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MLS Media Resources: News & Notes

MLS MEDIA RESOURCES: AUDI MLS CUP PLAYOFFS NEWS & NOTES
News and notes and statistical trends from around Major League Soccer
 
HOME TEAMS HOLD HISTORIC ADVANTAGE FOLLOWING 0-0 FIRST LEG IN AUDI MLS CUP PLAYOFFS
 
On 13 occasions has a first leg ended scoreless since the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs went to a two-leg format beginning in 2003.
 
Of the first 12 occurrences prior to 2018, the home team for the second leg has advanced on seven occasions in all – that coming after the road team moved on in the first two, both in 2005.
 
Sunday’s 0-0 draw between the Portland Timbers and visiting Sporting Kansas City in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship was the second in as many years in the conference final – but just the third ever (since 2012, when the conference finals were decided over two legs for the first time). The first also involved Sporting Kansas City – in 2013, when they defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-1 in the second leg at home to advance to MLS Cup.
 
LEG 2 RESULTS FOLLOWING SCORELESS DRAW IN OPENING LEG
(MLS CUP PLAYOFFS)
  • 2017 Eastern Conference Championship: Toronto 1, Columbus 0
  • 2017 Western Conference Semifinals: Houston 2, Portland 1
  • 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Seattle 2, Vancouver 0
  • 2015 Western Conference Semifinals: Vancouver 0, Portland 2
  • 2014 Western Conference Semifinals: LA Galaxy 5, Real Salt Lake 0
  • 2013 Eastern Conference Championship: Kansas City 2, Houston 1
  • 2012 Western Conference Semifinals: Seattle 1, Real Salt Lake 0
  • 2009 Western Conference Semifinals: Houston 1, Seattle 0 (OT)
  • 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Chicago 3, New England 0
  • 2007 Eastern Conference Semifinals: New England 1, New York Red Bulls 0
  • 2005 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Chicago 4, D.C. United 0
  • 2005 Western Conference Semifinals: Colorado 2, Dallas 2 (Colorado 5-4 pens)
Road team (in italics) advanced
 
 
ATLANTA UNITED AIM TO MAINTAIN RARE PERFECT POSTSEASON
 
Atlanta United have won each of their three games in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs this year – heading to Red Bull Arena with the chance to maintain a rare perfect record in the postseason.
 
Since the conference championships went to the two-leg format, just one team has won MLS Cup without losing a game along the way in the postseason – the 2015 Portland Timbers, who won three matches and drew three matches, ending with a 2-1 victory against Columbus Crew SC in the 2015 MLS Cup.
 
Of the 22 teams to have won MLS Cup, eight have finished the postseason campaign without a loss. Only three have made it through the MLS Cup Playoffs with a perfect record – the 1998 Chicago Fire (5-0-0, 2 wins by shootout), 1999 D.C. United (5-0-0, 1 win by shootout) and the 2011 LA Galaxy (4-0-0).
 
Just one team in MLS history has lost two games in the playoffs and still won the title – the 2012 LA Galaxy.
 
PLAYOFF RECORDS, MLS CUP WINNERS (since 2012)
 
 
W
L
T
GF
GA
2017
Toronto FC
3
1
1
4
2
2016
Seattle Sounders FC
4
1
1
8
3
2015
Portland Timbers
3
0
3
11
6
2014
LA Galaxy
3
1
1
9
3
2013
Sporting Kansas City
2
1
2
7
5
2012
LA Galaxy
4
2
0
12
6
 
 
HIGHER SEEDS LOOKING TO BUCK TREND IN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
 
If the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City are to meet in the 2018 MLS Cup, both will have to win on their home grounds in this Thursday’s second legs – and continue reversing a trend that had taken hold in previous conference championships.
 
Since the conference championships have been decided by aggregate goals over two legs (since 2012), the higher seed has won and advanced to the MLS championship game just five times in the 12 series.
 
But last year – for the first time – the two higher seeds in the conference championships both advanced to meet in MLS Cup. Toronto FC did it for a second consecutive year when they knocked off Columbus Crew SC, and Seattle Sounders FC became the first higher seed in the Western Conference Championship ever to advance to the MLS Cup Final when they came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Houston Dynamo.
 
