12/4/20 MLS Finals Sun, Mon, US Men Play Wed 9 pm, UCL Final Day at play Tues/Wed

MLS Playoffs Are Spectacular – Finals East & West Sun 3 pm ABC/Mon 9 pm FS1

While the games were not as spectacular the results were certainly interesting as the bottom seed in the East the New England Revs knocked of Orlando on the road to match up against the 3rd seeded Columbus Crew.  The game will be Sunday at 3 pm on ABC – and should be good as 3 time MLS winner Bruce Arena looks to spring another upset vs a stalwart in the East over the past few seasons Columbus.  In the West it’s the mighty Loons of Minnesota – just 4 years removed from expansion looking to unseat the defending Champion and MLS’ top dynasty of the 2000’s Seattle on Monday night at 9:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.

USA Men face El Salvador Wed 9 pm ESPN/TUDN

The US Men take a mighty young very U23 looking team of MLS stars into their game with El Salvador on Wednesday night.  I promise I will have more preview stuff for this and Champions League Tues/Wed early next week!!

USA MLS MEN

GOALKEEPERS (3): CJ Dos Santos (Benfica), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Andrés Perea (Orlando City), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (6): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC), Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Chris Mueller (Orlando City)

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat, Dec 5 

7:30 am NBCSN                   Burley vs Everton

9:30 am ESPN+                    Frnaksfurt vs Dortmund (Ryna)

10 am beIN Sport                 Sevilla  vs  Real Madrid  

10 am NBCSN                      Man City vs Fulham

12:30 pm NBC                  West Ham vs Manchester United

12:30 ESPN+             Bayern (Richards) vs Leipzig (Adams)

3 pm beiN Sport                Cadez vs Barcelona (Dest)  

3:30 pm NBCSN               Chelsea (Pulisic) vs leeds United 

Sun, Dec 6   

11:30 amPeacock            Tottenham  vs Arsenal

2:15 pm Peacock                 Liverpool vs Wolverhampton  

3pm ABC                     Columbus Crew vs New England MLS East Finals

Mon, Dec 7  

9:30 pm FS1                Seattle Sounders vs Min United -MLS West Finals

 Tues, Dec 8 

               Champions League Final Group Day

1 pm CBS AA/TUDN       Zenit vs Dortmund (Reyna)

3 pm CBS AA/TUDN       RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Man United  

3 pm CBS AA/TUDN        Barcelona (Dest) vs Juve (McKinney)

 Wed, Dec 9   

                              Champions League Final Group Day

3 pm CBS All Access/TUDNReal Madrid vs Borrusia MGladbach

3 pm CBS AA/TUDN       Salzburg (US Manager) vs Athletico Madrid       

9:30 pm                       Seattle (Morris) vs FC Dallas (Carmel’s Matt Hedges)

9  pm   TUDN/Fubutv            USA Men (MLS guys) vs El Salvador  

 

MLS Playoffs

Doyle: Tactical preview of the Conference Finals

Predictions: Which teams will make MLS Cup?

FiveThirtyEight: Does a Seattle-Columbus MLS Cup final await?

MLS Cup hosting scenarios: Where the 2020 final could take place

Zakuani: Three takeaways as Minnesota set up showdown with Seattle

Boehm: Sounders find a way, yet again, with champions’ performance

Boehm: Loons deliver on big night to arrive as a true MLS power

Sporting: We had “unbelievable” chances, then the Loons stormed us

Porter not buying the Revs as underdogs: “It’s going to be a hell of a test”

Seltzer: Why Nashville, Orlando will remain East contenders

FC Dallas: This defeat to Seattle stings even more than 2019 loss

Zakuani: Three takeaways as Seattle top Dallas in WC Semifinal

Wiebe: Why Vanney is a perfect fit for the LA Galaxy

Coaching carousel: Four MLS clubs looking for new head coaches

 

USA

USMNT weekend viewing guide: Looking to build something
Berhalter issues challenge to Aaronson ahead of El Salvador friendly
Arriola: USMNT now have “different sense of urgency” now
Berhalter impressed by Efra Alvarez, leaving “open door” for US switch
Doyle: Latest USMNT roster has an Olympic flair
Jackson Yueill added to USMNT roster
USWNT and USSF reach partial agreement on equal pay lawsuit

