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This Week in MLS – November 28, 2016

This Week in MLS – November 28, 2016
  • Playoffs' top scorers prepare for showdown in Eastern Conference Championship finale
  • Mancosu’s postseason transformation leads Montreal to the brink of MLS Cup
  • Three Sounders FC originals in reach of first MLS Cup title with help of rookie sensation Jordan Morris
  • 2016 MLS Cup media credential application deadline approaches; host market down to two
  • Check It Out, Quotables, Sweet Tweets
  • Conference Championship Game Previews
Playoffs' top scorers prepare for showdown in Eastern Conference Championship finale
Throughout the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact have displayed the most dangerous attacks in the league as they try to become the first Canadian club to advance to MLS Cup. Both clubs claim the postseason’s top goal scorers with Toronto’s Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, and Montreal’s Matteo Mancosu each with four goals apiece. With a combined 22 goals in the playoffs, the final showdown between the Canadian rivals on Wednesday at BMO Field will be sure to ignite fireworks (7 p.m. ET, FS1/FOX Deportes, TSN1/3/4/5, RDS).
Designated Players have carried the load for Toronto thus far, with the trio of Altidore, Giovinco and Michael Bradley combining to score nine of the team’s 12 goals this postseason. Altidore and Giovinco have been especially dangerous, each pacing the league with four goals and three assists apiece through four postseason matches. Montreal has proven equally threatening, scoring 10 goals in four postseason matches, with midfielder Matteo Mancosu tallying four goals to tie Altidore and Giovinco atop the postseason scoring charts. Designated Player Ignacio Piatti has added two goals and two assists while forward Domini Oduro is tied for the postseason lead with three assists.
Following Montreal’s 3-2 victory in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship, Toronto will once again need some home cooking in order to advance to MLS Cup in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd. Through two home playoff matches this season, Toronto has outscored its opponents by a 5-1 margin, while Montreal has displayed a phenomenal road form with two victories by a combined 6-3 goal total. Entering the 2016 season, Montreal had never won in Toronto, a mark that fell when the Impact prevailed in a tightly contested 1-0 match on August 27.
With the immense offensive talent clicking on both sides of the pitch, Wednesday’s match will once again showcase two of the most stacked offenses in the league.  
For a quote sheet from today’s media teleconference call with Toronto and Montreal previewing Wednesday’s match, CLICK HERE.
Mancosu’s postseason transformation leads Montreal to the brink of MLS Cup
A diamond in the rough for the Montreal Impact, Matteo Mancosu has been a game-changer for his Canadian club since becoming the focal point up top during the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. After tallying only three goals during the regular season, the skilled Italian has flipped a switch with four goals and two game-winners through four postseason starts. With finishes against three different teams with at least a goal scored in all three rounds of postseason play, Mancosu has rewarded Impact coach Mauro Biello, tying for the league lead in goals this postseason.
A veteran of Italy’s top league, Serie A, Mancosu has found his footing in Montreal after a midseason transfer from Bologna, tallying three goals and four assists in 15 MLS regular season appearances before his tremendous run of form in the postseason. Signed to a year-long loan by Montreal in July, Mancosu has quickly spearheaded the Impact to its best postseason finish in franchise history with hopes of further shattered records in the near future.
Looking at recent history, Mancosu has shown a knack for big moments, providing the game-winning assist on Ignacio Piatti’s score during a 1-0 victory over TFC on August 27, the Impact’s only victory at BMO Field in MLS regular season history. Montreal will need more of the same playmaking ability from Mancosu to overpower a Toronto squad that has scored a league best 12 goals in the postseason.
Three Sounders FC originals in reach of first MLS Cup title with help of rookie sensation Jordan Morris
In the club’s eight seasons in MLS, Seattle Sounders FC has been no stranger to hardware, taking home four U.S. Open Cup (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014) titles and a Supporters’ Shield (2014), but the most cherished of them all has proven to be the most elusive. One of the most storied and successful soccer clubs in North America, Seattle will have the opportunity to banish its past MLS shortcomings on Saturday, December 10 in the club’s first MLS Cup appearance (8 p.m. ET, FOX/UniMas/TSN/RDS).
Since the Cascadia club’s inaugural season in 2009, only three Sounders FC players remain on the current roster, with midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and defenders Zach Scott and Brad Evans finally reaching the championship match. The veteran group, which has a combined 533 regular season matches played, has proven instrumental in qualifying Seattle to a league-best eight consecutive MLS Cup Playoff berths. But they couldn’t have reached the final game without help from rookie sensation Jordan Morris.
Seattle is the first team in league history to advance to MLS Cup with a rookie as the club’s leading goal scorer with Morris tallying 12 regular season goals. The 22-year-old Homegrown Player has proven just as important in the postseason, notching two goals in the Western Conference Championship series vs. the Colorado Rapids. The U.S. Men’s National Team forward is only one of two rookies in MLS history to score in both legs of a Conference Championship series, the other being  Greg Vanney (LA Galaxy, 1996), the current head coach of Toronto FC and a potential foe in 2016 MLS Cup.
2016 MLS Cup media credential application deadline approaches; host market down to two
Two of the remaining teams in the postseason have the possibility to host 2016 MLS Cup, as the team with the most regular season points among the finalists will play get the honor. 
