2020 MLS Playoffs preview: Eastern Conference Final

We are down to the final four clubs in the MLS Cup tournament and we have the first of the two taking place today. With the number one seed in both conferences officially out, we could see even more upsets heading into the MLS Cup.

Columbus Crew vs New England Revolution @ 3pm on ABC

Columbus are looking to make their return to the MLS Cup after their home loss against the Portland Timbers in 2015. Oddly enough, the coach that beat them is now their head coach. That’s right, Caleb Porter is now tasked with the heavy dealing of having to take down a Bruce Arena managed club. Columbus got to the conference final as they have made it look easy. After holding off a comeback from the New York Red Bulls and a comfortable win against Nashville, they are one step away from claiming their first cup since 2008. 

The New England Revolution have shown they have the depth and the talent to play and upset anyone who stands in their way. After taking apart the top-seeded Philadelphia Union, they went into Orlando and made it seem business as usual. Both managers for the opposing clubs were nominees for MLS Coach of the Year. While Bruce Arena was looked over for that title, I’m sure putting another conference championship under his very impressive belt will help. 

Columbus and New England have met in an Eastern Conference final before in 2002 when they played a three-game series and aggregate score ultimately decided the winner. New England found themselves successful on that matchup but lost to the LA Galaxy in the final.

Prediction

Head to head, these clubs both have incredible talent on both sides of the ball and managers that are keen to get the match underway. I have to go with Columbus. Bruce Arena has done some incredible work with New England and they will continue to be a threat moving forward. However, Columbus look real good this season and I think Darlington Nagbe in that defensive midfield spot is going to be the key decider in this matchup. Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou have been a dynamic duo but they lack someone who can clean up the mess. Columbus have that in Nagbe. I predict 2-1 Columbus.

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