KRIS LINDSAY - Friday, November 21, 2014
The Eastern Conference Championship kicks off on Sunday afternoon as the New York Red Bulls play host to the New England Revolution in the first of a two-legged series.
The two teams are competing for the honor of facing the Western Conference champion in the MLS Cup final in December.
The Red Bulls are coming off a strong performance against DC United, winning the series against their long-time rivals for the first time ever in five playoff series all time.
After winning the first leg at Red Bull Arena by a convincing 2-0 margin, the Red Bulls held on for a 3-2 aggregate victory, with an away goal from Peguy Luyindula ultimately sealing the win.
The series ended what had been a dream season for United, where they went from historically bad in 2013 to the top of the Eastern Conference one year later.
New York will have to find an answer on defense after Costa Rican defender Roy Miller picked up a suspension in his last match.
The New England Revolution come in hot after blitzing past the Columbus Crew by an aggregate score of 7-3. The series was never in doubt after the first leg, when New England went on the road and came away with a 4-2 victory.
A 3-1 second-leg win in Gillette sealed the series, in a game which saw two Columbus players sent off for red cards.
Both New England and New York are looking for their first appearance in the final for several years.
The Revs last competed for the league's highest prize in 2007, the last of three straight trips to the final, all of which ended in losses. The Red Bulls were finalists one year later, losing to Columbus after an unexpected dream run through the playoffs.
Neither team has ever lifted the MLS Cup themselves, although the Revs did come agonizingly close in 2006 when they lost to Houston in a penalty shootout.
The Revolution come into the series red-hot, having won five out of the last six games, but lost both regular season games to the Red Bulls.
The two teams will meet again this on November 29th for the return leg in New England.