Seattle Sounders FC have already advance to MLS Cup and would host should the Montreal Impact advance in the Eastern Conference after finishing with the best regular season record of the two teams. Toronto FC would host Sounders FC if they advance to MLS Cup by virtue of a superior regular season point total, while the Montreal Impact cannot host because they have the fewest regular season points among the remaining teams.
The credential application for the 2016 MLS Cup is now open for media who plan to cover the event. The link can be found by CLICKING HERE and is open until Thursday, December 1 at 6 p.m. ET. MLS Cup 2016 will take place on Saturday, December 10 at 8 p.m. ET (FOX, UniMás, TSN, and RDS). 
Check It Out
“When I started playing, it was always my dream to go to the final — to represent this club, to represent this city, to play for my hometown — it’s unbelievable. It gives me chills.”
Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris on advancing to MLS Cup with his hometown team
“For me, it’s more about the bigger picture, where we started the season and where we finished it. No one gave the guys in the locker room a chance before the season started – wrote us off from the beginning. I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of a group of men who rallied around the belief in themselves and the belief in the group and put forth one of the greatest seasons in the history of this club.”
Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni on the club’s performance this season
“For every person that comes to that game Wednesday night, it’s important for them to understand that together we have the chance to make it one of the most special nights in the club’s history and the city’s history. I truly believe that the atmosphere on Wednesday night can be like nothing this league has ever seen before in terms of 37,000 people who from the first minute are living every play with us and pushing us on in terms of numbers and passion and emotion.”
Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley on the expected sellout crowd on Wednesday
“I expect a great atmosphere and it’s something that I think this team has thrived on in the past. Whenever a big game comes up, when we have a lot of people in the stands and everybody’s against us, we’ve been at our best. So I think we can count on that and we can be confident going into this game that it’s going to be the same thing.”
Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush on the expected atmosphere on Wednesday
Sweet Tweets  
Nelson Valdez (@Haedo18Valdez9): We did it! When everyone counted us out, we believed! One more game! LO CONSEGUIMOS 
Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13): Champs! One more to go. So proud to be part of this team and live in this city. Love these guys #206 #EBFG
Kevin Doyle (‏@KevinDoyle1983): Good luck to @SoundersFC and a massive thanks to our fans for the fantastic support all season long,roll on next year @ColoradoRapids
Andrew Wenger (@andrewwenger): I was @MauriceEdu's chauffeur last year on #WhatChaGotMLS presented by @continentaltire! Now I'm driving!
Conference Championship Game Previews
Eastern Conference Championship Second Leg
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact – Wed., Nov. 30, 7 p.m. ET (FS1, TSN 1/3/4/5; RDS)
  • The Impact won their fourth consecutive game in the MLS Cup Playoffs with the 3-2 victory in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship – the first time all season they've won four games in a row.
  • Toronto FC had their three-game winning streak in the postseason put to an end in the first-leg defeat. TFC had won four games in a row dating to the end of the regular season before falling to the Impact.
  • Only once in MLS Cup Playoffs history has a club trailed by as many as three goals in a two-leg aggregate series and come back to win the tie: the 2003 San Jose Earthquakes, who were down 0-4 on aggregate at one point before defeating the LA Galaxy 5-4 in their conference semifinal series.
  • On six occasions in the conference championships have the higher seed lost in the first leg – and none of those clubs came back to advance to MLS Cup (including the Colorado Rapids this year, after they failed to overturn a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship).
  • The Impact’s Matteo Mancosu scored his fourth goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs in the first leg, one of four players tied for the lead in goals in the postseason.
  • Montréal’s Dominic Oduro scored his first career goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs in the first leg, in his 12th appearance in the postseason with four different teams. Oduro also collected an assist; he has been involved in four of the Impact’s five goals over the last two games.
  • Ignacio Piatti collected his second assist of the playoffs, now with two goals and two assists this postseason. He has four goals and three assists in seven career appearances in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • TFC’s Jozy Altidore netted a goal for a fourth consecutive game in the postseason in the first leg in Montréal, and has goals in six of his last seven appearances in league and MLS Cup play. He's the first player to net goals in four postseason games in a row since Robbie Keane did it in four consecutive games in 2012.
  • Sebastian Giovinco has scored a goal and/or recorded an assist in each of TFC’s four game in the MLS Cup Playoffs, with an assist in the first leg. Giovinco has been involved in seven of TFC's 12 goals in the postseason this year.
  • The teams met three teams during the MLS league campaign, evenly splitting the season series. Each team won at the other’s ground: Sebastian Giovinco scored both goals in a 2-0 TFC win April 23 at Stade Saputo, and Ignacio Piatti scored the game’s only goal in an Impact win Aug. 27 at BMO Field. The teams then reached a 2-2 draw Oct. 16 at Stade Saputo, as goals from Jozy Altidore and Tosaint Ricketts canceled out a Piatti brace.
  • The win in the only league meeting at BMO Field this year was the Impact’s first-ever in Toronto in their MLS history, with six losses and four draws in the first 10 meetings in all competitions at BMO Field.
  • The teams have met in every season they’ve been together in MLS in the Canadian Championship, with the Impact winning the title in 2014. They’ve met four times in the semifinals, each team advancing twice, with Toronto FC going through this year, winning 4-2 at BMO Field before the teams reached a goalless draw in Montréal.