November 7, 2012
DC-NY try again; RSL-Sounders look to score
Eastern Conference semifinal:
DC United @ New York Red Bulls, 7:30 pm ET (NBCSN)
Mother Nature dealt another blow to the Eastern Conference semifinal series between second-seeded DC United and the third-place New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night. Four days after Hurricane Sandy forced the first leg to be moved from Red Bull Arena to RFK Stadium, Wednesday’s return match was postponed due to heavy, wet snow that was falling faster than it could be cleared off the Red Bulls’ home field. The postponement also prompted MLS to reschedule the opening of the conference final series against Houston from Saturday afternoon to Sunday at 4:00 pm ET. United and the Red Bulls certainly don’t need the weather or anything else threatening to throw the players any further off their stride. They traded own goals on their way to a 1-1 draw last Saturday, and DC lost dangerous right back Andy Najar to a red card after he tossed the ball toward referee Jair Marrufo in a fit of temper. Robbie Russell is expected to fill Najar’s slot, but cannot replace the converted midfielder’s attacking potential out of the back. Further complicating United’s defensive situation is a last-minute injury to left back Chris Korb. Kenny Cooper, benched in favor of Sebastien Le Toux for most of game 1, is expected to return to the Red Bulls starting lineup for game 2. The Red Bulls lost only twice at home during the regular season.
Western Conference semifinal:
#3 Seattle Sounders FC @ #2 Real Salt Lake, 10:00 pm ET (NBCSN)
It’s winner-take-all at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday night. Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC opened their Western Conference semifinal series with a scoreless draw at CenturyLink Field last Friday. If the teams draw in the return match, they will play two 15-minute overtime periods, and then, if necessary, go to penalty kicks to determine a winner. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was the man of the hour, making five saves and shaking off a violent collision with Seattle’s Christian Tiffert that left him with a cut by his right eye and a broken nose to post his fourth consecutive shutout. Sounders netminder Michael Gspurning also came up big, with a clutch stop on Alvaro Saborio’s counterattacking shot in the 85th minute. The Sounders have yet to score on RSL this season, but three of those games have ended in ties. Sounders scoring leader Eddie Johnson, who missed the first leg with an adductor strain, is expected to be back in the lineup on Thursday, but playmaker Mauro Rosales is questionable with a hamstring injury. RSL’s Fabian Espindola scored the only goal of the regular season series, giving RSL a 1-0 win on May 12.