A scoreless draw in the first leg of a two-game series would seem to indicate both teams have a legitimate shot of advancing.
But MLS history doesn't make that case for both teams.
After the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City battled to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Championship on Sunday at Providence Park, the series moves to Children's Mercy Park on Thursday (9:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN2, TVAS2). It's the third time ever a Conference Championship series was 0-0 through the first leg, although it's happened two consecutive years now. In similar situations, which team has held the upper hand?
There have been 12 occasions in the past in league history where a two-legged playoff series ended scoreless after the first leg. Since going to a two-leg format in 2003, the home team has advanced eight of the 12 times (or 67 percent) in all which, incidentally, is the same chance FiveThirtyEight gives Sporting to advance to MLS Cup.
That would indicate Sporting have a healthy advantage over Portland, although it's worth noting two points. First, the road team moved on twice in the 2005 season, and it has happened a third of the time. And perhaps more importantly, the away goals rule went into effect in MLS in 2014, meaning the Timbers may not have home-field advantage in Leg 2, but in the event of a score draw through regulation on Thursday they would advance.
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: Portland 2, Vancouver 0
- 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)