HIGHER SEEDS TO REACH MLS CUP
  • 2017 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – Toronto FC (1) vs. Columbus Crew SC (5)
    • Columbus – Toronto FC 0-0 | Toronto FC – Columbus 1-0
      • (Toronto FC win on aggregate 1-0)
  • 2017 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – Seattle Sounders FC (2) vs. Houston Dynamo (4)
    • Houston – Seattle 2-0 | Seattle – Houston 3-0
      • (Seattle Sounders FC win on aggregate 3-2)
  • 2016 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – Toronto FC (3) vs. Montréal Impact (5)
    • Montréal – Toronto FC 3-2 | Toronto FC – Montréal 5-2 (OT)
      • (Toronto FC win on aggregate 7-5)
  • 2014 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – New England Revolution (2) vs. New York Red Bulls (4)
    • Red Bulls – New England 1-2 | New England – Red Bulls 2-2
      • (New England Revolution win on aggregate 4-3)
  • 2013 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – Sporting Kansas City (2) vs. Houston Dynamo (4)
    • Houston – Sporting KC 0-0 | Sporting KC – Houston 2-1
      • (Sporting Kansas City win on aggregate 2-1)
 
RED BULLS WILL HAVE TO AGAIN MAKE HISTORY IN OVERTURNING DEFICIT
 
The New York Red Bulls will have to add another chapter to an already historic campaign if they are to host the 2018 MLS Cup at Red Bull Arena.
 
No team in Audi MLS Cup Playoffs history has ever overturned a three-goal deficit from the opening leg of a two-game aggregate-goal series and gone on to advance to the next round. Before Atlanta United's win Sunday, teams had won by three-goal margin in the first leg on four occasions – and in every instance have gone on to the next round. A three-goal advantage after the first leg of a conference championship has happened just once previously – in 2012, when the LA Galaxy defeated Seattle Sounders FC 3-0 in the opening match, before winning the series 4-2 on aggregate.
 
In fact, at any point in any two-game series in MLS Cup Playoffs annals, as much as a three-goal deficit has been overcome just twice. The first came in 2003, when the San Jose Earthquakes were down 4-0 on aggregate early on in the second leg, before coming back to defeat the LA Galaxy 5-4 on aggregate in their conference semifinal series. In 2016, Toronto FC trailed the Montreal Impact 3-0 in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship after 53 minutes, before making their way back to a 3-2 loss in that match and eventually winning the series 5-3 on aggregate.
 
LARGEST ADVANTAGES AFTER FIRST LEG (TWO-LEG AGGREGATE SERIES)
 
  • 2017 EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS – New York City FC vs. Columbus Crew SC
    • Columbus – NYCFC 4-1 | NYCFC – Columbus 2-0
      • (Columbus Crew SC win on aggregate 4-3)
  • 2016 WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS – Seattle Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas
    • Seattle – Dallas 3-0 | Dallas – Seattle 2-1
      • (Seattle Sounders FC win on aggregate 4-2)
  • 2012 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders FC
    • LA – Seattle 3-0 | Seattle – LA 2-1
      • (LA Galaxy win on aggregate 4-2)
  • 2011 WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS – Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake
    • RSL – Seattle 3-0 | Seattle – RSL 2-0
      • (Real Salt Lake win on aggregate 3-2)
 
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP (LEG 2) – LOOK AHEAD
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – LEG 2
No. 1 NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. No. 2 ATLANTA UNITED
Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, 7 p.m. ET (FS1 / FOX Deportes; TSN, TVA Sports)
 
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Ismail Elfath; VAR: Chris Penso; AVAR: Brian Dunn
MLS Career: 239 games; FC/gm: 23.2; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 40; pens: 71
MLS Cup Playoffs: 20 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 3; pens: 2
 
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: Red Bulls 3 wins, 7 goals … ATLUTD 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
AT RED BULL ARENA: Red Bulls 1 win, 2 goals … ATLUTD 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 1
 
2018 (MLS):
5/20: ATL 1, NYR 3 (Barco 26 -- Royer 42; Wright-Phillips 51, 55)
9/30: NYR 2, ATL 0 (Royer 39; Parker 74)
 
