MLS Talking Points: Red Bulls set to attack Toronto, NYCFC’s tough task and more | Soccer

A team must overcome the strongest squad that has been assembled in MLS, another team must clear a three-goal deficit against the hottest team in the league.

The New York teams of Major League Soccer are in trouble, and both enter the decisive second day of the Eastern Conference of the Western Conference facing very long odds. The Red Bull head to Canada to face a Toronto FC team that has been virtually unstoppable at BMO Field. New York City FC returns to Yankee Stadium knowing it will have to be close to perfect to erase the first-leg deficit of 4-1 against the burning Columbus Crew.

Outside of the West, the Houston Dynamo is the least favored team heading to Portland for their return showdown, but a series of key injuries have left the Timbers vulnerable. The 0-0 first leg does not give Coleb much of an advantage to work with, but the possible return of Darlington Nagbe and Sebastián Blanco to the lineup would offer a great boost.

Here's a closer look at the three games of the Sunday conference semifinal, and what each team should do to join the Seattle Sounders in the conference finals later this month:


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<p> Jesse Marsch was not happy with the way his Red Bulls began last week's loss to Toronto FC, but a promising second half gives his team something to lean on to become the second visiting team. in beating TFC. at BMO Field in 2017. </p>
<p> The Red Bulls are a team that usually takes the game to the opposition either at home or on the road, so they will not be out of it, as they seek to attack Toronto FC to clear the first leg 2- 1. deficit. </p>
<p> "We can not go recklessly into the game, but I think we will be aggressive," Marsch said earlier this week. "That's in our nature, that's what we always do, whether we're at home or on tour, and yet, over the years, we've been good on the road to scoring goals. what we will trust again, and we will promote the game. </p>
<p> "We feel we can control, tactically, the way the game is played so we can put things more on our terms," ​​Marsch added. "I think the game was played on its terms more, so we have to find a way to tip the balance." </p>
<p> The Red Bulls accelerated the pace in the second half of the first stage, but failed to record a goal in game time despite having more ball. Having struggled to play in the middle of TFC preparation due to the work of Michael Bradley and Marky Delgado in the center midfield, the Red Bulls worked more wings in the second half and will probably follow that plan again in the second leg. </p>
<p> "My expectation is that they try to get balls in front of our goal," said TFC coach Greg Vanney. "And they are going to try to follow that and try to see if they can not mix a bit in the area." </p>
<p> TFC veteran Drew Moor is questionable for the game after suffering an ankle injury in the first leg. He returned to training on Saturday, but it is not clear if he will be ready to start. If it is not, Vanney will turn to Nick Hagglund, who is not the organizer, but is a dominant force in the air, which will make it more difficult for the Red Bull to try and succeed by throwing long balls into the penalty area of ​​TFC. from the wings and deep in the center of the field. </p>
<p> TFC could also be without the first-time goalscorer and goalscorer, Víctor Vázquez, who left the first leg with a hip injury. Vazquez also returned to training at the end of the week, but Vanney has a variety of options that he can use as a replacement for the lineup, including Jonathan Osorio and Toisaint Ricketts. </p>
<p> "We feel very good with the group we have and the fact that over the course of a long season we have relied on so many guys at so many important moments," said TFC captain Michael Bradley. "That will have to remain the case." </p>
<p> TFC has the strongest bench in the league, and gives Vanney a variety of tactical options. He could come out with a defensive line of four men, or he could deploy the usual 3-5-2 and look to go head-to-head against a Red Bulls team that has the weapons to complicate things, a team that could be dangerous like the kick of despair. </p>
<p> "I would hope that we would get the most extreme, most committed and most determined version of Red Bull possible," Bradley said. "We've talked and worked on what that would be like, and we'll do everything we can to make sure we take care of things in the best possible way and we can turn the tables." </p>
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Patrick Vieira has said everything right since the New York City FC 4-1 loss to the Columbus Crew. The NYCFC coach believes his team can clear the three-goal deficit, but the question is whether they can convince their players.

"We have to build the belief that we can do it," Vieira told reporters on Friday. "The way we play the game, of course, we can also concede, but we can score a lot of goals, and when you look at our record, even last year, in games in general, we are capable of doing it."

