It's all on the line as the second legs of the conference semifinals kick off today. The first legs played out last weekend and some teams are in some deep holes they need to climb out of. Keep in mind, away goals are the tiebreaker -- no away goals were scored in the first leg but every home team scored last week. That means, any away goals scored today could create an insurmountable deficit for today's home sides. If the matches are tied on aggregate even with the away goals tiebreaker, then the match moves into extra time with the slate wiped clean.
(All times ET)
Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy (2 pm)
The Rapids have to play a bit of catch-up after going down 1-0 in the first leg of the series last week. But it's more than doable for one of the best teams in the league, especially with the second leg in Colorado. The Rapids have one of the best home records in MLS and they may be able to get a boost on both sides of the ball if Jermaine Jones is back to starting fitness. If the Galaxy can score an away goal, however, they may be able to finish things off, but they can still get by if they keep the Rapids to one goal. The Rapids aren’t a high-scoring team, so we can see this going into extra time and the Galaxy sneaking by, but we predict a draw for an outright LA win.
Prediction: LA 1-1 Colorado (LA 2-1 Colorado on aggregate)
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact (4 pm)
All the higher seeds sort of shot themselves in the foot in the first legs, but the Red Bulls have the best chance at a comeback. They did go down 1-0 to Montreal, but the Red Bulls are excellent at home – and they also should know exactly what Montreal are going to do. The Red Bulls will need to find another outlet when the Impact gang up on Sacha Kljestan and that will probably mean turning to their wingers and full backs to work the ball out wide. The Impact will defend deep and try to counter, and the Red Bulls should disrupt them every time they try to transition.
Prediction: NY 2-0 Montreal (NY 2-1 Montreal on aggregate)
USA TODAY SportsNoah K. Murray
New York City FC vs. Toronto FC (6:30 pm, FS1)
Patrick Vieira really got his tactics all wrong in Toronto for the first leg. NYCFC moved away from what got them results over the year and came out with an ultra-defensive approach. Now, NYCFC have no choice but to attack and try to make up a 2-0 deficit. In doing so, they could open themselves up to conceding, and if Toronto scores another, NYCFC would be forced to try to score four goals to pull ahead, a tough task for anyone.
Prediction: NYC 2-1 Toronto (NYC 2-3 Toronto on aggregate)
Greg BartramGreg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders (9 pm, FS1)
Away goals, home goals, who cares? The Sounders blew FC Dallas out of the water last week with a 3-0 first leg win. Now Dallas need score at least three goals to keep their playoffs alive, all while keeping Seattle from scoring another. Like Vieira, coach Oscar Pareja abandoned what made Dallas so good this year and went with an overly defensive approach last weekend. It's much more understandable in Pareja's case: FCD are without their best player, Mauro Diaz, and it's going to be a bigger challenge to create chances. But now they've given themselves no choice – they have to get forward and find a way to create chances. Unfortunately, their first leg screw-up seems to be irreparable at this point.
Dallas 2-0 Sounders (Dallas 2-3 Sounders on aggregate)