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This Week in MLS - Conference Championships Decided this Sunday

November 13, 2012 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

After battling through 34 regular season games and two rounds of the MLS Cup Playoff, the four teams are within 90 minutes of clinching one of two coveted spots in MLS Cup 2012.

The LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo, both teams which played an extra game courtesy of the Knockout Round, take multi-goal advantages into the second leg.

LA Galaxy attacker Robbie Keane goes into Sunday night's game having produced four goals in four playoff games this season. Two of those goals came against Seattle last Sunday night as the Galaxy earned a 3-0 advantage in the series.

Dynamo forward Will Bruin has matched Keane's postseason production with four goals and an assist through Houston's four playoff games in 2012. While Houston holds a two-goal advantage in the series, D.C. United has won six matches at RFK Stadium by two or more goals and the Dynamo have lost seven times in 2012 by two or more goals on the road.

Seattle will host the Galaxy confident in knowing that their squad can beat the Galaxy by four goals having previously done so this season. On August 5, Seattle celebrated a 4-0 win against the Galaxy with goals courtesy of Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero, Alex Caskey, and Andy Rose.

Two-game Series: Who has the edge?

For the first time in MLS history, the Conference Championships each consist of a two-game, home-and-home, aggregate goal series. After the first game of the series, Houston owns a 3-1 advantage against D.C. United while the LA Galaxy posted a 3-0 score line against Seattle. Below is a look at how teams have historically fared in two-game, aggregate goal series.

In 2003, MLS adopted a two-leg aggregate format for the Conference Semifinals. In those 40 series:

- When a club won the first match they advanced to the next round 62.1% of the time.

- When a team trailed entering the second leg, they advanced 37.9% of the time.

Over the past four years the advantage of winning the first leg has increased. Since the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs began:

- Teams who won the first leg advanced to the following round 76.9% of the time

- Teams who lost the first leg have only advanced 23.1%.

D.C. United and Seattle Sounders FC must battle to overcome first-leg defeats when they return home for the second leg of their respective series.

Playoff Coaching Greats

Bruce Arena (25 postseason wins) and Sigi Schmid (21), Major League Soccer's two most winning coaches, have met three times in MLS Cup Playoffs, all while coaching the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC, respectively.

Arena has bested Schmid in those three matches, claiming a victory in each.

Dominic Kinnear, who claims the third most postseason wins with 13, boasts the most consecutive playoff appearances as a coach, with six straight trips to the postseason from 2004-2009. Since he began his MLS coaching career in 2004, Kinnear has led his teams to the MLS Cup Playoffs in eight of nine seasons.

Ben Olsen, in his second full year as D.C. United head coach, led the club to its first playoff appearance since 2007. Olsen must record his second postseason victory as a coach if D.C. is to advance to the MLS Cup final.

Quotables

"We've been the best team in the league since July. I'm glad nobody noticed."

-Bruce Arena, talking to reporters after defeating San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 to advance to the Western Conference Finals

"I'd like to score the PK if we get one, like to not make silly red cards, like to try to limit our own goals to zero."

-Ben Olsen, on what he wants D.C. United to do differently in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals against New York Red Bulls

"We've faced a lot of adversity all year being the unfashionable, fouling, ugly team, but 72 goals ain't bad for an ugly team."

-Frank Yallop, commenting on the quotes by LA Galaxy players about the San Jose Earthquakes style of play.

"I've come too far to not be a part of this special thing we've got going on as a team. We know how much it means to our fans and our organization in getting to the next round."

-Eddie Johnson, on playing in the second leg against Real Salt Lake after missing the first with an injury

"Throughout the U.S., I don't know if the Houston Dynamo get enough credit, but maybe we should."

- Dominic Kinnear, commenting on the teams five conference finals in the last seven years

Sweet Tweets

@SnoopDogg - November 11

Shotout 2 david beckham n the la galaxy. Goin bac 2 the finals of mls lakers lookn good come on home phil n the clipps look good! I luv la!

@NickRimando - November 9

I'm getting a Big Head from all this love in social world. Ha! Thanks, much appreciated. http://instagr.am/p/R0zKGYKY2J/

@NERevolution - November 9

Rolling Thunder lined up at today's POW/MIA black seat dedication # Revs http:// instagr.am/p/R0E3USoUSP/

@dwaynederosario - November 10

Dinner with my amigos pic.twitter.com/x7TCGAIn

@LAGalaxyInsider - November 11

Keane's goal @ the end of the 1st half of #LAvSEA was 100th goal @LAGalaxy have scored in the postseason. #MLSPlayoffs

=FE@DrewFromTV - November 11

If anyone can come back from this, we can. #Sounders 'Til I Die.

@pbernier10 - November 10

Florence, le soir. Piazza Della Repubblica. # buono pic.twitter.com/qoVH2rPt

@jacob_peterson - November 11

Thank you to all those who have served our country. I'm proud to call myself an American because of y'all. Happy # VeteransDay

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