The MLS post-season is living up to its ‘exciting’ billing as the games are giving the fans much excitement. As it should, the level of play in the postseason has been tremendously accelerated with a dose of intensity as all four games last Sunday produced lots of goals. There were sellout crowds in every playoff stadium last weekend and this bodes well for the 20-team league, which is eyeing substantial expansion in two years.
In the Seattle Sounders-Dallas FC Western Conference semifinal series, won by Dallas last Sunday, the intensity in the second game was like none most had seen before in MLS; six goals were scored in the 90 minutes of regulation play and six more in the penalty shootout, but the way the slugfest unfolded was most dramatic.
Dallas, which won the regular season conference title, returned home for this second game of the home-and-away semifinal series leading 1-0; Seattle was desperate for a goal to tie the contest. As the game wound down to the final five minutes in regulation, the intensity level peaked and spurred the sellout crowd in Dallas’s Pizza Hut Park stadium; the teams exchanged goals twice in those last five minutes and produced five goals in a high-scoring draw, 3-3, in regulation. After 30 scoreless minutes in overtime, Dallas advanced when it won, 4-2, on penalties and will take on Portland Timbers in the Western Conference final in another two-game series in two weeks.
The excitement didn’t stop in Dallas; Portland, later that Sunday night, came into Vancouver after a scoreless first leg at home and defeated the highly-favored Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2-0, in another high-intensity contest in front another sellout crowd of close to 30,000 fans.
In the Eastern Conference, the New York Red Bulls, coming off a very successful season after winning the Supporters Shield with the best regular season record, defeated DC United in another exciting semifinal series, 2-0, on aggregate, in front a sellout crowd of over 25,000 fans at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ). The Red Bulls won the first leg in DC, 1-0, and will play Columbus Crew SC, which defeated Montreal Impact in yet another frenzied series that produced seven goals. The series was tied, 3-3, on aggregate when Columbus Crew’s Kei Kamara broke the deadlock with the seventh goal of the series to send the Crew into the conference finals, 4-3, on aggregate.
The first games of the Conference Championship series will be played on Sunday, Nov. 22, when Portland Timbers hosts FC Dallas in the West and the Columbus Crew hosts the Red Bulls in the East. The return legs are scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 29. The conference winners will contest the Audi 2015 MLS Cup on Sunday, Dec. 6, 4 pm at the home of the team with the best regular season record.
Vieira to NYCFC
Former Arsenal (England) legend and French international, Patrick Vieira, was appointed coach of New York City FC after the first-year team parted ways with head coach Jason Kreis. Vieira, worked for NYCFC parent club Manchester City of the English Premier League, where he was coach of the Manchester City Elite Development Squad.
Said Vieira after signing a three-year deal: “I am delighted to take up the role of Head Coach of New York City FC. To work with this squad, with Claudio Reyna and Rob Vartughian and the fantastic support team that is in place is an exciting prospect for any coach.
“I would also like to thank everyone at Manchester City and most of all Brian Marwood, my coaching and support team and of course the wonderful young men who make up the Elite Development Squad, for all of their support and commitment and for making my time here so stimulating and enjoyable…
Vieira was the consummate defensive midfielder, hard-tackling and intense; he was at the heart of the Arsenal squad in the club’s best recent years, including Arsenal’s undefeated season in the English Premiership in the early 2000s.