MLS Conference Finals (Second Leg) Recap

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The 2015 MLS Cup Final matchup is set! Both of the lower-seeded teams in each conference fought off feverish comeback attempts in the final minutes to stave off elimination and knock out both of the top seeds. The MLS Playoffs are always an exciting showcase of the league’s top talent, and in this year’s final we’ll see two complete team-oriented sides that do not boast a ton of individual star power. If you missed the exciting conclusions to the Conference finals, we’re here to get you caught up. Here’s what happened:

Portland survives late scare, advance to its first MLS Cup

The Portland Timbers are your 2015 Western Conference champions! Caleb Porter’s side outlasted a surging FC Dallas to clinch a spot in MLS Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

After a scoreless first half didn’t change much in the tie, it appeared that the Timbers had wrapped things up 10 minutes into the second half when Fanendo Adi finished off a Diego Valeri pass with a spinning strike. However, Dallas would not say quiet. Playing at home, the Texas outfit responded in quick succession, with Ryan Hollingshead and Blas Perez finishing off marvelous assists from the brilliant Mauro Diaz in the 68th and 73rd minutes.

With the home side throwing everything forward to get an all-important third goal, things got tense for Timbers fans. Some individual heroics from Nat Borchers kept things steady before an unbelievable solo effort from Portland’s Lucas Melano secured the needed result. The young Argentine finished off Dallas in the fifth minute of stoppage time by collecting a Valeri pass on the right side of the penalty area, skating past a defender, beating goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez with a hesitation move, and then finishing with the outside of his boot from a seemingly impossible angle.

Final on aggregate after two legs: FC Dallas 3-5 Portland Timbers

Red Bulls’ last gasp comeback falls inches short; Columbus advances

The Columbus Crew will host 2015 MLS Cup after narrowly escaping a final minute barrage from the Supporters’ Shield-winning New York Red Bulls.

In a match that looked destined to be dominated by tactical acumen and defensive play, it took 92 minutes of play for the Red Bulls to finally break down the Crew’s stifling pressure and positioning. 19-year-old Anatole Abang looped a header over the stranded Steve Clark to give New York a glimmer of hope as the final minutes ticked away.

Bradley Wright-Phillips almost brought the aggregate score level in the final seconds of stoppage time on a nearly identical play, but his header cruelly rebounded off the post and was cleared from danger. The result ended the MLS top seed’s season just one match shy of the MLS Cup Final (for the second straight season).

Columbus was clearly the better side over 180 minutes, but if not for one lucky bounce of the ball, they could’ve been the ones knocked out. Instead, the club moves on to its second-ever MLS Cup Final, where it will face an energetic Portland side.

Final on aggregate after two legs: New York Red Bulls 1-2 Columbus Crew SC