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MLS: Columbus, New England into Eastern Conference finals

SoccerNews in MLS 30 Nov 2020

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Columbus Crew will face New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference finals after their respective wins in the MLS Cup play-offs on Sunday.

Gyasi Zardes inspired Columbus in extra time of a 2-0 victory over Nashville.

The United States international’s cutback found Pedro Santos to score the opener for the hosts in the 99th minute.

And, just four minutes later, Zardes sealed the win with a clinical finish in a one-on-one after being played in by Luis Diaz Espinoza.

Zardes has been directly involved in seven goals (five goals and two assists) in four matches against expansion sides over the past two MLS seasons, according to Opta.

It was enough for Columbus to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in four seasons, and New England await.

After finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference, the Revolution beat Thierry Henry’s Montreal Impact in the play-in round and stunned Philadelphia Union in the first round.

They continued their run with a 3-1 win over Orlando City on Sunday.

Carles Gil’s 17th-minute penalty opened the scoring before Gustavo Bou made it 2-0.

Junior Urso pulled a scrappy goal back for Orlando after the half-hour mark, but their hopes of victory were hurt by Mauricio Pereyra’s red card for a dangerous challenge in the 60th minute.

Still, Nani had a chance to equalise for Orlando in the 74th minute, only to see his penalty saved by Matt Turner.

The penalty save was just the second by a Revolution goalkeeper from the previous 23 on-target spot-kicks they had faced dating back to March 2016, according to Opta.

Instead, Bou got on the end of Gil’s pass to poke in the sealer four minutes from time, sending New England to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014.

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