The long MLS playoff grind continued with another marathon day Sunday, as the Eastern Conference was narrowed down from four teams to two. It was a big day for the Canadian sides, and one that the city of New York will want to quickly forget. A look at the results from both second leg matches, TV schedule information for the conference finals, and an updated prediction.
Quarterfinals: Leg 2 Results
Montreal 2 - NY Red Bulls 1 (Aggregate Score Montreal 3-1 Red Bulls: Just like 2015 the Red Bulls had a highly successful season come crashing down hard in the playoffs. A missed penalty by MVP candidate Sacha Kljesten, was the omen that New York were in for another rough ending.
On Montreal’s part, they stuck to their game play from leg one, got the early away goal and closed the match out professionally. Even more positive news for the Impact came towards the end with recently disgruntled superstar Didier Drogba subbing in. The Red Bulls only bright side to the day is that their rivals did even worse.
Toronto 5 - NYC FC 0 (Aggregate Score Toronto 7-0 NYCFC): It was a brutal day for the NY teams, with City taking a few hits from the Reds early in the match. Their fate was sealed by halftime, as Jozy and Giovinco continue to set the playoffs ablaze. For NYCFC’s part they must not forget the overall positive trend of 2016. The team went from missing the playoffs to earning a bye as one of the top two teams in the East during the regular season.
Plus credit is due to the NYC fans who stayed throughout the ending match even with their team losing 7-0 on aggregate. A tough way for Patrick Vieira to end the year, but City’s future is looking up.
Another great day for the MLS and its fans, with non-stop league coverage on ESPN and FS1 for 9 hours. So far the ratings have not been record breaking, but they are up against the NFL all day. Here is the TV information for the the two legs of the Eastern Conference championship:
Tuesday (11/22) - Toronto FC at Montreal Impact - 8 pm (EST) - ESPN
Wednesday (11/30) - Montreal Impact at Toronto FC - 7 pm (EST) - FOXSports1
Note: The break in action is due to the international break starting this week.
Last week my predictions went 1 for 2, with the Red Bulls failing to overturn their deficit. A Canadian team has never made it to the conference championships in MLS. Now both Toronto and Montreal break that record on the same day.
Either way the MLS will have a first time Cup challenger and the chance for the first Canadian champion. Montreal has been solid defensively, Piatti is in fine form, and it looks like the issues with Drogba have been resolved. The Impact host the first leg, which gave most teams the advantage in the last round. Plus, Montreal eliminated Toronto from the playoffs in 2015.
Meanwhile Toronto have to be considered the overall favorites across MLS after that display. Giovinco is the most in form player at the moment, scoring a hat trick in leg two. He made the MLS look foolish by excluding him from the MVP finalists list, in favor of the three players from New York — all now eliminated.
The other major change in the last few months has been the unselfish play by Jozy Altidore, who looks to link up with Gio now rather than trying to battle him for goals.
The crowds will be amped for both of these legs between rivals and a shot in the MLS Cup. Montreal will sit back and look for the Piatti counter, but giving Toronto the possession will be a mistake. Toronto wins the series 4-2.