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Toronto and Columbus advance to MLS Eastern final
November 5, 2017 / 11:48 PM / 18 days ago

Toronto and Columbus advance to MLS Eastern final

(Reuters) - Top seeds Toronto FC advanced to Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference final on the away goals rule despite losing 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls in a tempestuous home leg of their semi-final on Sunday.

Nov 5, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) celebrates at the final whistle as he passes New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips (99) as Toronto win the Eastern Conference semifinal at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the only goal of Sunday’s clash, during which Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan were sent off for fighting, but Toronto progressed thanks to their 2-1 win in New Jersey last week.

Toronto will meet Columbus in the Eastern final after the Crew escaped with a 4-3 aggregate victory over New York City FC.

The Houston Dynamos will face the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference final after Houston beat Portland 2-1 away on Sunday following a scoreless draw in the first leg.

In New York, the Crew enjoyed a seemingly comfortable 4-1 advantage going into the second leg at Yankee Stadium but the home side took a 2-0 lead with a first-half David Villa penalty and a 53rd-minute Andraz Struna strike.

Another goal would have eliminated the Crew but they managed to hold out for the remainder of the match to scrape through.

Nov 5, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Columbus Crew defender Lalas Abubakar (17) heads the ball against the New York City FC during the second half of the Eastern Conference semifinal at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

And the Crew’s chances in the Eastern final cannot be hurt by the absence of Toronto midfielder Sebastian Giovinco and striker Altidore.

Altidore will be suspended after he and Bulls midfielder Kljestan, so often team mates for the United States, were shown straight red cards for violent conduct after an altercation in the tunnel at half-time on Sunday.

Slideshow (15 Images)

The incident followed a previous dust-up a few minutes earlier for which both players were shown yellow cards.

Giovinco picked up a late yellow card, which means he will join Altidore on the sidelines for the first game against the Crew.

In the West, Houston defied the odds to get past Portland on Sunday and will meet Seattle in the final after the defending champions secured a 2-0 semi-final win over Vancouver earlier in the week.

Houston defender Dylan Remick equalized late in the first half, before substitute Mauro Manotas clinched victory with a 77th-minute strike.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Tokyo, editing by Gene Cherry/Nick Mulvenney/Peter Rutherford

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