MLS Conference Finals Await While USMNT Plays WCQs

As MLS Playoffs take the international break in stride, the USMNT with Nagbe & Miazga play WCQs
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, November 11, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

It started with twenty teams, and alas, this 20th year of Major League Soccer now has four teams in the action with MLS Playoffs in full swing. Not only was there one of the most exciting MLS Playoffs games in years (maybe ever?!) at Portland with the Timbers playing Sporting Kansas City, there has been even more drama recently now that we’re upon the Western and the Eastern Conference Finals.

Probably the most exciting second leg of the Conference Semis was the match in Frisco, Texas, as FC Dallas beat Seattle Sounders. With three goals scored in a matter of 10 or so minutes, the Sounders and Dallas took to kicks from the spot, in which FC Dallas – with help from last kick taker, Walker Zimmerman – eventually won and will take on the Portland Timbers for the Western Conference Finals.

Although D.C. United had a solid season, they couldn’t keep it going as Ben Olsen’s team fell 1-0 in the second leg at Red Bull Arena against the New York Red Bulls. The Supporters’ Shield winning Red Bulls, although are seemingly an underdog – maybe because of how the mindset is toward the Red Bulls or maybe because they have not lived up to the potential of the sum of their parts until this year or in 2013 when the team also won the Supporters’ Shield – the team also has an air about it that exudes confidence, a potential, and a goal in mind that it won’t stop until it gets there.

However, the Red Bulls, along with the three other teams left in the MLS Playoffs with Columbus Crew SC, Portland, and FC Dallas, will have to wait to commence the Conference Finals as MLS will observe the international break as the US U-23 team and the full US men’s national team will be playing.

An interesting anecdote on the USMNT is that the only two players actually playing in MLS left for the Conference Finals are newbies to the US men’s national team. Matt Miazga, the Red Bulls defender ­– who is having a year to write about later to the grandchildren – has played on the U-23 team but is on the full national team for the first time.

Additionally, the long-awaited moment has finally arrived: after Darlington Nagbe, the Portland Timbers midfielder, became a U.S. Citizen in September of this year (after growing up in Ohio following a move when he was a young child from Liberia), he was then able to be called up to the Nats. Many fans and media members alike have been looking forward to Miazga joining in with the USMNT but more so Nagbe getting called up as the 25-year old has quite a bit of potential in the midfield with, sometimes and occasionally, a lacking creative force.

Once Nagbe and Miazga are finished playing World Cup Qualifiers with the national team (the US plays St. Vincent & the Grenadines in St. Louis, MO, on Friday, November 13th, and at Trinidad & Tobago – against T&T – on Tuesday, November 17th), they will go back to their respective teams, and may possibly end up playing against each other with Portland playing at New York in December – that is, unless FC Dallas and/or Crew SC have anything to say about it.

Regardless, make sure to take in the first experience of Nagbe and Miazga during the international break with the US men’s team, but also to focus on the Conference Finals once they commence on November 22nd and finish on November 29th while leading up to the MLS Cup Final on Sunday, December 6th

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.