NYCFC can score goals, and has scored goals in clusters in 2017. The club, even recently, was about to commit a penalty from Zack Steffen by scoring three goals against the Crew in the final of the regular season.

But a more important question that the NYCFC can achieve is whether Vieira's team can prevent the Crew from scoring. That's going to be very difficult without suspended center Alexander Callens. His red card changed the tide in the first leg, but also left his vulnerable team in a position that was already weakened by the long absence by injury of Maxime Chanot, who seems unlikely to play on Sunday.

While Vieira seems to think the crew will sit and seek to protect the lead, Crew coach Gregg Berhalter made it clear that he plans to make his team pursue the goal that would leave NYCFC with four goals just to force the extra time .

"It will be important to have a good start, but we must also be cautious and understand how the opponent can harm us," Berhalter said. "And I understand they're playing at home"

These teams played for a 2-2 draw at Citi Field two weeks ago, in an open event that saw teams throw numbers between them. The action was also very open in the first half of last week's first leg, in which both teams created multiple scoring opportunities before the Callens red card made the game swing in favor of the Crew. The Crew is not likely to be too defensive at Yankee Stadium, but managing the flow of the game will be key to trying to limit the pressure their defense faces.

"Part of our game plan will have to be to keep the ball as well, and not just rely on the counterattack," Berhalter said.

The Crew enters the longest unbeaten streak in the league, and it will be a good bet to find a goal on Sunday, but no matter how daunting the task, Vieira believes her team can make the comeback.

"This is a difficult task, there is no doubt about it," said Vieira. "There is no team in this league that went down (until now) and changed it, it never happened, but there's always a first time, it could be Sunday, it could be next year."


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<p> The Portland Timbers have had to come to their bench to help them go through many injuries during the regular season, but they have not faced the kind of injury crisis they are suffering in the second leg of the semifinals on Sunday against the Houston Dynamo. </p>
<p> Diego Chara is out, Fanendo Adi has not yet returned from an injury and Larrys Mabiala is a question mark after coming out of the 0-0 draw in the first leg with injuries. Launches the recoveries of Sebastián Blanco and David Guzmán, who missed the first leg, and the Timbers could be without half of their best starters the deciding match on Sunday. </p>
<p> Timber's trainer, Caleb Porter, is not panicking. He knows what his bank is capable of. He also knows he still has Diego Valeri, MLS's MVP favorite, and knows what kind of atmosphere awaits the visiting teams at Providence Park. </p>
<p> "I always have confidence, it does not matter who I have, because I have a lot of confidence in this group," Porter said. "And that's not just one to 11, that's the whole team, and we've had a lot of results this year without many starters, and we showed it again in the last game." </p>
<p> Losing Chara is a big blow, but having Guzman back would help solidify things in midfield. If Guzman can not go, Porter will probably turn to a Lawrence Olum and Amobi Okugo tandem in the defensive midfield, while Roy Miller should intervene if Mabiala can not recover from his injury. </p>
<p> The Timbers' attack should still cause problems, with Valeri and Nagbe leading the charge and Darren Mattocks having the speed to cause problems for Houston's central defense. The ugly pitch at the BBVA Compass stadium prevented the two teams from showing offensive quality, but that will not be a problem at Providence Park. </p>
<p> The Dynamo also can not count on the initial goalkeeper Tyler Deric, suspended until an investigation into a domestic dispute begins, leaving the substitute Joe Willis to intervene. Willis has been able to fill in before, but Deric's ability to stop shots will be lost against a dangerous Timbers attack that will surely put the Houston baseline to the test. </p>
<p> The Dynamo will have to attack and look for that goal away to exert real pressure on the Timbers. The fast tandem of Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis creates problems of confrontation against most of the teams, but the Timbers fullback tandem formed by Alvas Powell and Vytas Andriuskevicius was outstanding in the first leg and will have to be good again on Sunday for Make sure that Portland – Late in the West series against the Seattle Sounders. </p>

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MLS Talking Points: Red Bulls set to attack Toronto, NYCFC’s tough task and more | Soccer

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