all year stands-by. In other good news on the injury front for New York veteran left-back Roy Miller also returned to the practice field Wednesday after two months out with a Achilles injury, although no date has being given for a return to game action. The 2nd leg in New York will be played on November 6.
Western Conference Semi Finals
Seattle Sounders V Portland Timbers 1st Leg 2 November
The Sounders booked their spot against Portland with a 2-0 win over Colorado in the Knockout game. Portland are also in great form as they are undefeated in their last eight matches. All three of the meetings between these two teams this season have resulted in tight encounters. The first time this faced each other was in Seattle back in March. A goal from Eddie Johnson had put the hosts up, but right a the death substitute Rodney Wallace snatched a point for Portland. The final two matches both produced 1-0 wins for the home side. First in August, again at the Sounders home ground when Johnson again found the net to seal the three points. The final tussle was only three weeks ago and the Timbers claimed their revenge in front of their own fans thanks to a Kalif Alhassan tally, though Seattle did finish with only ten-men after captain Osvaldo Alonso was dismissed. Seattle will be without goal-keeper Michael Gspurning for the first leg after he was sent-off for handling the ball outside of his area against the Rapids, Marcus Hahnemann should replace him. Also missing could be defender DeAndre Yedlin who went off at half-time in the same game with a sprained ankle. The second game of the two will take place in Portland on November 7.
LA Galaxy V Real Salt Lake 1st Leg 3 November
Both teams come into the post-season carrying a four game unbeaten run. In the season series LA came out on top winning two games to Real’s one. They first hooked-up in Utah back in April and it was the Galaxy that came away with a 2-0 success after Mike Magee, who in May would be traded to Chicago for the rights to Robbie Rogers and rookie Charlie Rugg found the onion bag. Their second meeting was in June also at the home of RSL as they gained revenge with a 3-1 victory. Khari Stephenson and a double from Olmes Garcia saw then home, whilst Landon Donovan netted for the away team. The third game was in August in California were the hosts came from a goal behind, after Joao Plata had put the visitors in front, to be victorious by 4-2. Captain Robbie Keane scored a hat-trick and Omar González bagged one as well. Robbie Findley got one back late in stoppage time for Real. The visitors have got a few injury doubts coming into this game. Midfielder Javier Morales expects to be recovered from a nagging ankle injury and forward Joao Plata and defender Lovel Palmer are both questionable with hamstring strains. Forward Robbie Findley is also a worry with patellar tendonitis. The home game for RSL will be played on 7 November.
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