Decisive MLS playoff matches tonight … the defending Eastern champions threatening to derail the Supporters’ Shield winners at home … an upstart seeking to oust a favorite at home … and few people will be able to watch.
Neither Houston Dynamo at New York Red Bulls nor New England Revolution at Sporting Kansas City is available on standard national outlets, restricting visibility to those watching in local markets and via the league’s pay platforms (Direct Kick and MLS Live).
Univision Deportes, for those who receive it from their cable or satellite provider, will show the Houston-New York match in Spanish.
Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET on MSG in the New York area and Comcast SportsNet-Houston.
The New England-Kansas City match will start at 9 p.m. ET on Comcast SportsNet Plus in New England — CSN was already committed to the Celtics vs. Jazz — and KSMO in the K.C. area.
The situation improves Thursday: ESPN2 will carry Los Angeles at Real Salt Lake at 9 p.m. ET and NBC Sports Network will have Seattle at Portland at 11 p.m.
To recap where the matchups stand …
Houston and New York are even 2-2. New England leads Kansas City, 2-1. Los Angeles is ahead of RSL, 1-0. And Portland holds a 2-1 edge over Seattle.
Away goals are not factored. If level on total goals after the second legs, the sides will play a full 30 minutes of extra time and, if necessary, penalty kicks.
The conference finals begin this weekend with the Eastern first leg Saturday afternoon on NBCSN and the Western opener Sunday night on ESPN.
Clubs will then have to wait two weeks to settle the conference champions. (For a change, MLS decided to honor next week’s FIFA fixture window.) Once we know the MLS Cup finalists, it will be another two weeks until the title game: Dec. 7, hosted by the finalist with the most regular season points.
The Columbus Crew has hired former U.S. national team defender Gregg Berhalter as the head coach and sporting director. The New Jersey native, 40, guided Swedish second-division club Hammarby for 18 months before being fired last summer. Brian Bliss, the interim coach and technical director who was a finalist for the head coaching job and favored by the players, will leave the club after six years.
To catch up on MLS coaching changes …
Columbus: Berhalter replaced interim Bliss, who had moved from the front office after Robert Warzycha was canned.
Dallas: No replacement yet for Schellas Hyndman, who stepped down. Colorado’s Oscar Pareja is a target.
Chicago: Frank Yallop was hired following Frank Klopas‘s dismissal.
Vancouver: No replacement yet for the fired Martin Rennie.
Montreal: Uncertainty surrounding Marco Schallibaum.
San Jose: Mark Watson was upgraded after serving in an interim capacity following Yallop’s exit.
Real Salt Lake: Jason Kreis‘s contract expires soon; New York’s 2015 expansion club wants him.
D.C. United: From all indications, Ben Olsen will return, despite a three-win season.
Chivas USA: Who knows?
If you have 15 minutes, watch “Tifo: Inside the Timbers Army”: