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MLS Thanksgiving Week Menu Almost Set

It’s Thanksgiving week and the table is almost set for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinals. As Robin Fraser’s Colorado Rapids prepare to host a Conference Semifinal feast against the Portland Timbers on Thanksgiving Thursday (4:30 p.m. ET, FOX / FOX Deportes), the last two Round One games tonight will determine the single-elimination matchups piquing every fan’s postseason appetite come Sunday. 

Eastern Conference Dishes Up High-Stakes Southern Showdown:FOX Sports presents tonight’s doubleheader, featuring U.S. Men’s National Team defender Walker Zimmerman and Nashville SC hosting Daryl Dike and Nani of Orlando City SC at Nissan Stadium (8 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes). Orlando will bring the heat, but they’ll be up against some not-so-Southern hospitality from forward Hany Muhktar – the league leader in combined goals and assist (16g, 12a), along with goalkeeper Joe Willis, who ties the league shutout lead (13), and a Nashville SC side that hasn’t lost a game at home all season (8-0-9). 

Western Conference Rivals Have Victorious Histories at Seattle’s Home Stadium:Perennial powerhouse Seattle Sounders FC could have their hands full when hosting Real Salt Lake, a club that won its only MLS Cup crown on Seattle’s home field in 2009 (against the LA Galaxy). Seattle has appeared in four of the last five league championship games. However, RSL’s attacking duo of Aaron Herrera and Albert Rusnák alongside Damir Kreilach’s 25 combined 25 goals and assists could be up to challenge Seattle’s streak of 15 home playoff games without a loss at what is now called Lumen Field (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes). 

Who’s Game for the Next Course?

The winner of Nashville vs. Orlando advances to face Eastern Conference No. 2 Philadelphia Union this Sunday at Subaru Park (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN Deportes). In the Western Conference, the winner of Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake will face third-seeded Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday. (3 p.m. ET / ABC, ESPN).

Robin Fraser Transforms Colorado Rapids into an Elite MLS Club

In just two full seasons, head coach Robin Fraser has turned the Colorado Rapids into one of the best teams in Major League Soccer. As the Rapids sit just two wins away from advancing to MLS Cup, the club is preparing to host the Portland Timbers in a Thanksgiving Day playoff match at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park (4:30 p.m. ET, on FOX and FOX Deportes). 

Fraser’s massive turnaround has been no easy feat for the man who this season led his team to a No. 1 Western Conference finish in the regular season and achieved club records in both points (61) and regular season wins (17). In his two seasons with the club – Frasier’s first two as head coach – the Rapids earned the second-most points in all of MLS after only qualifying for the postseason just once in the previous five seasons without him at the helm.

Frasier has overseen the continued development strongholds Kellyn Acosta of the U.S. Men’s National Team and Mark-Anthony Kaye of the Canadian Men’s National Team among other pivotal players on a cohesive roster with collective contributions across the board.

In addition, Fraser is one of only two Black head coaches in MLS. As a two-time MLS Defender of the Year (1999, 2004) and five-time MLS Best XI honoree (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004), Fraser was not only named as one of the 25 Greatest players in MLS history in 2020, but he is also playing a key role as a member of Major League Soccer’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee in the ongoing, global discussion about racism, social justice and equality.

MLS Original Players Meet as Conference Semifinal Head Coaches

Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser will take on Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese in a matchup of two players from the 1996 MLS inaugural season, who met a total of seven times during the league’s historic first four seasons. In five of those matches, Savarese starred for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, with two additional matches for the New England Revolution, and all were against Fraser as a member of the LA Galaxy. To his credit, Savarese scored one goal across their meetings, which was in the MetroStars very first game against the LA Galaxy on April 13, 1996. However, Fraser and the Galaxy came away with the 2-1 win in that match.

Catch up on 2021 MLS Year-Award Winners

The accolades are in full swing to honor players around the league for their incredible production during the 2021 regular season. Among the highlights of the 2021 MLS Year-End Awards already announced are these special player recognition moments:

  • The mother of New York City FC’s Valentín “Taty” Castellanos flew all the way from Argentina to present him with the Golden Boot presented by Audi trophy (VIDEO).
  • Los Angeles Football Club forward Cristian “Chicho” Arango was surprised when one of his sports idols, LAFC co-owner & NBA legend Magic Johnson, broke the news that he had won MLS Newcomer of the Year (VIDEO).

