Tonight’s second leg of the Eastern Conference finals between Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew will decide not only the first MLS Cup finalist. It will determine the site of the Dec. 9 league championship.
The finalist with the most regular season points earns the right to host the title game, and since both Toronto and Columbus finished ahead of the Western Conference finalists in the Supporters’ Shield race, MLS Cup will be staged on the chilly banks of Lake Ontario or at the state fairgrounds in central Ohio.
The teams played to a 0-0 draw at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus last week, setting the stage for high drama at BMO Field tonight. Kickoff is sometime after 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass and fuboTV. Weather forecast: 34 degrees, clear, light wind.
A draw with any number of goals scored would send the fifth-seeded Crew to the final for the second time in three seasons. A 0-0 tie would force extra time and, if necessary, penalty kicks. An outright victory by either side would secure passage.
Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore return from suspension for Toronto, which is seeking a return trip to MLS Cup following last year’s defeat to Seattle. Columbus midfielder Artur will serve a yellow-card suspension.
The second leg of the Western finals will take place Thursday night in Seattle, with the Sounders carrying a 2-0 lead over the Houston Dynamo. Kickoff is sometime after 10:30 ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN and ESPN3.
>> All but one of the 18 non-active MLS teams have posted their updated rosters with contract options exercised and declined. The exception is D.C. United, which will reveal its information this afternoon.
DeAndre Yedlin played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 2-2 draw at West Brom
Danny Williams and Huddersfield Town at Arsenal
Jose Torres and Tigres at Club America in Liga MX semifinals, first leg (10 p.m. ET, Univision)
>> The U.S. women’s national team will open the 2018 campaign with a Jan. 21 friendly against Euro runner-up Denmark at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium (formerly Qualcomm Stadium).
>> The Houston Dash has hired Vera Pauw of the Netherlands as its head coach, raising the number of women in charge of National Women’s Soccer League teams to three (out of 10). The others are Sky Blue’s Denise Reddy, who left a Washington Spirit assistant’s role, and Laura Harvey, who departed Seattle and will guide the new NWSL team in Salt Lake City.
Pauw, a former Dutch international defender, has coached the national teams of Scotland, Netherlands, Russia and South Africa.
>> The Spirit has signed goalkeeper Kelsey Wys to a new contract. Terms were not disclosed. She is entering her fourth season with Washington after missing the 2017 campaign rehabbing a torn ACL. Washington’s other keepers last year were Canadian international Stephanie Labbe, who left the Spirit late in the season for personal reasons, and DiDi Haracic, the starter late in the 2017 campaign.
The Spirit will have the first overall pick, as well as the No. 6 selection of the first round, in the NWSL draft Jan. 18 in Philadelphia.
>> The women’s College Cup will take place this weekend at Orlando City Stadium. The schedule:
Stanford (22-1-0) vs. South Carolina (19-2-1), 5 p.m.
UCLA (19-2-2) vs. Duke (23-2-0), 7:30 p.m.
Sunday’s final is at noon. All three matches are on ESPNU, WatchESPN, ESPN3.
>> The NCAA men’s tournament has reached the quarterfinals. The schedule:
Akron (18-3-1) at Louisville (13-2-4), 7 p.m. (WatchESPN, ESPN3)
Michigan State (13-3-3) at Indiana (17-0-5), 7 p.m. (BTN+)
Fordham (14-5-3) at North Carolina (16-3-1), 6 p.m. (WatchESPN, ESPN3)
Stanford (16-2-2) at Wake Forest (19-1-2), 7 p.m. (WatchESPN, ESPN3)
The men’s College Cup will take place Dec. 8-10 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.
>> Notre Dame Coach Bobby Clark, one of the true gentleman on the American soccer scene, announced his retirement after 17 seasons in South Bend and 31 in the NCAA ranks. The former Scottish national team goalkeeper, who spend the summer of 1967 with the Washington Whips, also guided New Zealand’s national team in 1994-96 and held positions in Zimbabwe and Scotland.
“I have loved my time at this university and, although I have kept postponing retirement, with my 73rd birthday coming up next year, I felt it was time to be in a position to spend quality time with Bette, my wife of almost 50 years, my children and importantly my seven grandchildren.”
His coaching tree includes his son Jamie, the leader at the University of Washington; Georgetown’s Brian Wiese; Dartmouth’s Chad Riley; and Valparaiso’s Mike Avery.