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Crew SC's path to the Conference Finals won't be easy, but not insurmountable

The Impact have a distinct advantage after the first leg, but Columbus does have a clear path to the next round.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC is calling the semifinal series a 180-minute game and they'll be making adjustments at "halftime" to win the series. The team has talked about needing offense to win. They do need at least a goal to take the series; a 0-0 tie puts them out on aggregate. So just how hard will it be for Columbus to advance.

First the rules for the series. It's aggregate goal and the Montreal Impact currently leads Crew SC 2-1 after the first leg at Stade Saputo. The tiebreaker is away goals scored in the series. Crew SC has an away goal after Federico Higuain scored in the 33rd minute. The handy chart tracks which scenarios put which team through. There is quite a bit of Impact blue, especially if Montreal scores.


A single scoreline favors the Impact if they are shutout. If they score once, they have quite a bit of padding. If they score twice, Columbus has to come up with four goals. Crew SC has the offense for that, but the Impact are tidy at the back and have nine shutouts and 11 more one goal defensive efforts.

A defensive game actually suites Crew SC. Unfortunately, Columbus has been one of the worst defensive teams in MLS this year. Crew SC kept six clean sheets this year. They only allowed a single goal 10 other times. A multi-goal game from Montreal and this game is nearly out of hand. The Impact scored more than one 14 of 34 games this year.

The Advanced View

Digging deeper into the statistics give a slightly more sunny predictions for Crew SC. The team at American Soccer Analysis updated their MLS Cup Projections and Columbus has a 41 percent chance to advance when factors such as expected goals and expected goals against are added in.


That's slightly more positive than just the outcomes chart listed above. In simple outcomes, Montreal is a two to one favorite given their position after the first leg. Here, Columbus advances twice in every five samples.

So far the talk from the team is getting Kei Kamara, Higuain, Ethan Finlay, and the rest of the offense back on track. The other side is making sure that Didier Drogba doesn't get good looks, set piece defending is tight, and there aren't any high-risk errors that put an Impact player one on one against goalkeeper Steve Clark. The fate of Crew SC's season might hang in the balance during those brief seconds.

Beyond the Semifinals

ASA has actually projected the rest of the playoffs and Crew SC's odds have lengthened to make it to MLS Cup. Beyond their projected 41 percent chance to get by Montreal, they have a 15 percent chance of winning the Conference Finals. Getting to the Cup means they likely had to beat the New York Red Bulls in the process. An MLS Cup victory prospects are in the single digits at seven percent.