Crew SC to play conference final before sellout home crowd


MLS PLAYOFFS

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC

What: Eastern Conference finals, leg 1

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Format: Two-game series; better goal aggregate wins. The second leg is Nov. 29 in Toronto.

Crowded house: Amid the backdrop of the franchise possibly moving to Austin, the #SaveTheCrew movement has rallied support and sold out the 20,000-seat stadium. Nearly 1,000 Toronto fans also will be on hand.

About Toronto: U.S. Men’s National Team captain Michael Bradley is the leader and vows his top-seeded Eastern team won’t play conservative despite being without their two leading scorers. USMNT forward Jozy Altidore and Italian national midfielder Sebastian Giovinco will each miss the first leg with card-accumulated suspensions. Giovinco (16) and Altidore (15) accounted for 41.9 percent of the team’s league-leading 74 goals. Speedy Tosaint Ricketts is expected to take Altidore’s place.

About Columbus: The red-hot Crew, the East’s No. 5 seed, must figure out a way to break down one of MLS’ stingiest defenses, which has allowed the second-fewest goals (37) and fifth-fewest shots (11.7 per game) in the league. Norwegian national forward Ola Kamara, the league’s fifth-leading goal scorer with 19, is the Crew’s top gun. He’s backed by midfielders Justin Meram (14 goals, 8 assists) and Federico Higuain (9 goals, 16 assists). Young goalkeeper Zach Steffen’s 98 saves are fifth in MLS.

Season series: Toronto leads 2-1. TFC won 2-1 on the road May 10 and 5-0 at home May 26. Columbus won 2-1 at home April 15.

Western finals: No. 2 Seattle Sounders at No. 4 Houston Dynamo, leg 1, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (Fox Sports 1). Leg 2 is in Seattle on Nov. 30.

—Kevin Lyttle, American-Statesman staff



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