Clint Dempsey, Will Bruin - Seattle Sounders - Celebrate
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Former Fulham Teammates Dempsey and Senderos Square Off at BBVA

  • Dynamo’s home shutout streak put to the test as former Fulham teammates Dempsey and Senderos square off
  • Toronto and Columbus battle for chance to host MLS Cup
  • Seattle’s goalkeeping savior rising through shutout ranks
  • Conference Championship Soundbytes and Quote Sheets
  • Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Conference Championship game notes
 
Dynamo’s home shutout streak put to the test as former Fulham teammates Dempsey and Senderos square off
The Houston Dynamo enter Tuesday’s Leg 1 of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs’ Western Conference Championship against Sounders FC with confidence, having never lost to Seattle in franchise history at BBVA Compass Stadium (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes / FOX Sports GO / TSN1/3 / TVASports). The Dynamo have not allowed a goal at home in the past 357 minutes of play, holding a nine-game unbeaten streak dating back to the regular season.
 
Philippe Senderos has played a vital role for this Houston defense that has allowed only one goal in its three postseason matches, with the defender on the field for every minute of playoff action thus far. A three-time World Cup participant with Switzerland, Senderos will be tasked with shutting down his former Fulham teammate in Clint Dempsey. Dempsey, who was raised 140 miles from Houston in Nacogdoches, Texas, powered Seattle with a brace in Leg 2 of the Conference Semifinals against Vancouver.
 
Another face the Dynamo will find familiar is Sounders FC forward Will Bruin, who spent the first six seasons of his professional career with Houston. Bruin finished the season with 11 goals, second most on Seattle’s team, and will look to partcipate in his third MLS Cup after falling in the title match while with Houston in 2011 and 2012. Houston defender Dylan Remick, meanwhile spent the previous four seasons with Seattle. The 26-year-old was the unlikely hero in the Conference Semifinals 2-1 victory over Portland, scoring a goal in an impressive 90-minute performance.
 
 
Toronto and Columbus battle for chance to host MLS Cup
The previous two hosts of MLS Cup will compete to once again bring the biggest game of the year to their home market, with the winner of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs’ Eastern Conference Championship series guaranteed to host the 2017 MLS Cup. The past two runners-up in MLS Cup take their first step towards a shot at redemption in front of their home fans when Columbus Crew SC hosts Toronto FC on Tuesday in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Championship (8 p.m. ET / ESPN, TSN 1/3/4/5, TVASports).
 
The two-legged series marks the first time Columbus and Toronto have faced each other in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Columbus carries its momentum into what is expected to be a sold-out MAPFRE Stadium while Supporters’ Shield winners TFC will need to rely on their depth in this first leg.
 
The last time Toronto and Columbus squared off, the Reds earned a dominant 5-0 victory on May 29 at BMO Field, also minus the availability of Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore – the club’s top two goal scorers this year with 16 and 15 regular-season goals, respectively. Víctor Vázquez, the top assists man in 2017 with 16, stepped up in that meeting with a brace. Vázquez and forward Tosaint Ricketts (7 goals, 1 assist during the regular season) will be key focal points offensively in Tuesday’s opener.
 
In this battle between Greg and Gregg – TFC head coach Greg Vanney and Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter – Toronto holds the regular-season series lead in 2017 with a 2-1-0 record. Berhalter’s side has peaked at the right moment, entering the MLS Cup Playoffs as a No. 5 seed and posting a pair of upsets. Crew SC eliminated MLS newcomers Atlanta United in the Knockout Round, highlighted by a strong goalkeeping performance by rookie Zack Steffen, and then tallied four goals to oust No. 2 seeds New York City FC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
 
Can Toronto continue to add to its record-breaking season or will Crew SC’s momentum carry over and put a damper on No. 1 seed TFC’s accomplishments?
 
