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Columbus Crew SC now MLS Cup front runner after first leg of Conference Finals

Crew SC now find themselves in an unfamiliar position this postseason.

Sam Fahmi

Columbus Crew SC now has the best chance to hoist MLS Cup in under two weeks after the latest updated projections from American Soccer Analysis. As always, a bit thank you to the ASA crew for their dive into MLS Analytics.

Data from American Soccer Analysis

Crew SC's dominating scoreline gives them a very good chance to beat the previous front runners, the Red Bulls over the two legs of the Eastern Conference Final. New York had dominated the 2015 season with a strong offense and a stingy defense to a +19 goal differential. The specter of playing the Red Bulls had depressed Crew SC's odds of a Cup run. Columbus had a good regular season, but New York's had been better.

Data from American Soccer Analysis

Going into the playoffs, Crew SC was a projected MLS Cup winner 13% of the time. Those odds never really jumped even after dispatching the Montreal Impact in the Semi Finals. Now the 2-0 win in the first leg flips that. The most recent projections now put Crew SC in the unfamiliar role of front runner.

Crew SC still has to hold off a determined challenge from a fierce foe. The Red Bulls know what is at stake and has bounced back successfully from losses all season. They can score two goal, even against committed defense. However, that second Crew SC goal makes New York's job even tougher. Just one Columbus goal means Red Bulls have to score four times.

Columbus would have had an advantage at 1-0, but it would have been slighter. ASA gives a decided advantage to Crew SC to move through to MLS Cup with the 2-0 scoreline on Sunday evening.

Data from American Soccer Analysis

Crew SC still have to do the job next Sunday evening to confirm their spot in MLS Cup, but the picture of where it will be hosted is now getting much clearer. Portland's 3-1 win at home against FC Dallas gives them a solid lead going into the second leg. The Timbers can't host MLS Cup.

Data from American Soccer Analysis

MLS Cup on December 6th? Believe in it.