November 26, 2016
Itís time to do some soccer mathematics before conference final 2nd legs
By Michael Lewis
Well, before we venture into the second leg of the Major League Soccer conference finals beginning Sunday, I think itís important to do some math, soccer style.
Some teams seem to have won the first battle, or in this case, the first leg, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're winning the war.
Exhibit A: Entering Sunday's encounter in Commerce City, Colo., the Seattle Sounders enjoy a 2-1 advantage, thanks to to their home victory over the Colorado Rapids Tuesday.
But there is one slight thing to remember: away goals count double (at least before any extratime in the second leg). So, the game is really 2-2 prior to Sunday's 4 p.m. ET kickoff.
And this is where it gets interesting:
* Let's say the Rapids find the net first. It would tie the series at 2-2, but in reality (that's what truly matters), they would enjoy a 3-2 edge.
* Let's say the Sounders strike first. They would have a 3-1 advantage. In soccer terms, forcing Colorado to go on the offensive to keep its MLS Cup playoff hopes alive.
MLSSoccer.com has all of the MLS Cup scenarios:
And now for Exhibit B:
Wednesday's Eastern Conference final at in Toronto is a little bit more complicated.
The Montreal Impact scored a 3-2 home victory over Toronto FC last week. If you do the soccer math, Toronto actually leads the series, four goals to three, thanks to its two away goals. That's why Montreal losing that three-goal lead could come back and bite the Impact you know where.
* Now, if Montreal scores the first goal, it will take a 4-2 series lead. In soccer/MLS math, it would be actually a 5-4 advantage due to the away score. That would force the Reds to rev things up on their attack.
* If Toronto tallies first, the series would be knotted up at 3-3 but the host side actually would have the lead at 5-3.
I will refrain from other possible combinations for now, but here's to all the Eastern Conference MLS Cup scenarios:
No field day here
Now, let me get this straight: soccer-specific stadiums are supposed to have priorities for soccer, correct?
Well, if that is the case, will someone please explain to me why the Columbus Crew could not play one of its final three regular-season games at MAPFRE Stadium because the venue had been on hold for other events? The Crew also played back-to-back Sunday encounters in the metropolitan area (at the Red Bulls and New York City FC), which is rather unusual, to say the least.
In an interview with BigAppleSoccer.com in October, Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter said that situation wasn't "ideal."
"I'm not going to lie. It is not the most ideal schedule," he said. "It is what it is, though. We have stadium holds that we can't play home games right now. So, we'll deal with it."
Playing the second leg of the Eastern Conference final at BMO Sunday would have been perfect in a perfect world except for one little thing: the venue will host the Grey Cup final Sunday -- the Canadian Football League championship game. The Toronto Argonauts called BMO Field home this past season.