Recap: MLS Knockout Round

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cup logoEight teams took part in Major League Soccer‘s knockout round– only three scored.  Not everyone brought their best performance, but Atlanta and Columbus put on a show nonetheless. Here’s what happened.

Scoreless Thriller in Atlanta

The best game of the round didn’t have a goal through 120 minutes. Columbus is moving on after a penalty shootout in Atlanta. The Crew were wrongly denied a potential goal before halftime, as Pedro Santos was incorretly called offside. Each team hit the woodwork, Atlanta more than once, but the game remained scoreless through regulation. The Crew came closest to breaking through in extra time, with Federico Higuain getting a free header that he sent right at Brad Guzan, and former Columbus defender Michael Parkhurst having to clear a late chance off the line.

Guzan was solid in goal for Atlanta, but he was outdone by his much-younger counterpart, Zack Steffen. The Crew goalkeeper made eight saves during the game, and stopped the first two penalties in the shootout. His heroics have set up what will be an interesting night next week when the Crew host New York City FC.

Vancouver Crushes San Jose

Set pieces propelled Vancouver to a dominating win On a corner kick in the first half, Kendall Waston headed the ball toward the back post, where Fredy Montero was there to score his first playoff goal. Cristian Techera curled a free kick into the top corner to double the Whitecaps lead. The game got out of hand in the second half as Waston scored a goal of his own and Nicolas Mezquida added two more. The 5-0 scoreline sets an MLS record for the largest margin of victory in any knockout round game. Vancouver faces rivals Seattle in the conference semifinals.

Red Bulls Roll

The Fire came out flat in front of a sparse Wednesday night crowd, giving up two goals in the opening 11 minutes. Bradley Wright-Phillips was close to being offside on the opening goal, but there was no such doubt about Sacha Kljestan‘s goal minutes later. The Red Bulls’ key attacking players all got on the scoresheet; Daniel Royer and Gonzalo Verón put the game out of reach in the second half. Next up for New York, No. 1 Toronto FC.

Houston Outlasts SKC

Houston needed extra time to break through and defeat Kansas City. Though it was scoreless through 90 minutes, the game was often ugly, choppy, and devoid of chances. The Dynamo, though, found one in extra time and took advantage. Recap: MLS Knockout Round scored the goal, finishing the opportunity created by Vicente Sanchez. That sent SKC home from the knockout round for the fourth year running. Houston will play Portland in the semis.

Conference Semifinals Schedule (all times Eastern)

First Leg – Eastern Conference 
Monday, Oct. 30
No. 6  Red Bulls vs. No. 1 Toronto
(Coverage begins 7 p.m., FS1/FOX Deportes/TSN4/TVA Sports2)
Tuesday, Oct. 31  
No. 5 Columbus  vs. No. 2 New York City FC
(Coverage begins 8 p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes/TSN/TVA Sports2)

 

First Leg – Western Conference 
Sunday, Oct. 29
No. 3 Vancouver vs. No. 2 Seattle
(Coverage begins 8:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes/TSN/TVA Sports2)
Monday, Oct. 30
No. 4 Houston vs. No. 1 Portland
(Coverage begins 9:30 p.m., FS1/FOX Deportes/FOX Sports Go/TSN Go, TVA Sports)