The New York City FC played a long game to win the Eastern Conference final with a 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena on Sunday in the first-ever MLS playoff game at the venue.
NYCFC (13-5-16) advanced to the MLS Cup final, where they will meet Sporting Kansas City for the grand prize on November 18. The Red Bulls (10-9-16) entered the MLS Cup tournament with a game-time temperature of -12.9 C and wind chill reading of -25 C. There were clear skies.
With temperatures in the low teens and snow falling before kick-off, NYCFC mustered only a second-half header from Yangel Herrera before the New York match was put into double overtime. Herrera volleyed home from the edge of the box in the 115th minute before the game went into penalty kicks, sending the home fans to parts unknown.
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DeAndre Yedlin had a goal and an assist to pace Kansas City in regulation. But instead of pitting the two teams’ best attacking players against each other, the MLS Cup final will pit two teams’ best defenses against each other. The rosters for both teams were clearly predicated on strong defense.
So, while the match wore down the visitors in the final stages of regulation time, the score remained 0-0 after Yedlin’s finish with 9:40 left in regulation. In the 100th minute, Yedlin took a cross from Graham Zusi and weaved between a pair of NYCFC defenders to get his head on the ball and send it around Josh Saunders. The goal beat Saunders’ attempt to scramble back into position but the attempted clear rebounded off the crossbar and trickled away from the goal.
The Long Game is on … now the fun begins. The winner will face Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup final. #NYCRFC vs #SKC pic.twitter.com/Neu9PFBwjk — New York City FC (@NYCFC) November 8, 2015
Dallas qualifier was worth the wait
Fifth-place FC Dallas went into the playoffs with a three-game losing streak, but their match against fourth-place FC Columbus tied the MLS record for most post-season games played in one season.
FC Dallas (10-8-16) beat Columbus 2-1 at Columbus Crew Stadium on Friday after meeting Sunday in the Western Conference Final at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The 20-year-old Cassius Wiley opened the scoring for FC Dallas after three minutes when he chipped a ball over the Columbus defense and found the bottom corner. James Riley equalized four minutes later off a cross from the left wing.
Captain Mauro Diaz took a header off Will Bruin’s corner kick in the 67th minute for the game-winner.
Bruin and Franck Songo’o were sent off after a tangle in the box in stoppage time, putting FC Dallas with 10 men for the final 22 minutes.