2021 MLS Year-End Award winners announced

Awards to be Announced

  • AT&T MLS Goal of the Year & MLS Save of the Year presented by Allstate
  • MLS Comeback Player of the Year
  • MLS Defender of the Year
  • Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player
  • MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year
  • Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year

Game Notes

Tuesday, Nov. 23
East: No. 3 Nashville SC vs. No. 6 Orlando City SC, 8 p.m. ET
(FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

  • The teams met three times this season, reaching draws in all three encounters. The first two were at Nissan Stadium: On Aug. 18, CJ Sapong gave Nashville SC a first-half lead, but Antonio Carlos equalized after the break, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw, then on Sept. 29 in Nashville, a late goal for Orlando City left the teams in a 2-2 deadlock. On Oct. 31 at Exploria Stadium, OCSC’s Daryl Dike scored in the first half, but NSC’s Hany Mukhtar leveled after the break, leaving the teams in a 1-1 deadlock.
  • The teams met three times in Nashville SC’s inaugural season, evenly splitting the series. Daryl Dike scored a pair of goals and Chris Mueller added his fifth of the year as Orlando City took a 3-1 win at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 26; Hany Mukhtar and Jhonder Cadíz scored goals five minutes after the 87th minute as Nashville SC came back for a 3-2 win on Decision Day (Nov. 8) at Nissan Stadium. The teams also reached a 1-1 draw Sept. 2, also in Nashville.
  • A year ago, Nashville SC became one of seven expansion teams in MLS history to reach the postseason in their inaugural year, reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They defeated fellow expansion side Inter Miami CF 3-0 in the Play-In Round, then knocked off Toronto FC 1-0 in overtime in Round One, before falling 2-0 to the Columbus Crew.
  • Orlando City SC last year reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club’s first six seasons. They defeated NYCFC in Round One in remarkable circumstances, winning in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium, as defender Rodrigo Schlegel stopped one of two penalty kicks after taking over between the posts following a red card issued to starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese during the penalty shootout. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they fell 3-1 to the New England Revolution in Foxborough.
  • The teams have never before met outside of MLS regular season play.
  • Nashville SC come into the postseason with a three-game undefeated streak, ending the season with a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Nissan Stadium on Decision Day. It was Nashville SC’s 18th draw of the season, tying the MLS record for most in a single year. Hany Mukhtar scored the Nashville goal, directly from a free kick, his 16th goal of the season, tying for fifth-most in the race for the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi.
  • Orlando City enters the postseason for a second time after putting an end to a five-game winless skid with a 2-0 win on Decision Day against CF Montréal at Stade Saputo. Jhegson Mendez scored the first goal of his MLS career to give Orlando City the lead, then Daryl Dike capped it off with his 10th goal of the season.

West: No. 2 Seattle Sounders FC vs. No. 7 Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET

(FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

  • The teams met on two occasions this season, the home team winning each. Cristian Roldan and Raúl Ruidíaz scored second-half goals as Sounders FC took a 2-1 win June 23 at Lumen Field, then Damir Kreilach scored the game’s only goal early in the second half as RSL took the win Sept. 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Sounders FC have won 10 of the past 11 league meetings between the teams at Lumen Field, the lone RSL win coming on May 26, 2018, a 1-0 triumph. Real are undefeated in the last 10 home meetings vs. Seattle, winning eight in a row before a 2-2 draw there last Sept. 2.
  • The teams have met three times in the MLS Cup Playoffs. In the last meeting in 2019 . Gustav Svensson and Nicolás Lodeiro scored second-half goals as Sounders FC took a 2-0 win in the Western Conference Semifinals, Oct. 23 at CenturyLink Field. The clubs had also met in the MLS Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012, each advancing on one occasion, RSL winning 3-2 on aggregate in 2011, and Sounders FC going through 1-0 on aggregate the next year.
  • Sounders FC have reached the postseason for the 13th time in the club’s 13 seasons – the most consecutive appearances in league history. A year ago, they reached MLS Cup for the fourth time overall and a third consecutive year, before falling to Columbus Crew SC in a bid for a third MLS title.
  • Real Salt Lake reached the MLS Cup Playoffs following a one-year absence in dramatic fashion, getting a stoppage-time goal from Damir Kreilach for a 1-0 win at Sporting Kansas City on Decision Day that propelled the team into the top seven as they needed a victory.
  • Real have reached the postseason 11 times in the club’s 17 seasons, reaching MLS Cup on two occasions, winning the title in 2009 (also playing in 2013).
  • Sounders FC come into the postseason following back-to-back draws, last a 1-1 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Decision Day. Fredy Montero converted a penalty kick for the Seattle goal, his seventh of the season.

Thursday, Nov. 25

West: No. 1 Colorado Rapids vs. No. 4 Portland Timbers, 4:30 p.m. ET
(FOX / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

  • The Timbers opened their run in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 win against Minnesota United FC at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon. Sebastian Blanco tied the club record with a pair of goals, coming over a 20-minute span in the second half, as Portland overcame an early deficit.
  • The Rapids have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive year, after last year falling 3-0 to Minnesota United FC in Round One. It was their first qualification since the 2016 season, when they reached the Western Conference Championship vs. Seattle.
  • The Rapids come into the postseason off a 5-2 win against Los Angeles Football Club at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Decision Day, their second win in a row. Jonathan Lewis netted a pair of goals, ending with seven on the season, while Cole Bassett scored his fifth of the year and added his fourth assist.
  • It marked the seventh time in club history the Rapids scored five or more goals in a game, the club record set in a 6-3 win vs. Montréal in 2019. A year ago, the Rapids scored five goals in a game on two occasions.
  • The teams met twice during the 2021 season, both over the final two months of the campaign. On Sept. 15 at Providence Park, Michael Barrios put the Rapids ahead in the 87th minute, but Sebastian Blanco netted the leveler in stoppage time, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw. Then on Oct. 23 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Dominique Badji and Diego Rubio each scored on either side of halftime, giving the Rapids the 2-0 win.
  • The Rapids have won the last three meetings between the teams. The Colorado win in 2020 on Nov. 4 in the only meeting between the teams, in Portland, ended a five-game undefeated streak for the Timbers in the series, winning three consecutive matchups before draws in both meetings in 2019. The last Rapids win had come June 17, 2017, a 2-1 win in Commerce City.
  • The visiting team has won just four times in the all-time series, the Timbers winning twice in Commerce City since 2015. The Rapids win last year ended a nine-game home undefeated streak for Portland in the series; the lone other win for the Rapids in Portland coming June 11, 2011.
  • The teams have never before met outside of MLS regular season play.

Tuesday, Nov. 30
East: No. 1 New England Revolution vs. No. 4 New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
(FS1 / FOX Deportes / TSN / TVA Sports)

  • The Revolution have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive year, the 15th season in club history. A year ago, the Revs knocked off Montréal 2-1 in the Play-In Round, then defeating Philadelphia and Orlando City on the road in Round One and the Eastern Conference Semifinal, before falling by the game’s only goal to the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Final.
  • NYCFC started off their 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs campaign with a 2-0 win against Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the club’s first postseason win since the 2018 season.
  • Valentín Castellanos, the winner of the 2021 MLS Golden Boot, scored his first career MLS Cup Playoffs goal to set NYCFC on their way. Castellanos has scored a goal in each of his last five games in league and cup play, with seven goals in that span.
  • The Revolution come into the MLS Cup Playoffs off a 1-0 loss to Inter Miami CF at Gillette Stadium on Decision Day. The result put an end to a 10-game undefeated streak for the Revolution, their first defeat in Foxborough since July 7 (a stretch of 10 home matches without a loss).
  • The teams met three times during the 2021 regular season, with the Revolution winning a pair. Each team won once in NYCFC home games: Carles Gil set up a pair of goals as the Revolution took a 3-2 win at Red Bull Arena on June 19, then on Aug. 28, Valentín Castellanos scored both NYCFC goals for a 2-0 win at Yankee Stadium. On Sept. 11 at Gillette Stadium, Tajon Buchanan netted the game-winner in the second half for a 2-1 New England victory.
  • The Revolution win in the last meeting was their first at home vs. NYCFC since 2019; NYCFC taking a 2-0 win there Sept. 2, 2020 (the teams also played to a goalless draw in Foxborough Sept. 19, 2020). The Revs have three wins from the last five NYCFC home matches.
  • The teams have never before met outside of MLS regular season play.