2020 MLS Playoff preview: Western Conference Final

Photo via Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

After the Columbus Crew successfully took out a scorching New England Revolution squad 1-0, they are moving on to host the MLS Cup in Columbus, Ohio. But that was yesterday. Tonight, we find out who they play as Seattle takes on Minnesota.

Seattle Sounders vs Minnesota United @ 9:30pm EST on FS1

Minnesota United have earned their right to be in this match as the Loons look to continue their first playoff run. They took on the Colorado Rapids in their first match and won comfortably 3-0 win at home. They then hit the road to a fan-filled Children’s Mercy Park to take on Sporting Kansas City. After what seemed to be a comfortable first half hour of play for SKC, Minnesota sprung to life. Two goals from Kevin Molino were the difference maker as the top seed in the West was dealt with easily. Minnesota are now on the road to take on the defending MLS Cup champions, the Seattle Sounders.

Seattle are no strangers to the playoffs since they have made it every season since their inception in 2009. They made it to this match after facing two of the three clubs they faced last season. Seattle took on LAFC in the first round. LAFC looked to play upset after losing on their turf last season to Seattle but the front three of the Sounders showed their quality and put them away to a familiar score line of 3-1. Seattle then hosted FC Dallas who played much more formidable. Last season, it took a Jordan Morris hat trick to put Dallas away. This time, it was a man who had not scored a professional goal in six years. Shane O’ Neill found himself on a wide open header to win the match for Seattle 1-0. Seattle now find themselves back in the Western Conference final for the fourth time in five years.

These two clubs do share a history that is heavily favored toward Seattle. That is because Seattle has won every matchup between these two clubs. But it has always left drama to be had. Especially on Decision Day when these two clubs were battling out for the #2 spot in the playoffs. Seattle came out on top at home courtesy of a Roman Torres header. This time around though, Minnesota will look to play spoiler against Seattle.

So who moves on to MLS Cup?

As a Sounders fan, I obviously want Seattle. But I truly have a hard time seeing us get through this match with the win. I think Minnesota finds it in them to pull off the upset. The Loons have yet to allow a goal on them. I understand that is not going off much considering the previous two clubs they faced were not the highest scorers. But it still matters. The have a top three defensive midfielder and former Sounder, Ozzie Alonso who can pick apart countering offense. Dwayne St. Clair has not had too much to do in between the posts but has come up big when needed. Emmanuel Reynoso has six assists in these playoffs and Kevin Molino looks like a man on a mission.

Seattle will put up a massive fight though. The defense has made some key stops to keep other clubs from winning. Just look at Yeimar’s goal line stop in the last match against Dallas. They also have the best front three in Major League Soccer. But the biggest weakness for Seattle is the thing that can hinder them at times. Raul Ruidiaz, Jordan Morris and Nico Lodeiro love to share the ball to set up easy goals but Morris passed up on some shots that could have made that match against Dallas a little more comfortable. The counterattack against Seattle is also what worries me. We have seen both of the wing backs push high in the attack for Seattle. A club like Minnesota will pounce on that. That is how they managed to find their goals. This match will be more of the fun to watch. I think Minnesota wins this match 3-2 over Seattle.

Wow it did pain me to say that but maybe I will eat my own words? Whatever the case, these playoffs have shown that 2020 is still unpredictable and Columbus parting ways with MAPFRE stadium by hosting MLS Cup is the way to show that. Be sure to tune in tonight. Whoever wins will take on the Columbus Crew on December 12th.

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