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NYCFC one win away from returning to MLS Cup after hammering Montréal

New York City FC went inside the belly of the beast Sunday at Saputo Stadium and showed off its playoff expertise by eliminating CF Montréal 3-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia Union on Oct. 30 at Subaru Park in Chester.

Facing an intense atmosphere, NYCFC started out aggressively and got an early sixth-minute goal from veteran Argentine playmaker Maxi Moralez.

Montréal grew into the game from there but Sean Johnson pulled off three saves in the opening 45 to keep the crowd subdued. Then, just before the halftime whistle, Héber's perfectly timed run met Santiago Rodríguez's ball into the area and the Brazilian finished beyond James Pantemis.

Any chance of a Montréal comeback was effectively killed in the 61st minute when a stonewall penalty was converted by Talles Magno.

After looking like a 2022 World Cup participant with the USMNT for over 80 minutes, Johnson messed up to allow Montréal its lone goal in the 85th through Djordje Mihailovic (on his way to AZ Alkmaar on Jan. 1).

Since losing a penalty shootout to Orlando City in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, NYCFC has now won six straight postseason matches, including five away from Yankee Stadium. Can Philadelphia end the run next weekend? History says no.

There's a small chance that MLS Cup could be played at Yankee Stadium this year. If NYCFC beats Philly and FC Dallas advances from the Western Conference, then the championship will be contested at "The House That Jeter Built."

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