The Columbus Crew is staying home for another MLS Cup playoff match. The Crew will play the No. 7 seed Nashville SC in the Eastern Conference semifinals after Nashville’s 1-0 upset in extra time against No. 2 seed Toronto FC at Rentschler Field on Tuesday night. This game will be played on Sunday at 8pm ET.
This will be the second-ever meeting between these two teams after Nashville entered Major League Soccer as an expansion side in 2020. The first meeting came back on Sept. 19 when Columbus secured a comfortable 2-0 victory at MAPFRE Stadium with goals from Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes. The match was one of the only times in 2020 the Black & Gold chose to wear the team’s gold jerseys at home, something Crew fans were eagerly awaiting considering the similar color schemes between Columbus and Nashville.
Nashville SC’s first MLS season has been a roller coaster ride for the expansion team. The Tennessee club missed out on the MLS is Back Tournament after a COVID-19 spread among the players and staff. At the regular season restart, Nashville became an Eastern Conference team and established itself with one of the best defenses in the league. Led by MLS Defender of the Year Walker Zimmerman, Nashville finished in seventh place, conceding just 22 goals all season to make the playoffs.
Nashville is one of two teams along with the New England Revolution to advance in the playoffs having played an extra game after taking part in the Eastern Conferences play-in round. Nashville defeated a depleted Inter Miami side 3-0 at Nissan Stadium and then moved onto Connecticut to upset TFC to continue this historic inaugural season.
Standing in the team’s way now is a Crew team who put together a complete performance at MAPFRE Stadium last Saturday in a 3-2 victory against the New York Red Bulls to advance to the conference semifinal. Columbus will attempt to continue its incredible home record, having won 10 of the team’s 11 matches at MAPFRE Stadium in 2020. The Black & Gold have won matches in just two venues all year, MAPFRE Stadium and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida at the MLS is Back Tournament.
The MLS Cup playoffs nearly have the final eight with a dramatic first round of games. There has been plenty of penalty shootouts and last-minute goals in what could be the wildest first round in MLS Cup playoff history. The other three conference semifinals will be the New England Revolution taking on Orlando City, Sporting Kansas City hosting Minnesota United and the winner of the Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Football Club facing the upset-minded FC Dallas.
With Philadelphia Union’s loss to New England, Columbus is now the highest remaining seed in the Eastern Conference and has home-field advantage for the rest of the conference playoffs. The Crew would host MLS Cup should the team advance against all West teams except for Sporting Kansas City. SKC finished with more point per game than Columbus, meaning Kansas City is the highest remaining seed, despite fewer overall points.