 

Predictions for the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Finals | Greg Seltzer

December 4, 20202:18PM EST

Greg SeltzerContributor

As we get down to the nitty gritty of the Audi 2020 MLS Playoffs, picking winners becomes harder if only because everyone left fully deserves a place in the final four.One can make a reasonable advertisement for the virtues of each team left in the title chase, and well, we’ve already seen over the past couple weeks that anything can happen when the MLS postseason arrives.Before we get into Eastern Conference and Western Conference final predictions, a quick update of my playoff track record after a successful last round. I hit on three of the final four, with only New England making m look foolish. That brings my playoff mark to 10-4, which is quite acceptable to me.  That’s squared away, so let’s set up the next episode.

Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution

Sunday, Dec. 6 @ 3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN4, TVA Sports in Canada

Both conference finals hold a similar vibe. Each features a balanced favorite at home against a visiting side that one would struggle to call an underdog based on form. Fitting half the bill, Columbus have conceded just eight goals in winning 11 of 12 games at MAPFRE Stadium in 2020. Ably spelling the other half, the Revs have bumped off both Philadelphia and Orlando City, and are 7-4-1 on the road this year spanning the playoffs and regular season.

The fun part about New England’s run (aside from the chance to watch Bruce Arena field more media questions) is they’re just coming out of their shell offensively. Matt Turner and his crew at the back have carried the Revs most of the season, but Carles Gil’s return from injury has them excelling at both ends. Further back, I tabbed New England as the team nobody in the East should want to face in the playoffs. They’ve made me look good – well, only partially, as they’re responsible for half my four missed playoff predictions. Arena’s postseason game plans have worked a charm, with his charges jumping ahead early to control the game states.

On the other hand, Caleb Porter’s Crew tend to write match narratives through patience around whether they can strike early or not. Their defeat of Nashville SC marked the fifth time they’ve emerged victorious from a second half that began scoreless. They’re also 7-1 when carrying a 1-0 lead into the break.

In other words, it’s not about how long it takes them to score (they’re probably going to score eventually, having been shut out just three times in 2020). Playing Columbus often boils down to how long they keep you from scoring. New England have the cogs necessary to pull off what should be considered a minor upset, but can’t quite match the Crew’s overall balance. Being partial to teams that dictate the game with oppressive possession, I’m going with a tense 1-0 Columbus triumph.  

Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United FC

Monday, Dec. 7 @ 9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US, TSN, TVA Sports in Canada

Fresh off slaying a road demon in Kansas City, could the Loons possibly do it again against the oft-rampant defending champs? That is a big question, of course. Minnesota have dropped all three previous games in Seattle (even if each was close at the end), and are yet to beat them anywhere in seven series tries. And this is the Sounders we’re talking about. In the postseason. At home. This is no small ask.

Despite everything they’re up against, it’s a question worth considering. Adrian Heath’s boys are gutsy, perhaps more complete than they’ve been since March and unbeaten since late September. They’re also brimming with hot hands, from Dayne St. Clair and Michael Boxall to Kevin Molino and Emanuel Reynoso. This team will definitely bend, but they just find ways to get the job done. Another away upset almost feels possible.

Then you remember who they need to tackle, and where, and when. You remember that the Sounders come in playing their best defense of the year and that they’re on the verge of their fourth final in five years. You remember that Brian Schmetzer has his own swarm of players in championship form, and not for the first time.

Once you also note that Minnesota will have a long-ish flight with two fewer days of rest at the tail end of a long, strange season, an inevitable outcome seems clear enough. The Loons will give them a good fight, but the firm of Nicolas LodeiroJordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz will be the ones who find a way this time. Let’s say Seattle 2-1.

 Too bad this amazing Orlando City season has to come to an end | Commentary

By MIKE BIANCHIORLANDO SENTINEL |NOV 29, 2020 AT 8:45 PM1 / 32

No, it can’t be over, can it?Please don’t let it be over.Don’t let Orlando City’s amazing, trailblazing season come to an end.Don’t let the Lions go home just yet.

