Interesting statistical nuggets from the first legs of the Conference Championship series

The first legs of both Conference Championship series are in the books, with both Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers holding two-goal leads heading into Sunday's second legs.

This weekend, of course, was packed with action, with Justin Meram bagging the fastest goal in MLS Cup Playoff history for Columbus, and Dairon Asprilla scoring a filthy golazo for Portland before Nat Borchers' late goal gave the Timbers a 3-1 advantage against FCD. 

What you might have missed are some key stats that led to those results and a few more that could give us some clues about what might happen this coming Sunday.

Wherefore art thou Dax?

Dax McCarty has been killer for the Red Bulls all year, with his consistently stellar play one of the main reasons New York were able to finish the regular season with the Supporters' Shield. The Red Bulls captain had a bit of a rough night on Sunday, however. McCarty completed just 65.75 percent of his passes at MAPFRE Stadium, his lowest completion rate in any game he's started for the Red Bulls over the past four-and-a-half years.

Air Kamara

We've heard about the science behind Kei Kamara's ability in the air. We saw that aerial talent on display against the Red Bulls, as the 31-year-old attempted 18 aerials, the sixth-highest for a player in a game this season. Not only did Kamara get up often, he won many of those duels, besting his marker on 13-of-18 attempts. 

Interesting statistical nuggets from the first legs of the Conference Championship series -

Effective Sacha

While the Red Bulls failed to score against Crew SC, they were able to create some opportunities in the attack. Most notably, Sacha Kljestan created four chances over the course of the game, two of which came from corner kicks. In the previous nine games in which Kljestan created at least four chances, the Red Bulls won eight (8-0-1).

Red Bulls high press

It didn't lead to a result, but New York's trademark high press seemed to have an effect on Crew SC. Gregg Berhalter's team completed just 74.19 percent of passes in their own half, by far their lowest percentage in a game this season. Their previous low in a game was 78.47 percent.

Nagbe magic

Darlington Nagbe's late season star turn continued on Sunday vs. FC Dallas, with the newly minted US international completing 92.5 percent of his passes, including a remarkable 95.5 percent in the final third, and creating five chances, the most he has had in a game this season.

Interesting statistical nuggets from the first legs of the Conference Championship series -

Timbers not wasting chances

The Timbers continued their torrid pace in terms of conversion rate (outlined here), by scoring three goals on just 14 shots on Sunday. The Timbers' hot streak has at least in part been fueled by big chances. Since their seven-game unbeaten run started on October 14, they have converted all 10 of 11 big chances after converting 11 of 23 big chances in their 31 previous games.

Castillo stalled

Fabian Castillo has been one of the catalysts for Dallas' run to the No. 1 to the West with his blazing speed and incredible 1v1 ability. That was not on display against the Timbers as Castillo completed just two dribbles vs. a stout Timbers backline. It was the seventh time that Castillo has failed to complete three dribbles in a game this season; Dallas has won just two of those games (2-1-4).