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: ATLUTD 1 win, 3 goals … Red Bulls 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
  • Atlanta United will carry a commanding lead into the second leg Eastern Conference Championship after winning the first leg 3-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
  • Since going to a two-game aggregate series in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2003, five teams have now held a three-goal lead after the first leg. The first four all advanced to the next round – the lone time in the conference championship coming in 2012, when the LA Galaxy won the first leg 3-0 (advancing to MLS Cup 4-2 on aggregate).
  • Josef Martínez scored his third goal this year in the MLS Cup Playoffs, all coming in the past two games. Martínez has now scored 34 goals in regular season and postseason play this year (31 regular season, three postseason), surpassing the all-time single-season record of 33 goals set by Roy Lassiter in 1996 (27 regular season, 6 MLS Cup Playoffs).
  • The Red Bulls did not score a goal in their two away matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs this season. They won their only home match in the postseason by a 3-0 scoreline, defeating Columbus Crew SC in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series.
  • Atlanta United have won all three of their matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs this year, the only team in the postseason with a perfect record.
  • Brad Guzan was credited with one save in recording his second shutout of the MLS Cup Playoffs this year, his third in four playoff games over the last two seasons. Guzan has allowed one goal in his past five games in the MLS Cup Playoffs (dating back to 2007).
  • The win in the first leg was the first ever for Atlanta United against the Red Bulls, in five meetings all-time in regular season and postseason play. Atlanta United had taken one point from the first four meetings between the clubs, the one points coming in a goalless draw last year at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls claimed a 2-0 win in the lone meeting in Harrison this year, on Sept. 30.
RED BULLS: The Red Bulls return home where they have not allowed a goal in the postseason this year – and have not conceded in any competition since Aug. 5, now 577 minutes since their last goal against at Red Bull Arena. … The Red Bulls did not score a goal on the road in the MLS Cup Playoffs this year. … The Red Bulls started four Homegrown Players in the conference championship first leg (Tyler Adams, Sean Davis, Connor Lade, Alex Muyl) – the first team in MLS history to start four Homegrown Players in a postseason match.
 
ATLUTD: Franco Escobar scored a goal and added an assist – both the first of his MLS career in the postseason. He is the first player in Atlanta United history to score a goal and add an assist in a playoff match. … Jeff Larentowicz recorded an assist, the second of his career in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the first coming on Nov. 1, 2009, while playing for the New England Revolution. … Hector Villalba scored his first career goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs. … Julian Gressel collected an assist, the first of his MLS career in the postseason. … Miguel Almíron recorded his first career assist in the MLS Cup Playoffs. …
 
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – LEG 2
No. 1 SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. No. 5 PORTLAND TIMBERS
Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, 8:30 p.m. CT (ESPN / ESPN Deportes; TSN, TVA Sports)
 
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. AR1 (bench): Joe Fletcher; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Nelson; 4th: Baldomero Toledo; VAR: Dave Gantar; AVAR: Logan Brown
MLS Career: 186 games; FC/gm: 26.2; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 42; pens: 57
MLS Cup Playoffs: 18 games; FC/gm: 28.8; Y/gm: 4.1; R: 8; pens: 7
 
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: Timbers 3 wins, 10 goals … Sporting KC 7 wins, 15 goals … Ties 4
AT KC: Sporting KC 3 wins, 10 goals … Timbers 1 win, 5 goals … Ties 2
 
2018 (MLS):
6/9: POR 0, KC 0
8/18: KC 3, POR 0 (Rubio 28, 37; Russell 89)
 
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: Timbers 0 wins, 2 goals … Sporting 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 2
  • The teams reached a scoreless draw in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship at Providence Park on Sunday evening.
  • Sporting are winless in their past nine away matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs, dating back to 2012. The Timbers are undefeated in their past four away matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs, winning two and drawing two.
  • Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia was credited with six saves in recording the shutout in the first leg, the first of his MLS Cup Playoffs career (in 11 appearances).
  • SKC has posted shutouts in six of its past eight matches at Providence Park, including both regular season and postseason games.
  • Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was credited with one save in recording the shutout in the first leg, the second of his MLS Cup Playoffs career (in 14 appearances).
  • Sporting took a 3-0 win in the only league meeting between the teams this season at Children’s Mercy Park, on Aug. 19. The Timbers have gained points on three of their last five visits to KC (one win, two draws).
  • The teams have now played two games in the MLS Cup Playoffs, with draws on both occasions. When the teams met previously, in the Knockout Round in 2015, the match was leveled 2-2 through 120 minutes before the teams had a penalty shootout that lasted 22 rounds, won by the Timbers, the 22 attempts an MLS record.
SPORTING: Sporting were shut out at the attacking end for the first time this year in the MLS Cup Playoffs, their first in eight games in all competitions (since Sept. 23). … Yohan Croizet was the only substitute to play in the match vs. Portland (coming on in added time). Sporting have used five of nine available substitutes in their three playoff games this season.
 
TIMBERS: The Timbers were shut out at the attacking end for the first time this year in the MLS Cup Playoffs, their first in eight games in all competitions (since Sept. 29).
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