They’ve been too much fun; they’ve spread too much joy; they’ve actually given us something to root for and rally around during this abysmal, awful pandemic-plagued year.

“I could not be prouder of this group,” said first year coach and franchise savior Oscar Pareja. “It has been an honor for me to coach them.”

Orlando City magical playoff run ends with loss to New EnglandNOV 29, 2020 AT 7:00 PM

But, sadly, Pareja’s fabulous first season is over by virtue of Orlando City’s 3-1 loss to the New England Revolution in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday at the Purple Palace. It was the final game in this season of firsts: First playoffs. First playoff victory. And, sigh, first playoff loss.

Too bad a season of such celebration and jubilation had to end like this: In bitterness, in frustration, in anger; with emotions erupting, tempers flaring and Orlando City’s players and coaches feeling as if they weren’t just playing against their opponent, but also against MLS officiating.

Whatever inner ill will the Lions were harboring, it caused them to lose their composure and make mistakes, including one monumental blunder in the 60th minute. That’s when Orlando City veteran midfielder Mauricio Pereyra was rightfully given a red card and ejected from the match after he came in spikes-up and gouged New England’s Matt Polster in the back of the calf.The referee immediately showed the red card and Orlando City players, including team captain Nani, went berserk, argued vehemently and even made physical contact with the official. But they were arguing a call that was inarguable. Pereyra made a huge mistake that changed the complexion of the game.“Today, there was a moment where we lost our head and that cannot happen,” Pareja said in his postgame news conference. “… At this moment, there is a lot of pain and frustration that we have been carrying in the last 10 days.”Obviously, Orlando City’s coach and his team haven’t taken kindly with having at least one of their players red-carded and having to play a man down in three of their last four home matches. In last week’s incredible playoff victory over NYCFC, Orlando City had two players tossed out of the match, including starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who was suspended from Sunday’s game because of last week’s ejection.

“Every game we play at home, it seems like there’s zero tolerance [from the officials,]” Nani said. “That makes it tough on us emotionally.”

Even so, Orlando City has won matches before when they were a man down. They did it last week against NYCFC, playing the final 43 minutes with 10 men to send the game into penalty kicks. The Lions, trailing 2-1, actually had chance to tie the match on Sunday even after they went a man down following Pereyra’s ejection.Orlando City rookie Daryl Dike was taken down from behind in the box and earned a penalty kick. That’s when everybody started to wonder: Could it be another miracle? Could Orlando City win another playoff game while playing 10-on-11?

Ah, but this time it wasn’t to be. Nani, the team captain, was chosen to take the kick and fired his shot to the left side of the net, but New England goalkeeper Matt Turner guessed right and made a massive save to keep the score 2-1. If somehow Nani had converted, it might have swung the momentum of the match and put all the pressure on New England.According to teammates, Nani cried after the game because he felt he had let his teammates down at the moment they needed him most.

“I will take responsibility,” Nani said. “Today, I couldn’t make the penalty kick. I feel sorry for my teammates because the dream finished right there.”

But what a dream and a dream season it was. Yes, this final loss is disappointing, but not when you put it in perspective. Unlike past seasons when Orlando City left the pitch for the final time, there’s actually a feeling of hope and optimism about the future.

Who will ever forget the previous five seasons of disenchantment, discontent and dysfunction? In the past, the hapless, hopeless Lions were simply playing out the string at the end of another miserable, depressing season; fans were grumbling; ownership was anxious; the head coach’s job was perennially in jeopardy.Not anymore. Pareja, in one magnficient season, has put some pep in the step of Orlando City’s beleaguered, bedraggled franchise. He and this Orlando Gritty team have restored the emotion and devotion of a fan base that had begun to lose faith.

“We made history this season,” said midfielder Junior Urso, who scored the Lions’ only goal Sunday. “Orlando City had never been to the playoffs, but I want more. We want more. So let’s try to get it next season.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.For the first time in Orlando City history, this season ended way too suddenly and next season can’t get here quick enough.

This column first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email me at mbianchi@orlandosentinel.com. Hit me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on FM 96.9 and AM 740.

 

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