 
Seattle’s goalkeeping savior rising through shutout ranks
With jaw-dropping performances increasing year over year, the man minding the nets for Sounders FC seems more impressive with every outing. Posting four straight shutouts through postseason play, Stefan Frei hasn’t allowed a playoff goal since the second leg of the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Championship.
 
Frei’s 0.70 goals against average ranks fourth-best in MLS history, and his seven shutouts in 15 career playoff appearances stands second all-time (percentage-wise per game) among active MLS players. Frei’s streak of clean sheets includes an unblemished 467 minutes of goal-free action, which ranks second all-time in MLS history. Not to mention, his incredible MVP-worthy save from last year’s MLS Cup has even the most confident of opponents reminded of his impossible capabilities.
 
Eastern Conference ChampionshipSoundbytes and Quote Sheets – Leg 1
No. 5 Columbus Crew SC vs. No. 1 Toronto FC
8 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Nov. 21 | MAPFRE Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
ESPN, TSN 1/3/4/5, TVA Sports
QUOTABLE:
Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono
On depth to overcome first-leg absences of Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore:
AB: “From our perspective, we know that our depth is going to come through and step up to the challenge. We have some good depth up top, some good young players that can fill in, and we also have some very solid midfielders that in my opinion would start on many other teams that have the ability to come in and really change the game for us.”
 
Columbus Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter:
On the battle between the past two MLS Cup runners-up:
GB: “I think with us, it’s been a little bit different: We’re playing the youngest team in the league, we had some ups and downs early on, but we were able to keep growing. I think that’s the important thing about our team. We’ve kept getting better all year, and that’s what you want to do in a playoff type of structure, so we’re ready.”
 
For full commentary from Toronto and Columbus, check out the Eastern Conference Championship Soundbyte and Quote Sheet at MLSsoccer.com.
 
MLS Eastern Conference Championship Soundbytes:
 
Western Conference Championship Soundbytes and Quote Sheets – Leg 1
No. 4 Houston Dynamo vs. No. 2 Seattle Sounders FC
9:30 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Nov. 21 | BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
FS1, TSN 1/3, TVA Sports
QUOTABLE:
Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan:
On Houston’s turnaround season and the similarities to the 2016 Sounders run to the title:
CR: “Like us last year, they are gathering momentum and they’re going to be a tough team to play against because of all the confidence they have going forward. At the same time for us, we’re in a little bit different position. We’re no longer the underdog and we just have to take it to them, play our style and try to get a result in Houston.”
 
Houston Dynamo defender Philippe Senderos:
On adding to the sports buzz in Houston following the Astros’ World Series win:
PS: “After the hurricane (Hurricane Harvey), everyone needed something to cheer on, the people, and to have such a successful year with the Astros and now the basketball (Houston Rockets) is doing really well and they hope to have a very good season, and we’ve done brilliantly, and probably surpassed the expectations of a lot of people. We know a lot of people are waiting for us at home. I think they’re going to fill the stadium. This is a brilliant time to play soccer here in Houston and we will try and give that back to the people who had a tough time.”
 
For full commentary from Houston and Seattle, check out the Western Conference Championship Soundbyte and Quote Sheet at MLSsoccer.com.
 
MLS Western Conference Championship Soundbytes:
 
Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Conference Championship Game Notes
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – FIRST LEG
Tuesday, November 21
No. 5 Columbus Crew SC vs. No. 1 Toronto FC (8 p.m. ET, ESPN / TSN1/3/4/5 / TVA Sports)
  • The teams met three times this season. They split the first two matches, both over less than a month at Mapfre Stadium. First-half goals from Ola Kamara and Justin Meram answered an earlier strike from Jozy Altidore to give Crew SC a 2-1 win on April 15, then on May 10, Tosaint Ricketts scored twice over the final nine minutes to give TFC a 2-1 victory. On May 26, Victor Vázquez scored a pair of goals as Toronto FC won 5-0 at BMO Field – the biggest margin of victory in the all-time series.
  • The win in the first meeting by Crew SC was their first vs. Toronto FC since 2015. Toronto FC won the final Trillium Cup meeting between the teams last year, a 3-0 win at BMO Field – their first win in the series since 2014, when they won all three meetings that season. Crew SC had won two of the five meetings in between, with three draws.
  • TFC are winless in their last two MLS Cup Playoffs matches at BMO Field, after ending in a scoreless draw in 2016 MLS Cup vs. Seattle (4-5 on penalties). TFC have two losses in their last four home matches in all competitions, after a 15-game home undefeated streak in league play was put to an end on Sept. 23.
  • Crew SC’s loss to NYCFC in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals snapped a 13-game undefeated run over all competitions, their first defeat of any sort since Aug. 5. Crew SC have not scored a goal in their last three away matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs, now 385 minutes since their last road goal in the postseason.
  • TFC were shut out at the attacking end for the first time in 22 matches in all competitions in their 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the first time since a 3-0 loss at the New England Revolution on June 3. TFC have not scored a goal in their last 230 minutes in the MLS Cup Playoffs at BMO Field.
  • Jozy Altidore was sent off at halftime after receiving a red card in an off-field incident, meaning he will be suspended for the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship. Sebastian Giovinco received a yellow card, his second of the MLS Cup Playoffs, meaning he also will be suspended for the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship. TFC are 2-2-0 when both players have been out of the lineup (W 5-0 v CLB; W 4-0 v LA; L 3-5 v MTL, L 1-2 v NE).
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – FIRST LEG
Tuesday, November 21
No. 4 Houston Dynamo vs. No. 2 Seattle Sounders FC (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Sports Go / TSN1/3, TVA Sports)
  • The teams met three times this season, each winning on their home ground. Erick Torres and Romell Quioto netted first-half goals as the Dynamo took a 2-1 win March 4 at BBVA Compass Stadium in the season opener for both clubs. On June 9, Will Bruin scored the game’s lone goal as Sounders FC took the win at CenturyLink Field.
  • The teams have met once in the MLS Cup Playoffs, in the Western Conference Semifinals in 2009 (Sounders FC’s inaugural MLS season). The Dynamo advanced 1-0 on aggregate, as Brian Ching scored the lone goal of the series in extra time in the second leg at Robertson Stadium. The teams played to a scoreless draw in the first leg in Seattle.
  • The Dynamo have never lost to Sounders FC in Houston. In eight league meetings all-time there, the Dynamo have won four, with four draws; the Dynamo also won a home game in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • Sounders FC have never lost to the Dynamo in Seattle. In eight league meetings all-time, Sounders FC have won six, with one draw, outscoring Houston 11-2. Sounders FC also won a U.S. Open Cup match at home vs. Houston; the teams played to a scoreless draw in Seattle in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • The Dynamo conceded a goal for the first time in this year’s MLS Cup Playoffs with the Timbers’ opener in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals, their shutout streak ending at 249 minutes. It was the first goal the Dynamo had allowed in any competition since Oct. 11, snapping a string of four consecutive clean sheets and 486 minutes overall. In all competitions, the Dynamo have recorded three consecutive shutouts at BBVA Compass Stadium, now 357 minutes since their last goal allowed at home (Oct. 11).
  • The Dynamo extended their undefeated streak to nine games in all competitions in the first leg win vs. Portland, ending the regular season with a six-game undefeated run (3-0-3). The Dynamo won away from BBVA Compass Stadium in their lone road match thus far in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Dynamo won one away match in the regular season (1-9-7).
  • Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei was credited with one save in making his second shutout this year in the MLS Cup Playoffs in the conference semifinal second leg win vs. Vancouver, his fourth in a row in the postseason dating back to last season. Frei now has not allowed a goal in the last 467 minutes in the postseason, the second-longest shutout streak in MLS Cup Playoffs history (6 minutes shy of the all-time MLS record set by Kevin Hartman from 2005-07).
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