And then there were four.
The field in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs has been whittled down from 18 to just four teams who are just 90 minutes (or perhaps 120) from reaching MLS Cup.
In the East, two MLS originals are looking to get back to the big game, while in the west, Seattle Sounders FC are trying to book their spot for the fourth time in five years. But Minnesota United are looking to play spoilers and continue their historic run to a first MLS Cup.
Here’s what to watch for.
Columbus Crew SC (3) vs. New England Revolution (8)
Sunday, Dec. 6 at 3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN4, TVA Sports in Canada
In the topsy-turvy East bracket of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs bracket, Columbus Crew SC are the only top seed to avoid an upset in their march to the Conference Final. The No. 3 seed used a professional performance to handle the New York Red Bulls in Round One before needing extratime to solve expansion side Nashville SC in the Conference Semifinals.
The New England Revolution are the prime example of a team hitting their stride, and getting healthy, at the right time. New England entered the postseason as the No. 8 seed and beat the Montreal Impact in a Play-In Match at Gillette Stadium before picking up where they left off in the regular season as road warriors, upsetting No. 1 Philadelphia Union and No. 4 Orlando City SC.
Playoff history? There's plenty of it here and it’s pretty one-sided.
New England are 4W-0L-3D against the Crew in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The last meeting came in the 2014 Conference Semifinals with the Revolution advancing 7-3 on aggregate en route to MLS Cup, where they fell to the LA Galaxy in extratime.
They last met in the Conference Final in 2002, when the Revs won the series to reach the Cup for the first time, losing in the final to the Galaxy in front of 61,316 at Gillette Stadium.
Still, in search of their first title, New England are looking to book their sixth berth in MLS Cup, while Columbus are trying to reach MLS Cup for a third time in club history, having won the crown in 2008 before losing to the Portland Timbers in 2015 in a match played at MAPFRE Stadium.
A Crew SC win and MLS Cup will be played at MAPFRE Stadium again.
Seattle Sounders FC (2) vs. Minnesota United (4)
Monday, Dec. 7 at 9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada
MLS Cup favorite? While other clubs have shied away from that tag, the Seattle Sounders are owning it and for good reason. The “dynasty” moniker is being bandied about for the defending champions who have arguably the most lethal attacking threesome in the league in Raul Ruidiaz, Jordan Morris and Nico Lodeiro among a mature and veteran group with ample big-game experience and success.
The Sounders have put in a pair of professional performances in the postseason, outclassing LAFC 3-1 in Round One and grinding out a 1-0 victory over FC Dallas in the Conference Semifinals to extend an MLS-best home playoff winning streak to 14 games.
Consider the Loons streak busters. They hadn't won in their previous five matches at Children's Mercy Park with colorful head coach Adrian Heath calling his team "awful at best" in those matches in which Minnesota were outscored 11-1. So what they did was put on a masterclass of an opening 45 minutes against Sporting Kansas City, with Emanuel Reynoso pulling the strings with three assists and Kevin Molino striking for a brace in a 3-0 victory.
Reynoso, who made the long-anticipated move from Boca Juniors on Sept. 1, made MLS history by becoming the first player to pick up three assists in multiple playoff games.
2004 - Emanuel Reynoso is the first player to record 3 assists in consecutive @MLS matches (regular season or #MLSCupPlayoffs) since Jaime Moreno in September 2004. Royalty. pic.twitter.com/WnrWo4LsYa— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) December 4, 2020
Want more history? The Loons have won three consecutive matches by 3-0 scorelines, equaling the longest streak of three-plus goals in league history with the 2017 and 2012 New York Red Bulls and the 2014 LA Galaxy.
Not only is this the first-ever playoff game between Seattle and Minnesota, but it will also be the first time they face off this season. The Sounders have won all three of the previous encounters at Lumen Field.