Winner advances to Eastern conference final
This is America so let's look at the stats for tonight's second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena (8pm ET).
The Texas side have been to the last two MLS Cup finals but lost both to the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Dynamo, founded in 2006, have two MLS Cup trophies to their name, missed the playoffs once and is a different animal altogether postseason, given their experience and managerial team led by Dominic Kinnear.
The Red Bulls, meanwhile, have lost all three of their home playoff matches dating back to 2010 (San Jose Earthquakes, Galaxy and D.C. United) when their stadium opened. They also have not won a playoff match at home since 2005 when they played at the old Giants Stadium.
But the Red Bulls are 11-2-4 at home this season, 3-0 against the Dynamo at home in the past two years and have outscored them 9-3 in three matches since September all in Houston, including last weekend's first-leg draw.
Photo by Danissa Alvarado
Stats aside, tonight's match should be a cracker as Houston will draw on its experience postseason as the Dynamo still boast most of its players from the last two finals with Brad Davis leading the way and Will Bruin and Boniek Garcia bombarding the Red Bulls defense.
For New York, the consistency in the 2013 campaign that resulted in its first trophy last week will be counted upon. Although their backline boulder--Colombian Jamison Olave--is suspended for tonight's return leg, manager Mike Petke is confident in his side's depth as he moves some pieces to avoid its defense missing a beat to contain Houston's dangerous attackers. But the thought of deciding whether Roy Miller comes back from injury or leaving David Carney in is one that Red Bulls supporters are biting their nails over.
One curse down for New York but will they best the home playoff demons?